EQUALITY: DOES IT MEAN OPPORTUNITY OR OUTCOME?

An item posted on Facebook caused me to take a step back and think about a question, two questions actually, which has been in the back of my mind for a long time: the classic Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s was concerned with creating equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of race and color. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech talks to the proposition that “my four little children will someday live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. The particular posting on Facebook talked about a study which showed the ‘inequality’ of income along the various subway lines of New York City and how that ‘inequality’ was growing, creating an unfair and wrong situation in the eyes of the person posting the item.


The questions for me were these: for equality to exist in America for Latinos, does the outcome for them as a group require that the group outcome be one of affluence for all or is the traditional idea of equal opportunity alone enough? and if the goal is equal affluence not just opportunity, how would this be achieved?

Raising these questions set off a minor firestorm of personally aimed attacks by several Facebook acquaintances which ranged from claims that I was naive and uninformed to suggestions that I have hatred for the poor and/or minority groups for raising such questions. There was even a question of why I write for Being Latino! if I would ask the questions I asked. They wanted to portray me as a conservative white-boy who is ignorant and probably racist.

It was easy enough for me to counter these critics. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and am extremely well-read in History and Economics; my late wife was a 1st generation Mexican-American; and I am an active member and past local Council President of the League of Latin American Citizens(LULAC). I have an excellent track record in advocating for my local Latino community and have been honored for my work with LULAC.

What interested me was that no one attempted to answer my questions on how a more equitable income situation could be reached short of setting government-mandated minimum and maximum income and wealth levels along with confiscation of any ‘excess’ for redistribution to those who don’t have what is deemed an equitable level.


I know that it is easier to curse the evils of the capitalist system than it is to offer ideas for reform, and it is easier to go after those that ask uncomfortable questions than to answer them; but, one would hope that those who deem themselves progressive would be able to offer thoughtful ideas and not act like the evil, uncaring people that they supposedly oppose and they would accuse me of being.

The attitudes I encountered reflect the ‘something for nothing’ expectations of so-called progressives of today and not the original goal and expectations of the early leaders and members of the Civil Rights Movement, men and women who were looking for an equal playing field of opportunity not some pseudo-socialist handouts or mooching off the work of others. In corrupting the honor and goals of those who came before them, they dishonor the memory of the efforts of their forebears and do a disservice to those in the present they claim to want to help.

By Being Latino Contributor, Jeffery Cassity Jeffery Cassity is a mostly socially-liberal, fiscally-conservative Anglo male who is involved in his local Hispanic community as the widower of a 1st generation Mexican-American woman and his active, some would say hyperactive, membership in the local Council of the League of Latin American Citizens(LULAC).
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