Equality of Opportunity

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the words we are all created equal. I’ve also been thinking about equality of outcomes and equality of opportunity. I always thought the system was responsible for equality of opportunity, but the outcomes were up to the individual. Such thoughts made me comfortable that my success was due to good choices and hard work and the same was available to anyone no matter what their color or creed.

I’m also a big believer in numbers; I’m a CPA after all. That means I also believe in things like the law of large numbers and reversion to the mean as sample populations get larger and larger. What I wasn’t doing was reconciling those two beliefs. Yes, I can point to “bad choices” or other circumstance when it comes to any single individual and the life outcomes they attained. The reality is that if those same outcomes apply in disproportionate ways to larger and larger sample sizes or one whole group versus another whole group, then there must be an explanation beyond individual choices.

One apparent answer is the system is set up for one group to succeed disproportionally more at the expense of other groups. When the difference in the groups is skin color, the answer points to a system that favors one race over another. If calling such an occurrence systemic racism causes you to be uncomfortable, then that is a good thing. You should be uncomfortable with an unfair system that gives some individuals a leg up simply because of their skin color. That is not what the founding documents of this country called us to aspire to achieve.

Yes, we have come far as a country, but we have not come far enough and where we are is not good enough. We must be better if we are to be the country we are supposed to be.

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