09 September 2008

Equity vs. Race Relations

I had a very interesting discussion with a colleague today about how racial equity is not the same as having good race relations. We theoretically could have a society with equity for all races, that is, equal economic opportunity, but possibly very bad inter-personal race relations in your society. This might happen if you have strong laws about discrimination, etc. In fact, you could make the argument that this is the case in the US right now -- civil rights laws ensure (mostly) equal opportunity even though it is not clear that blacks and whites are truly comfortable dealing with each other. The issues around Obama in this election are an example.

On the other hand, there may be a situation with good race relations where everyone gets along jus' fine, but there is serious inequity. This might be due to some screwed up post-slavery relationship (in which case it is actually an illusion, and deep resentments and frustrations will soon emerge). Alternatively, it might be the case that while race relations are fine, there is some serious economic inequity along non-racial lines.

I feel Bermuda's situation is probably something like 2/3 the first situation, and 1/3 the second. It's not rocket science to reach the conclusion that you probably need equally good inter-racial relations and social and economic equity if you are to have any hope of a stable long-term solution. But, I am not exactly a race-relations theorist, so feel free to tell me what you think.

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