What is Racial Equity Lens and how to Apply it for Better

by Eli Mshomi

In the pursuit of racial justice, when the pervasiveness of unjust practices is deteriorating social structures across the globe, the racial equity lens plays a critical role in addressing inequality.

The racial equity lens is the decision-making threshold through which we analyze the possible racial consequences of any specific policy or action. This way, we can analyze whether or not a specific set of decisions would impact the well-being of racial minorities in the social, economic, or political domain.

Although the term racial equity lens is usually used at the policy level where both the intended and unintended consequences of a specific set of policies are gauged, this lens can also be used to improve decision-making on a daily basis.

 

Why is it Important to use a racial justice lens?

Using a racial justice lens is important for various aspects as:

  1. It challenges the persisting social curses in any society.
  2. It allows you to raise your voice in a just and equitable fashion.
  3. Inequality is reduced over time using these lenses.
  4. The fruits of seeds sown today would be eaten by future generations.
  5. It initiates the debate about the prevailing menaces in any society.
  6. It makes society a better place to live.
  7. The racial equity lens paves the way to kill other injustices in society.
  8. Seeing the efficacy of racial justice in one place helps global citizenry to raise its voice throughout the world.
  9. If your strategies go viral, you have a chance to make them into the history books alongside the likes of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.
  10. It addresses the issue of institutional racism in any society.

 

Racial Equity lens to bring justice

What will I get using a racial justice lens?

The scope in racial equity work can be of massive magnitude as you get to see the persistent disparities in any society closely.

This certainly helps you get a unique perspective to see how the historical and current events corrode the social structure of the society.

Using a racial justice lens, you equip yourself with the much-needed vision that is required to connect the dots and see why some people are blessed in a society that was meant to be equal for all.

While there may be a lot of examples that fit in the racial equity lens, some of the following can stand out.

  1. Inclusion of woke mathematics in the curriculum to avert historical disasters
  2. Promoting critical race theory in educational programs
  3. Passage of anti-discriminatory laws, which ultimately cover an extensive part of legislation impacting racial equity in the United States.

What can be the possible consequences of racial policies in a society?

There can be two types of consequences for discriminatory policies and social actions, including:

  1. Manifest functions
  2. Latent functions

Manifest functions are those consequences that are intentional. For instance, if a policy explicitly states that people of color would be disenfranchised after the policy or face any sort of discrimination, it is the manifest function of that policy.

On the other hand, latent functions are those which are the unintended consequences of any social policy or action.

For example, the policy would not explicitly state that Black people would be discriminated against, but they are facing discrimination unintentionally.

Take the example of gentrification, for instance, when the government may want to develop society by flooding in investments.

However, it forces people of color to leave their areas as they could no longer afford to live in those neighbourhoods due to the higher cost of living. Consequently, they have to move toward the cheaper areas.

A racial inequity lens, therefore, drives to eliminate both the obvious and hidden consequences of any policy.

 

Final Thoughts

One of the most important aspects of applying the racial justice lens to any situation is to incorporate historical perspective in your analysis.

For example, the situation may seem reasonable on paper in the contemporary world, and it is easy to conclude that anti-discriminatory laws today do not discriminate against people of color, so the racial justice lens may seem irrelevant.

However, most persisting evils today are due to the results of the historical disparities that are amassed over time, which result in unequal regimes today.

This is the reason why various algorithms still discriminate against Black people, as they do not incorporate historical perspective in their approach.

Likewise, Black people are the ones most impacted by climate change or mortgage practices, as they fail to make their algorithms by inculcating historical differences that affect the present.

And if these historical approaches do not become part of the narrative, they will eventually impact the future as well, which will continue impacting racial justice not only in the United States but across the globe.

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