In order for there to be an equitable world, there must first be a shared understanding of what constitutes equality. As a partner of AllVoices, we are on a similar path to drive systemic change that yields equitable environments, leveraging different tools and strategies to get us there. But what we must realize is that it is not the individuals who are aligned on the notion of equality that need the most coaching and direction. Instead, it is those who are fearful of equitability and resist the reality that strays too far from the antiquated and misdirected status quo. Whether intentionally or not.
In my recent research endeavors for an ethnographic study about the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on women, I learned that the original American Dream was not a dream of individual wealth; instead, it was a dream of equality, justice, and democracy for the nation. Over the years it was repurposed by each generation, that is until the Cold War. At that time, it became the defense for a consumer capitalist variation of democracy. After that, the meaning was not seemingly multivocal -- cash was king.
That is until about two years ago, in 2019, when a sizable New York Times survey was conducted to capture the present meaning of the American Dream. According to survey results, rather than representing the prized jewel of monetary success, the meaning has shifted: American’s new dream is a freedom of choice in how to live and how to have a good family life. Simply put, choice is the driver in one’s pursuit of happiness.
This struck a chord.
Our nation was in fact meant to be built upon a concept of equality… But then power and monetary gains quickly reworked the terrain to ensure women’s subjugation to men. It had me wondering: If at one point we were wise enough to strive for a respectful and inclusive culture, is it not possible to achieve again?
Of course it is.
In fact, the new record of the American Dream is a testament to this. Choice inherently assumes there is optionality. For Americans to choose how to live, options must be a part of that equation. Interestingly enough, if we think about equality -- and the multifaceted elements of what comprises equality, having choice is one of the pieces. While everyone may not understand equality just yet, everyone understands choice. And we need everyone’s participation to reach equality.
I work with organizations not only through implementing programs that yield fair-minded and progressive outcomes, but I often work with women to help them recognize their power, harness their confidence, and employ the freedoms that we do have. A sizable piece of the puzzle is for women to first recognize their many strengths and to redirect what is within their control.
To see equality at work and in the home, there are many steps that can be taken (read about my solutions here) but there are several tactics you can employ readily:
The pendulum of change swings as far as we are able and willing to push it. Together, we are a whole lot stronger and with unified efforts and voices, the progress made will be too strongly knit that it cannot be undone. Let us focus on that reality and progress forward with choice as our north star to reach equality.