By Zoe Crain
The intellect’s argument to inclusivity, or the idea of ensuring all people have equal seats at the table, is individualism. The argument is that it is better for equality for one to be successful on a personal level than to intentionally go out of the way to include those who would not normally be included. For then, as successful people span all colors, races, and genders, everyone will be represented accurately.
In a perfect world, in a perfect society, this is of course the best way to ensure everyone is equal: in an unbiased way, reward those who prove their worth.
The problem with this ideation is that we, as humans, are not unbiased. And racism, sexism, homophobia, and general discrimination happens: this, we cannot argue.
We cannot simply state everyone will be successful if they just prove their worth, or if they just work hard enough. If this were the case, Hillary Rodham Clinton would have been the President of the United States: and possibly, not the first woman to hold the position. If this were the case, our country’s first black president would not have taken office as late as 2008.
Individualism is founded on the idea that personal successes are rewarded based on nothing but merit. Essentially, if you deserve recognition, you will receive it, based upon the natural order of society.
Tell me, can you think of many situations where this is actually true? If it were, management positions in non-profit organizations would collect massive amounts of taxpayer dollars, because those people are doing the right thing, and we should reward them with enough money to do their jobs properly.
If this were true, there would be more stories about black kids dropping out of college but managing to become CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies: a la Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg, Evan Williams, Larry Ellison, Henry Ford, the list continues.
If this were true, the wage gap wouldn’t exist: because we would pay our workers on merit and intelligence, not on gender and race (not to mention disability status, maternal status, etc).
If this were true, the Riddle ratio wouldn’t exist: statistically, both men and women are interested in math and science, and we’d thus have even numbers of each in every major.
But instead, the majority of successful college dropouts are white men. Women make 79 cents to every man’s dollar (and that’s just white women), and the gap exists in the first place because we consider certain work to be “women’s” work (nursing, dental hygienists, librarians) and certain work to be “men’s” work (surgeons, trash collectors, police officers). And the Riddle ratio sits comfortably at 1:4 women to men overall, dipping to as low as 1:6 in some majors.
We cannot hope to succeed as individuals if we, as individuals, are not considered to be on the same level to begin with. Individualism is irrelevant when inequality still exists.