On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Eric Liu, American Cyberculture student at UC Berkeley.
Justice is a concept that plagued the early Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. Justice, virtue, and fairness are all ideas that are difficult to define and thus, the lack of those concepts is even harder to imagine. For example, the Bill of Rights declares that every American should have the right to a fair trial. In this case, justice means the defendant is able to present his claims in a nonpartisan environment. However, when an employer begins to higher prospective employees based on education and experience, the process cannot be seen as nonpartisan anymore, and yet, the same process is seen as just. It seems from these two examples, that in some cases, what is fair and just correlates with equality while in other cases, such ideas have the opposite relationship. “An instance of injustice or unfairness” is known as “inequity” according to Merriam-Webster.
Inequity is faced by the American people in all aspects of their lives. This can range from employment to education opportunities. What is just and fair becomes a personal interpretation of the person experiencing the issue. While one may feel wronged by an employer’s or admission officer’s decision, the same employer or admission officer may feel their actions are just based on their own criteria. This is why inequity is difficult to defeat in our culture. With American citizens coming from all varieties of cultural backgrounds, it becomes harder and harder for people to see common ground and to accept that their views can be viewed as “unjust” or “unfair.”
However, part of what makes America so unique is that its people are willing to work together. People learn to be respectable and considerate of each other’s view points and lifestyles. This does not mean injustice is gone from our society. In fact, injustice will never leave any society, especially in America. Its citizens just learn to live with it, understand it and move on. For example, while one culture’s practices may seem offensive to another’s, members of both groups learn to comply with one another in order for the betterment of society as a whole. While this describes situations on a micro scale, in the grand scheme of things, history has seen specific groups challenge the status quo and change the definition of justice. This can be seen with the Women’s Rights Movement and the African American Civil Rights Movement in the mid Twentieth century and the current awareness concerning LGBT legal rights.
In a way, inequity resembles physics in the sense of a macro and micro scale. While large objects may exhibit a certain behavior, such as Newtonian physics, atomic molecules exhibit radically different behavior. This interesting phenomenon can also be applied to how different societies interact with each other from a member to member basis to a group to group basis.