Article image

14 Quotes on the Meaning of Racial Equity

If equality is the idealized scenario of a fair and just society, then equity is the practical means by which we achieve that ideal society. Equity is a realistic approach to leveling the playing field that accounts for an individual’s specific circumstances and recognizes the inequality present in our world.

Imagine two people standing on footstools looking over a fence. Each footstool is of equal height, but whereas one person is tall and can see over the fence easily, the other person is shorter and cannot. Their circumstances are equal but not equitable.

Equity would, for example, give the shorter individual a ladder so they could see over the fence the same as their taller counterpart. In the context of race, equity involves considering the types of opportunities and resources that might compensate for decades of disadvantages and ultimately forge a more balanced society.

We’ve gathered a powerful collection of quotes that define, advocate for, and embody the spirit behind the fight for racial equity — a fight that all of us can contribute to in our day-to-day lives.

Equality of opportunity is not enough … When some people have to run a 100-meter race with sandbags on their legs, the fact that no one is allowed to have a head start does not make the race fair. Equality of opportunity is absolutely necessary but not sufficient in building a genuinely fair and efficient society.
Ha-Joon Chang

Share Quote

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
James Baldwin

Share Quote

Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda … Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with tolerance, bigotry with knowledge, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity.
Kofi Annan

Share Quote

A democracy cannot thrive where power remains unchecked and justice is reserved for a select few. Ignoring these cries and failing to respond to this movement is simply not an option — for peace cannot exist where justice is not served.
John Lewis

Share Quote

No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down. So it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.
Marian Anderson

Share Quote

Now more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: More connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.
T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in “Black Panther”

Share Quote

No matter what our intentions, everything we say and do in the pursuit of justice will one day be outdated, ineffective, and yes, probably wrong. That is the way progress works. What we do now is important and helpful so long as what we do now is what is needed now.
Ijeoma Oluo

Share Quote

Prejudice is a burden which confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.
Maya Angelou

Share Quote

We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Share Quote

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
Nelson Mandela

Share Quote

The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. If one is free at heart, no man-made chains can bind one to servitude.
Steve Biko

Share Quote

When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don’t speak out, ain’t nobody going to speak out for you.
Fannie Lou Hamer

Share Quote

I strongly believe that freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience … I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.
Coretta Scott King

Share Quote

Our anger is moral. Our rage is sacred. Our anxiety contains wisdom. Our hearts are telling us the truth. If the truth makes others uncomfortable — good. Show me an alarm clock that makes a sweet sound and I’ll show you an alarm clock I can sleep through.
Ralph De La Rosa

Share Quote

Featured image credit: London Express/ Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Author image
About the Author
Melanie Davis-McAfee
M. Davis-McAfee is a freelance writer, musician, and devoted cat mom of three living in southwest Kentucky.
Play more header background
Play more icon
Daily Question
Fill in the blank: "I will either find a way, or ___." - Hannibal

More Inspiration

happiness theme icon

I didn't fall in love, I rose in it.

separator icon
Toni Morrison
motivation theme icon

In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.

separator icon
Patti Smith
hope theme icon

If you look for perfection, you will never be satisfied.

separator icon
Leo Tolstoy
love theme icon

Maybe who we are isn't so much about what we do, but rather what we're capable of when we least expect it.

separator icon
Jodi Picoult
wisdom theme icon

There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.

separator icon
Vicki Baum
happiness theme icon

Trust your gut. Forgive yourself. Be grateful.

separator icon
Cheryl Strayed
motivation theme icon

It's only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis.

separator icon
Margaret Wander Bonanno
hope theme icon

You are what you love, not what loves you.

separator icon
Charlie Kaufman
love theme icon

Our heads are round so thought can change direction.

separator icon
Francis Picabia
wisdom theme icon

If one has no sense of humor, one is in trouble.

separator icon
Betty White
happiness theme icon

Chance favors only the prepared mind.

separator icon
Louis Pasteur