Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Participation is a leveler and harbinger of Equality which is thought to be elusive

Jimmy (Jim) is a Marine Air Wing Veteran and served in the late 1970s to early 90s in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel as part of the air-borne combatants. He now spends time at the library reading and researching for a memoir. We discussed environmental issues and conservation. I almost gave up the day to be with him. He gave me insightful earfuls on politics of eco-conservation. He also went through my writing points on equality. That is another subject so dear to him. His argument is that we have tended to aggrandize the big concepts of equality and failed to strengthen the small day to day activities that are the roots to equality. Jim is a white American and I, a black new American. He is of the view that at the highest level of government, at non-governmental/civil societal level and at the individual level each one has a role to play to bring about equality and access. He intimated that opportunities of interracial mixing offered at say, the library should be such that they empower many to say, use the library services, read and have motivation to come to the library voluntarily. That it should be such that many are motivated to attend the library activities. It should be part of one’s continued growing and fulfillment. I was floored by the veteran. I was given a means of approaching my essay from a very basic point of view. Parity is a reward that can be achieved if these ingredients are in place: dignity, effort on the part of the beneficiary and provider (persistence), empowerment, opportunities for participation that involve all humans. I used to assume that all work is rewarding money-wise and that all persons should engage in a form of work to earn their bread. I realised crucial ingredients have to be in place for work to translate into bread (make it paying) including physical state of one’s body and mind. If dignity were to be the first pillar towards parity I realised that all humans should be treated with dignity. Work may add value to one’s dignity but it is not the panacea. I do stress work because it enables one afford to address life’s necessities and happiness. Work ensures that one saves for the future and that out of one’s own volition and spontaneity happiness is ensured. One is not restricted because they can afford to pick out from many choices of enjoyment. I also realized that quality work is the result of the structures and systems of training, recruitment, empowering personnel through skills and creation of a critical mass of skilled workers require standards that hinge on quality. The living conditions, health and recreations of these workers follow as the next level that motivates them. The standards may be at national and international levels. Whole ministries or departments are created to maintain standards.  One has to understand and input gender, race, regional representation, levels of qualifications and insure the workers in case of accidents. This is the ideal context. Policy, religion, culture, opportunities and lack thereof impact on access. In the book by Lorenzo Morris (1979): Elusive Equality; systems that ensure distribution, enrolment and engagement in highly remunerative professions by black Americans is noted as an enduring equalizing opportunity and sets the grounds for what works in the real world ( in which it is not possible to for equalization to occur) . These very systems can be applied to all other categories of persons and it is a model that engenders participation which can be used in promoting equality. For a participation/ equality practitioner some of the questions to ask when gauging equality can be: What kinds of people are participating? What are the reasons that may cause others not to?  What are the other means of participation? When one applies such factors like; degree, amount, universality, eligibility and satisfaction then one is promoting equality. One should not only provide the best standards of living but make it endure even for those to come in the future. Even those who have retired need quality opportunities because like we said earlier this is dignifying. All humans need to be treated with dignity and because of this a semblance that is equitable (justice) is not far behind.