two people of color clasping hands

As cultures and societies evolve, so do their languages. For example, there has been a whole lot of discussion lately about issues pertaining to race. Some terms might be confusing. Some people might be willfully using terms to sow confusion. Progress can stall without some semblance of a shared language. Even the best-intentioned folks can sabotage an important conversation by not fully understanding what certain words mean.

Case in point: racial equity and racial equality. While similarities exist, these terms cannot be used interchangeably in an accurate way. With that in mind, let’s explore the crucial differences between the two.

What is Racial Equality?

The dictionary definition of equality is “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.” Extrapolating from there, you can see that racial equality involved the goal of having everyone:

  • Given the same exact breaks and opportunities
  • Treating and serving everyone the same
  • Promoting fair­ness and jus­tice

Examples of Racial Equality

  • Giving all citizens of voting age the right to vote — regardless of race
  • Funding all school systems with equal financial and material supplies
  • Allocating tax dollars equally among all neighborhoods in a given city

What is Racial Equity?

It’s understandable how these terms get mixed up, but racial equity is about treating people in an equitable manner based on their situation or circumstances. To achieve racial equity is to make certain everyone has what they need to thrive.

Examples of Racial Equity

  • Making sure all citizens can safely and swiftly exercise their right to vote
  • Funding schools based on each school’s baseline needs
  • Funding neighborhoods according to their current situation with a special focus on areas that have been marginalized

two people of color clasping handsWhat is the Difference Between Racial Equality and Racial Equity?

Equality is a noble goal but implementing it within an unjust system does not close the opportunity gap between different races. Think of equity as the long, hard road that leads to equality. It meets people where they are and takes those circumstances into full account. Aiming for equality without first achieving equity can and often does make inequalities sharper.

It can feel “inequitable” to promote an approach that allocates more resources to some groups but this is what happens within a system that has been so unfair for so long.

Related Terms to Understand

As you ponder the implications of equality vs. equity, keep in mind that there are other related words that must be understood. For starters:

Diversity vs. Inclusion

Let’s use the workplace as an example. A diverse workplace is made up of people from a wide, unlimited range of groups. In a way, it’s analogous to equality. Inclusion is more like equity. It means that the workforce is not about quotas or token hires. Each person is given the opportunity to shine on their own terms — regardless of what group they belong to.

What is Privilege?

Whether they asked for it or are even aware of it, some people are granted race-based advantages. These advantages cannot be earned by actions or merit. They are part and parcel of an entrenched, almost invisible system. Someone with privilege may not identify something as a problem because it doesn’t impact them.

Racial Justice

This is the goal: to empower all people toward their full potential. This we must reimagine and retool the entire system. The foundation of racial justice is proactive but also preventative. By definition, the system benefits everyone.

Being part of the solution is a major responsibility. It means you’ll challenge some deeply held beliefs. To accept this mission is to remain open to examining your own behaviors and conditioning. If you are interested in learning more about therapy for bipoc or how it can help you, let’s connect soon.

bipoc man staring at camera

How To Cope With Anxiety Over Racial Profiling

Anxiety is the most common mental health issue on the planet. It comes in many forms — from a generalized version to some specific phobias and beyond. To this long list, you can add “racial anxiety.” It’s not new. In fact, let’s face it: racial anxiety has been a reality for a very long time. Only recently, however, has it been officially recognized.

The concept of racial anxiety is meant to serve as an umbrella term. It encompasses all the stress people of color (POC) experience because they are people of color. This includes a Wie range of transgressions. One of these is racial profiling.

What is Racial Profiling?

It is a practice of discrimination based on a person’s skin color and/or perceived ethnicity. Racial profiling could take place when you’re trying to hail a cab or get a table at a restaurant. You may encounter it when shopping for a house or shopping in the local grocery store. But perhaps the most stressful example of racial profiling is the kind perpetrated by law enforcement officers and agents.

This occurs when a cop uses a person’s characteristics to target them as likely lawbreakers. This potentially traumatizing event can also be potentially deadly. A POC has every right to question why there are being stopped, questioned, or detained. However, this has been shown to put the person at even greater risk. The daily — hourly — fear of being criminalized based on your race is the cause of an incredible amount of stress and anxiety.

Common Symptoms of Racial Anxiety and Trauma

  • Social isolation, avoidance, and withdrawal
  • Edginess and hyper-vigilance
  • Less likely to take chances or stand out in a crowd
  • Depression
  • Chronic stress
  • Physical symptoms with no apparent cause, e.g. muscles aches and tension, digestive problems, headaches, sleep disturbances, and more
  • Reliving events, nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts

The above list is just a sampling. Consider that racial profiling is always on the news. It’s also always being discussed within communities of POC. With constant reminders, it is crucial to practice some self-help tactics and seek professional support.

bipoc man staring at cameraHow To Cope With Anxiety Over Racial Profiling

Connect With Your Community

No one is going to “get it” like other people of color. Connect — in person and online — with folks who know the struggle.

Recognize the Signs and Red Flags

Stay aware of what racial anxiety looks and feels like. Learn how to address it early.

Know Your Triggers

Keeps journals to monitor your triggers. This information can help immensely with you avoiding situations that escalate your anxiety.

Take Tech Breaks

Step away from your devices. The non-stop notifications and clickbait headlines are doing you no favors. Take breaks and use that time to practice mindfulness.

Practice Daily Self-Care

Build resilience with a daily regimen. Elements to include:

  • Stress management techniques like meditation and breathing exercises
  • Physical activity and exercise each day
  • Maintaining a steady sleep schedule
  • Making smart, healthy eating choices
  • Connecting with others for low-stress socializing

Find Ways to Be Joyful and Grateful

No matter how unfair our society is, balance exists. Your task is really a challenge. Find ways to help yourself and others thrive in a world of racism and prejudice. Meanwhile, do not miss all the reasons —big and small — to be grateful. This balance can buoy you in the toughest of times.

Ask For Professional Help

As mentioned up top, anxiety is more than just a feeling. It is a diagnosable mental health condition and requires support from an expert. Life can feel alienated for POC. Do not exacerbate this reality by going it alone. I’m here to help you, guide you, and support you.