kEZIA amoako

How do you define “equity”? 

Do you have personal experience of marginalization and/or empowering those who have been marginalized? 

Despite the diverse racial mosaic present in Toronto, I have experienced marginalization and racism all throughout my life. I am a member of a community that is marginalized, killed, oppressed, and disrespected every day in this city. I have been a victim of racism, sexism, and other oppressions at school, at work, and in the community. Because it can be so subtle in how it manifests in my life, it is hard to describe the various minor and major ways I have been made to feel like I am not human. I have had teachers be surprised that I got an A on my math test because I am Black. I have had bosses and colleagues demean me because I experienced racism in the workplace and I was brave enough to talk about it – but they thought I was making a fuss out of nothing and harassed me so I have no choice but to suck it up. And I have had to watch countless Black men, women, and children killed solely because the Criminal Justice System does not think we are worthy of justice.

The personal is political. Experiencing marginalization because of the skin I am in has given me the passion to reach places where I can remove the barriers that are placed before people who look like me. As a Youth Outreach Coordinator at an AIDS Service Organization in Durham Region, I advocated for Queer youth groups for People of Colour because LGBTQ+ youth of colour were experiencing racism but had no safe space to go. I also implemented a program for young Black women that aimed at empowering them with information on how to love and care for their bodies in a society that does not care for them (us). Every day, I try to encourage someone in my life to fight the barriers and glass ceilings because we have a place in the world, too. And sometimes we need to create and carve that place out for ourselves. 

Equity can be defined as ensuring that all groups of people, especially under-served populations, are provided equal opportunities and access to various resources and spaces. This could mean access to school/education, access to health care, access to employment, access to housing, and access to a good life. Due to the history of colonization and racism in our nation, Black and Indigenous folks have been and continue to be marginalized. Systems of power that are submerged in White, cis-heteronormative, Judeo-Christian values, have been able to put up barriers for minority groups, making it more difficult to have access to the necessities of life. Achieving equity in any area of society is the ideal as it acknowledges and recognizes systems of power and privilege and seeks to provide the resources required for individuals within minority communities to achieve their goals.