Long before recent memes showing the difference between equality and equity came out, I realized they were different, even if I could not articulate it. As a child in a family that barely scraped by in Communist Viet Nam, I saw adult and child beggars, and understood they needed more help than my family, with the child beggars needing even more since nobody took care of them as my Parents took care of me. I remember asking my Mom to help feed some children beggars, to whom I could relate more than the adult beggars in being a child, while rarely asking her to help the adult beggars, all the while not realizing how vulnerable we actually were ourselves. My poor Mom was torn between the compassion she saw in me, and her inability to always show that compassion at the expense of our family’s survival, while unwilling to tell me the full and true nature of our family’s situation to justify this.
Then came 1980, when my family escaped Viet Nam by boat and we arrived in Canada as refugees. We were now the ones needing more help than those already living here. That was generally speaking, of course, but it was a certainty to me as an eight year old. Fortunately, for my family and I, a lot of Canadians, and even some refugees, treated us unequally in positive ways. Unfortunately, there were also numerous situations where we were not treated equally in negative ways, albeit far less so than in positive ways. However, all we would have ever asked for was to have been treated fairly.