The Difference Between Equity & Inclusion:
Store-Bought vs. Fresh Baked Cookies!
It’s time to talk about something important. Something that matters to me more than one would expect: Cookies.
I am a lover of cookies, but I have rules. In my perfect world, only certain cookies are worthy of the category. Everything else is simply trash – not acceptable in any way, to the point of offensive.
In Mistlandia – the imaginary place in my head where all confections are perfection – the only favorable cookie is freshly baked. Fresh ingredients and soy-free (what self-respecting baker uses soy?!) are what I drool over. Don’t offer me an Oreo and call it a cookie – I’m insulted.
That said, in reality, there are different palates! I know people who will trade their favorite workout pants for a Nilla Wafer. Even then, they still understand there is a vast difference in quality between a pre-packaged cookie and a bakery-made, super fresh, and tasty confection.
Let’s swerve a bit here…
If you’re in a meeting (remember meetings, when we left the house and had to sit in rooms with other people), and someone offers cookies, they’re usually the same type of cookie. I don’t mean variety – I mean of the same origin: someone purchased a multipack of cookies, laid them on the tray, and called it a day. Why the same origin? Because it’s easy.
It’s also equitable.
Imagine going to a meeting where part of the group was offered pre-packaged cookies, while the rest were offered fresh bakery cookies. And the groups weren’t offered a choice – the sharer of snacks arbitrarily decided who was entitled to which cookie.
This, my friends, is the difference between inclusion and equity. Everyone is included in the example. Everyone gets a cookie. But are the cookies equal in quality and value? What’s being said by restricting the allocation of cookies?
When we discuss equity, we need to be extremely clear of its definition. According to the Ford Foundation, equity “seeks to ensure the fair treatment, equality of opportunity and fairness in access to information and resources for all.” It’s not about giving everyone a cookie – that’s inclusion – instead, it’s offering everyone in the group the opportunity to experience cookies of the same quality.
Many in the Pilates community don’t understand why the discussions about race and gender equality have permeated our group discussions. Many are baffled that the challenges and frustrations that affect us in our daily lives are now taking center stage in Pilatesland, as well. The cry is loud and impassioned: “Can’t we just move?”
We have to be honest – bias in the real world biases everything. If, in the real world, you look at BIPOC, or women, or LGBTQ+, or the fuller-bodied, or the disabled as anything less than human beings, you’re the reason we must continue these conversations. Ever wonder why you don’t see people of varying populations in your studio spaces? Ask yourself this first – when you read the last sentence, was your immediate assumption that those people don’t need your services or cannot afford them? Guess what? You’re the problem.
And let’s be clear: no one is saying you’re intentionally exclusionary. No one believes you’re garbage because you made a false assumption – that’s a human trait that we all succumb to. What I’m saying is you’re really missing out. You’re missing the opportunity to create a culturally rich space, one that can touch many people with this glorious work we do. One that YOU can grow from and help others do the same. As a card-carrying capitalist, I can’t leave this out: genuinely diverse spaces generate more income. Assuming people who aren’t considered part of the dominant group don’t come to your space because you’re too expensive only affirms that group won’t come but will happily spend their coins elsewhere or with your competition.
As healers of bodies and minds, we in the Pilates community have a duty to heal ourselves first. We ask, even demand at times, that our students and clients dig deep and look within to grow, yet we as educators elect to stand still. Please realize we cannot afford to stand still when it comes to diversity and equity in our community. We should not cosign on the continued negation, implicit or otherwise, of the identities of people who seek us for learning, healing, and growth. We must acknowledge everyone’s needs and experiences with open arms and hearts – and not just in terms of physical fitness. We need to allow people to be who they are and celebrate it, intentionally and with integrity.
As I’ve challenged myself, I challenge you to reflect upon your teaching spaces and your personal lives to ask: are the cookies I’m handing out the same cookies I would want in return? Does everyone get a cookie, or am I leaving mere crumbs for some? And if I’m not giving everyone cookies, what will I do to improve for the good of my community?
It’s not always an easy journey, but I promise you it gets easier once you commit to walking forward to the bakery.