Throughout the Western world, governments have the common goal of trying to create a hierarchy based on actual ability, replacing posh, chinless halfwits with the meritorious, wherever they may be found and whatever age, colour or gender they might be. This is meritocracy.
But there is, inevitably, a darker side to the idea of meritocracy: for if we truly believe that we’ve created (or could even one day create) a world where the successful truly merited all their success, it necessarily follows that we have to hold the failures exclusively responsible for their failures. In a meritocratic age, an element of justice enters into the distribution of wealth, but also of poverty. Low status comes to seem not merely regrettable, but also deserved.
The wealth of richest 1% is equal to the wealth of the rest of the people on Earth (Oxfam, 2016). Inequality of this proportion is harmful for society. Prosperity – everyone’s chance to make a decent life for themselves – is no longer a reachable goal by an individual purely based on talent and hard work. When people lose the hope of reaching a better life by working and obeying the law, they soon stop playing by the rules. They get angry, they rise up, they revolt.
There are wide varieties of economic inequality, most notably measured using the distribution of income and the distribution of wealth. Besides economic inequality between countries or states, there are important types of economic inequality between different groups of people.
Allyship is the practice of emphasizing social justice, inclusion, and human rights by members of an ingroup, to advance the interests of an oppressed or marginalized outgroup. Allyship is part of the anti-oppression or anti-racist conversation, which puts into use social justice theories and ideals.
Your identity shapes how you engage with the world around you, a fact that can inform your level of comfort in speaking up when problematic situations arise.
On one level, you are accessing the world through your own lens, unique to you. However, the groups with which we identify, along with the power and privilege we occupy, are part of our lens and shape the way we experience the world.