Why Fairness Matters & Justice is just something totally different
Growing up in a marginalized community, I always knew things would not come easily or perhaps not come at all. My inability to speak English until later on in school, coupled with being placed in ESL classes, was a label that held me back. Or did it?
In fact, I’ve come to believe that it was the reason I did so well in the corporate world. As a child, I felt the world wasn’t going to help me, so I helped myself. I did not take the traditional route to success, as many would expect.
College was an option, and I struggled through school to gain admission to a four-year university. I knew receiving a B.A. would be nothing short of a miracle. The odds were stacked against me. My family couldn’t offer financial support, and there was no one to mentor me. Indeed, having a mentor or coach was not part of my family’s ethos.
Two years into my college career, I left and joined the United States Air Force. For me, it was a place where I would receive food and shelter in exchange for hard work. After all, this is what my family had instilled in me. Hard work was the cornerstone of our family philosophy.
Traveling the world via the USAF, and thanks to American taxpayers, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one disadvantaged. The rest of the world seemed to face the same issue. There was no real shot at gaining momentum in wealth accumulation because the “systems” necessary to get ahead aren’t necessarily embedded in marginalized communities or countries.
Nonetheless, I came to understand why so many people chase the American Dream. Through my travels, I saw that many simply yearned for the bare basics. This is what I got in the USAF: the bare essentials and a lot of courage. Because of this, I had the chance to see life for what it truly is.
A spiritual experience lived in a human body. Yes, we still struggle with unfairness and inequality in the USA, especially women, women of color, and the LGBTQ community. But that’s not the reason we don’t get ahead. In my view, we don’t get ahead because we stop trying, and we don’t seek alternate ways to make sense of life, especially our work life. Eventually, someone always helped me because they saw I never quit.
According to recent research by https://womenintheworkplace.com, women often aren’t chosen for management roles and aren’t supported or “sponsored” by others in the workplace. This rings true in my experience. Nevertheless, I had to find “other” ways to make my dreams come true, or keep trying until someone sponsored me. I had to continue learning and seek alternative ways to understand the world. For a long time, I recognized that the “systems” in place were not designed for me or by me. They were never designed to help people who looked like me or thought like me. So, I did what my family taught me — I worked hard at whatever came my way.
After reading this research and the real statistics on inequality and fairness, I know I’m not alone. I’m not in a country that tells me to fend for myself anymore, but rather in a country that recognizes my community and wants to atone for past injustices. In a unique and wonderful way, America is beginning to acknowledge that marginalized communities are also part of the fabric of the nation. For this, I am grateful, though I know there’s still a lot of work to do. Fairness in the workplace can be implemented, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we, as women, get a fair shot at leadership roles. When applying for a job, I filled out the same application as men. This seemed “fair” to me, but I was often overlooked in favor of a male applicant, which I found unfair, especially when I was more qualified. Justice would have demanded that I get the job. I was better equipped and more qualified than my male counterparts, but for that to happen, we need a “just” and obligatory “system” or “corporate fabric” that demands justice for all women. I believe we are slowly getting there. When we accomplish this and create a “just system,” it will also become part of the American narrative, and we will have achieved a significant milestone, truly living up to the ideals of American culture.
Until then, I still believe that my ESL classes, my Latino last name, and my world travel in the USAF have helped me overcome the now “factual” biases that have always existed. Now, let’s get to work and start sponsoring women of color, LGBTQ individuals, and women in general. More power to us!