When one group of people does not have the same opportunities in life as another group of people, the difference is often referred to as social inequity or social inequality.
This lack of opportunity may be visible in several areas including education, healthcare, housing, access to credit and employment.
The group on the "wrong" side of social inequity can often be seen as coming from a different social class or social circle. Resentment between social classes can often lead to divisiveness.
Inequities in society can vary and often include gender and wealth inequities, in addition to racial inequity. It is possible for one person to experience inequities for several reasons. A poor, homeless woman living on the streets of Los Angeles most certainly experiences social inequity. Passers-by probably treat her much differently than the carefully coifed business man sitting on a park bench only a few feet away. The homeless woman may be treated with disrespect or looks of disdain or distrust, whereas the carefully groomed business man is admired.
Racial inequity occurs when one race of people within a society is treated differently than another based solely upon race. Even though the inequality may not be spoken, there is often an unspoken social protocol where one race is perceived to be superior to other races. This could be based upon color of skin or hair, ethnicity or mannerisms.
When members of a race are considered to be or act in a prescribed way, stereotyping is present. These stereotypes can be a barrier for education and job opportunities.
Examples of social inequity
Racial inequity can be a barrier to achieving worldly success. For instance, a young girl grows up in the low-income housing projects in Chicago. During that time, she's repeatedly exposed to violence. Her school is in shambles and most students drop out. Because the parents are too busy working two jobs each, they do not pay the required attention to their daughter that they should. The size of the classes at her school are too big and teachers are unable to do their best. As a result, she receives a less-than-good education. Her parents do not drive because they cannot afford a vehicle, and the family relies on public transportation. The family does not own a home, because they were denied credit from their neighborhood bank. Her parents have spent all of her life just trying to survive and put food on the table.
As the young girl reaches adulthood, her choices appear limited. The young girl knows few examples of successful, educated women. While the young girl may mature to be successful, the situation she was born into makes success hard to reach. Her path to receiving an education, achieving a high-paying job, and owning a home will be very difficult.
In comparison, a young woman who grows up in the suburbs and is part of a family where education is emphasized and appreciated and daily life is not challenged with struggles to survive, is more likely to clearly see the path to success and be able to reach it.