Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation

Stefanie Arias

Equality is more than a founding principle of the United States; it is the key to solving all problems because it demands fair and balanced resolutions. However, equality is divisive, revealing the complexity of human nature. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was the first step toward racial equality in our country. Segregation ended a century later, and President Obama is half-black, but racial discrimination remains. When New York City police question a black man about the authenticity of his payment for an expensive item in a high-end department store, and arrest him in spite of his proof of identification and purchase receipt, we know there is still much work to do. Discrimination is the roadblock to equality, and it exists beyond racial issues. Women are underrepresented as they continue to fight for their own reproductive rights. For example, a nearly all-male panel of witnesses testified during a birth control hearing on Capitol Hill in 2012. Anti-discrimination measures that will benefit members of the LGBT community are currently being debated at all levels of government. Why does the issue require debate at all? It’s because of people who let their personal bigotry regarding sexual orientation turn into full-fledged intolerance. Some say equality is a basic human right – to be treated without prejudice, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. We must fight against centuries of discriminatory attitudes to make it true. Until all people are fairly represented, equality is merely a privilege for a select few and the world’s problems will never be solved. After all, from the most elementary formula to the most complex, the answer always comes after the equality sign. Stefanie Arias