You’ve likely seen this meme floating around social media. When did the incredible edible egg get caught up in the conversation of racism?

The general idea of the meme is that “we are all the same on the inside”.

I’ve also heard this sentiment posed as a question “doesn’t the solution to racism really just come down to the golden rule?” Or, “If I treat everyone the same isn’t that basically what we are trying to do?” “Isn’t that good enough?”

Look, there’s merit to the idea. The problem is that in an applied sense it just doesn’t work. Quite simply, the golden rule takes too many things for granted.

Specifically, while we may all be the same on the inside, on the outside, we are not the same, and the world doesn’t treat everyone the same and that is where things go wrong.

Let’s think back to our egg meme. Even though all of the eggs looked the same when we cracked them open and put them in a pan, most of the interactions we have with people – conversations with Jamar in accounting, ordering burgers at the local Wendy’s, walking into the grocery store beside someone – are simply not at that depth. We have no idea what that person is like on the inside. So because we don’t know what most people are like on the inside, we navigate the world based on what we see on the outside.

And the chicken that laid the white egg and the chicken that laid the brown egg do not get treated the same way.

That white chicken has probably never been followed when trying to buy clothes at Macy’s, the white chicken probably never had a stranger try to touch her hair, and here’s the real kicker, the white chicken has never been called the N-word. But that brown chicken has.

If you want to get really honest, the chicken that laid the dark brown egg oftentimes has a different experience than the lighter colored brown chicken.

So if you meet that brown chicken and you meet that white chicken, and you treat them both the same, there is already the opportunity for problems.

Think about it like this.

  • You just met two people. One person recently had surgery on their right shoulder and the other person didn’t. You reach out to shake both of their hands. Is the experience the same for both? Can you just apply the golden rule?
  • A first year CPA takes twice as long to complete a project compared to their third year counterpart. Probably an understandable coaching opportunity for the younger staff. Or maybe we should just treat both of them the same.
  • A new driver drives a little slower, and has to back into the parking spot a couple of times to get it right. Should we hold all drivers to the same standard? Why do they take so long to parallel park?

Look, all people are the same on the inside, but they do not have the same lives and when we recognize that fact we can create a more just world for everyone. But it only becomes just when we recognize the differences. Pretending that differences don’t exist only makes the chasm wider.

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