I grew up in suburbia where kids were on swim teams and played Little League. There was one girl, a natural athlete, who played on the boys’ Little League team. I remember being at a game with family friends and hearing the coach say in confidence to another father, “She’s a girl, but she’s good.” I knew that this particular girl seemed to have athletic ability beyond the average kid, but it was a shame to predestine everyone else. As I grew older I also knew that the girl’s mother was one of those parents yelling on the sidelines putting tremendous pressure on her daughter. Though I wouldn’t argue for this motivational approach, perhaps we would have discovered other “natural” athletes among us if other kids had been exposed to sports at an early age as this girl had.
I am reminded of this childhood memory by the recent news coverage of Mo’ne Davis, who’s pitching at the highest levels among all kids her age, boys and girls, at this year’s Little League World Series. Mo’ne Davis’s coach, who has worked with Davis since she was 7, commented on the matter of inequality himself, though not in relation to gender but rather urban versus suburban. “If you give kids in the city what kids in the suburbs have, you get the same exact results.”
Inequality is everywhere. We may be disadvantaged because of our gender, race, ethnicity, attractiveness, physical limitations, where we live, where we grew up, what we were exposed to or weren’t exposed to as we grew up, a lack of money, a lack of connections to others who could help us, a lack of education or lack of attending the right school, and many more. We don’t have much choice in choosing how we are unequal from someone we’d rather be. But we can choose to assess our options, limited they may be, and take a step towards where we want to go even if we know that our arrival is not certain and our path much longer than that of someone else. Choosing to accept our circumstances for what they are and making an effort to move beyond them is the biggest advantage we can give ourselves.