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Age Equity

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman 

Over the past year there has been a lot of talk in our towns about equity. And rightfully so. The documentary “America To Me” helped focus a much-needed and well-deserved spotlight on the race aspect of the equity issue.

I want to raise another important aspect – age equity.

I am not pitting racism and ageism against each other. They intersect, and raising awareness about and fighting against one can help fight against the other, as well as against sexism or homophobia or ableism or any form of prejudice.

In our youth-obsessed society, old is bad - older people are routinely treated like worn-out machines and then we become invisible.

And the most invisible amongst us are older women of color, located firmly at the intersection of ageism, sexism and racism.

Age equity means that everyone has opportunities, recognition, respect and fair treatment regardless of their age.

Ageism is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. This may be casual or systemic, internalized or cultural.

The term ageism was coined in 1969 by Robert Neil Butler to describe discrimination against older people. Butler defined ageism as a combination of three connected elements: 1.prejudicial attitudes towards older people, old age, and the aging process; 2.discriminatory practices against older people; and 3.institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about older people.

By 2030, 30% of our residents will be over 50 years of age, a sharp increase which is only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s identify and eliminate ageism in our community, from Village Hall to community institutions to local businesses to not-for-profits to our own neighborhoods.

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