Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.

Audre Lorde

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, established in 1966, by the United Nations after considering all the previous resolutions of discrimination and apartheid.

This day was chosen in memory of the 69 people (women, men, and children) killed outside the police station in Sharpeville, South Africa in 1960, while they held a peaceful demonstration against apartheid law that required all black people to carry identity documentation, which was known as “pass book” at all times.

Article 1 of the International Convention of Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination describes it “as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal, footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”.

I have experienced discrimination such as colour skin, gender, nationality, and ethnicity in many countries, places, and ways. For example, years ago in Helsinki, while shopping with a friend from the Middle East in a supermarket, in one of the aisles, a man that was passing by said: “It smells likes shit”. You can read more about my story here.

I invite you to listen to the podcast Code Switch which describes the story of Shalon Irving, who died after giving birth to her daughter. In the United States of America, Black women like her are “243 percent more likely than white women to die of pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes in the United States”.

Discrimination is present; thus, you need to create ways or codes for your physical and mental well-being. Here are some actions to take:

  • Use the “mirror code”, ask the same question they ask you.
  • Ignore the comments and discrimination looks.
  • You can replay with positive phrases to the individual.
  • If you see someone being discriminated support them. It is better two than one to kindly confront this situation.
  • Talk about it, even if is uncomfortable for some individuals.
  • Avoid being violent.
  • Report any act of discrimination.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Note: This article was originally published in ( March 2021), but now it has been updated with new information.

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