Thursday, March 21, 2013

International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The 21st of March is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

This date was chosen as it is the anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa. Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations states:
Each year we mark this Day on the anniversary of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre. We can never forget the 69 unarmed and peaceful demonstrators who were killed by South African police as they protested the country’s unjust apartheid laws. Apartheid has long since been dismantled and there have been other important advances in the struggle against racism. These include treaties and declarations, the development of an international framework to combat racism, and national protection systems by numerous States. Despite much progress, racism remains a pervasive menace to individuals and ethnic and religious groups worldwide. It is a threat to stability and a grave violation of human rights. We must join forces to end racism, and sport can help reach this goal. On this International Day, let us recommit to ending racial discrimination and realizing our vision of justice, equality and freedom from fear for all.
It is my personal experience that Australian's do not have a sophisticated understanding nor an ability to identify, talk about and/or critically reflect on their own racism - individual, institutional and systemic. "I'm not racist" is frequently heard in the media as a defence. I would argue that probably all of us are racist to some degree or another. It doesn't make it okay of course. But it does mean that when you attempt to defend yourself with "I'm not racist", you look, sound and probably are being absurd, and un-productive. It takes a long time to grapple with one's own racism - to be able to self-identify it, to challenge it. It's an ongoing journey of reflection and personal challenge.

Here are some links that may assist you on your journey to better understanding racism -
  • All Together Now - is a not-for-profit foundation set up to directly challenge and combat racism in Australia
  • It Stops With me - campaign to challenge racism from the Human Rights Commission
  • Racism: No Way - education campaign to challenge racism from NSW Government, Department of Education and Training
It's good to also share individual experiences of racism, so I've "mined" the Deadly Bloggers list for some personal reflections on racism -
I'll end with this poem by the very very deadly Murri poet Steven Oliver....

In Australia, other commemorations are also held on the 21st of March. These include Harmony Day and Closing The Gap.

If you know of any other deadly posts on racism, let me know so I can add update the list above ...

Cheers, Leesa
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