Combating Racism in the 21st Century
Brief summary of presentation of information made
BRIEFING COMMEMORATED 50 YEARS OF THE CONVENTION FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AND THE LAUNCH OF INTERNATIONAL DECADE FOR PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT (2015-2014). IT HIGHLIGHTED THE WAYS EVERYONE CAN GET INVOLVED IN THE FIGHT TO COMBAT RACISM AROUND THE WORLD.
Corann Okorodudu Professor of Psychology & Africana Studies, Rowan University; DPI NGO Representative, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Stephanie Franklin Founder, President & CEO, the Franklin Law Group
Onaje Muid Lecturer, Columbia School of Social Work
Dil Bishwakarma “DB” Sagar President, International Commission for Dalit Rights
Manbo Dòwòti Désir Chair, Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism of the NGO Committee on Human Rights; NGO Representative, Drammeh Institute
- The focus of this session was predominantly on USA – a global perspective was not presented
- 50 years has passed since the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) was passed yet overt and covert racism still prevails in the world. Article 1 of the Convention defines 'racial discrimination' as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, 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
- Historical roots of much racism lies in colonialism. Racial discrimination is a violation of human rights transmitted in and across generations. It affects values in all societies. It serves to rationalize hierarchical domination over 1 group or another to maintain social privilege for the dominant group. It reproduces identity and produces new forms of racism
- Policies, programs and legislation that exist to protect from racism are pointless unless the voice of everyday people who the policies, programs and legislation pertain to are central
- Effects of racism are borne out in poverty, access to power and justice, access to political power, racial profiling and police violence. EG Afro Brazilians comprise 53% of population in Brazil. 12-18 year olds are 3 times more likely to be killed than non Afro Brazilians. 68% of all homicides are Afro Brazilians, 62% of people incarcerated are Afro Brazilians. Black lives in Afro Caribbean are not covered by laws and policies to protect their survival safety and development. Afro-Brazilians are currently subject to forced displacement in favelas due to the next Olympics.
- Exposed the issue of the use of prescription psycho-trophic drugs among foster children in USA - some children are as young as 1year old
- Raised the issue of lack of recognition in USA today – people of African descent are largely denied the benefits of talents in areas of science, arts, music, yet many were in these beginnings. This is known as an unjust enrichment as privilege is not there. Suggested a need for reparations through compensation, restitution and rehabilitation
- Racism towards people of African descent is a transnational issue - 200 million people of African descent live in African Latino and USA parts. Afro Brazilians have been in USA for 100 years now, but are not considered in current census. Every continent has discrimination of caste/descent/race or origin where people face exclusion from cultural social, political rights so that equal enjoyment of human rights is nullified. Caste system of Asia (India & Nepal) also serves as discrimination – 300 million people are affected
- Racism is a collective struggle and civil society must be mobilized – a renewed political consciousness and commitment is needed to tear down the walls of inequality and discrimination and coalitions made to combat racism. Called for a collective route to do this. Some suggestions included adoption of college or university program to enable easier access for people of African descent, review the perspective in school curriculums about history of people of African descent; changes to state taxes and mechanisms – such as debt forgiveness, free health care for diseases endemic to people of African descent (such as hypertension, obesity).
- Virtual space is a new setting for racism through message boards, social media, and reporting.
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
- Honest reflection on racism/tribalism as an issue is necessary to address it within the Salvation Army as well as our local communities
- Intentionality and commitment is needed to ensure that all forms of distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin are not practiced either within The Salvation Army or in our communities.
- Understanding the existence of structural racism, how it presents, how it affects people and how it is sometimes accepted without thought, is necessary to addressing this issue.
Web links for more information
ICERD and CERD: A Guide for Civil Society
International Decade for People of African Descent
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Dis-crimination
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
The Global Goals for Sustainable Development