International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
On this day in 1960, police killed 96 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa against the apartheid “pass laws”. Since this, we have progressed greatly. South Africa’s apartheid system has ended, many societies around the world have abolished racist laws and practices – and we now have an International Convention built against racial discrimination. Just a few days ago (March 18th), there was a demonstration in London against racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism!
So, it is indisputable that there has been progress, but this does not mean we are there yet.
Still, racism, xenophobia and intolerance are issues apparent in societies. As members of society, we can be aware of ideas circulating around us, for example, messages perpetuated through the media. I can’t think of anything more relevant now than the targeting of migrants and refugees, best shown by journalism like that of the Daily Mail, which typically reads headings like ‘a tide of immigrants must be stopped for taking all our jobs’. Having the ability to recognise a statement that is worth much more scrutiny than sometimes given and be able to separate truth from fiction or fear mongering is crucial. These false stories are not only damaging to immigrant communities, unfairly viewing them with suspicion, but also to society overall towards making progress and advancing socially and economically.
Don’t let statements like this get in the way of our progress. The U.N.’s theme for today this year is to promote tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity. In light of this, every person deserves, and is entitled to human rights without discrimination.