In response to a violent, racist, incident in South Africa in 1960, March 21 was declared the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1966 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. In the 51 years since the establishment of this day, much has changed, but the struggle to end racial discrimination around the world and in Canada continues. Racism still exists.
Our history is rife with bigotry and exclusion, and while we have made progress, we still have a long way to go. Many newcomers to Canada, people of colour, people of other faiths such as Muslims and Indigenous peoples face discrimination in our society. Discrimination is when people treat others badly because they are different from them in some way.The important thing to remember about the different types of discrimination is that they are all unfair and hurtful. Sometimes in our society one type of discrimination seems more acceptable than another type. Yet they are all hurtful, so it makes sense that if you are against one type of discrimination, then you should be against them all!
If you are dealing with racial discrimination know that it is never your fault and you’re not alone. It can be important to talk to someone you trust about what you are experiencing. This could include a teacher you trust, family member, school counsellor, Teen Clinic,or a phone line such as the Klinic Crisis Line 1-888-322-3019 or (204) 786-8686 (24/27). It provides counselling, support and information for people in crisis or distress.
It can also help to talk and organize with peers who face the same discrimination. It gives you a chance to learn from others about how they resist and cope with discrimination and organize ways to challenge discrimination. Remember, for every act of discrimination people have found ways of resisting.
We all have to work at challenging negative stereotypes, and not judging people because of how they look or who they are. We can take a stand against discrimination in all it’s forms and look at our own attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. We can surround ourselves with people who are different from us. We all have stuff to learn and our own lessons to teach. Learning the value of diversity takes a lifetime, and sometimes it can be difficult, but also exciting and rewarding. Check our section on appreciating diversity to learn more!