The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is 21 March. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”. Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly of the United Nations called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination (resolution 2142 (XXI)).
Discrimination happens on a daily basis in big ways and little ways. On this land we share a history and ongoing problems of colonialism, racism and xenophobia. Racism and intolerance can take many forms — sometimes it’s bigger systematic things like denying people or groups equal access to basic rights. We see it in the media by how some groups get talked about. We see with the government by who they prioritize and listen too. Sometimes it is in our day to day lives like stereotypes, passing comments, workplace structures or being followed by security guards. Big or small, discrimination is never okay.
If you are dealing with discrimination know that it is not your fault. Talking with someone you trust about your experiences. This could also include a phone line such as the Kids Help Phone Join or start a community group to push back and reclaim spaces. Some local examples include AYO, QPOC and Black Space Winnipeg
We can all challenge ourselves to think and act in ways that are more accepting and inclusive. We can also take action! Listed below are just some of the ways we can encourage more diversity in our schools or community life.
Look at your own attitudes and behaviours daily.
Think about the language you use and stop saying hurtful things. This could be sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist etc. terms or phrases (like, “that’s so gay” or “that’s retarded”). We are all going to make mistakes occasionally and say something insensitive. When it happens apologize and keep trying.
- Learn about the real history of the land you live on or are visiting.
Don’t laugh at offensive jokes. Challenge them if you feel safe to do so.
Step outside your comfort zone and get to know different types of people, their stories, their hopes and their dreams.
- Learn from people who are different from you. Listen more than you talk.
Be politically aware. Educate yourself and understand what is happening in Canada and around the world.