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International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Today, March 21st, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which started years ago in South Africa. In 1960, on the exact same date, 69 people were shot and killed during a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid pass laws. Causing an one of the most memorable uprising and call for change.

6 years after this massacre, The United Nations called for the International community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. Now back to 2017. Unfortunately, today is also a day where racism and discrimination is still a part of our society. The situation around Trump’s presidency is a perfect example of how discrimination always lurks around the corner. Besides this, there are still multiple news reports every week, which revolve around violence based on discrimination or racism.

Although things might not always look extremely positive, there is reason enough to celebrate all the steps that already have been taken and the progression that has been made. That is exactly what today is about: raising awareness for the problems that still occur while celebrating the people who fought for the right we have now.

Racism and discrimination is still an ongoing issue. The only way to tackle this issue properly is to change mindsets and to make people aware aka “woke”. But in order to do so, many of the countries in western world need to understand their history, especially the shared history with the African diaspora.

The history of South Africa for example is still underexposed in the educational system of the country and what we have noticed here in the Netherlands is that the involvement of the Dutch government has not been part of our educational system at all. When we talk about the abolishment of Apartheid, we are talking about something that happened pretty recently, 26 years ago. This could have been your brother or sister living in a country of oppression, which the Dutch Government had a huge part in and we don’t even discuss at all? Pretty hurtful don’t you think? In order to move forward, we believe you have to know your history.

We like to put people in ‘boxes’ and give them names that we formulate ourselves. That happens; subconsciously. It starts at a young age. You’re to popular kid or you’re not.

“You can’t sit with us”

This might be a mild example of segregation, however this is a way of excluding being “different”, and if you start at a young age, who will you be when you are in charge of lets say a country?

We believe that there is no reason to discriminate someone based on race, color, sex, language, religion, politics or social origin. That’s why we need to remind ourselves of the importance of the Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

This day marks the day that South Africa overpowered racism and discrimination against its citizens, which has a long history of segregation. The population took a stand and stood up for their rights.

However don’t forget that to this day people are still fighting for equality in their daily lives, we are talking about equality for women, the LBGTQ community, African Americans, “ The allochtonen” in the Netherlands, Afro latinos and so many more…

On this day think about movements that started in the 60’s that stood up for equal rights for African Americans like Black Consciousness Movement and Black Power Movement. Now we have movements such as Black Lives Matter. We are all still fighting for a way to be heard and seen, or better yet to exist equally as any human being on this planet.

How we deal with racism and discrimination is the most important part. We cannot win the battle against racism, if we are not conscious of it. If someone uses racial slurs do not stand there and just let him speak. Let him or her know what they did wrong. As a society we have the responsibility to change extremist thoughts. Everyone should accept whoever you are or want to be. We all should be proud of our diversity. Instead of criticizing it, we should be celebrating it!

All in all, today is about realization. Realization of the fact that racial discrimination has caused so much pain, tears and even war. But also realization of the fact that today we’re living in a world where people can actually make that difference and make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. Today is remarkable.

“ Be the change you want to see in the world”