Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
NEW YORK Each year, the United Nations celebrates March 21 as being the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Born Free and Equal
American Indians have been subjected to racism since European contact as evidenced by the killings by spreading of diseases that wiped whole tribes, through warfare and massacres.
Racism against American Indians continues today through the usage of Indian mascots by sports teams.
March 21 was chosen because 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 United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
The theme for this year's International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is "Racism and Conflict," highlighting the fact that racism and discrimination often are at the root of deadly conflict.
The theme was chosen to capture the often ignored yet mutually reinforcing relationship between racism and conflict. In many parts of the world, racism, prejudice and xenophobia create extreme tension and are used as powerful weapons to engender fear or hatred in times of conflict. Prejudice and xenophobia can even lead to genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crimes.
This year's theme aims to raise awareness of these issues and to recall the plight of the victims who suffered or continue to suffer as a result of racism-related conflicts.
The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that
“all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reminds us of our collective responsibility for promoting and protecting this ideal.
posted March 21, 2012 12:59 pm edt
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