A Day Late

On October 26th, 1966, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 2142 (XXI), proclaiming March 21st as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  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 which signifies the struggle to end the policy of apartheid in South Africa, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

unesco-1I am late with this post, for yesterday was March 21st, but it doesn’t really matter if it’s a day late, for every day should be a day for eliminating racial discrimination.  Recent events here in the U.S. – the brutal murder of George Floyd and countless others by police, and more recently the hate crimes against Asian-Americans – have shown us that we have much to do to end racism.

While it is crucial to end racial prejudice in public agencies such as police, social services, and even at the highest levels of government, the problem starts on a more basic level – with us.  We haven’t been listening for the past 50, 100 years.  Oh sure … we protested in Civil Rights marches in the 1960s, and that led to laws such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and more, but then we clapped our hands, dusted off our knees, went home and said, “Well done!” and moved on without a backward glance.  And now look … 43 states are busily writing laws that would invalidate the Voting Rights Act.

I cannot speak for other countries, but I do know that racism is alive and well today around the globe, more than it was, say, two decades ago.  In part, this is as a result of a surge in migration due to the Arab Spring, nations were unprepared, and it has led to a new level of racial discrimination around the globe.  But more specifically here in the U.S., I have not seen this much blatant racism in the past 50 years.  But it’s been there all along.  Our Black friends knew it, for they lived it.  They tried to tell us, but we weren’t listening.  And now, the racism has spread to Asian-Americans, largely as a result of public figures blaming China for the coronavirus, calling it “China flu” and worse.  Since 11 September 2001, there has been an expansion of racism here against people from Middle Eastern countries … even though the attacks on that day were carried out by only 19 people and directed by one man, not the entire Muslim world.

I don’t have answers to the question of how we end this, but I do know that each one of us has got to look inside ourselves and understand that we are not superior in any way to anybody else … not Blacks, not Muslims, not Asians, not LGBT people … NOBODY!

Here is the text of President Joe Biden’s statement released yesterday (I may be a day late, but Joe was on time!):

One of the core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans is standing against hate and racism, even as we acknowledge that systemic racism and white supremacy are ugly poisons that have long plagued the United States. We must change the laws that enable discrimination in our country, and we must change our hearts.

Racism, xenophobia, nativism, and other forms of intolerance are not problems unique to the United States. They are global problems. They are human problems that we all need to recognize, name, and dismantle. Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, all nations and people should recommit to the fundamental truth that every human being has inherent dignity and deserves to be treated with fairness. We must recognize the ways that racism, gender discrimination, and other forms of marginalization intersect with and compound one another. And, we must all strive to eliminate inequities in our policies, remove barriers to full participation in our societies, and push for open and inclusive processes that respect all people everywhere.

Under my Administration, the United States will lead the conversation on these painful issues—at home, in international institutions, and around the world. That is why, on my first day in office, I signed an Order establishing a whole of government approach to equity and racial justice. We will not shy away from engaging in the hard work to take on the damaging legacy of slavery and our treatment of Native Americans, or from doing the daily work of addressing systemic racism and violence against Black, Native, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other communities of color. Neither will we fail to speak out against the horrific mistreatment of the Rohingya in Burma, the Uyghurs in China, or any racial discrimination we see in the world.

Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It should have no safe harbor anywhere in the world. We must join together to make it stop.

35 thoughts on “A Day Late

  1. Racism is a plague that stalks the world and no nation or people is free of its taint or ever has been. Folk never seem to work out that they can be both subject and purveyors at the same time. Though try and point that out and you can start a real firestorm. (Hence no examples here)

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    • I know you’re right, Roger … I used to think there was an end in sight, that we could all learn to live together in peace and harmony. I no longer believe that will ever happen. Greed, money, power … they will never allow a world of peace. I think I was misplaced when I was dropped here, for I really don’t fit well into this world.

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      • If you and folk like you were not on this world, along with all the Good People you so rightly bring to our attentions on Wednesday then what you are seeing now would be nothing in comparison.
        ‘We’ are here….because.
        Just because.

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        • Awwww … thank you so much, Roger. Of late, I’ve been questioning why I even bother for I don’t seem to make any difference, but you’ve made me smile. Yes, I guess I am here … just because.

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            • I don’t feel very much so these days, my friend, but it makes me happy to know that you think so. Perhaps I should trust your judgment more than my own at the moment. I feel like a useless blob, a laughable caricature trying to make a difference but … failing miserably.

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              • Now here’s the thing Jill.
                Remember the Klutz insult ‘Snowflake?’
                When all those snowflakes gather together and keep on falling? Not even those beloved 4 by 4’s are going to get out of the drive. And what the (very bad word) use is a gun in a snowstorm?:
                Elie Wiesel
                “Always take side. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor never the tormented.”
                You just keep on keeping on. Even when there “seems” to be no result, because this is what you do and this is what will be your legacy.
                We do not measure our quality by the nebulous media scale, we measure our quality by our effort to bring something positive to the mix.
                Now ‘dig this’ (1960s flashback), I’ve worked away for maybe five years on those books, still at it. Chances of them being sold in numbers- like 0.000001% (that’s the risk a writer takes). BUT I/ME/Roger Jacob (aka R J Llewellyn) wrote them, they are upbeat, they are positive and above all they are there.
                And that Jill, is what it is all about for the likes of you, me and millions of others, we try and build something constructive, and we just keep on keeping on…for its own sake.
                Birds sing no matter what the weather, because. Just because.
                Keep on keeping on my friend. You an’t done yet.
                🌺 🌸 🌼 🌻 🌞

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                • Awwww Roger … your words bring both tears and a smile. I always took a sort of pride in being called a ‘snowflake’, for snowflakes are beautiful and unique, and as you say, together they pack a powerful punch. I needed this pep talk … I’ve been on the brink of just giving up for weeks now, but especially since the last mass shooting here. The Elie Wiesel quote … it says it all … and I’ve said much the same before. I forgot my own advice for a while there. Thanks, dear friend, for the pep talk and the flowers. Now I shall dry my tears and get back to “keep on keeping on!”

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  2. Thank you, Jill, for teaching me about this day, and for helping us all to remember the importance of continuing to learn, and to help others to learn, with empathy, to think critically.
    Stay safe,
    -Shira

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      • Empathy and critical thinking are not second nature, Jill, as you know: they are taught and learned skills.
        This is why our blogs are sharing those skills and words to build both tools, and get them into our collective Toolbox, right?

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        • I don’t know, Shira. It seems that empathy is a natural reaction until we are taught otherwise. Watch little kids on a playground … if one falls off the swing, others will immediately go to him and ask if he’s okay, even offering their half-eaten piece of candy! Critical thinking, on the other hand, probably does have to be taught and it appears our schools are not doing a very good job of it these days. Yes, we try, my friend, but I’m not sure how much of a difference we are making today.

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          • Jill, you are right about initial reactions, and I think that most human beings do have natural empathy, but it is also a learned and developed skill: the frontal lobe, or the frontal cortex, that part of our brain that controls executive decision-making, does not finish developing, according to one nurse I knew in NM, until we are well into our 30s, for most peoplej.
            That means that empathy also needs development and training.
            Critical thinking, as an abstract tool, is certainly a skill that requires teaching and practice.
            These facts give us hope that there is a difference to be made, and even if we do not live to see our work make a difference, it is still (perhaps even more so) critical that we do that work, and not give up.

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    • Sigh. Thank you for your encouragement, my dear soul sister … I need it tonight. Two mass shootings in a week … too much for me. Yes, I’ll keep fighting … I just need to step back for a minute … once the tears have dried, perhaps I can think again. Love you. ❤

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      • In trying to find out about the Boulder shootings (it finally hit the morning news in Alberta) I discovered Boulder was actually the 7th mass shooting in 5h3 States, counting the Atlanta shooting as #1, in the past 7 days. Not all of them had fatalities, but it seems Americans are not hearing about all the mass shootings in your own country. That is wrong!

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        • You’re right … I discovered the same just today. I should have checked the GVA database before doing my post, but I didn’t think to. The media is letting us down by not reporting them all.

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  3. We will win the fight against racism, Jill! I am sure, but i will take much more longer one thought. Here racism is combined with the fear of migrants. ;-( Our politicans have to do the same POTUS has done. Have a beautiful evening! Michael

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    • If we do … and mind you, I have my doubts … it won’t happen in my lifetime. I am almost 70 years old and … well, I just don’t see it happening soon. Sigh. Sorry … I’m really down tonight after yet another mass shooting … 10 dead. 😥

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        • I thought the pandemic would change people, but after a year, it’s only made people more bigoted, more hateful. Still … we are living and breathing, so I haven’t given up completely. Have a great evening, Michael!

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          • We really need to have hope, Jill! I think in the USA you are in the midst, its only half of the way getting out of this change in behavior. Here we are at the beginning, and in autumn we will have elections for the Bundestag. Have a beautiful afternoon, Jill

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            • I’ve very nearly lost hope, Michael. The two political parties in this country are going to fight to the death, with We the People being the collateral damage. I am having a beautiful afternoon, Michael … the sun is shining and it is 22° C outdoors … my windows are open and I’m watching the squirrels and birds play in the back yard as I write! You too, my friend, though ‘afternoon’ is long gone on your side of the pond. Ah, your time changes this weekend, yes?

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