Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Given what I do, every day is a day to eliminate racism, but I digress.
First, I notice that it feels different to say ‘the elimination of racial discrimination’ vs. ‘the elimination of racism’. The latter is more powerful. More systemic…. But maybe that’s just me. Because if we examine how racial discrimination seeps into policies and laws, then it’s a systemic examination as well.
In thinking about what to write for today, I began to think about a world without racism. What would that actually look like? What are we asking for on this day set aside to acknowledge that racism exists?
Examples of Racism…
Racism is in the fabric of our laws, structures and policies.
It’s why Indigenous people have so little land in a country that once was theirs.
It’s why many reservations don’t have clean drinking water.
It’s how the Colton Boushie murder trial had an all-white jury, and the man who killed him was found not guilty.
It’s why Black and Indigenous children are overrepresented in the child welfare system.
It’s why when you look at politicians in countries with mixed populations, most of them are White.
It’s why to the Western world, African and Caribbean countries are “developing”.
It’s why there has been a Black community living in close proximity to a garbage dump for generations in Nova Scotia, dealing with higher than normal levels of specific cancers, and it has taken years to have the dump closed.
It’s why there are few CEOs of colour.
It’s why drop out rates are high for kids of colour.
It’s why there are high levels of poverty, as well as health issues, among populations of colour in North America.
It’s why there are so many babies of colour in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units in North America.
It informs how we hear about people in the news – their descriptions, what we are told about them, and IF we hear about them/their issues at all.
If you’d like to read more, here are two recent interesting articles.
Racial Battle Fatigue: It likens the stress that comes from daily micro-aggressions faced by Black people – because of racism – to that of soldiers in war.
And this New York Times article that talks about income and race – and how even Black men born into wealth disproportionately end up poor.
What would it mean to eliminate racism?
Systemic racism ensures (greater) access, opportunity and choice to people who are white. Period.
So if we want to eliminate racism, we need to be prepared to examine power imbalance, balance out representation, share leadership, look at funding, reconsider neighbourhoods and how they are “seen” and treated, take environmental racism seriously….and much much more.
Eliminating racism would be a game changer for everyone. Not just for Black people and people of colour. For some it will be a relief, and life will be sweeter. For some it will be a shock because change will show how racism has shaped our societies.
In order to get there we have to acknowledge racism when we see it, understand how it works, and then work to change our awareness, perspective and actions – as well as systems, policies and procedures. Every day. Small steps and large.
What can you do?
What are you doing to notice racism?
What are you doing to address it when you see it?
What can you do to challenge the systems where racism is embedded?