By Ettie Rutherford
On March 21, 1960, the world was shocked by the news of the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa, where scores of peaceful demonstrators against apartheid were wounded and killed. In commemoration of this horrible, tragic event, the United Nations declared March 21st as the International Day For The Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
In 1989, the Canadian government showed support for the United Nations’ declaration, by launching its first national March 21 campaign. The focus of the campaign is twofold: (1) to inform the world, at large, about racism and its ugly presence in society; and (2) to encourage everyone to do something, however small, to eradicate racism in our institutions, our churches, the legal system, and the medical system.
Stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination provide the bedrock for racism, which is an evil practice that, for hundreds of years, has eroded people’s souls, self-concept and the overall well-being of millions of people.
Historically, racism has affected education, employment and promotion in the work force, as well as discriminatory — and sometimes fatal — experiences with the police, financial and medical institutions, human rights and a host of other areas, which affect everyone’s lives.
Far too many persons tend to believe that there is no need for a discussion, or even acknowledgement, of racism, because of the subtle ways, in which racism manifests itself in Canada and, also, because some of us are living in denial, either because we can’t be bothered to join the dialogue or because we are sometimes ashamed to acknowledge the racist incidents that have been experienced by us, our families, or our friends.
It is imperative that we not only acknowledge the negative impact that racism has on people’s lives, but that we strive to bring about more awareness, through programs and activities, for families, educational institutions, the work-place, and the entire community, at large.
I sincerely hope that we will all acknowledge the need to eradicate racism as one of the most important areas of focus, while working to bring about a world that will accept everyone as human beings, regardless of race.
We owe this to ourselves and others, so that we will be better able to guard against and work proactively to minimize the demoralizing effects that racism has on victims, as well as perpetrators.
RACISM IS LIKE ACID; IT ERODES THE PERSON BEING BURNT, AS WELL AS THE VESSEL WHICH CONTAINS IT. Do not be complacent, discrimination breeds racism.
Award-winning Ettie Rutherford, B.Ed, Dip.Ed, M.Ed, is an educator, life coach, consultant and author of “Why Perch Like A Chick When You Can Soar Like An Eagle?”. An accomplished public speaker, Ettie is the Founder and CEO of Women Are Worthy, which provides step-by-step strategies for women to achieve their goals, with a minimum amount of stress. She can be reached at email@example.com