In the News March 19
One Humanity, One Struggle!
International Day for the Elimination of Racism
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on March 21, the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “Pass Laws” in 1960.
In 1979, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided that, beginning on March 21 every year, a week of solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination would be organized in all States.
“Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and we have built an international framework for fighting racism, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,” the UN says. It informs that the Convention is now nearing universal ratification, “yet still, in all regions, too many individuals, communities and societies suffer from the injustice and stigma that racism brings.” Unfortunately, the UN fails to analyze why this is the case. This makes providing solutions ineffective, which is why it is up to the peoples of the world to provide the solutions which can eliminate racism once and for all.
What is not addressed are the unequal power structures associated with what are called “democratic constitutions” as well as the racist outlook that informs those constitutions. This must be addressed in a manner which ensures that relations between humans and humans and between humans and nature benefit all the members of all states. Instead, we see an increase in state racism and the discrimination enforced on the basis of that, as well as police killings and brutality against black, brown and Indigenous peoples. Governments are able to join and even lead the activities endorsed by the UN’s International Week of Action because the people are disempowered and cannot hold them to account when their claims go unrecognized and unmet.
The 2022 UN edition of the International Day focuses on the theme “Voices for Action Against Racism.” The UN website says: “This edition aims, in particular, at: highlighting the importance of strengthening meaningful and safe public participation and representation in all areas of decision-making to prevent and combat racial discrimination; reaffirming the importance of full respect for the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and of protecting civic space; and recognizing the contribution of individuals and organizations that stand up against racial discrimination and the challenges they face.
“This simple message can be a powerful vehicle to encourage people everywhere to strengthen and consolidate their voices against racism, to mobilize against all forms and manifestations of racial discrimination and injustice, and to ensure a safe environment for those who speak up. It lends itself towards telling personal interest stories and can feature people and populations from across the world.”
The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) calls on Canadians and Quebeckers to avail themselves of this space to fight for the right of all people to uphold their rights without being criminalized. This year, instead of modernizing the Constitution so that sovereign decision-making power is vested in the people and unequal and racist structures and values are eliminated, governments are passing anti-hate laws which will serve to criminalize political opinion and endorse discriminatory official opinions in the name of high ideals.
Despite the peoples’ opposition, racism is increasing today because more and more police powers are concentrated in the executive powers. The inherently racist structures of the state are such that “freedom” is guaranteed for those espousing hooliganism and attacking individuals who do not agree with them and justifying what are called Canadian values even though these are precisely the values that protect the powerful financial interests which trample the rights of the people underfoot. The hereditary rights of the Indigenous peoples are disregarded, as are the rights of the working people, especially migrant and so-called guest workers, such as those from Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean as well as Central and South America and other places, in order to bring down the standards of the entire working class. So too are the rights of the peoples of the world. On this occasion, the failure to protect Palestinians in occupied Palestine and Israel and the peoples of all the war-torn countries is also uppermost in people’s minds as they oppose double standards and liberal hypocrisy when it comes to fighting racism and racial discrimination and demanding their elimination.
The peoples of the world are fighting to fill the space where change takes place with the affirmation of their claims on society. Don’t let the perpetrators of racism, discrimination and unequal power structures deprive the peoples of this space. It is the space which must be identified and occupied so as to prevail in this historic struggle for peace, freedom and democracy which is brewing on the world scale.
1. The Pass Laws Act of 1952 required black South Africans over the age of 16 to carry a pass book, known as a dompas, everywhere and at all times. The dompas was similar to a passport and within the pages of an individual’s dompas were their fingerprints, photograph, personal details of employment, permission from the government to be in a particular part of the country, qualifications to work and other information.
(Workers’ Forum, posted March 19, 2022)