The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed March 21st yet every day, each and every one of us must stand up to racism.
Racism is not unique to any particular society, it prevails in our communities across the world. Racism is also prevalent in the workplace and due to the growing frustration with our economy, we see the threat of division rising. Yet the decision-makers and influencers who benefit from exploitation want us to pit ourselves against each other – because when we recognize and understand that it is the majority of us who are experiencing poverty and inequality, decision-makers and influencers know they are outnumbered. Racism is dangerous and highly divisive so we must confront racial discrimination and stop it in its tracks before the situation is manipulated – if you hear someone say ‘immigrants are taking our jobs’, that’s discrimination, and it must be confronted. These type of phrases inflame the conditions of racism – left untreated, the future is bleak for us all. We cannot allow racist and discriminatory feelings and sentiments to be deemed acceptable.
In our communities, anti-immigrant protests are on the rise and Islamophobia is resulting in horrendous violence so now, more than ever, we must bring people together across the country to #UniteAgainstRacism – there are many Saskatchewan events in recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and we encourage you to join:
- Racism in the Healthcare System: Yin Paradies & Rose Roberts – Join the College of Medicine, Division of Social Accountability, where this presentation will begin by defining racism and its various manifestations, followed by an overview of how racism can impact the provision of healthcare, including contributing to health disparities for minority groups. To conclude, strategies for responding to racism as healthcare providers, in the health system and in society more generally will be discussed. WHEN: March 21 from 12:30-1:30pm at the Saskatoon Health Sciences Building GB03. Click here for the Facebook event.
- Solidarity Vigil for Christchurch - Join us for a vigil in solidarity with and in honour of the victims who lost their lives in two shootings at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand last Friday. WHEN: March 21 at Regina City Hall from 6:00-7:00pm. Click here for the Facebook event.
- Interfaith Reflections & Prayers for New Zealand: Standing Against Violence and Terrorism – join the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan to express our Unity over Division, Faith over Fear, and Love over Hatred. WHEN: March 21 from 6:00-9:00pm at the Islamic Center Saskatoon (222 Copland Cres).
- Rock Against Racism Saskatoon presents: Spring Solidarity Concert - In honour of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Rock Against Racism Saskatoon will host a fun night of music, solidarity, and celebration of diversity in our community. WHEN: Saturday, March 23 at Amigos Cantina in Saskatoon – doors open at 8pm. Click here for the Facebook event.
- Overcoming Discrimination: When We are the Other - A Courageous Conversation about Diversity, Inclusion and Understanding. WHEN: Saturday, March 23 at the Wesley United Church in Regina from 10:00am-3:00pm. Click here for the Facebook event.
The Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan has also put together a useful Show Racism the Door activity kit in recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This kit includes ’12 Things You Can Do To Address Racism’ – we encourage you to read and do your part in confronting racism:
- Be aware of your privileges (as well as ways you are disadvantaged). Break the invisibility of privilege.
- Listen, listen, LISTEN!
- Take responsibility without being defensive when your actions are questioned. Ask questions and learn more about power in any situation.
- Work towards liberating yourself from supporting oppression.
- Try to help others with similar privileges understand how power, privilege and oppression work.
- Unlearn prejudices and stereotypes. This is a lifelong process. Join with others on this journey towards change.
- Canada’s colonial legacy is everyone’s responsibility. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has 94 Calls to Action. Read them. Make a personal commitment to one (or more) that is meaningful to you.
- Realize that feeling guilty is very unhelpful for everyone and that a useful role is to take part in recognizing and rejecting racism/oppression.
- If you hear an oppressive comment or see an example of oppression, be an ally, not a bystander.
- Try to avoid the trap of “knowing what is good for them” for members of oppressed groups.
- Learn what you can about an oppressed group – read, ask questions, listen. But do not expect everybody to be willing to teach you now that you are ready to learn.
- Be yourself. Do not try to claim the roots and connections that a history of oppression can give to a community, if it is not your own. The best thing you can do is to dig into your roots, history, connections.