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The UN Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

To mark the UN Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, read Zita's blog about how the worrying trend of deepening racism in our society needs to be addressed.

After a year where black people globally felt they had no choice but to take the streets to declare that black lives matter and where coronavirus has disproportionately impacted on black people, racism is deepening and must be eliminated

2021 began with the news of the death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan in Cardiff. He was arrested, held in a police cell overnight and released the next day without charge but with multiple injuries. He died later that day.

There is a petition asking for the release of bodycam and CCTV footage to show what happened during his time of arrest and in custody.

We have seen here in the UK report upon report into racism and the formation of a commission to look at racism, but we don’t need more reports – we know that racism exists - what we need is action to eliminate it and to bring about race equality. It is exhausting fighting racism day in, and day out, now exacerbated by the pandemic.

As we mark this year’s day for the elimination of racism, we cannot forget the real impacts of the pandemic on black communities – decades of racism leading to poorer housing, precarious work, frontline jobs etc have built the climate which led us to disproportionate impacts and life chances.

Pressure must be put on the UK government through trade unions and the new TUC task force on racism (our general secretary Mark Serwotka is a member) to ensure that we do not experience another decade of deepening racism here in the UK.

A couple of weeks ago I met virtually with an organisation which provides practical support to people of colour who are displaced and face injustice because of their immigration status in the USA.

As we exchanged experiences of our work they were struck not by what I was telling them but by the fact that everything I described could be applied to what was happening to the USA – different groups of black and brown people impacted but boiling down to the same issues: injustice because of racism and racist migration laws and policies.

We should also not forget the roots of this day - the Sharpeville massacre, when the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful anti-apartheid demonstration in 1960. 60 years later the people of South Africa are still living with the legacies of apartheid and the evil of apartheid must never been forgotten; it is a reminder of how the evil of racism can lead to an oppressive regime guilty of crimes against humanity.

This is why it is crucial to stand up to racism, to call it out, to speak out and to have zero tolerance. Silence in the face of racism empowers those who hold racist views, but solidarity needs to be practical not just symbolic. That means recognising your own actions and how they may contribute, recognising privilege.


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