The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on March 21st. In 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the day in 1966 and called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
Today, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), Ontario Canada Chapter reaffirms its commitment to eliminate racism and to defend human rights, diversity and social justice for all. Racial discrimination continues to be a part of our everyday lives. Racism manifests through stereotypes and prejudices towards racialized people in
the media and various social media platforms, in conversations with our family, colleagues and friends, and in practices such as discriminatory hiring, racial and social profiling. Racism is also prevalent in the education curriculum and in policies that are targeting or marginalizing groups based on their race, ethnic origin, culture and religion.
The under-representation and marginalization of racialized workers in workplaces across the country, and even within the labour movement remains a major problem to be remedied.Radicalized people continue to be under-represented at decision-making levels in various sectors including, but not limited to, the criminal justice system and the political arena, whether municipal, provincial and federal.
Due to racial discrimination, racialized
people are most likely be passed over on job and internship opportunities, promotions, greater income, post-education even if they are qualified or have all the criteria and experiences.
We must change our teachings and institutionalized biases in the education system because the consequences have health impacts that may be physical or mental and damages the potential and growth of racialized people. Everyone deserves opportunities of advancement without being labelled and judged.
We must also reaffirm our support for Canada’s Aboriginal, First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities who experience persistent inequality in access to education and health care, and in income. The Idle No More and the Black Lives Matter movements are not phases or trends, they are game-changers and explain that society and elected officials must act accordingly and resolve the numerous issues. Remember, we are all voters and taxpayers but we are first citizens of this world, and this world cannot function with hate, propaganda and animosity towards people based on their race.
Carding and racial profiling by law enforcement must stop, actions must be taken at the family and community level, in partnership with schools, community groups and others in order to put pressure on the politicians. We must push for real dialogue between us and law enforcement. Having a racial and equity lens can change perceptions and diffuse any situation when applicable.
Reaffirming our support to the migrant workers is also crucial. They come to this country and leave their families in order to provide for them but upon arriving here, they fight precarious work and exploitation, some even suffer different abuse and injuries on the job. Migrant workers deserve all the necessary protections, including access to health care because they are also participating in our society and economy.
Targeting a group of people because of their ethnicity and religion is not tolerated and needs to be condemned. Islamophobia is a real issue, same as antisemitism and we need to speak out against this. Today, we reaffirm all of these injustices and forms of discrimination.
CBTU is committed to fighting all forms of racism and injustice within the workplace and in our community. We call on our members, our allies, and people in all communities to fight and eradicate racism by talking, educating and building bonds. Knowledge, wisdom and understanding must be equal to all and to work towards progression not intolerance and disdain for others.
2nd Vice-President, CBTU Ontario Canada Chapter