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LINGAP-Canada Observes International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21st)

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

We need to think about racism, talk about racism, stop racism,

in Canada, in the Philippines, and in the world!

On March 21, 1960 in South Africa, police forces killed 69 peaceful people protesting against the racist apartheid system. On October 1966, in recognition of the victims of the massacre, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the 21st of March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to be commemorated annually. This significant International Day calls on all nations and peoples to speak up and to take action against all forms of racial discrimination and racism. Although over 93 percent of all countries are now parties to the 1966 International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, racial prejudice and discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance are still found in many societies. It is expressed in inter-personal and inter-group relations and in systemic or institutional racism on the basis of skin colour, cultural heritage, indigenous peoples’ identity, caste, and religion or faith.

The recent “Black Lives Matter’(#BLM) movement in North America which has gained support around the world, has shown that people of African or Black descent and heritage continue to face interpersonal and systemic racism in their daily lives. Other cultural and ethnic peoples including Indigenous Peoples or First Nations, Asians, Latinos, and Arabs regularly experience human rights violations from racialized, cultural, and ethnic discrimination. Minority students and teachers in schools encounter racism regularly. Especially after 9/11, the growth of Islamophobia has seen hatred and discrimination towards Muslim peoples living in North American, European, and other multicultural societies, including Canada. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in unequal exposure to the disease among “racialized” or ethnic communities as well as increasing racist hate and violence against Asians in many countries.

Philippine society likewise has not been free of racial and ethnic discrimination and racism. Over centuries since the beginning of Spanish colonization and Christian conversion, Moro peoples have faced racism and ethnic intolerance and prejudice for their beliefs in Islam. In the post-9/11 era, this racism has been compounded by the “war on terrorism” in which Muslims are unjustly stereotyped as endorsing “extremist violence”. Indigenous Peoples too are subject to discrimination for their cultural beliefs and spiritual traditions, and experience considerable marginalization from economic development policies and programs. While the Chinese-Filipino community has been integrated in Philippine society, they also have experienced negative stereotypes, and there is concern that the political controversies over the role of Chinese nationals in off-shore gambling firms (POGOs) and in alleged smuggling operations, as well as tensions with China in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea, could heighten discrimination against peoples with Chinese identity. Last but not least, there is the attitude of some Filipinos in the Philippines, Canada, USA and other countries of migration who express prejudice towards peoples of Black heritage, and who prefer lighter or fairer complexion to the extent of using skin whitening products on themselves. “Darker” Filipinos have also experienced barriers in succeeding in the entertainment industry.

On March 21st, LINGAP-Canada therefore joins millions of peoples and many Governments, agencies, and institutions in celebrating the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination through activities that affirm all human beings are equal in dignity and rights and that seek to dismantle doctrines and policies of discrimination based on false beliefs of “racial superiority”. In 2021, LINGAP-Canada held a virtual forum presenting the views of five panelists of Filipino, Indigenous, African, Japanese, and Caucasian descent on the theme of “Understanding Racial Discrimination, Promoting Anti-Racism: Reflections on Experiences in Canada and the Philippines”. In 2022, LINGAP-Canada held another online forum on the theme of “Systemic Racism: An Inter-generational Conversation” featuring the thoughts and experiences of two Canadian youth and two “elders”.

For this year (2023), LINGAP-Canada has compiled quotations of Filipina/o/x-Canadians, Filipina/o/xs in the Philippines and members of diverse cultures, ethnicities, and religions or faiths worldwide which motivate and inspire everyone to build a culture of non-discrimination and respect of all cultural and racialized identities, and to take action to overcome all forms of racial discrimination and racism!

We need to think about racism, talk about racism, stop racism,

in Canada, in the Philippines, and in the world!

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