A 2021 Statistics Canada analysis found that while police reported crimes across the country were on a decline after five years of increases, in 2020, hate crimes increased by 37 percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are many ways this year’s date of observance will be marked, however, reflecting on the history that led to the recognition of the International Day for The Elimination of Racial Discrimination is critical to engaging in allyship and actions geared to dismantling racial inequities.
In 1966, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution to proclaim March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, marking the day in 1960 when police opened fire and killed 69 people at a demonstration against apartheid in Sharpeville, South Africa.
The adoption of the resolution was a call for the end of apartheid in South Africa and for the international community to increase their efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination, but the consequences of apartheid continue to affect the daily lives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC).
In 2013, the UN General Assembly also proclaimed 2015 to 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent. The proclamation highlights the need for all states to implement concrete and practical steps to end racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance faced by Black people and peoples of African descent around the world.
While the struggle to dismantle racism and oppression can seem like a daunting task, allyship calls each individual to show solidarity and support towards ethnic unity. Effective allyship includes owning up to the unearned privileges we hold in society and focuses on the understanding that while we may not be the oppressor, we recognize and engage our responsibility to create an equitable workplace.
Education is a never-ending process. Invest in this process by checking out UFCW Canada resources online and use this information to support systems that work to dismantle racism in your union and society at large. If your contract is up for bargaining, consider using sample contract language from the latest UFCW Canada anti-racism collective bargaining guide.
Frontline workers have suffered some of the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, from having a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus to being exposed to hateful comments and actions while providing public service to others.
Allyship is everyone’s business because hate affects all workers. Taking an intersectional approach to dismantling hate includes speaking out against LGBTQ+ oppression, ableist language and exclusionary racist policies. It also means using your platform with purpose by sharing knowledge and experiences with your union and engaging opportunities to shutdown hate.
On this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, let us remember that the fight against racism is far from over. UFCW Canada stands united in the calls to end racism, xenophobia, and all forms of intolerance.
Check out and sign your support for the Stop the Hate Campaign.