Cities in the Forefront of Fight against Racism

March 28th, 2014

ARW2014PosterEuropeMap1On March 21, 1960, South African police opened fire on black protesters who had surrounded a police station in Sharpeville, killing 69 people. The protest was over the ruling regime’s pass laws, which required blacks to carry passbooks with them any time they traveled out of their designated home areas.

The shooting sparked protests and riots and was a turning point in the history of apartheid. It also brought international condemnation on South Africa. In 1966, the United Nation proclaimed March 21 as “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” and has been urging member states to organize events during the “Action Week against Racism.”

Cities across the world, from Auckland to Montréal, marked the week through various programs like the “I am Aotearoa New Zealand … te ranga tahi, together we grow.” For many cities in Europe and other parts of the world, campaigns against racism and xenophobia are year-round efforts.

Dublin’s publicity campaign, Transport Links, Racism Divides, runs across the city’s buses, trams, trains and taxis. It was launched after reports emerged of racial abuse of the Irish city’s transport workers.

Similarly, the city of Edmonton decided to challenge the often polite Canadian conversation on multiculturalism and the idea that racism is no longer a problem in the community. Edmonton was among the first cities in the country to join the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD).

To create a welcoming and inclusive city, the Belgian city of Ghent has also been doing exceptional work. Ghent’s Day against Racism campaign, a ten-point action plan to eliminate racism and discrimination, includes an innovative Youth Ambassador project led by young immigrants eager to promote an open society and motivate others with their success stories.

In classrooms across Germany and Spain, the All Kids Are VIPs program challenges children to think up ideas for promoting equality and a discrimination-free environment. And it rewards them with visits from their heroes – football stars, music icons and movie stars.

Interested in doing your part in fighting racism? The UNESCO-sponsored Ten-Point Plan of Action for the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism (PDF) is a good starting point to understand what can be done.

This post was first published on Maytree Conversations.

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