TORONTO, March 21, 2010 /CNW/ - In 1966, The United Nations proclaimed March 21st as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day honours the lives of anti-apartheid demonstrators who were killed by police on March 21, 1960 in Sharpeville , South Africa.
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) marks this day noting that racism and racial discrimination are not things of the past. A few days ago, the CRRF and the Association for Canadian Studies (ASC) released a Leger Marketing survey which captures the state of race relations in Canada. Among the findings we note that 62% of the respondents believed that visible minorities are not treated the same as the majority. Similarly, a CBC-commissioned poll conducted by the Environics Research Group found one in three Canadians believe that Aboriginal Peoples and Muslims are the frequent targets of discrimination.
Today, racial discrimination is expressed as barriers to employment, lower income and education levels, and racial profiling — all on the basis of racial background, ethnicity, or religion. “Although racism is still with us, we have made some progress over the past few years”, said Ayman Al-Yassini, CRRF Executive Director. “For example, our survey indicates that 75% of the respondents do not oppose mixed-race marriages; and 68% of the respondents felt that racism is on the decline”, Al-Yassini added.
Despite this progress there is still a long way to go. Countering racism requires an ongoing, conscious and collective effort. The pain and trauma of racism is not always visible, nor is it easily measured. Regardless of the number of racist incidents, or the context in which they occur, racism is a dehumanizing experience that scars us all.