Archive for racism

Remembering the World Conference against Racism

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, HISTORY, Humanity with tags , , , on October 10, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

In 1997, the General Assembly of the United Nations planned the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

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“As we see all around us, racism and racial discrimination continue unabated. Although we refer to our world as a global village, it is a world sadly lacking in the sense of closeness towards neighbour and community which the word village implies . . . there are problems stemming from either a lack of respect for, or lack of acceptance of, the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings . . ”

– Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights March 24, 1999.

The World Conference was held in Durban, South Africa from August 31 to September 7, 2001. It was intended as a landmark in the struggle to eradicate all forms of racism. Governments were asked to “deliver on their promises and make it a conference of actions not just words”.

Combating racial discrimination is a principle of the United Nations as stated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Faith in fundamental human rights, in dignity and worth of the human person” is stated in the preamble. The Conference focused on achieving these objectives:

  • Review progress made and reassess obstacles since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Right
  • Increase awareness of racism and racial discrimination
  • Formulate ways to increase effectiveness of UN activities and programs aimed at combating racism
  • Consider ways and means to better apply existing standards of combating racism
  • Build the UN resources necessary in the combat against racism
  • Review political, historical, economic, social, cultural, and other factors to racism and racial discrimination
  • Formulate action-oriented national, regional, and international measures aimed at combating racism and racial discrimination

Sadly, the delegates from the U.S. and Israel walked out of the Conference and joined 15 nations in a boycott.  Nine nations boycotted the Conference entirely.

Boycotting nations:

  • Canada
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Poland
  • United States

Six nations that limited their participation:

  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • Czech Republic
  • European Union
  • France
  • United Kingdom

The inability to come together in the common goal to end racism is also reflected in the fact that empowering victims of racism is not included as a Millennium Development Goal.//

Poetic Politics?

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, HISTORY, Mother Africa, North America with tags , , , , , , on October 7, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Lyndall Beddy, a South African columnist with News Time, recently wrote an article in what she calls Poetic Politics. I could not get through the whole article before knowing I needed to respond. She wrote,

“European Colonial Doctors, not Indigenous Healers, cured Africa’s diseases: leprosy, yellow fever, bilharzia [sic], malaria, sleeping sickness et al . . . in most of Africa the faith of the people was in cannibalism (body part medicine), witchcraft and spirits. And far from understanding animals, they were afraid of most of them. My own char is too afraid still of frogs or spiders to go near them and I have to evict them from the house.”

Well, that was her opinion, and this is mine . . .

Let’s start with  actual facts. These diseases are collectively known as tropical diseases. They were so named because they thrive in warm climates. They also thrive in communities that are victims of poverty and malnutrition. Malnutrition is a result of poverty. Malnutrition leads to medical disorders and leaves you vulnerable to more diseases. Before colonists came to Africa, communities (villages)  were not victim of poverty. Do not forget Africa was a rich continent and this is what drew the colonist.

Beddy also wrote,

“As I have explained, black American descendents of slaves made up a culture and history of an Africa that was perfect until the nasty whites went to Africa and captured blacks as slaves from this perfect world (which, by the way, was monogamous in the Kwanza Cult version)”.

Kwanza is not a cult. As you should know (since you call yourself an amateur historian), Kwanza is a celebration. It originated in Africa and was adopted in America by members of the African Diaspora in an effort to regain ties with our heritage. As an amateur historian did you not know that slavery robbed the American born members of the African Diaspora of knowledge of our ancestry?

Beddy also wrote,

“The truth is that whites had no resistance to malaria, and did not even enter the interior of Africa until a cure had been found for malaria . . . It was white doctors, during the European colonial period, who found the cures for the many illnesses of Africa, often at considerable risk to their own lives.”

Beddy, the truth is, the colonists were not forcibly taken to Africa in chains. They willfully entered Africa, at their own risk, for their own benefit. I am sure they could barely wait to enter Africa’s interior and “discover” more riches.

Beddy says she is an anti-racist activist, yet she said,

“. . .  in most of Africa the faith of the people was in cannibalism (body part medicine), witchcraft and spirits. And far from understanding animals, they were afraid of most of them. My own char is too afraid still of frogs or spiders to go near them . . .”

In fact, a good lesson to learn in being an activist against racism is not to make racist statements. Have you worshipped with people who practice their traditional or indigenous faith enough to “understand” their faith? Is it not the “spirit” of Jesus that is the cornerstone of the Christian faith? Do you understand “frogs and spiders?”

U.S. Syphilis Experiments on People of Color / Crimes Against Humanity

Posted in HISTORY, Humanity, NEWS, North America, Our Health, South America with tags , , , , , , , on October 3, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

From 1932 to 1972 the U.S. Public Health Service in Tuskegee, Alabama conducted a “clinical study” using poor African American sharecroppers to research the progression of untreated syphilis. Approximately 400 poor men of African descent were enticed into the program with free meals, medical exams, and burial insurance. They were never told they had syphilis. They were told they were being treated for “bad blood”, a term used at the time in the African American community for illness with fatigue symptoms. Actually, they were never treated. This “study” became known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment or the Tuskegee Experiment.

According to a Reuters article on Oct. 1st, President Obama offered his personal apology for another syphilis experiment. This time researchers deliberately infected 696 Guatemalan women, mental patients, and prison inmates with the disease. This “study” was to learn the effectiveness of penicillin in treating syphilis. It was conducted from 1946 to 1948.

Guatemalan government released this statement:

“President Alvaro Colom considers these experiments crimes against humanity and Guatemala reserves the right to denounce them in an international court.”

Susan Reverby, a professor of women’s studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts uncovered the “study” while investigating the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment and informed the U.S. government before she published her findings.

Restrained, Unarmed, and Shot by Police

Posted in Awareness, Humanity, NEWS, North America, Spotlight with tags , on July 12, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Unarmed and restrained, Oscar Grant was fatally shot by Bay Area Rapid transit (BART) officer Johannes Mehserle early morning on News Years Day, 2009. The shooting was caught on tape.

The shooting was described by witnesses as an execution. Yet, on July 9, 2010, Mehserle was only found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Ask yourselves,

  • Was this shooting done without the intention to kill?
  • Did Oscar Grant provoke Mehserle to shoot?
  • Could Mehserle’s mental state be described as diminished capacity?

If you answered no to these questions, Johannes Mehserle did not fit the legal definition of involuntary manslaughter. Ask yourselves one more question . . .

Did this scene remind you of a mob, gang, or domination-styled killing?

Global Racism Directed At Descents of Africa

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, Europe, HISTORY, Latin America, Mother Africa, North America, Oceania, South America with tags , , , , on July 4, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Have the descents of Africa been a global target of racism? If so why? The issue of racism has often been addressed. Focus has been placed on the injustice of it, areas where racism manifests itself, and combating it. Seldom do we focus on why it was created, why it still exists, or why its targeted races are chosen.

Ignoring these essential questions allows the continued growth of racism, because it allows the survival of the root. What is at the root of racism?  Consider these components:

  1. Basis – Ignorance and Arrogance
  2. Division – Based on Differences
  3. Justification – Absents of Guilt

Racism is based on not understanding groups of people different from you. Couple ignorance with feelings of superiority to the new group, and the result is arrogance. There is usually an economic basis to institutionalized racism. History reveals greed as a consistent factor.

Historical Examples of Greed

Descents of Africa have been targets of this sort of racism for centuries. Proclaiming these groups as less than human justified the continued discrimination and inhumane treatment. Examples of this sort of racism can be found globally.

In an article on racism, Anup Shah said this about racism . . .

“Racism and discrimination have been used as powerful weapons encouraging fear or hatred of others in times of conflict and war, and even during economic downturns.”

Diversities Are Not Easily Accepted

Posted in CULTURE, Our Health, Spotlight with tags , , , , on June 25, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Recently, I came across a well written article on neurodiveristy. Neurodiversity is a new field that explores and offers an explanation for disabilities.  The article starts by stating . . .

“Differences among brains are as enriching – and essential – as differences among plants and animals. Welcome to the new field of neurodiversity.”

— Edited excerpt from Neurodiveristy: Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences, by Thomas Armstrong.

Thomas Armstrong used a culture of flowers as a metaphor of the diversities in people. He pointed out that differences in growth and color of flowers are accepted as characteristics of flower types. He used this metaphor of diversity as an example of the diversity in ways that the human brain works. His point was that what are now labeled disabilities should be termed diversities.

Brilliant, if people could only accept diversities! People have yet to except the sunflower as being a “gigantic” flower. They have yet to see the harm done when expecting the sunflower to grow the same as daisies. Enough of the metaphors, getting people to celebrate differences people is not as easy as appreciating different flowers.

People are not yet accepting of cultural, religious, racial, or ethnic diversities. The concept of celebrating differences is still alien in societies. People are more likely to appreciate differences in plants and animals than in people. Do not be misled into believing that diversities are disabilities or that the non-acceptance of diversities is not disabling.

I appreciate this effort to change ways of thinking of diversities. It is an excellent example of the level of change in thinking that society needs to make. It is an excellent example of what change in thinking can lead to. Read the full story at AlterNet

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An Apology for the Stolen Generation

Posted in HISTORY, Oceania with tags , , , on May 26, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Many Aboriginal people do not know their origins, who their relatives are, which tribe they are descended from or the names or the manes of their parents and or grandparents. They are a stolen generation (also known as the lost generation). – PAPA People Assisting Parents Association

The Stolen Generation

From 1910 to 1970 an estimated 100,000 Aboriginal children were taken from their families by government authorities and placed into church or state institutions. Most were under the age of five. Many suffered physical and sexual abuse.

Authorities did not educate these children because they were expected to do domestic and farming work. The children were told their families were dead. Families were not allowed to visit or write.

Federal and state government policy was to remove Aboriginal children, especially those of mixed descent, from their parent with the claimed motive of assimilating them into European society.  As a result these children grew up:

  • With a lack of self esteem
  • Suicidal
  • Violent
  • Delinquent
  • Insecure
  • Alcohol and drug dependent
  • Unable to trust
  • Without parenting skills

The Aboriginal community was profoundly damaged by these genocide policies.

An official apology was made to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples.