March 21st marks the United Nation’s “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.” The implementation of this day was initially in response to a shooting that took place in South Africa in 1960; an event where South African police openly shot and killed 69 people during a peaceful “anti apartheid-law” demonstration. Although this day now pertains to people in every corner of the globe, it wasn’t officially recognized until 1966.
Since then, there have been other actions taken against racial discrimination around the world. In 2001 the World Conference Against Racism enacted the “Durban Declaration and Programme of Action;” a document that the UN considers to be the “the most authoritative and comprehensive programme for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” This year’s “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” has a higher focus on the Durban Declaration, as 2016 marks 15 years since its initiation.
The recognition of this day comes at an interesting time on the NYU Florence’s campus as there is a “Race, Racism and Xenophobia in a Global Context” conference scheduled for this coming Thursday, March 24th. The “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” serves as the perfect launching point as students and the NYU community prepare to tackle these complicated and important issues.