March 21, 2021

My Statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 21 is annually observed as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a day to remember the state-sanctioned police violence in Sharpeville, South Africa that killed 69 people and injured many more peacefully demonstrating against racist apartheid laws.

Last summer, at the height of the pandemic, we saw a global uprising to denounce and take action against anti-Black racism and police violence. Conversations were held at kitchen tables and in board rooms. This work cannot stop and it must be ongoing.

Racism remains pervasive and deeply rooted.

It's perpetuated by individuals, institutions, and states.

It's not only painful on the inflicted but deadly when left to spread like a virus.

This past week has been particularly hard as I mourn recent deaths and reflect upon the ongoing assaults of Asian people, especially the targeted violence directed at women and the elderly.

Racism is multidimensional and we must address it with an intersectional approach.

Racialized misogyny led to the murders of six Asian American women in Atlanta. They were the direct target of gendered racism.

Globally, the poorest people and the ones most subjected to violence are Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and in particular, women, girls, Trans, gender non-binary, and Two-Spirited individuals.

If we are truly committed to ending racism, then we must take action to address racialized, gender-based violence and hate.

Ending racism, including gendered racism, means we must create structural opportunities to economically empower BIPOC women and girls.

We do this by transforming the global economy to embrace collective impact and community wealth in both paid and unpaid labour.

We start by meaningfully recognizing the care sector and investing in social infrastructure such as universally accessible, high-quality childcare, a critical component of any thriving economy.

We enact and enforce the end of racialized gender discrimination by ensuring living wages, pay equity, paid sick day leave, equitable access to education, employment, clean air and drinking water, truly affordable housing, and transit for all.

We protect and grant status to refugees, migrants, and undocumented workers.

We redefine wealth as a community asset by outlawing precarious work and the gig economy.

We decriminalized sex work once and for all.

We provide access to safe medical abortions and invest in mental health and health care systems that prioritize patient care that affirms racialized women and girls, and not big pharma profits.

On this day and the 364 other days, when you hear and see racism – rise up and speak up – think about who you are speaking for and what your silence says when you don't.

Together, we have the collective power to make real change. Let's start now.

Robin Buxton Potts

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