On April 25, 2014, the City of Lynnwood hosted an event called Stand Against Racism to highlight the fact that racism continues to be a social justice issue locally and around the world. The event encouraged citizens to take the following anti-racism pledge: “As an individual committed to social justice, I stand with the YWCA and the City of Lynnwood against racism and discrimination of any kind. I will commit to a lifetime of promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all people in my community and in the world.”
Tshepo Mboni of South Africa, a Northwest Community College participant studying business, assisted in the planning of this event as part of his internship and says that the event inspired him to write the following blog post about how racism hurts everyone.
Exactly 20 years ago, all races stood together across South Africa on the same lines for the first time. All in the name of practicing their democratic right, a right to elect a government of their choice and also get to be afforded equal opportunities as any other person, irrespective of race, color, creed and gender. It was on this day that Nelson Mandela, the former and late president of South Africa said, “never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land of ours will again experience oppression of one by another.”
Just over 50 years ago, a political leader and lawyer by profession, stood in front of a magistrate during the 2-year Rivonia Trial in South Africa, held to try and prosecute political leaders who were against Apartheid (Separation/segregation Act). It was then, that Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela said, “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
I remember more than 10 years ago, sitting in class as a junior primary student, when all I was told did not make sense to me. What went on in my innocent mind at the time was that the people I saw in the pictures must have been in real deep trouble, people whom according to the pictures I saw were either lying on a pool of blood dead, or severely injured and some being chased around by angry police men with vicious dogs and batons. I was then told that the pictures I saw were from an event in 1960, when a peaceful march was mobilized in South Africa to take a stand against the fact that all persons of color were not looked at as equals as Europeans. Even more saddening to me, were the sights from an event commonly known as the Soweto Uprising that occurred in 1976, , an event that saw the deaths of hundreds of students in Soweto, which led to young students either severely injured or dead, all because of one reason: the right to be afforded the equal right to quality education.
After all the bloodshed, the sacrifice and the life imprisonment of political leaders, all because of the same reasons that led to the death of millions of Jews during the Holocaust, the events that led to the mobilization of the Civil Rights Movement, all the genocides of this world and all the events one could ever think of that had two factions fighting against each other, or one faction dominating the other, were all unfortunately because of the same reason: racism.
It is unfortunate to still see the existence of this cancer, a cancer that shall continue to haunt us and even generations to come if not treated early. With the right surgeons, and that is everyone worldwide. I believe it can be cured and there would be no reason for an African American to say he or she couldn’t get a job position because a less qualified white person stood a better chance to get the job because of the color of his skin.
If everyone, worldwide could join hands and share the same dream that the likes of Martin Luther King Jnr, Malcom X, Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela and the rest had, I believe this world could be a better place.
To conclude my blog, please allow me to close it with one of my favorite quotes by Nelson Mandela; “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, his religion or his background, people must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Remember, “Racism hurts everyone.” – YWCA.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.