Dear Editor:

“Racism, xenophobia and intolerance are problems prevalent in all societies. But every day, each and every one of us can stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes. Be a human rights champion.” Quote from UN page for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 

Sunday, March 21, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This UN designated day was invoked in 1966 for the purpose of focusing attention on the necessity for each and every member of humanity to re-assess what it means to eliminate racial discrimination. The unfolding events of the past year are a good indication that this is as vital as ever to the health and well-being of the world. 

Racial discrimination is a more insidious beast than prejudice. It can be – and often is – present in policies and procedures for which few of us have given much thought. Nevertheless, it is past time that fair and equitable practices be put in place. We must all begin to step outside our functioning zones and take serious stock of the institutions and acts that we have taken for granted and followed. The cultural mores of British 18th and 19th centuries laid the foundations of our country’s laws and legislation. The 1982 revised constitution and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gave us a more inclusive foundation, but the spirit of its measures must still be worked through each and every public and private institution and organization. The Charter is there, in writing. It is a bunch of words on a lovely piece of parchment, signed by our legal representatives of the time. It only comes alive when each and every Canadian feels its meaning and lives its concept. The elimination of racial discrimination does not mean colour-blindness; it means seeing each and every human being in full technicolour-culture-and-all with complete respect and acceptance. 

When we look at one another and see rainbows, when an exchange of cultural practices brightens the colours and adds new hues, when a different opinion sparks a new perspective on an old picture, we will be on the right road. 

In closing, may I leave you with the following: “O ye loved ones of the Lord! This is the hour when ye must associate with all the earth’s peoples in extreme kindliness and love and be to them the signs and tokens of God’s great mercy. Ye must become the very soul of the world, the living spirit in the body of the children of men.?”  Abdu’l-Bahá – Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 20 

Peace and well-being. 

Shizu E. M. Futa, Bahaá’í,