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Abolishing Systemic Racism and Building More Just Societies

Ganoune Diop, PhD

Secretary General International Religious Liberty Association

Director, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, Seventh-day Adventist World Headquarters

Secretary, Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions

Abolishing Systemic Racism and Building More Just Societies: A Faith Perspective on a Human-sustained Pandemic

Foreword: Summary of Purpose and Content. The following reflection is purposed to participate in the development of awareness in reference to the evil of racism. It is an attempt to show the importance and urgency of joining the current global movement to address the lingering and perennial scourge of racism. It also aims at providing a landscape of interconnected issues in reference to racism. It is a plea to the international community, to governments and to non-governmental organizations to lawmakers and to all decision-makers, to rally around a consensus understanding, to propose common recommendations and to draft concrete sustainable plans of action to address the challenge of systemic, structural, institutional, cultural and environmental racism.

The pandemic of racism toxifies human relations. It creates much suffering, physical and mental, and even death as a result of, for example, environmental racism which is expressed in the dumping of toxic waste in regions whose populations are deemed inferior in the scales of human valuing. The effects of systemic, structural and institutional racism on minority populations are devastating. Addressing these deadly social pathogens is not a luxury indulged among privileged persons of good will but an imperative act of solidarity with the whole human family.

Neglecting to address the issue of racism head on while attempting to deal with other societal issues can be futile. It is analogous to wallpapering over a structural defect in a house. The other problems may not be solved until the underlying structural deformation is fixed. That issue is racism not just personal prejudices or dysfunction in the perception of others or even not just toxic interpersonal relations but systemic social arrangements that disadvantage groups of people, based on the color of their skin in particular Blacks, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).

What are at stake are chronic disparities in reference to access to health, wealth, education, jobs, housing and descent living. Racism is also conducive to racial profiling and police brutality. It is an issue of justice. Racism has led to conditions that cause underlying medical conditions which increase vulnerability to diseases, viruses and various pathogens due to poor living conditions.

Racism is destructive because of its intrinsic connection to violence. The multifaceted racist induced violence disfigures our humanity. It ranges from population displacement, territorial annexations, appropriation of other peoples’ resources, reduction of its population to labor force and/or genocides. In the daily lives of people living in “redlined zones” disenfranchised neighborhoods, it also takes the form of environmental pollutions but also racial terror, expressed through racial profiling, police, law enforcement and vigilantes’ brutality against Black people, Indigenous natives and people of color.

To state the case another way. The issue of racism is not just about inner personal feelings about the others or interpersonal relations, it is about a world order that is inhumane. The question then becomes the following: what model of human relations, systems of structural social arrangements are we to adopt today in the 21st century? Models of the past, such as colonialism, imperialism, domination of minorities by majorities or of majorities by minorities can no longer be sustained with a peaceful social coexistence and a viable moral world order. No less than the end of racialized supremacist ideologies, and a holistic approach to change practices and social arrangements based on colonial models is needed to build a more just society and humane international order. Only then will systemic racism be truly overcome. Will the international community rise to the occasion? That is the question. Something more decisive that the previous attempts and failure to eradicate poverty is needed.

Importance of the Issue of Antiracism

Caring about people is caring about all that matters to them. It is about empathizing with them, showing solidarity in identifying with their predicament and in helping dismantle what is debilitating for them, what is alienating, and what makes their living conditions and human relations toxic. Key among the demeaning and deadly weapons present in all societies at various degrees is racism. It is obviously conjugated in many forms such as tribalism, ethnocentrism, casteism, classism, colorism and other forms of denial of the full humanity of every person.

It has been noted that racism is a difficult topic. Despite the fact in our world today sensitive issues are discussed openly,

“our conversation on race and racism seems nonexistent or–where it does exist—is mired in misinformation and miscommunication. One reason for this is our tendency to avoid the heart of the matter. Instead of talking about racism, we deflect our conversation with vague references to ‘culture,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘differences,’ cross-cultural effectiveness,’ and so on. Instead of talking about the present-day impact of our history, we congratulate ourselves on how far we have come and how progressive we now seem. Because race has been such a contentious and difficult subject for many, we talk around it rather than address it head-on.”[1]

The difficulty of the topic resides in the fact that humanity’s ethical boundaries have been crossed when it comes to racism and slavery. The historical memory of the abduction and deportation of millions of Africans, chattel slavery, segregation, has not faded away. Moreover, it is a traumatized memory of harm, hurt and continuous pain kept alive by people’s attitudes and institutional practices of discrimination.

The assumption and presumption of the inferiority of Black people, indigenous people and people of color is still alive not only in the minds of white supremacists but also in societal institutions. International and national institutions have not been immune from prejudices and biases against Black people, Indigenous natives and people of color.

Racism is pervasive in all sectors of society. Its tentacles reach every domain of human existence. It has affected whatever matters to human beings in our social organization: the economy, the justice system, education, health and health care, housing, access to employment and job promotion systems. In many countries, the medias are still struggling to come to term and overcome the privileging of people of European ancestry: colorism.

International institutions are not immune from systemic racism. They often illustrate the lingering legacies of colonialism.

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, stated this in his Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on 18 July 2020,

“The legacy of colonialism still reverberates… We see this in the global trade system. Economies that were colonized are at greater risk of getting locked into the production of raw materials and low-tech goods – a new form of colonialism. And we see this in global power relations. Africa has been a double victim. First, as a target of the colonial project. Second, African countries are under-represented in the international institutions that were created after the Second World War, before most of them had won independence. The nations that came out on top more than seven decades ago have refused to contemplate the reforms needed to change power relations in international institutions.”

The issue of racism is deeper than individual racism, personal and interpersonal subjective valuing. It is systemic and a result of what has been called a White racial framing.[2]

Racism is a multifaceted phenomenon. It is personal, interpersonal, societal, cultural, structural, institutional, systemic, environmental, national and international. It is a constructed system of power which affects the economic, health and education systems. No aspect of human coexistence escapes its tentacles. It is the longest lasting pandemic that affects life in all its dimensions.

The harm, hurt, suffering and death it continues to cause in our world is staggering.

Addressing racism is part of an urgent and necessary endeavor to save lives and to contribute to the healing of people’s memory, wounds, transgenerational traumas and daily experiences of being looked down upon, instrumentalized, humiliated and discarded as disposables.

Racism and the Building of Civilizations

Since the dawn of history, the entire human project has been affected by racism. Its reality can be traced through world civilizations and empire building from the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Medes and the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arab Muslim empires, various Europeans hegemonic experiments down to our modern and postmodern world. Nazi Germany with the myth of Aryan supremacy stood out as a defining moment to draw a red line not to cross. The need for delineating moral imperatives became more acute subsequent to World War II, and the Holocaust and other atrocity crimes against humanity, in their ugliest expressions manifested in the genocides of ethnic groups. Racism is in fact the root cause of hate crimes and the undergirding hatred and chronic antagonism against minority groups. Genocides is a whole process that begins in the fertile ground of racism, and which is inseparable from contempt, evolving into despising of others, to the point of wanting to cancel their existence.[3]

Furthermore, since the end of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the current global economic order which began with the European ascendance to global dominance, territorial explorations, empire building, colonialism, the partition of Africa at the Berlin conference in 1884, all current societal institutions have been nurtured through the legitimization of racism.[4]

Obviously, racism in its intersections with slavery and the various slave trades started earlier, respectively, the Trans-Saharan, the Oriental, in the 7th century, the Intra-African and then from the 15th century on the Trans-Atlantic slavery. The transpacific slave trade is another dehumanizing practice to add to the list of inhumane treatment of fellow human beings.[5]

In the United States, racism has paradoxically coexisted with the ideals of freedom and equality. These ideals were believed to apply to the White majority. Framers of the US constitution and the declaration of independence did not find it contradictory to own slaves.

The horror stories of what African Americans went through are heart wrenching.

Socio-politically, it took three amendments to the constitution to try to reverse the evil of racism. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, known collectively as Civil War Amendments, were designed to ensure equality for emancipated slaves. They were about the abolition of slavery, the recognition of their full humanity and their right to vote, in other words a full participation in the democratic processes.

The tragedy of racism has resulted in the fact that literally millions of lives have been sacrificed in every region of the world. Racial or ethnocentric superiority based on supremacist ideologies and concepts such as “internalized dominance”[6] has fueled empire building, territorial annexations, land grabbing, the monopoly of resources, exploitation of and subjugation of indigenous populations the globe over. For many Indigenous peoples, their descendants’ fate has converged and has been reduced to marginalized living in reservations. History has witnessed other devastations and horrors such as population displacements, enslavements, and even genocides. The impact of these horrific historic human imposed woes is still impacting society today. Being racist is not just an individual psychological experience it is evil woven into the fabric of the world’s historic institutions, structural, economic, legal and governance systems.

An Epochal Pushback

To challenge and counter the world order built on the exploitation of the free labor of slavery, today, antiracism has taken center stage. There is currently a global movement seeking a more human, humane, and just humanity. This aspiration is now deeply ingrained in the current generation which questions, in many places around the world, the model of putting profit over people. There seems to be a global protest aimed at securing access to the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all. It is a fundamental right to one’s identity. The demand of our era despite all the populisms, the pushbacks from adherents of White supremacist political ideologies who resist globalization, multilateralism, and pluralism, is a world based on justice, equality and equity. A global movement is on the rise to change the world from privileging only the few haves, through crony capitalism to fairly sharing the world resources in all equity. This is not a resurgence of past ideologies and some current leaning towards communism, but rather a moral imperative of a humanity in which the full humanity of all persons demands recognition. The reckoning in reference to race has indeed taken center stage.

It seems there is no way around it. Any topic from economics and financial crises, food shortages, climate change, migration, response to the current global pandemic, to distributions of vaccines, the connection with racism can no longer be ignored. The issue of racism has to be concomitantly addressed not just given lip service or a passing mention. An urgency to comprehensively tackle this challenge to healthy and healed human relations has imposed itself on the human family.

The political world seems to be catching the pace. The recent creation of commissions of truth, reconciliation, and healing in many countries and the initiatives such as the UNESCO project and report entitled “Healing the Wounds of Slave trade and Slavery: Approaches & Practices. A Desk Review”[7] are signs in the right direction.[8]

NGOs and faith-based initiatives against racism have multiplied in recent years and significantly increased since the murder of George Floyd.[9] Churches’ statements and initiatives against racism have proliferated as well.[10] Though part of the process towards the healing of human relations, commissions and reports are not all that are needed. Commissions can be used to merely deescalate tensions without a genuine pursuit of restoring justice and establishing peace.


Further Clarifications on Racism and its Foundation on the Concept of Race

The concept of race was first used in the late 16th century. Racism is an ideology according to which a people group called “race” is considered superior to other so-called races.

The concept of race was invented by European naturalists and anthropologists. The publication Systema naturae (1735) by a Swedish naturalist, Carl Linnaeus represented a major step in the acceptance of the concept. In 1776, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach published On the Natural Varieties of Mankind. He had earned the reputation of having been the father of physical anthropology. Probably due to ethnocentric bias, he was the first to trace the “white race” to the Caucasus and on the basis of esthetic racism. Racist beliefs were erected as a doctrinal system by a French writer, Count Arthur Gobineau, in his book Essay on the Inequality of Human Races (1853). Gobineau’s ideas led to the belief in racial purity and the creed of White supremacy. He did promote the notion of an imaginary “Aryan race.”[13]

More recently, in the American context, the President’s Initiative on Race (1998) determined that the absence of both knowledge and understanding about the role race has played in our collective history continues to make it difficult to find solutions that will improve race relations, eliminate disparities, and create equal opportunities in all areas of American life. This absence also contributes to conflicting views on race and racial progress held by Americans of color and White Americans.”[14]

It seems that if the concept of race goes unchallenged it continues to falsely inform the subconscious and thereby create blind spots and irrational dispositions, behavior and attitudes towards others.

The Debunking of the Myth of Race: A Welcome Diagnosis and Pushback

The UNESCO statement of 1950 was a landmark statement to debunk the foundations of racist theories. It states at the outset that “Scientists have reached general agreement in recognizing that mankind is one: that all men belong to the same species, Homo sapiens.”[15]

Clearly, human moral conscience had led eugenics to lose its grip on the scientific imagination. Nazism had shown atrocity crimes and genocides racism leads to.

But if humanity is one, how can we make sense of the hierarchical structures and systems of power built on the foundation of racism, subjugation, dominations and deprivation of human dignity.

The foundational Epoque-defining challenge we face today is whether racial dominance can continue to be our model for social arrangement. Or whether pluralism, multiculturalism and multilateralism can be given a chance to flourish instead of a monocultural White supremacist ideology and dominance.

The Current Indictment

Today in the world, there is a global condemnation of racism. The voice of the international community is unequivocal. There are several international standards directly related to the issue of racism and discrimination.[16] After various slaveries, two world wars, and tragically the current rise in global human trafficking and abusive domestic servitude, the world has rallied to define a moral compass.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set out therein, without distinction of any kind, in particular as to race, color or national origin.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ratified on 20th of November 1963:

“solemnly affirms the necessity of speedily eliminating racial discrimination throughout the world in all its forms and manifestations and of securing understanding of and respect for the dignity of the human person,

Convinced that any doctrine of superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and that there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere.”

It continues as follows:

“Reaffirming that discrimination between human beings on the grounds of race, color or ethnic origin is an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations among nations and is capable of disturbing peace and security among peoples and the harmony of persons living side by side even within one and the same State, convinced that the existence of racial barriers is repugnant to the ideals of any human society.”

That is the current verdict of the world.

Faith-based Perspectives and Contributions

From faith-based perspectives, much is at stake related the soul of humanity and the soul or inner disposition of the human person.

The key observations are the following:

  1. Racism is a heresy, an attack against truth; the truth of the infinite value that God puts on every human person. Racism destroys the credibility of sacred scriptures which affirm the intentional creation of human beings. It makes a mockery of the biblical creation story, among other stories.
  2. Racism is a disbelief and a refusal of one creation of human beings, all created in the image of God. Racists postulate that there are several creations (polygenesis), just to introduce the idea of hierarchy of importance and value, a stratification of society into superiors and inferiors.
  3. Racism is a form of idolatry. It usurps God’s prerogatives. The racist takes the place of God in creating human valuing and segmenting into classes of importance.
  4. Racism is criminal. It was a means for justifying slavery. Racist thinking found its way into the Christian churches. The racist would even think that slavery has a divine endorsement. This is the reason why the Mark of Cain and the so-called curse of Ham were identified and applied to Black people. Genesis 9 is considered one of the most misunderstood texts of the Bible. The so-called Curse of Ham is a myth in the negative sense. There is no such thing in Scripture. In the text, Canaan was the one cursed.
  5. To add wounds to injuries, racism even led to discrimination against black people when it comes to the concept of salvation.
  6. Racism is a denial of dignity to human beings created in the image of God.
  7. Racism jeopardizes the supreme expression of human dignity, which is freedom.
  8. Racism is a disease, rooted in the legitimization of violence. One cannot be a peacemaker and a racist.
  9. Racism is sinful and evil. It is a pathology which debilitates the one who harbors it.
  10. Racism is an attack against God’s character and world order.
  11. The racist person ignores that every person is more important than holy places and deservers at least as much respect as holy places such as temples, cathedrals, churches, mosques or shrines.
  12. Racism is a rejection of divine love and a refusal of human solidarity.

Enlarging our Perspectives: Recapitulations and Expansions

Enlarging further our diagnosis, racism is a multifaceted phenomenon with multiple effects and repercussions in many domains of human existence.

What racism is at individual and corporate levels can be further delineated as follows:

Towards the Healing of Our World: Taking Stock of Insights from Sacred Scriptures

Abolishing systemic racism is a work of restoration of who we, as human beings, are meant to be to fulfill our destiny in all freedom, solidarity and peace.

At the personal level, racism can be overcome through the regeneration of hearts and the healing of minds: repentance in the double sense of change of attitude and transformation of the mind.

The re-education of the mind and the resocialization of people to embrace the belief in the reality of one humanity and the recognition of the full humanity of the whole human family are paramount.

For the healing of our world, it is critical to internalize the fact that “race” is not an identity.it is a construct meant to confine, to dominate. It turns into a system of power which begins as internalized dominance, a pride based on an inner belief of superiority then it stretches as a matrix of dominations based on a classification and a stratification of people into superiors and inferiors.

Religious texts from Judeo Christian and Islamic traditions corroborate the belief in the unity of the human family. There is one human race.

The dissonant interpretations which resist this vision of one humanity are also present in major religious traditions.

Nonetheless sacred scriptures are unequivocal, we are all connected.

According to the Acts of the Apostles 17:24-26, talking about God, the text postulates the following: “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation...”

There is a deep contradiction between the Christianity Jesus Christ and the Apostles promoted and racism. For a Christian to be racist one must adopt a profound betrayal of one’s primary identity, that of being “in Christ” as the Apostle Paul repeatedly said. But history has shown this deep scandal. The gap between the ideal and real has been the scandal of the century since its existence in the first century of our era.

The intrusion of human valuing in human relations resulting in hierarchical stratifications of people, eroded the common identity in Christ. After all, slaves’ dungeons have coexisted with churches in the same space as in the case of Elmina castle in West Africa. Suffering slaves below and right up one level oppressors singing songs to God. How deep a betrayal of the purpose of Christ to unify humanity under one heavenly creator.

This discrepancy has existed in other religions as well.

In the Quran, Chapter 49, Verse 13, it reads, “O mankind we have created you from one male and female and made you into nations and the tribes that you may know one another. Surely the most honorable among you with Allah is the one who is the most righteous. Verily Allah is all-knowing all aware.”

The Prophet of Islam stated in his farewell sermon, “O people. Your Lord is one and your father is one. (Adam) An Arab has no superiority over non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over Arab, also white has no superiority over black nor does black have any superiority over white, except by piety and righteousness. All humans are from Adam and Adam is from dust.”

The Asian traditions based on harmlessness and compassion with all transient beings also consolidate the oneness, interconnectedness and solidarity with all human beings.[17]

This solidarity is expressed through a benevolent disposition towards all other human beings and a humility before the mystery of life. Since the core problem of racism is inseparably connected to the corruption of power, Antiracism is a lifestyle of powerlessness. The inner disposition of letting other people be and be free. It is also the renunciation of any delusion of grandeur, superiority or inferiority complex which both positions one’s self through the scale of comparison.

Antiracist thinking, attitude and lifestyle also consist in embracing other people’s full humanity. No one deserves to be dominated, subjugated to another person, thus surrendering one’s conscience to another human being. That in itself cancels one’s own humanity.

Food for Thought and Conversations: The Need of the Moment in Human History

As a way to move forward towards more just societies, some of the key concepts and realities for discussions are how to achieve the following:

The healing of the wounds of our world is incontrovertibly connected to the reconfiguration of the landscape of our perception of other human beings based on the foundation of shared human identity and on the fact that every human being has infinite value. Furthermore, human beings are endowed with a sacrality that usually people limit to holy places.

Concluding Thoughts and Perspectives

The problems, the evil, and the sin of racism are multifaceted. So must be the solutions. The abolition of racism can only be achieved, and its toxic, nefarious and harmful effects neutralized or mitigated when addressed from comprehensive perspectives. A holistic approach to a multifaceted phenomenon may provide indispensable tools for the healing of our world.

At personal level the reconfiguration of one’s mental landscape into a benevolent space that embrace the dignity of other people is necessary.

At Systemic and structural levels, laws in place to perpetuate racism must be changed and rulings to make racism unlawful put in place. New amendments to constitutions may be one of the best ways to design a new trajectory in human consciousness of the necessity to welcome and embrace the dignity of every human person.

Institutional structures geared towards maintaining the injustices of discrimination, the restriction to having access to goods, to jobs, to housing, to positions, or simply to descent living must be reformed.

This will necessitate a further mobilization beyond the streets to the chambers of law makers in order to perennially better the condition of living of the whole human family, in peaceful coexistence in all equity and equality before the law.

The pandemic of racism has recently triggered a global mobilization to dismantle the scourge of human valuing and the stratification of society into superiors and inferiors. The hierarchicalization of human society through the scales of importance arbitrarily fixed is celebrated in so many ways through cultural outlets, medias, and other outlets.

At the root of our engagement with the global community is the belief in the full humanity of every person regardless of personal abilities or disabilities, regardless of a person’s age, ethnic background, or gender, regardless of a person’s religion or lack thereof, regardless of a person’s philosophy of life as long as they do not cross the boundaries of other people’s rights to safety, and security. As long as they do not harm others, people have the right to believe according to the dictates of one’s conscience.

Freedom is challenging to human pride and quest for power, prestige, and privilege.
Freedom is challenging to any form of instrumentalization of others. A restoration of freedom of conscience for every person is incontrovertible.

Healing broken relations between ethnic groups has a condition sine qua non: the acceptance and embrace of the full humanity of every person. This full humanity implies full dignity, and full access to all human rights. Core to this endeavor of tolerance, respect, honor and solidarity is the importance of freedom of conscience. Human conscience, the sacred dimension in the innermost chambers of every person is to be protected as an inviolable space where no intrusion is indulged. Conscience is an integral part of what makes us human.

Racism deeply transgresses the mystery of the person viewed as inferior. It is as such sacrilegious in the sense of stealing what belongs to another. In other words, to racialize human beings is to transgress the mystery of their persons.

From monotheistic faith traditions, it means stealing what belongs to the divine.

Consequently, to protect such a foundational premise of human relations, and to promote the full humanity of every person and their full access to human rights and the achievement of sustainable development goals, recommendations to decision makers, law makers, legislative assemblies, and international forums are urgently needed.

Multilateral and multidisciplinary consultations and conversations on racism as it relates to a multiplicity or a variety of related domains may further our understanding and resolve to right the wrong of racism. To examine the intersections between racism and politics, economics, health, housing, jobs, education, governance and leadership through international, national commissions is a necessary step in the process of dismantling racism. However, one must be mindful that recommendations without concrete follow up through well-thought through plans of actions may turn into one of the subtle forms of denialism of the pervasive problem of racism, another way to “talk around it rather than addressing it head-on.” A global mobilization is urgently needed of all people of good will and institutions whether civil, political, or religious to address this societal deadly cancer before it irreversibly metastasizes into silos of incurable diseases.

What is at stake is a better world, a better humanity, and better people, individuals of all stripes in society. In essence, a just society depends on this mobilization to develop a global awareness, a political will to work for the affirmation and protection of the full humanity of all. In developing antiracist policies, governments may be encouraged that indeed they are saving lives in the short and long term.

May the conversations continue regarding how best to create laws or legal rulings which will contribute to better human relations in all justice and equity and peaceful coexistence.

May people of good will, everywhere, be determined to move our common human experience to a place freedom of identity, freedom conscience, freedom to have access to life, life resources for descent and dignified living.

May aspiration meet reality.

[1] Judith H. Katz. White Awareness. Handbook for Anti-Racism. P.3. This author postulates that “racism escapes no one. It is part of us all and has deeply infiltrated the lives and patches of both the oppressed and the oppressors.”

[2] See Joe R. Feagin. The White Racial Framing: Centuries of Racial and Counter-Framing. Third Edition (New York: Routledge, 2010), makes the case according to which “contemporary racial framing does not just consist in cognitive stereotypes and articulated values (the importance of what is desirable or undesirable on racial matters) but also important nonlinguistic elements such as racialized emotions, images, and even smells. White racial framing is as much, if not more, subconscious than conscious (thus a hidden barrier).” See Margery Otto and Herbert Perkins. A Reading of Feagin’s The White Racial Frame. January 2011. Static1.squarespace.com.

[3] Ewelina U. Ochab. Genocide as the Extreme Denial of Human Dignity. Forbes.com October 9, 2018.

[4] Economic and material interests and security have been the driving forces behind racism.

[5] Titiana Seijas. “The Rise and Fall of the Transpacific Slave Trade.” In Critical Readings on Global Slavery (Brill, 2017).

[6] Judith H. Katz. White Awareness: Handbook on Anti-racism Training (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003), 9. One has to add manifest destiny, the presumption of entitlement built on a sense of divine endorsement of White people’s superiority and domination of so-called non-Whites.

[7] Healing the Wounds of Slave trade and Slavery: Approaches & Practices. A Desk Review (East Sussex, United Kingdom: THE UNESCO SLAVE ROUTE PROJECT / GHFP RESEARCH INSTITUTE, 2020).

[8] The Council of Europe has established a pan-European commission to redress the scourges of racism. “The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is a unique human rights monitoring body which specializes in questions relating to the fight against racism, discrimination (on grounds of “race”, ethnic/national origin, color, citizenship, religion, language, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics), xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance in Europe; it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.” (ref. coe.int) French president Macron promised to launch a ‘Citizens’ Consultation on discrimination and a permanent anti-discrimination platform. The British government had set a “Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). The main goals of the CRE were:

To encourage greater integration and better relations between people from different ethnic groups.

To use its legal powers to help eradicate racial discrimination and harassment.

To work with government and public authorities to promote racial equality in all public services.

To support local and regional organizations, and employers in all sectors, in their efforts to ensure equality of opportunity and good race relations.

To raise public awareness of racial discrimination and injustice, and to win support for efforts to create a fairer and more equal society.

In 2020, Prime minister Boris Johnson promised a commission to address inequality. He further announced a “cross governmental commission” to look at all aspects of racial inequality in the UK. He added “no one who cares about this country” could ignore the Black Lives Matter protests that have swept Britain following the police killing of George Floyd, an African American in Minneapolis. It has been argued that in the United States of America, a truth and reconciliation commission is a precondition for a different future. It is an indispensable starting point. The challenges brought to the continued creation of commissions bore on the fact that what is needed is to move beyond the proliferation of recommendations to actions that would really make a difference and change the landscape of a racist world. The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, recommended (1) the creation of an international commission of inquiry to investigate systemic racism in law enforcement in the United States; and (2) the creation of a thematic international commission of inquiry to investigate systemic racism in law enforcement globally, with a focus on systemic racism rooted in legacies of colonialism and transatlantic slavery.

[9] For example, The Association of American Colleges and Universities document “We Hold These Truths: Dismantling Racial Hierarchies, Building Equitable Communities. Edited by Tia Brown McNair with a foreword by Lynn Pasquerella in the context of promoting the vision of the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) (Washington DC: AACU, 2020).

[10] Cf. The General Commission on Religion & Race was formed to hold the United Methodist Church accountable in its commitment to reject what they call the sin of racism in every aspect of the life of the church. The mandate of this commission consisted in the “work of challenging and equipping the church to complete its unfinished agenda of dismantling racial discrimination…. championing diversity, equity and inclusion; developing interculturally competent leaders and catalyzing authentic community” (see grorr.org)

[11] George M. Fredrickson. Racism: A short History. (Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2015), P. 53, wrote that “The notion that there was a swingle pan-European ‘White’ race was slow to develop and did not crystalize until the eighteen century. Direct encounters with Africans had of course made Europeans aware of their own light pigmentation, but in other contexts whiteness, as opposed to national and religious affiliations, was not a conscious identity or seen as a source of specific inherited traits.”

[12] Tidiane N’diaye. Le génocide voilé : Enquête historique (Paris : Gallimard, 2008).

[13] Angela Saini. Superior: The Return of Race Science (Boston: Beacon Press, 2019), p. 48.

[14] Judith H. Katz. White Awareness: Handbook on Anti-racism Training (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003), 9

[15] In 1951, a UNESCO team of experts slightly altered the statement to “scientists generally agreed.” A pressure from some insisted to a nuance that not all experts would accept that all humans belong to the same species. Nonetheless, since the 1950, “the academic study of race no longer had a place withing the realms of biology. Race belonged to the social sciences, to the study of culture and history.” Angela Saini. Superior: The Return of Race Science (Boston: Beacon Press, 2019), p. 59.

[16] International Standards against Racism

[17] Philip J. Ivanhoe. Oneness: East Asian Conceptions of Virtue, Happiness, and How We Are All Connected (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).