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March 21, 2021 - International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination: What we can do

March 21, 2021 | General, Social Justice, Society

March 21st is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This date also kickstarts a Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination. It commemorates the 1960 massacre in Sharpeville, South Africa, where police killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid pass laws.

Talking about racial discrimination has been more common over the past year. However, it is extremely important that we remember that conversation alone won’t bring about the change necessary to achieve social justice. This is crucial when we see the continuing violence against racialized peoples, such as the recent murder of six Asian women in Atlanta.

Race-based discrimination won’t disappear by committee. We need to go beyond group discussions and a task force directed to discuss the many ways in which discrimination happens. Change has to happen in material ways, through action and policy. While race itself is a social construct dependent on cultural matters, racialization of folks has material consequences for people.

Fighting racial discrimination

On a personal scale, this implies self-reflection and purposeful behaviour. Sometimes that means sitting with the discomfort of not knowing how to react, what our place is in any given situation, when to use our voice versus when to amplify someone else’s. It means knowing how to respond when someone points out that we may be doing harm, and how to take action on that.

In a professional capacity, it implies situating ourselves culturally. As a racialized immigrant psychologist, what is going to be my place in any given group, being mindful of intersectionality? How do I use the privilege that comes with my profession in session with my clients? How do I take in my client’s identities into the work I’m doing?

Let’s nurture an integrative way of living in the world, where we all keep soft edges around our intersectional identities. I invite you to remain open to challenging our perspective and taking the steps necessary to do our part for bettering society. Additionally, we must call on our political leaders to create change in structural, material ways. We need to address this at all levels, if we’re ever going to see the end of the pain inflicted on our fellow human beings.

Some organizations to support the Asian Canadian community:

I grew up speaking Spanish. English is my second language. When I communicate in English, I make mistakes. I've chosen to let the writing on my blog reflect the kind of mistakes I make when speaking, so that you have an idea of what it might feel like to talk to me. I trust the message is still clear but, if it's not, please don't hesitate to ask me for clarification.

The information provided on my blog is a mix of my personal thoughts, professional approach, and articles related to mental health. The purpose of sharing all of this is to communicate the models at the core of my practice, as well as to provide education. I hope this will help to minimize some of the power imbalances related to my profession. The articles on this blog should not be considered as professional advice for any one person or group of people. If you have any questions about the appropriateness of this content for you, please contact a qualified mental health professional.