What does the term ‘racial discrimination’ mean? It means to treat a person differently based on race rather than capability. In most countries, this is considered against the law.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


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International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

By Dave Collett

What does the term ‘racial discrimination’ mean? It means to treat a person differently based on race rather than capability. In most countries, this is considered against the law and many people have been put into prison for racial discrimination.

“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". Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is one of the world’s greatest heroes for his struggle to free the people of South Africa. He spent his whole life fighting for racial equality. He formed a political party called Umkhoto we Sizwe in 1961 after all forms of peaceful protests failed. He travelled abroad for his cause even though he knew of the danger he was posing to himself when he returned to South Africa. Not long after, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released in 1990 after being in jail for 28 years. Three years later, in 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to abolish racial discrimination in South Africa. He is an inspiration to all the deprived and oppressed people in the world and has never tolerated any form of racism.

In the beginning, the aim of ‘apartheid’ was to keep the white people in South Africa in total control of the country as well as dividing the races. In the 1960’s, the Grand Apartheid plan was created to emphasize the separation of territories and police repression.

The apartheid laws were created in 1948. White people weren’t allowed to marry non-white people and there was a sanction of ‘white-only jobs’. By 1950, all South Africans were categorized into three categories: white, black or coloured. People who belonged to the coloured category were neither black nor white, maybe from an Asian or Indian background.

The table below is one example of the apartheid policy and how effective it was in keeping the black people of South Africa oppressed. As you can see from the table although the black population was much higher, they had fewer doctors and teachers. Therefore young children died early and the older ones received little education.

 Disproportionate Treatment circa 1978 Blacks Whites
Population 19 million 4.5 million
Share of Land 13% 87%
Share of National Income Below 20% 75%
Ratio of average earnings 1 14
Minimum taxable income 360 rands 750 rands
Doctors/population 1/44,000 1/400
Infant Death rate 20% (urban)
40% (rural)
Annual expenditure on education per pupil $45 $696
Teacher/pupil ratio 1/60 1/22

Source: (Leo80)

It was obligatory for a black person to carry a passbook containing their fingerprints, photo and information whenever they wanted to enter a non-black area. This meant that Africans who lived in their homelands needed passports to enter South Africa, their own country!

March 21, 1960 marked a tragic day in the history of South Africa. A big group of blacks in the township of Sharpeville were protesting peacefully by refusing to carry their passes and as many as 69 people were shot by the police and 187 people were wounded. This incident was known by many people as the Sharpeville Massacre. Despite this tragedy, the white regime had no intention of changing the unjust laws of apartheid. Later on, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Due to the problems of ‘apartheid’ South Africa was expelled from the United Nations in 1974.

Now the United Nations calls on all international communities to work together to fight against racial discrimination as well as to commemorate this tragedy in hopes of a better future for the world.





Discrimination Racial, is reallty in the world. The peoples insane they are goods whit black...

Discrimination is not a good thing, we must put ourselves in the place of people who are discriminated...and understand that it's so hard

You are absolutely right Greta. Discrimination is a bad thing

Racial discrimination is really adisgusting.I personally hate people who have this type of tendency.

Your texts:

Karla Garcia writes "I think racial discrimination is a stupid thing. All the people are equal human beings and therefore they deserve to have the same rights. However this problem is not as strong as it was many years ago. Today there is less racism in the world than before. And I think this is due to the general world evolution that has encouraged brave people to fight for racial equality. Having said that, I consider it is important people should keep fighting against discrimination whatever this could be, like those very brave people from many countries did in the past."

Kathy Au writes "Personally, I believe that racial discrimination is still a serious problem in some developing countries nowadays. Fortunately, in some more-developed countries, especially big international cities, where this issue draws much concern from people, at least people know how to respect and protect minority groups there. I remember when I was young, I was discriminated against by others because I am not a white person. At that time, I felt terribly helpless. And it still hurts, both psychologically and mentally. However, it doesn't mean that we should give up and not combat racial discrimination. Look at what Nelson Mandela achieved for the people in Africa decades ago. Why can't we do the same? Just by understanding the history of how they fought for racial equality, we can definitely learn a great lesson from him. Racial equality is what we should pursue. If one day racial discrimination is totally vanished in the world, people of all races can live in great harmony."

Le Duy Manh writes “Nowadays, there are still many problems and racial discrimination is one of them. I know that inequality of race still exists in many areas and fields in the world, such as in some U.S cities, the E.U, even in Africa. The laws of many countries provide a basis for equality of race but in real society this is sometimes not the case. I think the improvement of society is not fast and the real equality needs more time and endeavours. The fight needs to continue to erase racism.”

Borgia writes “Racial discrimination is one of the most horrible and miserable things. All people, whatever his origin, race or knowledge, are equal. It means that there is no difference among humans. But unfortunately some countries, especially those that think of reaching the top of development, encourage this. For example, how can we understand that even in football matches some people develop the racism concept? It is said also somewhere in Europe that companies prefer white people to black people. And here in Africa people from some Arabian countries do not consider black people and rank them in the second class. However some people engage themselves by fighting seriously against this. We have to encourage this through private and united action anywhere we are because as Angelique KIDJO sang: "We are one“.

N Bernie Manu writes “In India racial discrimination has a brutal face called 'castism', and several social reformers have fought for the cause of redeeming India from Castism. But greedy politicians and the rich who love the policy of 'Divide and Rule' just to gain political supremacy and business success, still water this malicious weed of castism. There have been so many incidents in the past years and also some in recent times which portray the deep rooted castism in India. For example, incidents like punishing the people of lower classes by making them eat the faecal matter of the upper class people is still prevalent in the rural parts of India. The good hearts of the world should unite to fight against this biggest challenge of humanity to make this world a better place to live in.”

BuiDuyQuang writes “I think racial discrimination is a bad thing. Now there is less racial discrimination than before but it still continues. Nelson Mandela is a great person in South Africa who speaks out about racial discrimination. In the 21st century the world is growing so if we want the world to grow faster we must destroy racial discrimination.”

Horacio Morales from Mexico writes “Ethnic discrimination is one of the greatest problems in all kind of societies and many persons as individuals and many organizations fight against that. A few months ago the whole world testified the violence generated by racism as France and other European countries suffered violent demonstrations by discriminated minorities. But in my opinion the globalization of the economy and of society is bringing us a new kind of discrimination, which is equally as dangerous: economic discrimination. Now there are more poor people in the world and we receive less opportunities and services. We need individuals and organizations to fight against this “new” discrimination.”