TODAY marks the United Nation’s observation of International Day for the Elimination of Racism. The 2022 theme is “Voices For Action Against Racism.”
As the leading state advocate on equality, the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) joins United Nations members to magnify the voices of those who experience racism, whose opportunities are limited and who struggle to enjoy basic human rights.
Data at the commission shows that complaints filed based on the status grounds of race and ethnicity are the most lodged complaints that we receive at our offices. In Trinidad and Tobago and in the world, racism exists in undertones and overtones. The keyword, if you would allow us to play on that word, is tone, relating to our voices.
What can we do?
Research has shown that accurate information, when shared in social relationships, are received and processed from a place of trust and allows people to explore a different perspective. A conversation is a powerful combination of information and human connection that can educate and mobilise for change. Using our voices we can teach our families, keep our circles accountable and speak on behalf of those who experience racism.
This also helps with addressing implicit bias. There are people who are sometimes unconscious of the biases that they hold and conversation is critical in helping those people become more self-aware so that they can change their attitudes and behaviours.
Another way we can be part of the solution is by providing a safe space where people who have experienced racism can speak up and be heard so that their concerns can be acted on. Sometimes it is difficult or uncomfortable to discuss any form of discrimination, but these conversations must be had to rectify injustices.
Organisations also have a part to play in ensuring that vacancies are filled and opportunities for promotion are given to individuals based on merit. An inclusive company is a successful company because it accesses talent and skillsets and moves the needle on inclusivity and equal opportunities for all.
To build gender equity, we must come together to raise our voices to advocate for a world free of all forms of racial inequality, be it institutional, social, or otherwise. We all play a critical role in dismantling systemic racism.
The EOC can help.
Holding people accountable can also be a mitigating factor and catalyst for change. At the EOC, we provide a mechanism for members of the public to do just that.
If you have been discriminated against based on your race, lodge a complaint at the Equal Opportunity Commission. We will receive, investigate and conciliate the complaint. The conciliation process brings together all parties involved to resolve the matter. If the matter is not resolved at conciliation, it can be taken to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal. The tribunal is an independent and separate body from the EOC but it was also established by the Equal Opportunity Act as a superior court of record. It is a critical component in the implementation of the act and levies fines and awards compensations to victims of discrimination.
About International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed on March 21every year by United Nations members. It engages the public through #FightRacism, which aims to foster a global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination and calls on each one of us to stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.
According to the United Nations, the theme this year, “Voices For Action Against Racism,” highlights “the importance of strengthening meaningful and safe public participation and representation in all areas of decision-making to prevent and combat racial discrimination; reaffirming the importance of full respect for the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and of protecting civic space, and recognising the contribution of individuals and organisations that stand up against racial discrimination and the challenges they face.”