By Rosario Ruiz
The International Day of Peace, which falls on September 21, was established in 1981 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. It is devoted to 24 hours of non-violence and ceasefire to strengthen the ideals of peace among people.
This year, special emphasis is being placed on racism under the slogan, “End racism. Build peace.” Despite the great work in this area in recent years, and the progress in some countries to combat racism, discrimination against racial minorities remains. It is therefore important to raise awareness about its existence and work toward its eradication in order to live in a world of compassion and empathy.
Racism in Mexico
Mexico has an impressive cultural diversity, and is the second-most diverse country in the world, with 68 distinct ethnic groups. Far from having this fill us with pride, it seems that Mexicans are ashamed, as in many parts of the country racism toward these ethnic groups and other minorities remains. It is a racism that we do not want to recognize, and that is internalized even in the way we express ourselves.
Expressions such as “Indian,” “black,” “we must improve the race,” “dark skinned,” “he is dark, but he is handsome,” “you’re stupid,” “a dark grain is never missed in rice,” and others, are signs of the racism that prevails in our daily lives, and that we often do not recognize as such. Because of discrimination against ethnic groups in Mexico, many of the indigenous languages could become extinct in the coming years. Indigenous parents do not want to teach their children to speak their languages for fear that they too will suffer discrimination. What is happening is very worrisome for linguistics, and we must act as soon as possible so as not to lose those languages.
According to data from the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED), 60 percent of people in Mexico feel discriminated against because of their skin color, while 40 percent feel excluded when applying for a job or a service. Without a doubt, it is an issue that we must put on the table, and the first step is to recognize that Mexico is a racist country. Let us take advantage of the International Day of Peace to reflect on our own behavior and our actions in society.