International Year for People of African Descent (IYPAD)

Posted on March 4, 2011 by

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Will Our “International Year” Produce Significant Gains
Or Merely Illuminate and Aggravate Our Many Pains?
By Bro. Mxolisi

United Nations Resolution 64/169, passed last year, declared 2011 to be the International Year for People of African Descent (IYPAD), aiming to “strengthen support for people of African descent with respect to the full enjoyment of their economic, cultural, social, civil and political rights; their integration in all political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society; and a greater knowledge of and respect for their heritage and culture.” Further, IYPAD aims at strengthening national actions and regional and international cooperation for the benefit of people of African descent in relation to these stated goals. Member States and the specialized agencies of the United Nations system were encouraged to make preparations for and identify possible initiatives that can contribute to the success of the Year.

Speaking at a launching ceremony, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the year seeks to strengthen commitment to eradicating discrimination against people of African descent. He added that the International Year also aims to promote greater awareness of and respect for the diverse heritage and culture of people of African descent. “At the same time, we must remember that people of African descent are among those most affected by racism. Too often, they face denial of basic rights such as access to quality health services and education. Such fundamental wrongs have a long and terrible history.”

The Year is to include research on the depth and breadth the slave trade and slavery and its contemporary implications; and the implementation of a United Nations Resolution for a permanent memorial to honor the victims of slavery and the slave trade to be erected in UN Headquarters in New York. Additionally, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will hold a day of thematic discussion on racial discrimination against people of African on March 7, 2011, on the specific themes:
• People of African descent and the international human rights mechanisms — challenges & accomplishments;
• Current socioeconomic effects of the transatlantic slave trade;
• Social inclusion and growth of the common identity of people of African descent;
• Women of African descent; and
• Recent immigration to Europe by people of African descent.
The panel debate will serve to raise awareness of the causes and consequences of discrimination against people of African descent; to promote the visibility of the diverse heritage and culture of people of African descent; and to collect lessons learned in this regard.

Background

  • The people of African descent have been victims of racism, structural discrimination and enslavement for centuries. Their inability to access opportunities in education, health, employment and justice has been a great battle with little effective action and progress. People of African descent are dispersed all over the world largely due to the large amount of African descendants that were transported from Africa by the trans- Atlantic slave trade. This situation provides the most striking example of structural discrimination.
  • Throughout the years, there have been many studies to help address the situation of people of African descent, but there has been little implementation of effective action. There is a great need for various concrete special measures that have been identified, with regular measurement of effectiveness and results, and for the governments concerned to take proactive ownership of the process with the cooperation of the international community.

IYPAD in “Post-racial” U.S.A.

While there has been a significant absence of attention given to IYPAD by the Obama administration, perhaps due to the “post-racial” realities of the U.S. or an unreceptive political climate, Julissa Reynoso, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, did release the following statement:
“The General Assemblies of the United Nations and the Organization of American States have declared 2011 the International Year for People of African Descent. During this momentous year, the U.S. Department of State will collaborate bilaterally and regionally to expand our efforts to promote full and equal participation of people of African descent in all aspects of political, economic, social, and cultural life in the countries of the Americas.

“It is estimated that one third of the population in the Western Hemisphere is of African descent. They contribute to our culturally rich and racially diverse region. The largest populations are in Brazil, Colombia, and the United States. People of African descent comprise the majority racial group in the Caribbean, and are a large minority in most countries of the region. Yet they suffer deep inequalities and comprise one of the most historically excluded and vulnerable racial groups.”
Additionally, Reynoso’s boss, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged the International Year for People of African Descent as “an opportunity for all of us around the globe to celebrate the diversity of our societies and to honor the contributions that our fellow citizens of African descent make every day to the economic, social and political fabrics of our communities.” This was released at the U.S. Embassy in Paraguay!!, relative to a Feb 25 webinar held in that country on the issues of the Year.

International Grassroots Buzz!

In contrast to the cold shoulder that our Year has received thus far from D.C. and other world capitals, there is a swarm of activity by people of African descent all over the world, with groups of folks in every state of the U.S., all of the Caribbean Countries and Islands, most African countries, (and such seemingly unlikely places as Germany, Poland, China, Norway), seeking to make the most of this opportunity to promote the well-being of our people. The internet is abuzz with an overflow of national and international inputs from persons and organizations seeking to generate attention and support for a hugely broad and diverse mixture of issues and temperaments. It will take some serious effort to focus these diverse elements into some specific demands, actions and consciousness that result in something positive rather than simply an opportunity for our adversaries and exploiters to see more clearly where the fissures lie between us, for the renewal of our old wounds and divisions, and for the escalation of their evisceration of the resources of the Motherland and the on-going process of the destruction of her scattered sons and daughters. The work goes on.
One ambitious effort taking shape is the Global Days of the Drum, being touted as the first global Pan African holiday in history, seeking to unite our people the world over in peace and prosperity. July 3-5, the mid-point of the year, are the days being targeted for this celebration: Further details to come. (Visit IYPAD Central on Facebook)

Coincidentally (or not), the 2025 Campaign for Black Men and Boys, whose national steering committee includes Concerned Black Men – National Organization and over a dozen other community organizations, along with the 21st Century Foundation, has chosen 2011 to unveil its program, which has been 4 years in the making. While their literature makes no mention and reflects no awareness of the IYPAD, their areas of emphasis have certain similarities to the themes raised in the UN declaration: Education, Employment and Wealth, Health, Fatherhood and Families, and Fairness Under the Law.
Within both of these movements, it is recognized that the work will go beyond 2011. The 2025 Campaign is targeting the year 2025 as a time when Black men and boys (particularly those born in 2007 who will be becoming adults in 2025) will experience significantly improved options and opportunities, if federal, state and local governments and agencies, and community organizations (particularly the faith-based institutions) give the needed priority time, attention and resources to the emphasis areas. Given the present and on-going negative circumstances and statistics outlined in the 2025 literature, the year 2025 will be nothing less than a time of extremely dire circumstances and consequences if benign neglect and apathy, and venomous denial and disdain are the reception the nation gives to the proposals of the Campaign. (Get the whole story at http://www.clasp.org/admin/site/documents/files/2025BMBfulldoc.pdf and 2025bmb.org/the campaign)

How good and pleasant it would be before GOD and man, to see a unification and coordination between IYPAD U.S.A. and the 2025 Campaign, leading, perhaps, to greater positive accomplishments in 2011 — and even greater ones in all the years beyond throughout the world African Community.

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