MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations
Why are we presenting voices from the United Nation's World Conference Against Racism (WCAR)? To give Attendees an opportunity to have their Voices heard. Are some of these Voices going to aggravate some of our readers? Quite possibly. But they also give the opportunity to educate, to explain. To tell the world what they are feeling. To present their culture, their beliefs, and their hopes, as well as their frustrations and criticisms. Their desire to be respected, and not subjugated or disenfranchised for the "greater good."
Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) took the opportunity presented by one of our Board members, Manuel Pino, as a way to continue our goals: to give a Voice to people who aren't always heard in the mainstream press. By presenting perspectives from the WCAR, we are telling the world about Latin America through Rigoberta Menchú Tum's Voice. Of Indigenous perspectives using Tom Goldtooth's Voice, perspectives from Asian and Pacific Islanders via Joselito Laudencia's Voice, Environmental Racism through Robby Rodriguez's Voice, and Eulynda Benalli's perspectives as a Navajo Woman. Manuel Pino also gives the background of the Conference, the steps involved in getting the WCAR set up.
The United Nation's decision to convene a World Conference Against Racism reflected the growing international concern for the rise in the incidents of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and recognition of the challenges and opportunities in combating these phenomena in an increasingly globalized world. In his call for renewed commitment in the new millennium to the protection of human rights, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "For every right we proclaim, hundred of abuses are committed every day. For every voice whose freedom we secure, many more are still threatened. For every woman or girl whose right to equality we uphold, thousands more suffer from discrimination or violence. For every child whose right to education and a peaceful childhood we seek, far too many remain beyond our reach. Truly, our work is never done."
Voices from the WCAR need to be heard. The world around us is not just what the mainstream press tells us. It is much, much more.
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"As we see all around us, racism and racial discrimination continue unabated. Although we refer to our world as a global village, it is a world sadly lacking in the sense of closeness towards neighbour and community which the word village implies. In each region, and within all countries, there are problems stemming from either a lack of respect for, or lack of acceptance of, the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings. Our world is witness to serious ethnic conflicts; to discrimination against minorities, indigenous peoples and migrants workers; the accusation of institutionalized racism in police forces; harsh immigration and asylum policies; hate sites on the Internet and youth groups promoting intolerance and xenophobia."
– Mary Robinson,
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
24 March 1999