By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
It is important for all people of African descent throughout the world to be ever conscious and aware of how our quality of life is improving. In fact, as the current global debate over the impact of world population increases, all people should be aware of the future predictions concerning world health, poverty, education, and wealth building. This is especially urgent for people who have been consistently marginalized, oppressed and subjugated to racial injustice and economic depredation.
Finally, after decades of international negotiations, the United Nations has now formally declared and designated 2015-2024, as the “International Decade for People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development.” Although the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 68/237 a couple months ago that officially designated this crucial international commitment to take “effective measures” to assist people of African descent, very few in Black America are aware of these opportunities.
There is an African proverb that says you will surely perish if you do not know where to reach for a helping hand when you are in trouble. Information is power. Getting the right information at the right time is also a fundamental key to both survival and empowerment.
I believe that sometimes our perspectives or plans for actions to advance the interests of freedom, justice and equality are too short sighted. There is no such thing as “instant liberation.” It takes a prolonged focused struggle of committed people, organizations and mass liberation movements to successful counter the rigid forces of racism, economic injustice and poverty. This is why I fervently endorse the UN call to action for the next 10 years to encourage the mobilization of millions of people internationally to promote and sustain the empowerment of people of African descent.
According the latest world population figures from the UN, there are today more than 1,666,239,000 people who live in Africa. There are more than 200 million people of African descent who live in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, and in South America. Black Americans counted by the U.S. Census Bureau are now numbered at 43.4 million and growing every day. Ten years from now these population figures will have increased exponentially. Thus the challenges to end poverty and create sustainable wealth in the diaspora of Africa, as well as in Africa are formidable, but not impossible to overcome.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a sobering and strategic statement in support of this decade-long initiative. He stated, “We must remember the 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.
In the United States the ongoing ultra-conservative politics of racial division and economic inequality are attempting to put more and more roadblocks to prevent the U.S. Congress from adopting policy or enacting legislation that will provide more access to health care, education, employment, housing and on other issues vital to improve the quality of life of people of African descent and all other people who have been marginalized. But this should only strengthen our collective resolve to speak out more and to stand up more for equal justice. From this perspective, we should see the UN as an ally as we press forward.
The UN has delineated the following three main objectives of the International Decade for People of African Descent as follows:
• Promote respect, protection and fulfillment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people of African Descent, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
• Promote a greater knowledge of and respect for the diverse heritage, culture and contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies;
• Adopt and strengthen national, regional and international legal frameworks according to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and to ensure their full and effective implementation.
I also believe that this is the opportune time to reassert the importance of the reparations issue in the U.S. and throughout the African diaspora.
We should forthrightly support the International Decade for People of African Descent. There are many today who do a fairly good job of looking back over our history. Now is the time to do an equally good job of planning and preparing for the future. Let’s strive over the next decade to advance the cause of freedom and equality for all people, but especially for people of African descent.
Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached for national advertisement sales and partnership proposals at: firstname.lastname@example.org; and for lectures and other professional consultations at: http://drbenjaminfchavisjr.wix.com/drbfc.