On Friday, Sept. 25, at 4 p.m., Burton Blatt Institute Chairman Peter Blanck will address a virtual symposium hosted by the Disability Allied Law Students Association (DALSA) at the New York University School of Law to celebrate the 30th anniversary…
UN Human Rights Chief Calls for ‘Urgent and Profound Action To Combat Systemic Racism’ in US
The United Nations human rights chief called on Monday for “urgent and profound action to combat systemic racism” in the U.S. during her opening speech for the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile, said commitments for change across the U.S. after George Floyd’s May death in Minneapolis police custody “need to be matched by real change to create an environment in which African Americans feel they are protected by law enforcement and the state.”
Syracuse University’s Danielle Smith is the director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program and a professor of African American studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. Smith specializes in gender studies; population displacement and migration; post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction; global health and development; Africa and its diaspora; and the United States.
Smith offered this perspective:
“Ms. Michelle Bachelet’s, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, call to action to address systemic racism in the U.S. is an important step in the right direction and should be applauded. However, to date, heads of governments of major western powers have failed to strongly condemn the systemic racism in the U.S., especially acts of violence incited by the leader of the U.S. government and the violence perpetrated by the U.S. security apparatus against African Americans. This is unfortunate, particularly given that western governments are quick to condemn state-sanctioned violence in non-western nations, often attributing fault, even when evidence is not clear or is absent.
Silence about the plight of Black people in the U.S. connotes indifference at best, and complicity at worst. Western nations cannot claim morality, enlightenment, and mature democracies and advance ideas of universal human rights, but do so only when it fits their national interests. In the past, Western nations have been willing to go to war to purportedly save humanity from the tyrannies of dictatorship in oil-rich areas and other faraway foreign lands; these nations should muster similar courage, not to wage war, but to remind their U.S. ally of universal values of human dignity.
It is time for the West to stand in solidarity with us, we the people. The United States is not a monarchy. We are a living democracy. Their allyship is with us, we the American people. This includes non-white people of America. As such, the call by Ms. Bachelet for ‘urgent and profound action to combat systemic racism’ in (the) U.S.’ is an acknowledgment of both historical and contemporary anti-blackness and oppression in the U.S. It is an important act of solidarity with Black people in the U.S. in the struggle for racial justice.”