African Americans & People Color Support The Durban Review Conference sign now

US Refusal to Participate in Durban Review Conference:
African Americans and People Color Speak for Ourselves!

The election of Barack Obama as US president was an important development in the direction of democracy. It represented an ideological blow against the hold of racism and white supremacy on national political elections. Many Blacks and People of Color worldwide have great hopes that his election among other things, represents a leadership willing to take a strong stand against racist US and global policies, systems and governments.

The refusal of the Obama administration to participate in the Durban Review Conference on racism to be held in Geneva on April 20 24, 2009, without preconditions that restricts the conference from addressing the issue of Reparations and the racist and genocidal nature of Israels oppression of Palestine, is truly a big disappointment. It not only departs from one of the important meanings of the Obama election unifying a political majority in opposition to racism; it represents a total disregard for the collective agreement of the vast majority of the world on the issue of Reparations and is an act of complicity with violations of human rights as stated in the United Nations Charter

While the United States and western governments boycott the Durban Review Conference, the impact of the international economic crisis continues to deepen the historic vestiges of centuries of racism, devastating poverty, and all forms of discrimination and injustice upon People of Color inside the US and throughout the world. It is a major cause of the ethnic cleansing which we have witnessed in parts of Africa, resulting in the deaths of millions.

Little attention has been given to the fact that in the U.S. alone, it was Black and Latino communities who were the targets of the unjust and discriminatory subprime loan schemes of Wall St. and the financial markets. These loans preyed upon the legitimate aspirations of millions of Black and Latino families for adequate housing and home ownership. Various analyses of the housing market crisis indicate that Black and Latino communities are disproportionately impacted and will lose between $164 billion and $213 billion as a result of predatory lending, thrusting thousands into economic crisis, homelessness, poverty, devastation.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) reports that women will also be disproportionately impacted by the economic crisis, exacerbating the historic elements of gender based discrimination world-wide. Increases in unemployment wo rld-wide will hit women workers the hardest. According to the ILO Bureau for Gender Equality, womens lower employment rates, weaker control over property and resources, concentration in informal and vulnerable forms of employment with lower earnings, and less social protection, all place women in a weaker position than men to weather the crisis.

Increased racially motivated and gender based violence is being documented across the globe as the downturns from the economic crisis linger in developing as well as developed countries. Every continent has seen a rise in violence against women, gays, immigrants, and non majority nationalities. Rising inequality can result in an increase in racial bias for scapegoating or advancing xenophobic and isolationist tendencies, the reports say.

The world-wide struggle against the concrete manifestations of racism and discrimination were the central focus of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in the first place. Without the US and other western governments correcting their egregious refusal to officially participate in WCAR and now the Durban Review process, the Obama Administration turns its back upon hundreds of millions of the oppressed and disadvantaged around the world who continue to suffer at the hands of the greed and misconduct of the racist, misogynist, rich and powerful. This is the true cost of the defense of Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people and all the oppressed sectors and communities around the world.

The historical invasions by Western and US governments of the lands and genocide of the indigenous Peoples of Color; the kidnapping, sale and super-exploitation of African slave and wage labor; and the forcing of women to replenish the labor force and to work in the home without pay or rights over their own bodies, have left its imprint embedded in the societies of the oppressed as well as the oppressor nations throughout the world.

We are witnessing the speed of the US government in granting trillions of dollars of the peoples funds, to bail out the banks and cor porations which are part of the historical chain perpetuating the oppression and violation of human rights against Africans, African descendents and Peoples of Color nations and communities. Yet the US refuses to address the demand for reparations by the victims of oppression, as an essential component of the equality and democracy it claims to champion inside the US and internationally.

We have submitted petitions and made appeals to the US government to participate in this important conference, without success. Its participation in a preparatory meeting, gives a false impression that the US government is really committed to ending racism inside the US and around the globe. In the USs refusal to attend this conference, we see a continuation of the policies of the previous administrations, magnified by the Bush administration, of refusing to be accountable to democratic standards and decisions arrive at by the UN and other international bodies.

We therefore call on the Durban Review Conference to recognize the voices of African American and People of Color delegations and coalitions from organizations and social movements throughout the US in this important deliberation, to arrive at a report that frames, mandates, informs, reviews and reinforces accountability to international conventions and standards on human rights.

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