Monday, January 24, 2011
2011 is the International Year for People of African Descent (or The International Year for Black People?)
The UN launched 2011 as The International Year of People of African descent 2011. Through this symbolic action the UN wants to stress the importance to eradicate racism, of which according to the UN, people of African descent all over the world are the most important victims.
This more than 50 years after most African countries gained independence and nearly 50 years after the US Civil Rights Bill was passed (1964), giving equal rights to black people in the US and abolishing formal segregation.
When thinking of people of African descent, or the African Diaspora, people often think automatically about the African-Americans in the US and sometimes black people in Brazil. We often overlook the fact that there are black people all over Latin America (from Mexico to Chile), Europe and even as far as Pakistan, Iran and India where little communities of African descendents often live an isolated life (For more info on Siddi click here). The year is a chance to bring the presence of peoples of African descent all over the world, and their history, into focus.
Check the video below from the UN webcast in which the International Year of People of African Descent was launched. It is pecular to notice how everybody avoids the use of 'black' as a valid word to designate the group of people they talk about. The choice goes for 'People of African descent' or the new word combination 'Africa Descendants'. These choice of words is in itself worth a through research entitled 'From Negroes to Africa Descendants. On How Black People Have Been Named and Defined throughout Western History'. Basically they are right to do so, as Africa Descendents are often not literally 'black'.
Another interesting contribution on the topic can be found on the OBV (Operation Black Vote) UK-website on this link