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

Letter from the Board

SRIC Board Member Manny Pino

Participation in the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) held in Durban, South Africa from August 31 to September 7, 2001 was an invaluable learning experience.

The conference provided important opportunities to acquire knowledge and broaden our perspectives on some of the most critical racial justice issues of our time.

This issue of Voices from the Earth reflects on the experiences and perspectives of people of color who attended the WCAR in Durban. In Voices from the World Conference Against Racism non-governmental organization participants present their viewpoints on many important issues that are not always presented by the corporate controlled press in the United States. Contributors to Voices exemplify a new world vision for the fight against racism and racial discrimination. Consensus was drawn from the contributors to this issue that the WCAR increased our involvement and effective participation as NGO's doing anti-racism work and helped us learn how racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance is experienced in other countries.

For some of us the WCAR was an introduction to the long and drawn out bureaucratic process of the United Nations (UN). For some the UN constitutes a central, if not sole arena for struggle. For others it provides a prestigious venue in which to air their issues or embarrass their governments into action. As an indigenous participant I learned the historical process of indigenous delegations applying UN treaties and conventions to influence government treatment of indigenous peoples from all over the world.

As a board member of SRIC I hope that the perspectives, viewpoints, experiences and documentation contained in these articles will be a useful source of information for all those interested in ending the scourge of racism.

Also in this issue of Voices from the Earth are articles about SRIC's continuing work. Their assistance to Navajo communities as they fight new uranium mining and the political wheeling and dealing going on to subsidize uranium mining companies. And the work of a new program, Desert Voices/Desierto del Voces, to strengthen young people's voices, helping them be heard. We hope all of these voices will insightful and educational to you.

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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

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