March 21: International Day against Racial Discrimination

March 21: International Day against Racial Discrimination

March 21 represents an important date in the black people’s calendar of struggle. The date refers to the Shaperville Massacre, which took place in 1960 in Shaperville, South Africa. Twenty thousand black workers peacefully protested against the regime of the apartheid and his Pass Law, which required only blacks to carry identification cards that restricted movement. The army fired into the crowd, killing 69 people and wounding 186.

By: Shirley Silvério Raposo, from the PSTU Brazil National Secretariat for Blacks

In 1969, the United Nations (UN) instituted the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. However, it was not until 1991 that the laws were abolished. del apartheid, as a result of the victory of a democratic revolution. Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, became president in 1993 from the African National Congress (ANC), the party that remains in power to this day under President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Once in power, the CNA preserved large private property, did not carry out agrarian reform, did not nationalize the banks, and did not even suspend foreign debt. Even the white bourgeoisie that got rich with el apartheid it was not even expropriated, like the family of billionaire Elon Musk, also in the mining business.

economic exploitation

with the end of apartheid, South African black workers were no longer subject to segregation laws, but continued in the same exploitative economic condition. In addition, South Africa has become one of the worst countries for black African migrants, with persecution, murder, and denial of citizenship; called the new apartheid.


An emblematic case occurred in 2012, when 34 strikers were killed by the police of ANC President Zuma at the Platinum Mine, in the city of Marikana. And to contain a popular reaction that broke out throughout the country, the ANC police murdered more than 60 people. This is a demonstration that, under capitalism, as long as some are at the top, the massacres against black workers will continue to be repeated.

Race and Class: “There is no capitalism without racism”

Malcolm X said that “There is no capitalism without racism.” Reality shows that this system is surrounded by economic, political, health and environmental crises. The violence and the appalling living conditions that affect the entire working class are even harsher for blacks and indigenous people. The increase in imprisonment, genocide and hunger has color and social class.

divide to rule

Governments and big business use racism and xenophobia to divide the working class into hostile camps and also to increase their profits. Therefore, they will never commit themselves to the end of racial discrimination and xenophobia.

racism in brazil

Brazil is the blackest country outside of the African continent, a remnant of 388 years of slavery, being the country that received the most enslaved people. Although the Brazilian bourgeoisie has tried to deny racism and has relied on the lie that we would live in a “racial democracy”, the reality of exploitation and oppression makes it clear that this democracy is a myth.

The anti-drug law promulgated in 2006 by the Lula government was responsible for a 290% increase in female imprisonment, mostly black women, without employment opportunities and a dignified life. On this day of struggle, we cannot forget the Jacarezinho massacre, nor those of Agatha, Miguel and João Pedro, children who lost their lives due to racism and the “war on drugs”.

visibility is not enough

In the last period we have seen a rise in the black struggle, more people recognize themselves as black, vindicate their history and stop straightening their hair. The main media discuss racism on a daily basis, it is enough to turn on the television and it is possible to see the racial discussion in sports programs, newscasts and soap operas. Yet we see violence against blacks increasing daily.

Having visibility about black men and women is important, and questioning their absence in politics is necessary, but not enough. We can learn from the experience of our South African brothers, who were deceived by the ANC leadership. Obama, as the first black president in the US, did not reduce racism, instead he increased incarceration and became known as the “warlord.”

This is because it is not enough for blacks to be at the top of capitalism, be it on the wealth list or in government posts. This is a system that survives with exploitation and violence against workers for the benefit of a handful of bourgeois. Regardless of whether this top is made up of whites or blacks, everyone must necessarily follow this logic of exploitation.

But that wealth that they appropriate, using all kinds of racist violence, is produced by us working class. We have, then, the possibility of organizing together with the rest of our class to seize power in this country and control that wealth, through a socialist revolution. This is the condition for us to eliminate racism and all forms of oppression from the face of the Earth.

Article published in, 3/15/2023.-

Translation: Natalia Estrada.


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