Sixty-three years ago today—March 21, 1960—police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration in the Black township of Sharpeville, South Africa, killing 69 people. The massacre marks the most lethal day of police violence in South Africa, and is a dark reminder of the intertwined legacy of colonization and racism that continues to plague our global community.
Six years later, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racism. And though racist laws have been abolished in many countries—including apartheid in South Africa—individuals, communities, and societies still suffer from injustice fueled by racism.
At Aspen Global Innovators, we are building a vibrant, holistic, and inclusive community of global leaders who are transforming global development systems. Through advocacy and action, they work alongside one another to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to shift power into the communities they serve.
Combating racism requires honesty about our past and our present. It requires real reflection on the ways that colonial powers have created and upheld economic and political systems—globally and within the United States—that advantage white western cultures and peoples. At Aspen Global Innovators, we define decolonization as a movement that fights against ingrained systems of dominance and power to improve equitable health and prosperity in populations. This requires working with community leaders and institutions to disrupt practices that reinforce inequity and reduce access to health and social services. By centering representation, gender, and health equity in our work, the global AGI community pursues systems transformation that applies upstream solutions to impact health and prosperity. Our work addresses economic stability, health care and quality, food insecurity, climate resiliency, and education.
In recognition of the urgent need to combat racism and racial discrimination, the Aspen Global Innovators community upholds the ongoing work of our Fellows and partners who are leading global efforts to disrupt existing power structures in order to create a more equitable world for all.
On this International Day for the Elimination of Racism, we encourage you to explore these articles and resources from Aspen Global Innovators Fellows.