Global Class discusses racial discrimination

Photographed by Cassidy McMullen

The Global Class, led by Lon Appleby (centre) participates in an international discussion about racial discrimination over video chat.

“What can we do as one great human civilization…to eliminate racial discrimination?”

That’s the question Lon Appleby asked of students in the Global Class on March 14.

The global class is a general education course (GNED) available at DC. Using advanced technology, the class can video chat with people from around the world allowing students to discuss international issues and hear different perspectives.

DC’s Global Class hosted Centennial College, a group from Luskia, Zambia and two Israel colleges for a discussion on racial discrimination just ahead of the United Nations (UN) International Day of Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed March 21 annually. The day was proclaimed in 1966, six years after 69 people were shot by police after a peaceful demonstration against racist laws in Sharpeville, South Africa.

In the class, students shared struggles their countries are facing with racial discrimination and personal experiences.

In Luskia, Zambia, racial discrimination branches into economic inequality.

Ireen Silweya, who organizes groups of people in her community to join in on Global Class discussions, explained how since a lot of property is owned by white Zambians, it’s hard to buy land.

“White sells to white,” Silweya said.

A student of hers explained how his family was denied the opportunity to buy land from a white land owner who wouldn’t sell it, preferring to let a white Zambian to buy the land instead.

“It was a black-white issue,” Silweya said. “And it ended like that.”

Derrick Reinsma, a nursing student in his last semester, was looking for another GNED to take when he stumbled upon the global class. Based on the video Appleby made, he thought the course looked interesting so he signed up.

Now taking the course, Reinsma especially likes how they touch on “big picture thinking” rather than “everyday small stuff.”

“It just connects us to different world perspectives that we wouldn’t experience in our everyday lives,” Reinsma said.

Reinsma suggested in the global class racial discrimination comes from intolerance and a fundamental hatred of not only other people but yourself.

“Today’s class gave us a new perspective to see how people felt racism in different cultures and it helped us get down to the fundamentals of what we should change in our lives to change racism on a global scale,” Reinsma said.

Appleby guided the conversation, focusing on the world’s development and failure since the UN’s creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago after World War II, which Appleby described as “the worst war in human kind.”

Section one of the Declaration of Human rights was specifically discussed:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

“It shouldn’t be a day of celebration,” Silweya said.

It should be a day to look at implementing change and finding ways to make it sustainable, he said.

The theme for this year’s International Day of Elimination of Racial Discrimination is tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity in the context of combating racial discrimination with a focus on migrants and people of African descent.