Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination Warns U.S.

UN Issues Warning

UN Emblem

United Nations Emblem

A UN committee charged with tackling racism has issued an “early warning” over conditions in the US and urged the Trump administration to “unequivocally and unconditionally” reject discrimination.

“Such statements are usually issued by the United Nations committee on the elimination of racial discrimination (Cerd) over fears of ethnic or religious conflict,” the article says. We’re in good company: “In the past decade, the only other countries issued with early warnings have been Burundi, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria!”

Do you know why Nigeria was issued a warning? I’d love to know.

The chair, Anastasia Crickley, said the committee was responding to the Charlottesville events. They were disturbed by the chants, slogans, and salutes, she said, that are, “promoting white supremacy and inciting racial discrimination and hatred.”

Are you familiar with this UN committee, CERD? I was not. Its role is to monitor the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, or ICERD. I did a brief reading of the history of how that convention came to be. It’s fascinating!

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution at the end of 1960, “following incidents of antisemitism in several parts of the world.” The resolution condemned “all manifestations and practices of racial, religious and national hatred” as violations of the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The U.S. is a signatory to the final declaration and the convention which calls on all governments to “take all necessary measures to prevent all manifestations of racial, religious and national hatred.”

I will watch for other actions of the CERD, now that I know it exists!

Should Black People Avoid Whites?

I loved this thoughtful article from The New York Times last week.

The author of the article, CHLOÉ VALDARY, says, “I was taught that if someone white makes assumptions about me or my people, the proper response is not to go around making assumptions about them. That creates a downward spiral into hatred fueled by ignorance.”

She describes how her parents taught her this. They had taken her and her sisters to a “memorial to the thousands of black men and women who were lynched in the Jim Crow South.” She recalls at age 10 being angry and sobbing at what she’d seen. Her parents told her this was, “a part of our past that we should always remember, but that one of its many lessons was to make sure to treat others equally — even if they did not respond in turn. People often hurt because they have hurt in them.”

She quotes James Baldwin, who said, “Something awful must have happened to a human being to be able to put a cattle prod against a woman’s breasts, for example. What happens to the woman is ghastly. What happens to the man who does it is in some ways much, much worse.”

She says, “Do black Americans have the courage and conviction to look the hateful monsters in the eye and offer a love so radical that it reminds them their hatred does not define them?”

Race-Related at The New York Times

Sheryl Stolberg, one of the writers of Race-Related

Sheryl Stolberg, one of the writers of Race-Related

The New York Times held a conference call today. The topic was Race-Related. Two who contribute to the Race-Related writing, John Eligon and Sheryl Stolberg, were on the call.

Sheryl (I think) was asked if she was surprised by what happened at Charlottesville. She said no. There is always push-back after forward movement. It happened after reconstruction, civil rights gains, and Obama’s election.

John Eligon, another writer on Race-Related

John Eligon, another writer on Race-Related

I follow their writing and have quoted it here more than once. You can also follow their work.

Black Lives Matter Banner Vandalized

Our Unitarian Church in Westport installed our Black Lives Matter banner in October. Last week it was torn down and taken away. Rev. John Morehouse, the Senior Minister, said, “We presume that those who took our sign feel that by removing it they repudiate its message that black lives matter just as much as any other life.”

Another sign has been ordered to replace the one ripped away. Rev. Morehouse is making a $100 contribution to NAACP as he said he would if the banner were vandalized.

The last bit of the banner remained

The last bit of the banner remained

Dr. Amanda Kemp Speaks Out 

At Sunday’s service our speaker was Dr. Amanda Kemp who spoke on the “Heart of Racial Justice.” Rev. John said, “It’s an unfortunately timely topic.”

Dr. Kemp spoke about healing transformation. She said she is a Quaker, and her whole aura reflected that sense of quiet, peace, and focus. She had her book, Say the Wrong Thing: Stories and Strategies for Racial Justice and Authentic Community, for sale after the service. I want to read it.

Shanonda Nelson, worship associate

Shanonda Nelson, worship associate

Shanonda Nelson was the worship associate. I loved her calm presence as she stood before the congregation. There were more people than usual for a summer service. Did they come because they knew about the destruction of the banner?

Two Speaking Engagements in Next Few Weeks

I will speak to the Greenwich Retired Men’s Association in Greenwich CT on Wednesday, August 30, at 11 am. I’ll talk about Nigeria Past and Present. The event is open to the pubic and free. Come if you are nearby!

Next month the New Canaan Library, in New Canaan CT is hosting me. My talk is “My Nigeria: An Insider’s Look.” Again, it’s nearby if you are in southern Connecticut. I’d love to see you. The library asks people to register.

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.


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  2. I read the article you linked about the UN warning. It is interesting to imagine how 45 can “address the root causes” when his past behavior and statements are among the root causes. I wish the UN, and so many other organizations, would also include sexism and misogyny in warnings, statements of principle, and the like. They always decry racism and religious intolerance, but women are forgotten. There was also misogyny in Charlottesville, and it’s not as if there is only so much justice to go around.

    • Yes, hard to imagine how racism can be addressed by our current president. The issue of intolerance against women is addressed by the UN, specifically by UN Women. This particular committee CERD only has the mandate to monitor racial intolerance.