People of African descent light the world.
The second International Day for People of African Descent honours their contributions, celebrates the richness of their diverse cultures, promotes respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and reinforces commitments to end racism and all forms of racial discrimination.
The day was first celebrated in 2021, halfway through the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), which calls for concrete actions on the part of states and other members of the international community to promote recognition, justice and development.
Over 200 million people in the Americas alone identify as being of African descent, as do millions more living in other regions.
People of African descent make invaluable contributions to societies, economies and cultures around the world, leading movements for justice, inclusion and human rights and kindling innovation and creativity.
These contributions are made in spite of the poverty and marginalization that are the legacies of enslavement and colonialism. Around the world, systemic racism continues to fuel violence and exclude people of African descent from services, land, housing, health care, education, work, political participation and justice.
Women and girls of African descent bear a double burden, as the intersection of racism and sexism compounds inequality, exclusion and injustice. The toll is visible in heightened rates of maternal death and ill health, greater vulnerability to gender-based violence and exploitation, and disproportionate poverty.
Luisa Nelson Banton knows this double burden well, having experienced both racism and gender discrimination in her 61 years as a Black woman in Costa Rica.
But she also knows it is not immutable – as a pioneer in her industry, she has firsthand experience with shifting paradigms. Her achievements in the face of discrimination and disrespect have only reinforced her pride, as a Black person and a woman, and her commitment to equality. “I teach my children that we are all equal,” she says.
All around the world, people of African descent are speaking out and leading collective action to end racism and the intersecting injustices it perpetuates.
Racism diminishes us all. It is one of the greatest barriers to sustainable development – because to meet the challenges of poverty, conflict and climate change, we must work together and leave no one behind.
Ending racism, too, will take every one of us – in the collective work of changing discriminatory social norms, practices and policies, ending inaction and impunity, expanding participation, transforming institutions and investing in communities.