By: Terry Ahtziry Cárdenas Banda, attorney, philanthropist, and law professor.
Human rights have been recognized thanks to the sociohistorical process that has been evolving and growing due to the demands of transforming political, economic, social, and cultural conditions at different times. We are still living this social process, since human rights violations continue to occur, for this reason, our society has risen to demand structural changes in all social, political, economic and cultural entities to generate a true change of inclusion for all human beings without distinction for any reason.
Human rights are a universal aspiration inherent to human dignity, it is the task of States to respect, protect, guarantee, and promote human rights for all people. In an ideal world, all people should have not only the same rights but the real possibility of exercising them under equal conditions and opportunities, without distinction for any reason, much less for those reasons proper to the human essence, which makes each person being who they are. However, the reality is that every day human beings face inequality.
For its part, another inherent reality we live in is the abuse of power by the authorities in charge of respecting, protecting, guaranteeing, and promoting our human rights. I must make it clear that not all people or all authorities are an active part of the violations of human rights to the different social groups, however, if it is everyone’s responsibility to act in situations that violate rights from our own trenches.
Abuse of authority is a crime typified by the Mexican penal code, likewise, US laws also have mechanisms to sanction the authorities or public officers who promote these actions. With the abuse of power, institutional violence is generated, which derives from the coercive and punitive force that the State grants to itself, based on this, the system results in a structure of domination rooted through violence and fear. The current reality is that the practices of abuse of power are functional and paradoxically contribute to the replication of institutional violence.
The reality is that both in Mexico and in the United States of America there are acts of abuse of power that must be eradicated, it is time not only to demand but to act, to demand true change through reforms, government structural changes, social changes, education in that sense.
Groups in situations of vulnerability are those that, due to the general contempt for some specific condition they share, a social prejudice built around them, or a historical situation of oppression or injustice, are systematically affected in the enjoyment and exercise of their human rights. In short, vulnerability is a disadvantageous situation, since any person or group of people in that condition is unfairly at risk of discrimination or serious violation of their human rights. If we all worked for true equality, it would be possible to reduce the material conditions that subject people to vulnerability; in addition, the stereotypes that subject identity to acceptance criteria that, by themselves, are contrary to human dignity, would be eliminated. (Source: National Commission on Human Rights of Mexico — CNDH)
The African descent people are descendants of African men and women who came to America, this group has been prejudiced and stigmatized for their physical appearance, language, culture, and traditions, so that they are excluded from life in society and, above all, of the possibility of exercising their rights and participating with the rest of the national society. Such discrimination occurs on both sides of the border in Mexico and the United States of America.
Unfortunately, people of African descent are a group in a situation of vulnerability since they suffer from general contempt for their physical appearance, which generates that they are systematically affected in the enjoyment and exercise of their human rights. The States through their government entities and public officials have the primary function of recognizing, respecting, guaranteeing and promoting the human rights of all human beings without distinction of race, age, sex, nationality, ethnic group, among others, therefore, it is the task of the authorities to respect and protect people of African descent and not to carry out any discriminatory action against them.
Let us not be afraid to speak out our reality, we live in a racist society on both sides of the border, perhaps it is not limited only to issues of skin color, however, we accept discriminatory actions or we do not raise our voices when we see that they happen.
It is outrageous that, in these times, with great historical, political, social, cultural, scientific advances, among others, we continue to live in an oppressive culture that denigrates certain social groups, especially African-American people. I acknowledge their history, their struggle, I cannot say that I understand what they live as it is a reality that only they can understand their full extent, however, I am with them and I join their claim, that these situations of social inequality must stop. Racism must end, abuse of power must be suppressed, degrading, violent and offensive actions must end.
It is incredible how living in a situation as critical as the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which makes no distinction and attacks everyone, we continue to live in a society that its own government violates human rights and does not respect them, neither promotes nor guarantees them, much less protects them. COVID-19 was a call to humanity to work together for the common good, that to get out of this problem we need to raise social awareness and work altogether from our trenches to end it, however, even with this virus we have not achieved union and respect for all human beings without distinction for any reason.
As proposed by the CNDH, we must work for true equality, in order to reduce the material conditions that subject people to vulnerability; in addition, in this way, we would end stereotypes that subject identity to acceptance criteria that, by themselves, are contrary to human dignity.
The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes: “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and endowed as they are in reason and conscience, they must behave fraternally towards one another”. This antecedent was recognized by the majority of the States since 1948 and clearly denotes to us that every human being is born free and equal in dignity and rights, it indicates to us human beings that we must behave in a fraternal way towards each other. In this sense, this is a call to: STOP RACISM, STOP ABUSE OF POWER, STOP DISCRIMINATION, STOP VIOLENCE.
It is time to learn to live and see everyone equally without distinction for any reason, we shall all enjoy the same rights, we all can achieve the same capacities and I believe faithfully that with everyone’s work we can achieve an inclusive society that does not tolerate any type discrimination on both sides of the border, but it is everyone’s job, every human being, not just those groups that live in situations of vulnerability, such as Afro-Americans. For this reason, I urge you to seek for everyone equally, raise your voice if you ever experience or witness any kind of discrimination, and especially from your trench contribute as much as you can for a better world. There are different ways to contribute from your own trench, such as educating yourself in the matter, raising your voice, being supportive, recognizing unacceptable behaviors, and changing them, among other actions that each one can carry out from their own human condition.