OAS Marks International Day of People of African Descent

OAS Marks International Day of People of African Descent.

Remarks by
Bradley A. Freden, U.S. Interim Permanent Representative
September 1, 2021

Chair, Madame Vice President of the Republic of Costa Rica Epsy Campbell Barr, OAS Secretary General, IACHR Commissioner Macaulay. I would like to thank all of you for your important and informative presentations today. 

Yesterday, the United States joined others around the world in commemorating the first International Day for People of African Descent.  We are delighted that the OAS decided to hold this meeting today to recognize this important occasion.     

The first International Day for People of African Descent was created to promote the extraordinary contributions of Africans and members of the African diaspora around the world.  In our hemisphere, it is an opportunity to focus on eliminating  discrimination and creating more inclusive societies.     

The Biden-Harris Administration has elevated racial justice and equity as an immediate priority, promoting it across federal government agencies, policies, and programs, including our engagement in international organizations such as the United Nations and the OAS..  The United States strongly supported the creation of the UN Permanent Forum for People of African Descent in August, and will seek ways to engage with and advance its efforts.   

We must get at the root of the challenge by addressing structural racism. We must also acknowledge the intersections of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, religion, and national origin.  

Today at the OAS, the United States honors the dignity, equality, and contributions of Black Americans and all people of African descent around the world.  We recommit ourselves to ensuring equality, dignity, and economic opportunity for every human being, and especially those who have historically been denied these rights 

My delegation is proud to recognize the contributions that Black Americans make to our society every day.  The United States has the second largest number of citizens of African descent in the Americas. Today we pay tribute to their enormous, positive impact in our communities and our nation. while also acknowledging the  disproportionate challenges in health, justice, education and prosperity faced by Black Americans in 2021.  

The United States is a multicultural society. We believe diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential for a healthy democracy. We must recognize the sacrifices of life and liberty made by people of African descent to build and develop this country, and their ongoing contributions in every sector of our society   We must also recognize and  celebrate  the culture and traditions of the African Diaspora that are integral to our story as Americans.   

The United States recognizes that it must  fully live up to the founding principles of this nation – that all people are created equal.  Slavery was my country’s original sin, and we are still living with its legacy. We know that it is long past time to confront deep racial inequities and the systemic racism that continue to plague our nation. 

We bring to our work a seriousness of purpose and urgency to live up to the promises of our founding principles, but also  the intersectional impact of racial justice and equity across the board in health care, education, housing, our economy, our environment, our justice system, and in our electoral process.  We do so not only because it is the right thing to do but because it is the smart thing to do and benefits all of us as a nation. 

This is only the beginning of what we must do. Ending racial discrimination, particularly in our criminal justice system, will be an ongoing top priority for the President, and for the entire Biden-Harris Administration. And we ask that other countries join us. 

We know that it is only by facing the painful truth of our past and working together that we can forge a better future by eliminating racism and discrimination in all our societies.  Today, we honor the sacrifices others have made for equality and we stand together to protect the rights of all.   

That is why the International Day for People of African Descent and its three pillars of recognition, justice, and development are so important.  The United States looks forward to continued engagement with hemispheric partners to find solutions to our common challenges. 

Thank you, Chair.