The Anti-Racism Network South Africa (ARNSA) will tomorrow kick off Anti-Racism Week 2019 with programmes taking place nationally from March 14 onwards.

This includes workshops, discussions, protest action, lectures, sports matches and assemblies against racism taking place in Gauteng, the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal an Limpopo provinces.

Anti-Racism Week is held annually from March 14-21. It culminates on Human Rights Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The campaign is initiated by ARNSA, which was established by the Ahmed Kathrada and Nelson Mandela Foundations in 2015. Its secretariat also includes the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), and the Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD). A number of other organisations in various provinces form part of the network.

Anti-Racism Week this year will see the official launch of the Zimele Racism Reporting App (Zirra). The app was piloted last year, but has since been improved and now has the support of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). The SAHRC has agreed to provide the necessary assistance to victims of racism who register their complaints via Zirra.

ARNSA coordinator, Busisiwe Nkosi, said that over and above using technology to tackle racism, this year’s Anti-Racism Week continues to place focus on schools. “Several assemblies against racism have already been held with further ARNSA school visits to take place during the week itself, together with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Our key message to schools is to challenge racism in all its forms – whether it exists in old policies that do not factor in diverse student demographics, or in day to day personal racism within classrooms or on the playground. We want pupils to educate, mobilise and act against racism,” Nkosi said.

She added that anti-racism within the sports sector would also be a key feature of the week, with Cricket South Africa dedicating matches, including several One Day Internationals, to promoting this year’s theme, #UniteAgainstRacism. “There will also be a pool tournament and a local cricket match dedicated to supporting the campaign.”

The week will also see a series of dialogues being held in various parts of the country. “These discussions will focus on issues related to race, identity and transformation – ranging from community driven dialogues, to discussions about the rise of right wing racism globally; being in inter-racial relationships; reflecting on human rights issues; and reviewing how the faith based sector can challenge racism.

“There will also be a focus on South Africa’s racialised past, with young people being taken on a visit to the Sharpeville Massacre site, as well as a book launch on the life of anti-apartheid activist Paul Joseph,” Nkosi stated.

“The call still goes out to all sectors of society to mark Anti-Racism Week and ensure that its message to #UniteAgainstRacism resonates loudly and clearly with the public, so that we can collectively challenge this scourge, which remains a blight on our democracy.

“We have seen how racism has divided us in the past, and how it continues to define so many aspects of our day to day lives. We’ve seen the manner in which we deal with racial tensions in schools and communities and how the processes that follow sometimes tend to reinforce division, rather than build common ground and solutions. We’ve also seen how globally, right wing racists are increasingly developing a more connected and cohesive front. All of this should prompt us to realise that uniting against racism must remain a priority not only in South Africa, but on the world agenda as well. We hope that Anti-Racism Week 2019 plays a role in establishing platforms in various sectors through which we can start confronting racism.”