US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Friday called for the dismantling of White supremacy and for the world to “stand unified against this scourge” of racism.
“In so many of our communities and countries, racism is endemic. It’s built in, like a rot in a frame. And it remains, and it festers, and it spreads because many of those in charge allow it to. Others look away and pretend it’s not there. But like a cancer, if ignored, it grows,” Thomas-Greenfield said during a UN meeting commemorating International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Thomas-Greenfield mentioned America’s history of slavery and legacy of White supremacy, acknowledging that “we have flaws. Deep, serious flaws.”
“But we talk about them. We work to address them. And we press on, in hopes that we can leave the country better than we found it,” she said. “We can do the same on a multilateral scale.”
She recalled how the “senseless” killings of Black Americans, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, last year had “sparked a reckoning with racial justice, a movement that spread across the world: Black Lives Matter. “
“And because Black lives matter, we need to dismantle White supremacy at every turn,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
The US government has determined domestic violent extremism poses the “greatest threat” to the US, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned on CNN that White supremacy, neo-Nazism and extremism pose an “international threat.”
During Friday’s UN meeting, Thomas-Greenfield pointed to the FBI’s data of hate crime reports in America surging to the highest level in a decade, which she said does not capture the “bullying, discrimination, brutality, and violence that Asian Americans have faced” since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The mass shooting in Atlanta is only the latest example of this horror,” she said. Eight people — six of whom were Asian women — were shot to death at three spas in the Atlanta area Tuesday night. The killings, which authorities have not yet deemed a hate crime, have escalated fears among the Asian American community, whom have seen a spike in hate incidents against them.
Thomas-Greenfield said that the US mission to the UN would lower its flag at half-staff “to honor the victims of this terrible, senseless tragedy.”
She said that “ending racial discrimination, particularly” in the US criminal justice system, is an “ongoing top priority” for the Biden administration.
“It is so important we stand together – we stand unified – against this scourge. In unity, we have strength,” she said. “But divisions and misperceptions about each other work against all of us.”
Thomas-Greenfield, who is African American, said that Friday’s meeting was “personal to me,” sharing that she is a descendant of slaves and grew up in the segregated South.
“I know the ugly face of racism. I lived racism. I have experienced racism. And I survived racism,” she said.
“Those of us who experience racism cannot, and should not, internalize it, despite the impact that it can have on our everyday lives. We must face it down, every time, no matter whom it’s directed towards.”