Conference looking at racism in Latin America ends with call for change

Conference looking at racism in Latin America ends with call for change

Religious leaders from across the Americas and the Caribbean have issued a declaration calling for a worldwide move by churches to educate people about racism.

According to a news release, the statement came at the conclusion of a conference held last week in Managua, Nicaragua.

Organised by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Latin America Council of Churches (CLAI), the gathering focused on the violent effects of racism against people of African descent in the region. It was the first such event to bring together church leaders of Afro-descendent communities in the Americas and the Caribbean.

“Part of the prophetic role of the churches is to speak out against injustice in all its forms, and in Latin America racism is a huge, and largely unattended, area of injustice,” said Dr Jorge Ramirez Reyna, a conference participant from Peru quoted in the release.

“In Latin America and the Caribbean, according to CEPAL (the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) around 150 million Afro-descendents live in situations of exclusion, marginalisation and poverty.

“We know that across Latin America discrimination is practiced on the basis of skin color,” he said. “Black people are more likely to suffer violence, more likely to be poor, and less likely to reach positions of responsibility or power. Education can help with this problem.”

According to the news release, churches running educational institutions, including universities, colleges, schools and Sunday schools, were encouraged to review their curricula to make sure they include the topic of racism and discrimination, while those associated with the WCC and CLAI were urged to use the resources and facilities at their disposal to educate people and create opportunities for dialogue to strengthen the struggle against racism in the region.

Ecumenical News International

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