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  • Writer's pictureVeena

Honoring Courage on World Refugee Day 2020

The world is awake. The spotlight is on the United States. How will we as a nation come together to address our deepest, darkest transgression? We have little choice but to reform our culture in crisis. Americans are joining to protest the systemic racism at the fabric of our society. People are risking their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic to stand up for equal rights. It is time for change.

As an advocate for human rights, Flore embraced heterogeneity. She imparted respect for others into her work to restore dignity to persecuted people. Flore believed racism has no place in our world. In 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt led the United Nations commission that developed the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, codifying inalienable rights that should be granted to all people. Flore embodied the Universal Declaration for Human Rights in her words and actions. At the heart of this declaration is the concept of equal protection, a concept that prohibits discrimination of any kind.

No matter where human rights atrocities exist, nations must take a hard look at the underlying hate. History of black people in the United States sheds light on the atrocious behavior that continues today. June 19th, 1865 black people were emancipated in the United States. Juneteenth commemorates that historic event; however, structural racism lives on and the state holiday is a memorial to each step forward in the long road to equal treatment. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed that outlawed discrimination. It too could not alter our society to be inclusive. In the United States we have yet to achieve equal protection laid out decades ago by the member states within the United Nations.

“All human beings are and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

– Article 1, United Nations “Universal Declaration of Human Rights"

A cultural transformation requires individuals to accept all people as equal and this shift starts with education. While diversity breeds innovation and creativity within a community, celebrating differences leads us to recognize that we are better together. Our children are forever changed by the historic events of 2020 from the global pandemic to a nation standing up for what is right. If Flore were here to witness this call for action, she would feel as I do that equality may not be out of reach.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

– Nelson Mandela

While Juneteenth has become a day to acknowledge the continued existence of slavery around the world, the following day, June 20th, is World Refugee Day – a day to raise awareness of the challenge refugees face and their courage to defeat persecution. The United Nations named this day 51 years after nations came together to sign the “Status of Refugees”, creating the foundation of international policy towards refugees and asylees.

This World Refugee Day we honor refugees, their struggle and resilience. Flore Foundation would like to recognize small businesses that empower refugees as they rebuild their lives. These entrepreneurs like Mustafa Nuur, owner of Experience Bridge, are dedicated to unite the chasm between our traditions, while providing much needed supplemental income to resettled refugees. Former refugee, Amar Al Fayadh had a vision to improve communication in his new community and increase professional employment opportunities for refugees. His concept turned into Church World Service Language Beyond Borders, which became an essential service during COVID-19.

Celebrate with us the hard work, endless risk-taking, perseverance and bravery embodied by refugees around the world this World Refugee Day. They are a model to us all in how to outlast the worst moments and still shine.

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