Racial discrimination occurs when we are excluded from social spaces or denied opportunities based on our skin color or ethnicity. This is a pervasive aspect of racism that is meant to enforce the power structure and social narrative of the dominant ethnic group. While some racial discrimination is enforced by law and easy to spot, some is much more subtle and difficult to see for those who never have to experience it, such as being excluded from participating at a sporting event or threatening to be fired unless we change your hairstyle to one that is defined as more “professional” by people whose hair behaves in a completely different way than ours. Racial discrimination often causes a lifelong struggle for physical, emotional, and mental well-being, made worse when our experiences are questioned and doubted by those from outside our ethnic group. Listening to and trusting in one another’s experiences is a crucial first step in stopping the harm of discrimination.
What began as a statement by an accused prisonor became, over the 29 minutes it took Mandela to deliver it, his best known and most important speech. It was a recounting of his story up to that point, an expression of his views and a morally forceful argument on behalf of his cause.