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Closing Statement by Special Representative Cormier Smith at CERD 2022
August 12, 2022

Closing Statement by Desirée Cormier Smith, Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice, U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Presentation to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concerning the U.S. Report on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Report

As Submitted for the Record 

Madam Chair, distinguished members of the Committee, representatives of civil society:

Thank you for the opportunity to have this robust discussion about our progress implementing our obligations under the Convention to combat racial discrimination and the important road ahead to address ongoing challenges.  We regret that we ran out of time today, but we share your vision that we need to continue to make strong, concerted efforts to eliminate the scourge of racial discrimination in our country.

As you have heard from my colleagues here, we are making progress at the Federal, State and local levels to address racial discrimination and inequity in the United States, but we recognize that we have so much more left to do.  We commit to continuing coordinating between Federal agencies, as well as state, local, and Tribal governments to identify additional concrete policy actions we can take to implement our obligations under the Convention.

We are incredibly fortunate to have such a vibrant, robust, and diverse civil society representing a wide swath of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color here today.  I am deeply grateful for the work they do every day to uplift their communities and break down institutional and structural barriers that prevent them from thriving, but it saddens me that they still have to do it.  They are fighting for many of the same freedoms – the freedom to breath clean air, the freedom to raise their own children, the freedom to have their children grow up without the constant threat of violence, the freedom to practice their own cultures and traditions – that so many White Americans take for granted. This is the ugly, disgraceful, and enduring legacy of the enslavement of Africans and their descendants and the displacement of Indigenous peoples on which our country – and many around the world – were founded.  As President Biden has said, “Advancing equity is not a one-year project – it is a generational commitment that will require sustained leadership and partnership with all communities.”  I hope that my colleagues and I have made clear our determination and enduring commitment to eliminating systemic racism against Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other communities of color not only because it is deeply personal for many of us, but because we all recognize that doing so will make our country and ALL Americans safer, healthier, more prosperous, and better off overall.

Thank you to the Committee for your leadership in pressing us all to do more.  I also want to thank, once again, civil society for YOUR leadership and your enduring partnership; as I said earlier this week, you have pushed us hard – and we are better for it. I look forward to continuing our engagement with you because when we listen to you, we end up with more effective, more impactful policies – and that is precisely what we aim for.

We know the urgency of our work – I live it every day – and we will not let up; we will not back down. We cannot let ourselves, our children, or future generations down by failing to meet this moment.

Thank you.