It is a happy coincidence that World Poetry Day coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Few tools in the fight for racial equality have been as powerful as poetry.

Racism is premised on the bizarre idea that humans are reducible to a few racial features. It reduces us from thinking, feeling and complex individuals into pre-determined categories. And then it stereotypes those categories to sow seeds of separation and proliferate prejudice. It dehumanizes people by asserting that superficial shades of skin and arbitrary outcomes of ancestry make some humans less human than others. In our world as it is today, forged through the wrongs of empire, eugenics and slavery, people of colour bear the brunt of this burden.

Poetry shows that racism is absurd by reminding us of a truth often forgotten: beneath the superficial features that distinguish us are common human foundations we share. We share a desire to be treated with respect. We yearn to be free. We demand equality.

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