Meet the diversity champion using art to shed light on ISIS atrocities
Today, March 21st, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the theme for 2017 is combatting racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration. To mark the occasion, Hothi & Othi, co-founded by EY economist and Diversity champion, Indy Hothi, are launching a new exhibition, #IAmYezidi.
The show, hosted at the Lacey Contemporary Gallery in London, aims to raise awareness of the Yezidi women who face systematic targeting and exploitation by ISIS. This exhibition also serves to celebrate the inspirational fortitude and grace of the Yezidi women despite the incredible struggles they face on a daily basis. Their suffering has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. These stories of iron-like resolve have been captured by award winning photo journalist Benjamin Eagle and Khalsa Aid.
MKF’s Head of D&I, Dee Sekar spoke to Indy Hothi about racial discrimination globally and what we, as individuals and society, can do to fight it.
Is there a particular group in society that you feel is being discriminated against the most? If so, why?
As a humanitarian who focuses on global issues, I must mention the Yezidi community (sometimes spelt Yazidi). The community itself is one of the Middle East’s oldest religious minorities which follow ancient practices drawn from Christianity, Island and the old Persian faith of Zoroastrianism.
Since the rise of terrorist groups in the region such as ISIS, the Yezidi community has faced horrific destruction due to militant groups viewing the community as ‘Devil Worshippers’. This systematic targeting has led to Yezidi men and boys being slaughtered and women being routinely kidnapped, raped and executed. Simply put, ISIS does not simply want to oppress the Middle East’s Yezidi community, it wants to eradicate their existence.
This is an example of discrimination on the extreme end of the spectrum, and as a humanitarian who is leading projects in this region, I feel deeply that this minority group is often forgotten on the international stage. It is our duty, as global citizens, to provide a voice and also drive tangible action.
How can we, as a society and as individuals, help to eliminate racial discrimination?
On the topic of eliminating racial discrimination, I firmly believe it ultimately comes down to strategies which break down social barriers. All too often, I’ve personally seen that racial discrimination comes about from a lack of understanding or communication.
As individuals, I feel it's about adopting a more open and inclusive mindset in our day to day lives. For society, I believe we can use specific mediums to improve social cohesion. Art is a personal favourite as it can often provide a platform and softer entry point to discuss and debate difficult topics.
#IAmYezidi opens on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and runs from March 21st to March 26th at the Lacey Contemporary Gallery in London. Hothi & Othi are a social enterprise which supports emerging artists from all around the globe.