Thursday, June 27, 2013

Racism in the HRM

Good day fellow citizens of the Internet. In the last three days I have bore witness to one blatant case of verbal racism and have heard first hand the account of another case of willful racism in my beautiful and wonderful home called the Halifax Regional Municipality. Don't get the wrong idea; it really is a unique and special place. I have seen much of my homeland, Canada, and this city has something that sets it apart from other places; other great places. But there is a little darkness and I want to share one such instance because I know people involved very personally and they are good people; honest people.

I like politics. I enjoy the debate; I enjoy the engagement; and I enjoy participating in what we shall call an open and free democracy. At some point in the near future there is going to be a Provincial election called and so the political talk is starting to jump into drive. Personally, I know a number of individuals who have put themselves forward with different parties. Just to cover myself and attempt to demonstrate my non-partisanship and bias I refer you to my past post on why I despise party politics; I don't support parties, I support people. Moving on, I do volunteer for a few of these candidates because I believe them to demonstrate true character and depth. 

One of the candidates I volunteer with is Abad Khan (yeah, that's a plug; he's a great individual) who is the NDP candidate for the Fairview-Clayton Park riding here in HRM. I've know him for a little over a year now and we've engaged in a number of discussions. He is well informed and we share many similar thoughts and opinions. 

Another candidate running in the same riding is Travis Price who is the Conservative candidate. You may know Travis from his Pink Shirt and Anti-Bullying campaigns. I was fortunate enough to spend a year and a half attending Eastern College with Travis. He has brought his message all around the world and it is a great pleasure to know him. Travis is an upstanding individual and despite the positive impact he has had on youth, he was quite modest about it during our time in school. I mention Travis because he brings kind of a sick, ironic twist to this story (and yes, I'm getting to the point; it's called a set up!).

So because I volunteer with one and know the other, I follow their campaigns. The Conservatives made a to-do about Travis' announcement; and why shouldn't they? There was plenty of media coverage, a number of articles written and some photos snapped and circulated. Jamie Baillie, who is the leader of the Provincial Conservatives, was present at the event and posted one of those pictures to his Facebook wall. If you follow that link you will find the picture.

If you read the comments you might have noticed something seemed missing; it is. Two nights ago, I happened to come across the post and what I found in the comments section was just disgusting and vile: open, ignorant racism. Now, the comments are gone and that's probably good but the fact that it happened wasn't addressed; at least not publicly. This would have been a good opportunity for Mr Baillie to follow his young candidate's example and do something positive. Perhaps relay the message that the Conservative party doesn't tolerate racism and does not condone such behavior; or perhaps he could have said that the Conservative party does not want the any vote that derives from racism; or maybe you could have said something instead of kind of brushing it out. 

What really needs to be addressed here is the behavior: racism. How, in this day and age, anyone can seriously choose their political allegiance based solely off of skin color; or even worse: a prejudice rolled into racism. Like I said, decent people came to the rescue but knowing Abad, I was hurt, shocked and blown away. And maybe I'm blowing it out of proportion because you're thinking: there aren't enough people like that to make a difference. No? How many closet racists are out there? If one is this bold, and there are more than one, then others will be too. It also means that someone else risks the chance of adopting such behavior which will grow into more people adopting it and the behavior being passed on over time. You can judge for yourself. Below you'll find my screen shot from that night. 

I'm sad and ashamed to know this sort of mentality exists in such a great place like HRM. There are so many wonderful and amazing people from all forms of cultural backgrounds and that is one of the great allures of this great city. It celebrates it's diversity and uses that very diversity to grow in a progressive and socially constructive way that is truly amazing. And for the record, Abad is Canadian; went to school here; grew up here' lives here; works here; and Stuart, he probably speaks better English than you. I hope that in your daily lives you will step up like the people above, like Travis, like good decent people and put an end to this behavior. It cannot be tolerated.