Queen's University — Since 1873
26th March 2004

Anti-racism week fights discrimination

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Martin Luther King once said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed—we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

Adil Dhalla, co-chair of the Queen’s Committee Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination, took King’s philosophy to heart when planning this year’s Anti-Racism week.

Roshan Jahangeer, the other co-chair of the committee, told the Journal the week was a success.

“The purpose of this week was to raise awareness about the continued existence of racism on campus and in society at large,” Jahangeer said. “We wanted to both commemorate International Anti-Racism Day, as well as provide several different forums where people would feel open and comfortable with talking about racism.”

Dhalla said racism is an issue that hits close to home.

“I’m a first-generation Canadian,” he said. “My parents are from East Africa and I’ve encountered a wide spectrum of acts of racism over the course of my life.

“I’ve lost a close friend to a hate crime,” he said. “I don’t understand why there’s so much hate in this world.” On Monday, international food was sold in the JDUC. The film American History X was screened in the Robert Sutherland Room of the JDUC on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday, the Grad Club hosted the launch of Culture Shock, a magazine showcasing art and creative writing about culture and diversity.

On Thursday, a mini-smoker was hosted at the QP featuring live music from the bands Affirmative Action, the Starving Artists, Another Setback and Opposable Thumbs.

Dhalla said the committee booked the bands to help create an uplifting atmosphere.

“We’re doing it for two reasons: one, the artists have enlightening and inspirational messages, and two, because sometimes it’s just nice to be happy,” he said. “Racism involves a lot of hate and sometimes it’s nice to celebrate love.” Jahangeer said the events were designed with multiple goals in mind.

“Part of our approach consisted of trying to combine awareness with activism,” he said. “The movie night, for example, was an attempt to prompt reflection about the underlying causes of racism, as well as the societal attitudes that allow it to perpetuate,” he said.

Dhalla said the committee chose to show American History X because it showcases the brutal reality of racism.

“We are aware that it is a sensitive movie and it addresses a lot of serious issues,” he said. “It doesn’t sugar coat the issues and that’s why we thought it was a good film.”

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