The debate following the revelation of Justin Trudeau's blackface photographs and video have opened the discussion of racism in Canada in a way that the country has possibly never before been seen. How do we respond to this? I have pulled together some tools to help you respond to discussion and engage in anti-racism actions.
Elections seem to bring out the worst kind of campaigning and headlines of late. We are often left with stories that simplistically portray Scheer and Trudeau as equivalent, that decry the pulling out of 20 year old pictures, that minimize the conversation because we are petrified of the electoral impact. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh brought the message back into focus, about why this issue mattered -- beyond electoral politics.
Here are some important tools to help stand up to bullying and racism:
The Migrant Rights Network put together a great set of tools to build towards an "anti-racist agenda beyond apologies and responses to hate crimes that focuses on decent work, universal services, permanent resident status and full rights on arrival. It must centre Indigenous self-determination, and an end to discrimination and global displacement."
Jagmeet Singh referenced children, and Trudeau was a school teacher when he donned his makeup. PREVNet has put together a comprehensive toolkit for educators and school adminstrators to prevent bullying. Let's do better for kids.
Here is an rabble.ca activist toolkit on solidarity activism and how to respond to racism. My colleague, Zaid Noorsumar, reminded me Canadians may congratulate themselves and the Liberals for having accepted Syrian refugees and doing better than Trump, but we must push for more and hold the entire government to a higher standard.
As elections near, many of us start contemplating holding our noses and voting. We make and disregard arguments through this lens. We need to end "the first-past-the-post system" which drives this kind of thinking and demand that we be able to rank our ballots and demand real representation. If I was able to extract a real concession from Trudeau, I would demand that we get fair voting. That is just my two cents -- I would, of course, stand with and help amplify whatever movement we build to address the larger issues of racism.
Maya Bhullar is the Activist Toolkit coordinator at rabble.ca. She has over 15 years of professional experience in diverse areas such as migration, labour, urban planning and community mobilization.
Image: Taymaz Valley/Flickr
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