Raising the Hammer: Anti-Racism Action Initative


Welcome to ‘Raising The Hammer’, a series that spotlights local grassroots initiatives and organizations working towards creating a more inclusive Hamilton.

The second installment in the ‘Raising The Hammer’ series features the Anti-Racism Action Initiative, a collaborative grassroots-led dialogue examining intersections of race and challenges faced by the Hamilton community. This event was hosted by our very own McMaster Womanists, in collaboration with a number of campus and local community partners.

We at Pop The Bubble believe that ‘there’s a lot to love about Hamilton’. But to truly embrace Hamilton, we must always make sure to create spaces for critical thought. In doing so at Pop the Bubble, our hope is to  discuss  how we as a community can make the city we live, work and play in even better.

Since the 2016 election in the United States, there has been a spike in the number of racist incidents and hate crimes directed towards people of color and marginalized communities in Hamilton.

From a Hamilton Judge who brought a “make America great again” (American President-Elect Donald Trump’s campaign slogan) hat into his courtroom; a man who tried to pull off a woman’s hijab on the HSR; and a recent incident of a Canadian-Pakistani high school student who was assaulted and severely beaten by 2 men while walking to his grandparents’ place from a friend’s house, examples and incidences of violence towards racially groups has been hitting news cycles and impacting our community. Within our very own campus, a number of recent events  such as the discovery of oppressive posters and visuals on campus shed light on the mounting challenges for marginalized people and equity seeking groups within McMaster and beyond.

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A Version of the ‘Alt-Right’/white supremacy posters around Campus back in November

In light of these events and oppressive rhetoric and as a call for action against hate, our very own students and various organizations in the Hamilton community decided to partner together to not only draw attention to these issues but also create the safe spaces for mobilization and action.

On November 25th, a Community Consultation was held at Hamilton Central Public Library, hosted by McMaster Womanists in Collaboration with McMaster Indigenous Students Community Alliance (MISCA), Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), McMaster Muslims for Peace and Justice (MMPJ), The President’s Advisory Council on Building an Inclusive Community (PACBIC), New Generation Youth Centre (NGen), and the office of Ward 3 City Councillor Matthew Green.

The Consultation was meant to be an opportunity for people of colour to shape social policy that has a direct impact on their lives, experiences and opportunities by, utilizing ‘person first’ and intersectional perspectives. The first half of the event featured speeches from event organizers and collaborators followed by table topics centered on the  intersecting issues, challenges and barriers that  effect people of colour.

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The opening speakers addressed issues that intersect with race ranging from the experiences people of colour face on campus and in work and academic  and the significance of  addressing issues of racism in Hamilton. By examining the experiences of people of color through everyday experiences of racism as well as systemic oppression through policy and institutions, this event was intentional about its focus on the grassroots movement, as members of the Hamilton community felt that hierarchies and positions of   power did not advocate for the needs of the people of color, marginalized communities and equity seeking groups.

In the second portion of the initiative, table discussions facilitated by members of the Hamilton Community explored a variety of  topics included gentrification, anti-indigenous racism, carding & policy brutality, intersectionality & disablity, backlash at community activism, hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace. The data collected by the initiative will be made into a report, which will be used as a proposal to help inform and transform current policies and policy decisions  that affect people of colour in Hamilton.

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“The System was never broken; it was meant to be this way.”-Esmond, A keynote speaker from the McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance (MISCA)

When I went to the Initative, the large meeting room was completely packed; the majority of people attending were youth, many of whom were McMaster Students. According to the executive summary of the Anti-Racism Action Initative, which was recently released by McMaster Womanists, 250 people in total attended the event.

I’ve had many adults say, “Oh those millennials, they’re so apathetic”. After attending the event, I can certainly say they are very wrong. McMaster students continue to be leaders in our local community; we definitely popped the bubble the McMaster bubble to work collaboratively to create systemic change at McMaster and beyond. Together with the greater community, we can work together to make Hamilton a more inclusive city for all.

For more information or updates on the Anti-Racism Action Initiative, check out McMaster Womanists, on Facebook

 

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