Mary-Ann Barr

Mary-Ann Barr is Advocate assistant city editor. Her column appears Tuesdays. She can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 403-314-4332.

Fight against racism is far from over

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It’s a never-ending war but it’s a good one — the fight against racism.

Sometimes it’s a very public battle, sometimes not.

But whenever the hate-mongering monster surfaces, it always demands a strong condemnation from the community, and the resolve to always fight back.

In Calgary on Friday, the ugliness of prejudice became a very public event when a group of about 25 white supremacists went nose to nose with an anti-racist group downtown.

Besides being Good Friday this year, March 21 also happens to be the International Day for the Elimination of Racism.

Apparently when Calgary anti-racists got wind the Aryan Guard — a small neo-Nazi Calgary-based group — was going to demonstrate at City Hall, they held a counter demonstration.

Eventually, the two groups met up and began shouting loudly at each other. Police were busy keeping them apart, ultimately escorting the outnumbered Aryan Guard members away in a bus.

The white supremacists, who waved Nazi flags and gave Nazi salutes as they left, post this agenda on their website: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.”

That kind of agenda has no room for tolerance, understanding, or open-mindedness towards those who differ because of the colour of their skin.

Aryan Guard members celebrate the birth of Adolf Hitler.

We know from experience that to worship Hitler is a most dangerous path.

The event on Friday was unsettling and maybe even bewildering to Calgarians and, for that matter, Albertans.

To their credit, some of those who joined the anti-racism group’s demonstration did so spontaneously. What would any of us do if we were walking down the street and a group of supremacists waved their “white pride” flags?

Hopefully, we would do what those Calgarians did — tell Aryan Guard-types to get lost — and hope that maybe one day some of their less-dedicated members will appreciate the diverse society we live in and benefit from.

Jason Devine of Anti-Racist Action Calgary had this to say at the demonstration: “Our message is that there’s strength in numbers . . . that the community is united, that racism will not be tolerated, that it shouldn’t be tolerated and that we shouldn’t just turn from it.”

We can thank white supremacists for being such an easy target when it comes to combating racism. They quickly draw attention to and serve as a reminder of something abhorrent, indeed sickening.

At the same time, there’s also a not-so-public form of racism we should be equally concerned about.

People who believe they are superior to others may not even know they behave in a racist manner. Racism is not always an overt act of aggression. Sometimes it’s as simple as misguided fear.

And while some may not think it spreads hatred to joke about someone else because of their race, try being the person who is the subject of the joke.

Sometimes it’s simply a matter if ignorance. Fortunately ignorance is often correctable through education and sharing of cultures.

On Sunday, the community of Red Deer will celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with activities ranging from a drum circle to Polynesian dancing to blue grass music. It’s free, everyone is welcome and runs from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Festival Hall at 4214 58th St.

Like the demonstration we saw in last week Calgary, these kinds of special activities are helpful in trying to end racial discrimination, for once and for all.


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