Anti-Racism at the Neighbourhood Level
Date Written: 13/07/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Audio
Cx Number: CX21000
On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Rabea Murtaza, a member of East Enders Against Racism, a neighbourhood-based anti-racism group in Toronto. Podcast and article.
In one respect, the group is a rarity in the Canadian context: it's an anti-racism group that is neighbourhood-based. Being neighbourhood-based means that, in some ways, the group starts from a bit of a different place than many anti-racism efforts. Rather than coming together on the basis of a shared identity or a fairly tight political affinity, the group brings together people with a wide range of experiences, a wide range of ways of understanding racism, a wide range of kinds and levels of knowledge of the issues, and a wide range of politics.
Not surprisingly, this has resulted in the group engaging in a wide range of kinds of activities. A central one, both at in-person events and in the Facebook group, is an ongoing process of discussion and mutual education about racism and anti-racism, and all of the oppressions and struggles that those intersect with. This may not be very visible work, and it may not be politically glamorous, but this commitment to having hard ongoing conversations with your neighbours is crucial to what the group is accomplishing. The group has also identified multi-cultural and anti-racist books which it is obtaining and donating to elementary and middle schools in the area. They have distributed signs proclaiming "United against hate" and "Everyone belongs" in multiple languages. They're figuring out how to connect with a broader cross-section of people and communities that exist in the East End. They work to connect people in the neighbourhood with anti-racism actions, events, and initiatives happening elsewhere in the city. They have written a number of open letters taking positions on important questions related to racism in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. They have a working group that has been strategizing on how to challenge Your Ward News, a longstanding white supremacist newsletter that is produced and distributed door-to-door in the community. And they recently responded to news that the Toronto Police would be hosting a barbecue in a neighbourhood park by postering the park and then being present during the barbeque in ways that made prominently visible the message that "Black Lives Matter."