Challenging colour bar through festival of colours

  • Gurpreet Singh, Vancouver
  • Updated: Jan 16, 2015 21:32 IST

On the birth anniversary of Martin Luther King- the black leader of the civil rights movement in US, Spice Radio has announced the launching of a campaign against racism.

“Raise Your Hands Against Racism” will take off on March 7 this year on the occasion of Holi – the famous Indian festival of colours, according to veteran broadcaster Shushma Datt of Spice Radio.

Datt made a formal announcement on the morning of January 15 in her famous talk show Gup Shup which covers serious social issues, including racism and gender discrimination. “The participants will be encouraged to dip their hands in colours and put their hand prints on paper to make a collage that will be displayed at public places”, she said.

Datt - a Punjabi woman herself feels that racism continues to prevail in Canada, in spite of policies in place to safe guard multiculturalism and diversity. "Previously it used to be much more open and violent, while today its hidden and subtle". She noted that many people of colour have endured racism at least once in their lives.

She thinks that Holi which is celebrated by all the South Asian communities, including Hindus and Sikhs can be used as a wonderful occasion to begin a war against racism. Only last week, a Sikh temple in Edmonton was vandalized with a spray paint message that asked Indians to leave. Datt had the temple official Harman Singh Kandola on air.

"We need to be vigilant and keep the struggle against racism alive", she commented during the chat.“The idea is to eradicate colour barriers by using festival of colours as an opportunity,” explained Bernie Merkel, the General Manager at Spice Radio. Merkel is the brain behind the project that is being launched in partnership with The Province and Vancouver Desi. Among other allies on board are immigrant settlement agency MOSAIC and immigrants’ rights group No One Is Illegal.

Neenu Kang of MOSAIC says that she is thrilled to be on board. Her father is a first generation Sikh immigrant. "He used to drive cab and had to bear racist insults. He still feels that he does not belong here." The campaign will run until March 21, which is the international day for the illumination of racism. The Spice Radio contingent will be joining the Annual Community March Against Racism that day on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive.

The municipal governments of Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey have agreed to cosponsor the initiative which is first of its kind.

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