Hate-Free Hamilton on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
On Saturday, March 19th, the Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre met with other community organizations and leaders including Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, Hamilton Public Library, the Concession Street Business Improvement Area, Afro Canadian Caribbean Association and Ward 7 councillor Esther Pauls to speak out against racism and declare Concession Street a Hate-Free Zone.
The press conference, held at the Concession Street public library in Hamilton, was sparked by a hateful image placed on the “Little Africa” plaque outside the library commemorating Hamilton Mountain’s early Black community. Sadly, one day prior to the scheduled press conference, another incident occurred at the Farmers’ market, and was a disturbing reminder of the urgent need to reassert a zero tolerance towards racism in our city. Joey Coleman, a reporter at The Public Record, has also reported comprehensively on the issue and photographed Saturday’s conference at Hamilton Public Library.
Our meeting was also covered in Monday's Hamilton Spectator in an article by photojournalist Barry Gray, accompanied by a video of speaker Evelyn Myrie, community activist and President of the Afro Canadian Caribbean Association.
"When I saw the defamation of the plaque, it was sent to me through a colleague who said they were down at Concession Street," Myrie recalled at the press conference. "When they sent it to me, I was absolutely pained by that, because of the Nazi, antisemitic images as well as anti-Black images that were placed on that plaque. And the amount of work that was done to get that plaque up, and to tell the story of how much it's a diverse, Black community."
"That was a very tragic day, in my opinion. And the pain it caused the community, the trauma it sends and resends when we see images of hate for our humanity. And that's what it's all about, is our humanity is questioned. And incidents like that remind us that we must continue to work hard to challenge systems, to educate people, and to drive change. And I'm so happy that HARRC and HCCI and many organizations in Hamilton are working to do that."
This March 21st, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, HARRC is committing to better documentation and education on the issue of racism in Hamilton by launching our HARRC Reporting Form. Our aims in creating this new means of reporting incidents of discrimination and violence are to empower members of our community with a safer means to share their experiences, get access to resources, and seek accountability.
“March 21st is when allyship connects with activism, when history reminds us of the importance of building towards a better world, and when solidarity means elevating the voices of those who keep calling for change but systemic racism silences,” says Lyndon George, Executive Director of HARRC.
“HARRC’s online reporting form will help individuals easily and accessibly connect with us. It is a valuable resource that individuals can use to ensure acts of racism and hate are documented and addressed. We know too often these incidents go under-reported. Our ongoing work with HCCI and Dr. Ameil Joseph on developing a comprehensive online reporting tool will play an important role collecting data and responding to hate.”
This new reporting feature, along with the allyship of all our community members involved in launching the Hamilton Against Racism campaign, will play an important role in shaping an anti-racist future for Hamilton. Beyond March 21st, there will continue to be a need for solidarity and action against all forms of discrimination in society, and HARRC is dedicated to advocating for the safety and wellbeing of our racialized communities.