Commentary

City Proposal to Restart Anti-Racism Centre Ignores Racialized Voices

There are many different, difficult conversations to have about racism in our city. We shouldn't be prepared to avoid these difficult conversations by shunting them into the bureaucracy of a City department.

By Anthony Marco
Published December 09, 2019

The City of Hamilton is seeking to restart the Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre (HARRC) without any meaningful consultation from racialized community groups in the area. Instead of seeking meaningful input on what the Centre can do differently from its initial shaky start up, the plan is for the City to hand over all the reins of HARRC to the City's Human Resources department.

While people of colour in Hamilton should bristle at the optics of being treated like "employees" by their elected leaders, it is a further slap in the face that the leaders of Hamilton's Human Resources Department are not people of colour.

While sometimes well-intentioned, Human Resources departments generally treat racism on a "risk/reward" basis. This is a department who, up until recently, hedged on what to do upon "discovering" a known employee with Nazi leadership ties.

Providing a safe and welcoming space to the diversity of cultures represented by racialized communities in Hamilton cannot be achieved by people whose primary lens is figuring out loopholes in collective agreements.

At the Hamilton and District Labour Council, we believe the Centre should be re-initialized as soon as possible, but not at the cost of ignoring or alienating those who will be using it most. We would strongly encourage the City to take a step back and do some meaningful consultation with leaders of groups representing people of colour in our community.

A public survey which was distributed in English, and mostly answered by white allies, is not meaningful consultation with racialized community leaders.

While supporting anti-racism and people of colour who are at risk, there is often a need for expediency in the face of present dangers, but this expediency cannot come at the colonial cost of white people claiming to understand the personal impacts of racism and thinking they have all the answers.

According to the Immigrant Working Centre, There over 70 cultural heritage groups and ethnic associations in Hamilton. Many of these groups were not consulted during this process and did not fill out the city's survey, which was (as stated above) completed predominantly by white people.

These groups include, but are not limited to:

Partnerships with this many groups can be difficult. In many cases they should be! There are many different, difficult conversations to have about racism in our city. We shouldn't be prepared to avoid these difficult conversations by shunting them into the bureaucracy of a City department.

We urge City Council to table/refer the motion which would restart of the Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre until meaningful consultation has been done with people of colour in the community. We applaud the intent of expediency, but we also know that the growing pervasive nature of the culture of racism in our city means that it is not merely the Centre's existence that is important, but it's ability to serve the needs of those in Hamilton who truly need to access its services on a long-term sustainable basis.

If you are able, please contact your City Councillor below, and tell them to refer the motion until meaningful consultation has been done with people of colour in the community. Please also consider coming in person to City Council on Wednesday December 11th at 9:30 AM to pressure council to refer this motion!

Mayor - Fred Eisenberger
Email: mayor@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-4200
Fax: 905-546-2340

Ward 1 - Maureen Wilson
Email: maureen.wilson@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2416

Ward 2 - Jason Farr
Email: jason.farr@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2711

Ward 3 - Nrinder Nann
Email: nrinder.nann@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2702

Ward 4 - Sam Merulla
Email: sam.merulla@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-4512

Ward 5 - Chad Collins
Email: chad.collins@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2716

Ward 6 - Tom Jackson
Email: tom.jackson@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2707 Fax: 905-546-2535

Ward 7- Esther Pauls
Email: esther.pauls@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2706

Ward 8 - John-Paul Danko
Email: john-paul.danko@hamilton.ca
Email: ward8@hamilton.ca

Ward 9- Brad Clark
Email: brad.clark@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2703

Ward 10 - Maria Pearson
Email: maria.pearson@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2701
Fax: 905-546-2535
Mobile: 905-973-7418

Ward 11 - Brenda Johnson
Email: brenda.johnson@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-4513

Ward 12 - Lloyd Ferguson
Emai: lloyd.ferguson@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2704

Ward 13 - Arlene VanderBeek
Email: arlene.vanderbeek@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2714

Ward 14 - Terry Whitehead
Email: terry.whitehead@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2712

Ward 15 - Judi Partridge
Email: judi.partridge@hamilton.ca
Phone: 905-546-2713

Anthony Marco is the President of Hamilton and District Labour Council.

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