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Londoners raising hands against racism

London leaders gathering together at Fanshawe College Tuesday, March 21, to fight against racial intolerance.  .
London leaders gathering together at Fanshawe College Tuesday, March 21, to fight against racial intolerance. . Hala Ghonaim/ AM980

About a dozen people gathered at Fanshawe College, dipped their hands into colourful paints and raised them in a physical show of support against racial intolerance.

The demonstration Tuesday morning was in honour of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

First-generation Lebanese Londoner Wajeha Chams blames a changing North American political climate for rising racial tensions across the city.

“It’s always important to recognize and see how… the colours of culture can really bring together a sense of hope in the city and a lively atmosphere.”

The gathering included talks from several community leaders including Fanshawe College president Peter Devlin and Mayor Matt Brown regarding London’s role in ending intolerance.

Brown says recognition is the first step to admitting there’s a racism problem in London.

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“When we see racism, everyday racism, we need to stand up and say that’s not OK,” he said. “That’s really the message – that we all have a role to play. That’s what today is about.”

Rifat Hussain is the Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-oppression Advisory committee chair in London. She says the day challenged people to continue to work against intolerance.

“We know that it exists. I think we were just putting a curtain over it. We were saying no, no, everything is fine when in reality it’s not,” she said. “We need to acknowledge the fact that everybody has differences but at the same time those difference are not a means to separate us, but unite us.”

Londoners are encouraged to continue their support through social media by using the hashtag #handsagainstracism.

With files from Hala Ghonaim