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Commentary: Battling racism requires courage

We only need to take a breath, be still, turn off the noise, and be willing to listen, courageously so.
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Johnnie Bachusky is an editor with The Albertan.

For the past six weeks The Albertan has brought readers comprehensive coverage of the anti-racism movement through a five-part series.

It culminates with both today’s triumph and concern for the immediate future.

We feel this remarkable story for Central Alberta, centred in the town of Innisfail, is a triumph because just over four months ago an anti-racism movement was never supposed to happen in this town, the conservative heartland of Alberta. But here we are. The movement is here, thriving and moving forward with energy and commitment. Many other municipalities across the province are watching closely.

However, there is concern. There is worry the movement could stall or derail due to fears the radical right flank, so opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement and always fearful of powerful social change, will launch full-scale public mayhem at planned peaceful anti-racism rallies across the region; a plan designed to erode and ultimately stop the hard earned progress made by anti-racism advocates in this region, and elsewhere.

RELATED: Silent no longer Part 1: Embracing a moment to combat racism in Innisfail

RELATED: Silent no longer Part 2: Seizing light from the dark side

RELATED: Silent no longer Part 3: Being black and proud in Innisfail

RELATED: Silent no longer Part 4: Bringing peace to Innisfail from a fractured homeland

There are many already worried the far right, which attempted to send an intimidating motorcycle revving message at the Innisfail anti-racism rally back in June, will ramp it up even further than they recently did in Ponoka, and Red Deer. RCMP investigations are ongoing in both locales.

However, what many sometimes too often forget is that the tactics from those opposed to peaceful change are ones created by bullies, who when confronted by courage and conviction, are exposed as cowards, and known to manipulate and lie to achieve their end goals.

“It’s proven throughout history that those bullies don’t generally end up winning. It’s the people that step up, show strength, show conviction that end up, and I won’t use the term winning but what they are striving to achieve ends up coming to fruition,” said Dale Dunham, a member of Innisfail’s Welcoming & Inclusive Community Committee, citing past causes such as a woman’s right to vote, the right for gay people to marry, and the right for an African-American to vote in the U.S., as historical and critically important issues that demanded courage over fear to get to where Western society is today.

“It is not something that is going to happen immediately. It is something that is going to take time. It is a slow process.”

There is always a price to pay for positive social change, and today’s call for equality for all races comes when the world around us is shaken to the core by the greatest public health crisis in more than a century. For some and even many, there are other priorities right now.

However, the call from the brave in this region’s anti-racism movement is nevertheless a sound and feeling that has proven in the past to be magically unmistakable and utterly easy to embrace.

We only need to take a breath, be still, turn off the noise, and be willing to listen, courageously so.

Johnnie Bachusky is an editor with The Albertan.





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