When the people at Spice Radio started Raise Your Hands Against Racism five years ago, Sudhir Datta said he didn’t think the event would need to be held every year.
Raise Your Hands Against Racism (RYHAR), according to its website, was partially started to celebrate the Hindu festival of colours, holi, while als sending a message of anti-racism and tolerance.
“Holi is an Indian festival of colours and it sort of signifies that everybody under all the paint is the same. You really don’t know who you’re playing holi with,” said Sushma Datt, owner and CEO of IT Media Broadcasting (which owns Spice Radio). “I thought, what a beautiful way to signify (being) against racism.”
Datta, the vice-president and program director at Spice Radio, said it’s “obvious” that people should be for tolerance and against racism. He said he figured they wouldn’t need to hold Hands Against Racism on a regular basis.
“But in the last five years, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that apparently being against racism isn’t the common knowledge. There is more and more evidence of incidents where we need to do more work to bring anti-racism and tolerance and acceptance of different ideas into the mainstream.”
Saturday (March 23) marked the fifth-annual Hands Against Racism at Surrey City Hall. It included speakers, bhangra performances, a dhol drummer and two women were given awards for their work to eliminate racism in the community.
Cecelia Point, a member of the Musqueam Nation, was honoured for her Indigenous activism. Niki Sharma was recognized for the social justice activism work.
“These two people have worked tirelessly to make sure that racism and discrimination is eliminated,” said Datt.
The event, which was held a little more than a week after the Christchurch mosque shooting, inclued a minute of silence for the 50 people killed.
“I think people have gone crazy as far as Islamophobia is concerned. A terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist who does not belong to any religion. People have to remember that,” Datt said.
Spice Radio was recognized on March 21 by the provincial government at the 2019 British Columbia Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards, with the government proclaiming March 21 as Raise Your Hands Against Racism Day.