Teachin’ the issues and playin’ the music

By John Jacques

Last Saturday’s annual Rock Against Racism offered an eclectic mix of local acts, ranging from aboriginal MC Otachimow to punk headliner Field Day. The event also featured a second stage with more local talent and educational kiosks from local awareness groups such as reporthate.org.

The show was basically two separate unrelated shows. The first was a diverse collection of local artists there to raise cultural awareness. The second was a punk show.

The evening started off with unique, cultural artists performing to a very modest crowd. You could tell that the artists were there to educate the listeners about their individual cultures, and the crowd was there to learn. After this part of the show wrapped up, the second, unrelated punk concert began with Random Sample. As they played, the majority of the initial all-ages crowd retreated and the remaining crowd became a small mob of young punk fans. Both Random Sample and Midpoint delivered solid opening sets for the high energy final set by headliner Field Day. This portion of the show rocked, but it was by no means against racism. It was just a typical punk show.

An event like this raises the question of whether racism is a problem here at the university or in Calgary. Calgary’s Slant magazine offered answers with an informal survey of University of Calgary students last April. Ninety-two per cent of those surveyed believed that racism is present on campus. Students’ Union Vice-President Events Chris Kerr, who helped organize the event, says the issue is sometimes ignored.

"I think racism exists more then we all think or would like to admit it does," says Kerr.

The purpose of this event was to increase awareness about racism. Otachimow put it best, saying "racism is fear of what people don’t understand, so let’s be open."

And the audience was open. Whether during Otachimow’s set or Field Day, the show succeeded in asking the important questions-and hopefully giving some answers.

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