Montreal

Anti-racism festival in Quebec City aims to broaden the meaning of 'us'

The festival, which kicks off Thursday, features music, films and panel discussions. Artists include Webster, Robert Fusil et les chiens fous, Flavia Nascimento, Guernica and Action Sédition.

'We need to talk about 'us' as a society', says rapper and festival co-organizer Webster

Webster was born and raised in the Quebec City borough of Cité-Limoilou, but says he's still seen as an immigrant. (Radio-Canada)

Two months ago, Quebec City rapper and historian Webster was walking down a street in his home borough of Cité-Limoilou when someone passing in a car called him a 'n--ger.'

Ten years ago, the situation would have had him seeing red; but he's reached a point in his outlook where he just felt sorry for the person who said it.  

"I had pity for the guy because it's 2016 and that's what you're saying to me? It's the 21st century and this is how you think?" he told CBC Montreal's All In A Weekend Sunday.

"Racism doesn't just come alone… you're not only racist, but you have a lot of problems on your hands."

Webster and others will focus some serious thinking — and music — on the issue of racism this week at Quebec City's first anti-racism festival.  

The festival, which kicks off Thursday, features music, films and panel discussions. Artists include Webster, Robert Fusil et les chiens fous, Flavia Nascimento, Guernica and Action Sédition.

New sense of urgency after mosque shootings

Webster said the festival was already in the works when a gunman entered a Quebec City mosque Jan. 29 and opened fire on worshippers, killing six and wounding 19.

"It was important before and now it is more important," he said.

The mosque shooting was an extreme expression of hostilities many non-white Quebecers experience everyday in the form of "microaggressions," Webster says, like his run-in on the street.

The festival's goal, however, is not to wag fingers, Webster says. Instead, he and his co-organizers want to get people thinking about ways to make Quebec society more inclusive.

"Some people will say it's more racist in other places. That's a lazy answer. Do we want to compare ourselves to places that are worse, or do we go further as a society and set an example?" he said.

The tendency to see society in binary terms — us and them, me and you — needs to change, he says.

"It's you, the black people, you, the immigrants and us — meaning white people. This [festival] is against that view of society," he said. 

"We need to talk about 'us' as a society."

now