A new Slant in the battle against racism

By Roger Hollands

An emergent voice is speaking out against personal and systemic racism in an effort to promote cultural awareness in Calgary.

Slant magazine, a collective, student-run initiative, is the newest addition to the struggle against ignorance.

On Thu., Nov. 8, Slant celebrated the launch of their first issue at the Hop and Brew, featuring readings from David Bateman and Raji-nderpal S. Pal. Interested parties clamored into the top floor of the old pub house to experience recalcitrant poetry readings and male belly dancing. The experience was eye-opening to say the least.

Bateman, clothed in a blue dress, stepped to the mike and unleashed a witty, socially conscious foray of prose onto the unprepared and the inebriated. Local male belly dancer, Stavros Stavrou, spoke of his trials as a gay male performing Turkish dance in Cypress, before ending the night with a few moves.

The purpose of the magazine is not to alarm people. The Slant collective wants to open lines of communication between differing social and racial groups. They hope to expose and disarm overt racial propaganda.

"No matter what you do you will run into racism," comments Christine Cheung, Assistant Editor and Designer of Slant. "We want to point out how subversive racism is."

Slant sells itself as a contemporary cultural critique and as such it fits in with such anti-propaganda magazines like Adbusters. However, there’s no evidence that the initiative will be crippled by its mandate to promote cultural awareness and expose socio-cultural contexts.

"Everybody has good intentions, but where do we learn our attitudes?" Cheung questions. "We want to make it more accessible for people to talk about racism."

The problem, as Cheung sees it, is that institutions such as public education and local media do not teach people to question their attitudes towards racism.

"There will be articles about racism in the media," explains Cheung. "No matter what you do the media pegs issues in terms of race."

For example, newscasts regarding gang-related violence typically make the point of mentioning the ethnicity of the individuals in question. The Slant collective hopes to promote awareness regarding propaganda of this kind.

"Racism is an issue of logistics," says Cheung. "This will be a forum for talking about these issues."

The editorial staff declares this in their mandate of their first issue.

"If the mainstream media tends to sell illusions and false depictions, our alternative and anti-apathetic energies would deliver a good reality check," it reads.

The idea for the magazine distilled out of an international literature class at the University of Calgary. The class met once a week in small groups to discuss post-colonial concepts. Cheung explained that it became hard to talk about the issues without doing anything about them.

"I’ve been inspired by this little support group comprised of people who worry too much, do too little and yet are unable to escape the responsibility that comes with knowledge," reads the forward in the first issue.

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