27 July 2006

Among all the turmoils, conflicts and wars currently taking all the focus in the news, there is a quiet war still going on. This war has preceded the current conflict in the Middle-East. This war has been taking place since the 1400’s until today. There have been different moments in history, at various places in the world, where this war has erupted and taken the center stage of world events. There have been BILLIONS of innocent victims associated with this war. BILLIONS of casualties. 

Although many battles in this war are fought vigorously and daily by courageous men, women, boys and girls, against enormous odds, it has become primarily a silent war, and these are their silent heroes. Many have struggled and sacrificed themselves in these battles. However, there have been many more cowards, who have hid themselves, or pretended that this war isn’t taking place, or sided with the enemy against their own. It is the war against the ideology of white supremacy and eurocentric superiority

The continuing saga of this conflict recently occurred in Longueuil (near Montreal), Quebec, Canada. In September 2003, two men of African heritage, Seydou Diallo and his friend Mamadou El Bachir Gologo, entered a bar called “Le Surf” and ordered a drink. They were told by the bartender that they couldn’t be served because they had a policy of not serving Black people. After some discussion they were informed by the manager that black customers had allegedly caused too much trouble at Le Surf in the past. Blacks were termed “gang members”, “bandits” and “troublemakers” by the manager, and although Diallo offered up his university student card and other pieces of identification to prove that were not “bad guys”, it was to no avail. They were still refused service. 

Flabbergasted and stunned, Diallo went to the press and returned to the bar with a white reporter from the “Journal de Montreal”, who disguised himself as black. Once again they were denied service and told that the bar did not cater to Black customers. The story went public in October 2003 and the case was brought before the Quebec Human Rights Commission. Today the Commission awarded $25,000 to the two men and in their ruling also stated that Le Surf was racist and exclusionary and that a steep fine was necessary to send the bar a message. 

I caught this story on the news this morning. It was just a brief piece… a snippet of the days news events.  I went online to get more details and had to search hard and deep. I am sure it was missed by most Canadians who didn’t hear about it or more importantly, didn’t listen to it. The media is currently inundated with conflicts and wars in the Middle-East, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Sri Lanka and India… to name a few. Terrorism has the spotlight, even here in Canada. But for two Black men, a victory was gained in one battle of the war they fight continually, day after day. “The decision of the commission is for me like a big, big victory,” said Diallo. “After three long years of waiting, I am glad with the decision“. 

These men are two of the silent heroes… of this silent war.