We support Mahatma Gandhi's statue at Carleton University

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We completely agree that it is important for us as a community to take every action necessary to tackle systemic racism within the institution that many black and other students of colour call home. Carleton University is host to students, staff, and faculty members from various racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. The University has made a commitment to fostering social responsibility and respect in a community rich with diverse cultures, faiths, and world views. 

One of the buildings on Carleton's campus has a statue of peace-bearer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India's independence from British Rule, and in turn, inspired movements for civil rights.

Was Mohandas K. Gandhi a racist? This question is being asked afresh in the light of the removal of the Gandhi statue from the Carleton University campus. There is a petition that is being circulated to take the statue down quoting several statements made by Gandhi. Notably, however, they all date from his early years of boyhood in South Africa. What Gandhi said or thought about Africa and Africans, race and racism, in his mature adulthood is ignored altogether.

We acknowledge the fact that in his twenties, Gandhi was unquestionably a racist. He believed in a hierarchy of civilizations, with Europeans at the top. But by 1908, Gandhi was clear that Africans, as well as Indians and other people of colour, needed to be placed on an absolutely equal footing with Europeans. He faced racism in his young days when he practised law in South Africa. He was thrown off of train carriages, pushed out of walkways and was treated differently because of the colour of his skin. Hist experiences gave him a clearer perspective, made him change and fight for freedom. In a speech made in Germiston, he said that if the Africans took to non-violent resistance against racial discrimination, “there would probably be no native question left to be solved”.  The longer Gandhi lived in Africa, the more he shed off the racism of his boyhood and youth. In 1910 he remarked: “The people of Negroid Heritage alone are the original inhabitants of this land... The whites, on the other hand, have occupied the land forcibly and appropriated it to themselves.”

Here's a link to Martin Luther's video in which he shares his opinion about Gandhi:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3Ife3CTBnQ&feature=youtu.be

We believe that every man grows and learns as he matures. We are all bound to make mistakes when we are younger, what sets us apart is our ability and willingness to make a difference and be a better person every day. One of his most famous quotes, "Be the change you wish to see in this World." could not have a better example than his life story, of him transitioning and evolving into a more considerate, kind and inspirational person. Gandhi grew more and more respect for his African brothers and fought for their rights.

As teenagers and young adults, we all make mistakes at some point. Our actions, intentional or not, are not always right. And yet, we learn from those mistakes and wrong-doings. Gandhi not only realized his erroneous ways but also did everything he could to better his ways.

We need to share this petition to preserve the statute as a symbol of multi-cultural diversity, equality and peace on Carleton's campus. 

He is also considered as a venerated symbol for all Indians, in India and in Canada, hence we feel attacked by any petition to take his statue down. 

Now is the time for action.