News / Edmonton

New anti-racism campaign makes things awkward

Jesse Lipscombe teams up with Mayor Don Iveson to fight back against bigotry in Edmonton.

Jesse Lipscombe, who was targeted by racial slurs in downtown Edmonton recently, has launched an anti-racism campaign with Mayor Don Iveson.

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Jesse Lipscombe, who was targeted by racial slurs in downtown Edmonton recently, has launched an anti-racism campaign with Mayor Don Iveson.

Edmonton is about to get a little more, um, how should we say this … awkward?

Jesse Lipscombe, who was targeted by racial slurs in downtown Edmonton Wednesday, has teamed up with Mayor Don Iveson on an unconventional anti-racism campaign.

The two joined forces to make a video Friday morning that urged bystanders who hear racist, sexist or homophobic remarks to respond by making things uncomfortable.

The #MakeItAwkward campaign – coined by Jesse’s wife Julia – encourages Edmontonians to share their experiences and strategies for calling out discriminatory and ignorant behaviour.

“That little feeling of someone who thought they could get away with the racial slurs or the sexism jokes or the jokes about the LGBT community, that’s not OK. And when you hear it, instead of being quiet, make it awkward,” Lipscombe said in the video.

He suggested shooting a blank stare at someone who makes an ignorant comment.

Iveson suggested safely and constructively calling someone out, even if it’s a relative at a family dinner.

“It’s going to make the rest of the barbecue this weekend a little bit awkward when you call that uncle out, or you call out that old brother, or whoever it is who has outmoded views. It’s time to stand up and say something,” he said.

One Twitter user suggested asking a person who makes an ignorant joke to stop and explain why they think it’s funny.

Several local community groups, including Women’s Initiative Edmonton and RISE, have thrown their support behind the campaign.

Lipscombe was doing a video spot Wednesday evening to promote the city’s downtown when a car pulled up to stop at the end of the block and a white man shouted out the window, "The n***ers are coming."

By early Friday afternoon, a video of that encounter had been shared more than 5,100 times on Facebook and viewed more than 276,000 times.

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