ALLY? RACIST? ACTIVIST WHO NEEDS TO DO MORE RESEARCH?: A LETTER IN RESPONSE TO “A POEM FOR MAYOR DAVID MILLER” AND A COMMENT BY ALLY AMAN SIUM

The following are responses to the poem “A Poem to Mayor David Miller” published in the Toronto Star August 13, 2008 and later posted on BlackCoffeePoet.com September 17, 2010.  The first response is from ally and activist of colour Aman Sium, posted September 20, 2010.  The second, sent in March 29 , 2011, is from  Scott Temple.


September 20, 2010

Excellent poem!!! I remember reading it but I never heard it performed.
As for Miller, when he’s not pandering for white votes he’s in giddy support of the Toronto police and the racialzed violence (i.e. G20 protests) they unleash against Indigenous, black and other people of colour. It always cracks me up when white liberals put on some orange and think that – by default – they’re down with our struggle.

Keep writing brother,

Aman Sium

March 29, 2011

Touching poem, it really is a tragedy when anyone, male, female, white or not are murdered. Especially when it’s someone as young as Katelynn Sampson. But I just want to raise an issue here. Yes, while it’s horrible that neither the Mayor nor the police took much action when these two were murdered, anyone must realize that you can’t judge all of us because of other individuals. I’m white, yes, but am I o.k. with an aboriginal person being murdered, no. An issue I’ve been having while conducting some research for an argument is that every comment made by random people (those not coming from an academic standpoint) is that everyone who is from an ethnic background attack us simply for us being white, meaning, if I’m white, I’m racist, and I only care about whites….but the truth is, I care about everyone equally, white or black, Asian or Latino, which brings me to the comment above. “when he’s not pandering for white votes”. One must step back for a second when attempting to make a comment like this. Who is Miller as a person, what is he o.k. with, what isn’t he o.k. with. What do his advisors tell him to do and what not to do. When Mr. Sium says that Mr. Miller was “pandering for white votes”, he assumes that Mr. Miller is just another soulless political figure out to get more power. But in reality, they deal with numbers. They look at what ethnic group has a majority in a particular area and for the most part tweak their campaigns to that group. Yes, this is insensitive, but it gets the votes to win a campaign. So I’m sure he is advised to do this (that’s what he pays them for…to advise him how to win). Outside of this numbers based lifestyle, he is another person, with the same emotions and compassion as you and me. I’m sure if he were to be fully informed of Katelynn Sampson, he’s feel the same was as he did when Jane Creba was killed. I just don’t like it when people jump to the conclusion that we as white’s are all just racist bastards out to hurt both physically and emotionally every other race. I would never be o.k. with any form of racism in my household, and when I have children, I WILL NOT tolerate any form of it.

As for the comment Mr. Sium made, “It always cracks me up when white liberals put on some orange and think that – by default – they’re down with our struggle.”…. now, I don’t know if I can consider myself a liberal, I’m not a very political person, but as for white…I am that. But to respond, don’t you dare assume you can tell me that I don’t care. I have friends who have been victims of racism, both from whites AND other ethnic groups (Asians, Indians, Blacks, Mexicans, you name it…), and no matter who it’s from, it’s never o.k. I’m discriminated against every time I’m in a group of people where the majority isn’t white, and it sucks. I’m just that “white guy” who’s lived the privileged life and had everything given to me. And you know what, I have lived a pretty privileged life, that is true, but a lot of people who I know through school don’t live that life. They’re white, and their parents have trouble making rent. They’re white, and they don’t have money for new clothes. They’re white and they’re going to be stuck at the same dead end job for the rest of their lives because they couldn’t make it through school… white people can be poor too. But even when they’re with me and hanging around those groups that are majority other ethnicities, they’re tossed in the same pot as me, that “richy rich white kid who’s never had it hard” And hell, I wasn’t rich, I grew up middle class like the majority of the Canadian population, right smack dab in the middle, so I definitely wasn’t the “richy rich” kid they though I was.

So yea, this is more or less my rant on racism against aboriginal people… except it’s more to the short sightedness of the comment made above. I want to make it clear that in no way do I want to take away from the original article itself, because it does sadly have a ring of truth to it. While I might be arguing for people to lay off on the generalization of whites being pricks, I also don’t want people to forget that in a lot of cases….we are…. I just hope that with the new generations, understanding and acceptance of equality will be obtained. I have a feeling it will due to the stance myself and friends share on this particular issue, but for the time being, we live in an age ruled by those from an earlier time, where racism was common place in almost every setting, so we’ll have to deal with it for a while longer, but hopefully not for too long.

Scott Temple

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About Black Coffee Poet

Black Coffee Poet is a mixed race poet, essayist, and journalist who focuses on Social Justice, Indigenous Rights, STOPPING Violence Against Women, Film, and Literature.
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