I wrote the poem below a few days after a horrific business dinner.
Four people at the table sprung some news on me. A decision had been taken that directly affected me and they were letting me know. Their chosen course for moving forward came without consultation, without conversation, without any notice of the impact it would have on me whatsoever.
My usual way would be to swallow my own feelings and present a graceful, optimistic face, holding onto my own shock and outrage until later when I could deal with it privately. My tendency has long been to put the preservation of harmony and the comfort of others ahead of my own needs, you see.
This time I chose a different path.
I sat still until clarity arose. Then I expressed what I was feeling about the situation, clearly and vehemently. I said that the way this was happening was not only wrong, but completely unfair, especially given my years of service.
Somewhere in there came my reflection that this kind of thing (springing bad news without a warning, then expecting the recipient to co-create agreeably) happens to people of colour all the time.
And with that, the damage was done.
This poem tells the rest of the story:
The Path of The Other
- by Shahmeen Sadiq
Attempts, without malice
to rob you of the ability
to bring forward your gifts
will be made, perhaps many times
The position of their privilege
robs them of being able to see how it works
Illuminating this is risky
and often backfires
Angry brown woman, [insert your otherness here]
they will say,
who just played the race card,
how dare she insult us like that?
And then, it becomes about them again
My wish is for another path
where they can put their indignation down
long enough to ask questions like:
How HAVE I contributed to her experience, consciously or not?
What can I learn if I open my eyes, ears and heart?
Only then will my vision of our Great Human Family be possible.
If you have ever walked the path of the Other, or if this poem evokes strong emotions like shame, disbelief or sadness, consider joining us for Deeper Explorations in 2020.
Session 2, on Rank, takes place on October 14, 2020.