Dear White Consultant by ‘Amelia Kami

Dear White Consultant,
You are not of the Pacific islands.
You are entranced by our grace,
in awe of our strength
but
so quick to judge our mistakes,
so quick to share your thoughts
on how to fix us,
how to better us
as if your ancestors had not tried before.
Dear White Consultant,
You are not of the Pacific islands.
You are a descendant of the colonizers
using your textbook knowledge
to disguise your true motives,
to fulfill your visions
on how we should act,
how we should talk,
how we should be.
Dear White Consultant,
You are not of the Pacific islands.
You are
the remains of an ideology
that everything you say
is true,
everything you say
is final.
Dear White Consultant,
You are not of the Pacific islands.
You have never scraped a coconut
picked from the tallest tree by your cousin,
you have never scaled a fish
fresh from your grandfathers Saturday catch,
you have never collected rocks
for Sunday ‘umu with extended family,
you have never felt your grandmothers hand across your head
because you were talking too much in church.
Dear White Consultant,
You are not of the Pacific islands
and yet
you are so eager to teach us
about us,
our lives,
our culture,
our home,
our history,
from a textbook;
pages written by the hand of a white man.
Dear White Consultant,
You are not of the Pacific islands.
You are allowed to admire,
you are allowed to experience,
you are allowed to appreciate
but
we will not
allow you to appropriate,
to denigrate,
to dominate.
Dear White Consultant,
Your time has passed.
We will write our own history from here.
Your consultation is required in your own land.

This poem was inspired by several encounters I’ve had with “white consultants”. It’s to refer to people that aren’t a part of a certain culture or ethnicity yet they still feel the need to validate their perspectives on the lifestyle and culture. Yes, we make mistakes but they are our mistakes to make. This poem is a challenge against the epistemic violence that is masked by the excessive aid from overseas countries. Don’t get me wrong, we are grateful and appreciative but our own new history can’t be written if the overseas countries are still playing the lead parts. I just hope for a time where Pacific islanders can learn about themselves in a way that won’t be tainted by the opinions of a white man.

Mia Kami 

Le’o
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