Black and White: The Colours of Conflict [A Poem]

[Last Thursday night I attended Poems of Colour, an evening of local poetry, where I live, that celebrates diversity and explores the themes of race and ethnicity. There were many young poets reading. The MC was Victoria’s Youth Poet Laureate, Argutu Ali. The event was sponsored by the City of Victoria, and held at at a most hospitable venue, the Art Gallery of Victoria. I left moved and inspired. Poets love metaphors. Being a fan of metaphors myself (aren’t all mediators?), and their application to conflict management, this poem emerged from my hand.]


Black is the absence of colour.
Black is not a colour.
White is the blending of all colours.
White is a colour.
Between black and white resides a spectrum of colours,
A rainbow of possibility,
Of appropriateness,
And choice.

Choosing black and white, or rather choosing either black or white, comes with risk.
If we choose black – are we choosing nothing?
Are we saying no, to possibility?
If we choose white –are we choosing everything?
Yet, in choosing everything,
Do we not also stand for nothing?

On the flip side – we want things to be black and white.
Johnny – don’t touch the hot stove.
Sabina – will you marry me?
Jose – go talk to that asshole letting his pit bull run amok in the park.
It’s black and white.
Full stop.

Conflict is rarely a world of black and white.
Rather, conflict lives in the spaces, the colours, between,
Black and white.

Between black and white is your story, your imagination.
The black and white photograph draws its’ power from your imagination, in all its’ color.

Between black and white, truth is
Held up to our biases, and logical fallacies.

Between black and white is acceptance,
That each of us is unique, our own shade of human, deserving of respect and attention.

The black and white road is a colourful one.
Embrace the journey.


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