I Do Not Owe You- Part II

I was going to wait to post this, but with everything going on in Canada and the U.S. these days, I felt I had to say something. I realize not everyone might agree with my beliefs. I can’t ask them to. All I am saying is, I do not owe it to anyone to ignore racism, sexism, bigotry or blatant disregard for the environment or all life within it.

The first part of this poem has been submitted to a contest, and the rules prohibit me from publishing it before the judging takes place but I will share it when I can.


I Do Not Owe You- II

I do not owe it to you

to remain complacent

To care more about the size of my waist and the colour of my hair

Than the injustices of the world

To sit in front of a screen for  hours without taking notice of the chaos around me

I will not forget about the Indigenous People and the young women who have disappeared without a trace

Who is going to do something about this?

I want to know!

Or do only certain people matter?

I will not ignore their pleas for inclusion and representation as you make plans to ravage more of their sacred lands

You ignore the true history of the colonized nations

The erasure of culture and tradition

Residential schools

Their only purpose was to eradicate what was left of the Native Spirit

Steal all of the land and then pat yourselves on the back for returning small pieces of it

The serpent spreads like a disease through the soil

Seeping poison into the waters

Your phony apology disappearing beneath the bitumen

And I’m supposed to agree with you?

I do not owe that to you

Your monstrous machines create scars upon the Earth for the sake of your so-called progress

You say to protest against you is selfish and radical

You say it is the same as protesting the good will of our fellow citizens

And your supporters believe you

They breathe fiery hatred at environmental advocates that are fighting to protect the future for us all

To protect the Earth that we all rely on

And for their fight and their passion they are punished

You put them in handcuffs as they ask you to consider the next generations and to understand

That water is life

I do not owe it to you to tell people of colour that they are over-reacting when they fight for their rights

I will not shout at them “stand for the anthem or pay the price!”

and go back to watching reality TV


They deserve to work, study and live without the constant fear of racial divide

Those who shoot first and make excuses later

Hooded monsters lurking the streets for young black children to make an example of

I won’t roll my eyes when they say


And I won’t scoff at the beads of sweat on terrorized faces

As they attempt to survive day to day life

Asking directions

Playing golf

Reaching for a cell phone

Singing praise in a church

Is no place sacred to you?

I cannot be nonchalant about the nearly 1500 missing children

I challenge you to explain to me

How exactly do that many children, who were supposed to be in your custody, just vanish?

Ripped from the arms of their guardians and held for ransom

BUILD THAT WALL! you shout

And these atrocities will end

You say it is justified as you point to your bible

Well sir, I will not condone a bible that would justify this abuse of human rights

I do not owe it to you

To lock them out

To lock myself in

To trust you to do the right thing

Not if you can honestly say

That tearing children away from their parents is what is right and what is just

I do not owe it to you to chant in unison


At refugees fleeing a conflict

That you helped create

The piles of dead babies washing up on shore

The mothers and fathers in agony over the impossible choices that they face

All the while, you sit safely in your lounge chair, reveling in your bigotry

I do not owe it to you to forget that there are other people in the world

people of all shapes, sizes, and colours

because nature is an artist

and I do not owe it to you

to forget that they are affected by your decisions

What I owe is to them

That is my pledge of solidarity

My pledge to forgo complacency

To stand up and do something

To never forget what has happened

And to never allow it to happen again

I do not owe it to you

I owe it to them


©Chantal Shanks 2018

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