Thursday, April 24, 2014


The April 2014, The Senior Times newspaper published in Montreal, features an article on "Longtime human-rights activist Dan Philip." The story tells us that Philip cares about issues of social justice. The 77 year-old Philip is associated with the Black Coalition of Canada and the Ligue des Noirs du Quebec. He has been a well-known activist in the Province of Quebec for decades.
Coming upon the article, I was moved to reveal my own experience with Dan Philip. Bigotry works both ways. At first, I put the newspaper aside, not wanting to dig up old disappointments. The man is so highly-regarded in Montreal. Why bother exposing him now?
But the story kept eating at me. Iconoclast. Yes. Something in me cannot abide covering up truth, especially when people are throwing confetti over a person who has hidden his own bigotry.
It isn't that Philip offended me. That would be easy to brush off. The offence that I cannot forget is the fact that Philip's prejudice deprived many young coloured people in Montreal of opportunities I wanted to provide for them.
Many years ago, I went to Dan Philip's storefront office on Decarie Blvd. to offer my help to the young people of  the "Black" community.

The word "Black" used to describe people of colour always bothers me. Most Negro people are brown-skinned. "Black" is a political term associated with the hatred, anti-Semitism and violence of the American Black Panthers.
Most people of colour are not violent and do not deserve to be stuck with that association. My husband told me that, when he was a young man in New York City, the appellation,"Black", was always followed with "bastard". He said he was a coloured man - and how I loved that coloured man!
Back to my meeting with Dan Philip. I offered to mentor, teach and counsel Dan Philip's people. I offered to teach young people to speak English well, to fill out applications for jobs. I offered to teach them how to prepare and present themselves at interviews. I would teach people at no cost and for no benefits or considerations.
Dan Philip did not ask me a single question. He just refused me and showed me the door. Why?
Dan Philip did not know me. I had never met him, although I remember that my father, George Rubin, knew him, and I think my dad thought well of him. But Dan Philip did not know me. Why did he refuse my heartfelt gift. I did so want to help.
There was only one thing Dan Philip knew about me. I sat facing him. My face was white.
Since then, I have been English Speech Consultant  - teacher, counsellor, mentor and friend - to doctors, scientists and ministers from Korea, Japan and China. I still keep in touch with some of my students who are people I greatly admire.
I feel sad when I read about "Black" youngsters being involved in drugs and crime. I feel frustrated when I hear people say "The kids never had a chance to learn better."
Many did, and Dan Philip spit on their opportunity.
I do not forget.
Phyllis Carter

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