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Writer-Poet | Muses: Black and Mixed-Race histories, inequality, identity, arts et al| Race and Black History Educator | | MA Student |

Working with Norfamton these past weeks on the Windrush Doorstep Befriending Team, it was interesting talking to Shereen on how the original critiques of the Scandal did not go far enough in their primary challenges to the Home Office.

My family history in Britain goes back to the 1960s. L-R: Great-Grandma Toiley, Cousin Rita , Grandma Cathy, Great-Auntie Rosie, and Great-Auntie Mona (front) (Source: Noel Family Archive)

Having grown up in close proximity to the Windrush Generation as a grandchild and great-grandchild of Jamaican and Grenadian migrants, watching the crisis unravel since 2018 struck a nerve. Before my paternal Jamaican grandparents moved from Staffs to Spain, I once upon a time would have been roaming around their house to see photographs harking back to their lives in the 1960s and 1970s. But today, I can only easily visit my maternal grandparents to see such photos of Black Northants in this era, in the years that followed numbers of Caribbean arrivals by air and sea.

I wrote this spoken word poem after the collection of essays ‘Whiteby Film Studies academic Richard Dyer

‘White’ by Richard Dyer (1997)

In order to have Blackness or Brownness, we must have Whiteness

talking about racism puts the onus on the victim

without any inclination to discuss the system

it’s easy to talk in the language of DiAngelo or McIntosh

that keeps it between people, not how White power has quashed

and undermined movements like the Black Panthers

and DiAngelo tells a clipped narrative that doesn’t really answer

questions about history and we got to this

since White supremacy is fluid and adapts and disjoints itself to fit

cus terms like “fragility” and “privilege” tend to only flirt

at the frames of…

In 2016, Professor David Olusoga released his documentary series ‘Black and British: A Forgotten History.’ In episode one ‘First Encounters’, archaeologist Dr Richard Benjamin talks about how proud he is of the men that stood watch at Aballava.

Whilst watching the first episode featuring Aballava, we must acknowledge that Olusoga and Benjamin were also not the first Black and Brown scholars to discuss Black history — from J. A Rogers and his work that combatted racist views of history, to Trinidadian Ron Ramdin on the working class, resulting in The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain (1987). A short breath after Peter Fryer’s Staying Power (1984). An argument could be made, though, is David Olusoga was the first to take it mainstream.

Anyone that was came through the British education system would have learnt about…

I wrote this poem inspired from a thread on Twitter I saw not long back all about the language Caribbean people use, something I have oft seen in members of the Windrush.

Source: Twitter (November, 2020)

You know your conversationalist

is a West Indian when they sit

mugging the Queen’s English

growing up I recall

my grandmother and her friends

Photo by Vladimir Soares on Unsplash

proclaiming Will Shakespeare “a jobsworth”

you know them ladies

with their diddly hands

like a cantankerous rex in the front room

instead of calling us kids rude

they would call us “boisterous youths”

or “rascals.” Women with names

like Phyllis that’d say

“I’m jos going out to the veranda”

using words like finicky

as she plays with her needle and thread

labelling her niece, a “craven buzzard”

for taking the last piece of plantain

like “highfalutin rapscallions”

I wrote this poem last year inspired by the these leaflets going around Bristol which got me thinking about Englishness and different white identities. This piece also somewhat comes inspired by ‘White Teeth’ by English novelist Zadie Smith.

This would be an opportune moment to direct you to a great piece of poetry by Northamptonshire’s own Will Reid with his ‘My England’

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

A few months ago

there were leaflets going round Bristol

saying “it’s okay to white”

but that is not the same as being English

race and culture split like Brexit

I have been told I am English

but what is English culture

cus the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh

have theirs, with a pride in self

the etymology of English / England —

etymology meaning word history — comes from

the Old English pertaining to the Land of Angles

who were Germanic in origin

so, when the far-right boast English nation

history replies with songs of immigration


Not wanting to get sucked into the recency bias that comes with new dramas, I waited three weeks to watch Bridgerton.

Writing as someone that watches an awful lot of historical dramas, it is by no means a surprise to see that Bridgerton was attacked for its inclusion of Black and Brown characters by the usual racist hordes in the period drama fandom. Also disliked by some for being ‘too modern’ in its construction, the modern-ness reminded me of what happened in the 2005 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House on BBC One. During the mid-naughties, the Andrew Davies adaptation of the classic Dickens novel took a massive step forward in the way television programmes of that kind were made…

There’s been lots of chat on Critical Race Theory, so I wrote this poem after a piece I heard performed by Jess Green at an open-mic night in Kettering, Run Your Tongue open-mic (2018).

when I was doing my undergrad at university,

it was by chance I found out about Critical Race Theory

that there was scholarship that articulated my encounters

with Britain, as numerous just pass racism off as banter

I found out my life is also grounded in an academic position

pioneered by the likes of Richard Delgado and Patricia Williams

but Kemi says that critical race theory is regressive and racist

and she’s showing how Whiteness is more than white faces

in that debate, you saw this was more than denial

as she then proceeded to put Black Lives Matter on trial

but when you follow the theory…

Most of us went to school learning how activist Rosa Parks sat down to stand up, but her activism didn’t start here and her story is one that fits into a range of subjects — from history and PSHE to journalism, criminology and the social sciences at large.

Rosa Parks, 1955 (Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty)

Recently in conversation with a friend about how the world wars are taught, we came to the agreement that the inter-war years are treated like they don’t exist. That void of 1919–1938 where race riots could be be found in many British cities, and the infamous Tulsa massacre of 1921. …

I wrote this poem after a piece called ‘Beleaguered Vegan’ by English poet Dominic Berry, who I watched perform in Kettering a few years back. He struck a chord with me… for sure.

I love food, it’s effing bliss

but when I’m out with the relatives

they’re analysing my dish

you know that West Indian mission

like back when I was vegetarian

when I was more egalitarian

meat and two veg (eat healthy) they’d convey

but then they’d also say yes to Appleton and Old Wray

greens and pastas, no meat for Master Tré

Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

quorn, cheese, Weetabix

whilst they would say

gimme a bite, just a little bit

they acted like they were all dietitians

so many Caribbeans have PhDs in nutrition

now, I’m asked

what’s that you got there

I’ve eaten the flesh of mares

and those…

It wasn’t until I was twenty years old that I found out I come from a very recent Mixed-Race background — when my father told me my great-great-grandfather was a White man from Ireland.

Dad went on to tell me about how my Great-Grandma Jessica was Mixed-Race, and that’s essentially where my grandmother’s fairer skin tone comes from. He then, in-turn, is Mixed-Race, passing on this Multiracial lineage on to my brother and I, his children — who have grown up believing ourselves to be monoracially Black. That’s my paternal grandmother’s family tree going back over 100 years. This has lead me into lots of thoughts, and that my recent family history wasn’t just built on the backs of enslaved Africans. …

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