So, You Want to Talk About Race?

In light of the BLM protests and race being at the nucleus of Coronavirus, I thought I would post this poem I wrote a while ago

Let’s talk about race

let’s talk about the things

I saw in front of my ten y-o face

when the white kids

called all kinds of slurs

in every cricket match

it was always “yes sirs, no sirs”

in every rugby game, I’d go the distance

simply to assert my existence

clichéd like White authority against Black resistance

like being stung by swarms of wasps

spiders crawling over my shoulders

in a landscape of spoilt rich kids and shareholders

we sit for match tea, them watching

me put food in my mouth, like I’m any

different to them, that confident clout

they’d picked up from their parents

good manners and table etiquette

inherited from their Victorian grandparents

I spit my words out (like a bullet)

staring into vacant expressions

goldfish of ignorance and doubt

my brain boggled

like in that history class

when Brittania ruled the waves

Mrs… omits how we were cruel to slaves

a mind medley of stuff

so they made a cage for me

my wrists bound like they were handcuffs

when is a good time to bring race up?

and when I say something I’m told to shut up,

stop reading into it like Zodiac signs

I’m Scorpio that needs to stop reading astrological lines

as mine has a sting in the tail

a knee jerk reaction that flails

like the white waves of validation

from people who have no clue

what it’s like to live in Britain as Black or Asian

so set on their progressive political teams

they still salute Victoria and Winston with imperial memes

Let’s talk about race

let’s talk about the things

I saw in front of my 16 y-o face

It’s 2011 and not much

has changed since I was seven

talks about slavery still systemically muted

as black people are still routinely recruited

for prison programmes

like the Black soldiers who went out to Vietnam

trained by Uncle Sam to be killers

but it’s like Ali said, “no Viet Cong ever called me nigger”

but this isn’t a tale of black and brown or black against white

it’s about equal opportunities and equal rights

Let’s talk about race

let’s talk about the things

I saw in front of my 18 y-o face

I’m growing up now, I’m at college

trying to acquire knowledge

but what they’re teaching is fleeting

don’t tell me it’s not about race

when the application forms force us

to allot a colour to our face

so interviewers can tick a box

interview ten of us

but still give the job to goldilocks

qualifications and degrees get lost on CVs

when the surnames are more interesting, see

from Ventour to D’Alessandro, Yamfam and Chowudhury

Let’s talk about race

let’s talk about the things

I saw in front of my 20 y-o face

when the police just keep shooting

when the rioters keep looting

in the prologue to another H&M boycott

you only care about us when we’re performing

be it the Olympics or winning Great British Bake-Off

and you mutter something under your breath

thinking I haven’t heard it

oh I did, and you give me a look

same look you give to a black man reading a book

and there’s no “I’m sorry”, no remorse, no apology

just a snigger at this Black comedy

and you say “I’m not racist, but — ”

and now I’m going to follow Rosa and boycott your bus

I feel the rage bubbling in my belly

the anger rising, my voice wobbling like jelly

the daily rituals of looking for these endeavours

whilst these Twitter freaks call us the birds of a feather

me, my friends and my brother

universal narrative for people of colour

so keep quiet in these scenarios thinking it will pass

hoping for a casual meet up without having to talk race or class

nobody wants to talk about race

nobody wants to talk about those things

to my 23 year-old face

I’m a poet, I’m storyteller, I’m a bard

people criticise artists for showing racism the red card

as poetry’s meant to be nice

not to bring important political issues into the light

not to critique our leaders and corporate oversight

not to have a good moan against their masks and façades

to unveil the beasts bringing down their guard

but the talks in the UK about race is just repetition

as if people are trying the victims for perjury and sedition

folks saying they’re woke

but when it comes to race it’s just mirrors and smoke

I’m hoping that we can start this conversation

lowering the drawbridge to have talks on slavery and colonisation

and through these talks you’ll begin to understand

what we mean by racism and discrimination in Angle Land

dissecting privilege, willfull ignorance across the British nation

talking about gentrification like Boyz n the Hood

only through honest dialogue can this be understood

this is not me attacking white people

it’s about things being equal for all, not just those in the right places

and if we can do something about this fascist far-right spread

we can destroy these systems indefinitely, and kill white supremacy dead.

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

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