Tag Archives: race

A History Lesson

Morning, long time no write, but it’s #nationalpoetryday today so of course, I had to write a teensy little something……

A History Lesson

A flame is ignited,
Paper fans are firelighting,
A history’s divided
and the ashes fall either side,
Her story unfolds
But his story denies it
A silk net that’s entangled
with untruths inside it,
Love may be blinded
but hate sees a spectrum of shades,
Where she becomes all
because he is afraid?
Or misguided? Or privileged?
Or deeply ashamed?
That the past is not buried, forgotten, mislaid,
That from the fight for true justice
he cannot dissaude
this rainbow that broke through
the clouds that had greyed,
Of the truth that will thrive, that will grow,
that pervades,
And won’t march quietly onwards
To the drumbeat he plays,
Won’t be quelled by the promise
of thirty one days
to remember, and teach, and sing out
of an age
when he was her master
and she was his slave.

© 2016

Unchained

Mr Organ Grinder,
Please discard your bait,
I will no longer dine
Upon you hate,
Your slurs
disguised as playfulness
serve only to fat my
stubbornness,
Heels dug in,
Now listen well;
You do not own
this coloured girl,
I will not dance,
No sir,
Not today,
And your ignorance
is in my way,
If you want a monkey
for a toy,
Find another sucker
to employ,
Now I suggest you up
and take your leave,
For
I
have some
greatness
to achieve.

Yellow Girl

Too white to be black,
Too black to be white,
“They’ll throw you in the river
when the two sides fight”
Flat bottom,
Picky hair,
And thick thunder thighs,
Freckles on my nose, lips
and under my eyes,
I’m a yellow girl,
I’m a browning,
I’m half-caste,
I’m mixed race,
And believe me;
I’ve been called
so much worse to my face,
I spent so many years
ill at ease in my shell,
That it’s shattered my confidence
and left me in hell,
Now I’m fat,
And I’m ugly,
And I have crooked teeth,
And I’m so obsessed with the surface
I ignore what’s beneath,
I know better,
But I’m broken
and I can’t fix the hurt,
That’s what happens when a child’s
told they’re less than they’re worth,
Now I’m thirty,
And still hurting,
And so mad at this world
for closing arms, doors and minds
to this benign
yellow girl.

 

This poem was inspired by an article I read a while ago called, “Too white to be black, too black to be white.” It talked about how mixed race children are being failed when it comes to potential mental health problems.  As a light-skinned black woman I faced a lot of prejudice when I was a child – from both ‘sides’.  My mum also faced similar struggles and was once told, “If the blacks and the whites go to war, they’ll throw you in the river.” One of my previous poems (Sticks and Stones) highlights just how powerful words can be, especially to a child. If I’m honest, I’ve never quite thought I was good enough, and that’s a direct result of the name-calling and narrow-mindedness I experienced as a child.

That’s life though, right? We suffer and we grow, we reflect and we move on. But while I’m finally at peace with my ‘shell’, I don’t doubt that there are still a few cracks…