Inspired from Black is the New Black, part of the BBC’s Black and British Black History season in November 2016
Home away from home.
From one island to another.
From the plains of Africa to
slavery to a land paved with gold.
That last one, a story sold on hearsay.
Made in the image of our creator.
Black skin, white masks –
ticking that Black British box –
a task, a struggle to understand
who you really are.
Children of the colonies, whose
parents prospered from their labour.
Strong in our pride, only smelling
the flavour when we came to see
what we had built for our mother.
Stately homes, art galleries,
government buildings and so on.
The Barclays Brothers, Lloyds TSB
and JP Morgan all got fat on slavery’s
salaries – black people, slaves –
likened to an exotic menagerie.
Walter Tull! Mary Seacole! Trevor Macdonald!
Mary Prince! And many more since …
Citizen or a visitor? Countryperson or
an interloper? Not just men, women and
children passing through the middle passage.
No more slaves to throw overboard like the Zong.
Now when you stand up against what’s wrong,
your right as a citizen, whiteness cackles
like hyenas into the night – and then they
call you a criminal for protesting for what’s
rightfully yours – a job, decent housing, a wage
not to throw people in a cage, prison cells
like it’s 1780, then Brixton happened.
1981: rebelling like the free slave state
of Haiti, conveniently three years before
slave trade ceased in the British Empire .
The story of the immigrant in Britain
is the story of Britain, it’s not a happy
story. But it’s all we’ve got.