I wrote this poem inspired by ‘The Charge Of The Light Brigade: A Sociolinguistic Interepretation’ by Bedfordshire poet Nate Boston.
Additionally, this poem is inspired from ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ by Victorian-era poet Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892).
Who can tell me who William Wilberforce is?
William Pitt? Thomas Clarkson? Josiah Wedgewood?
Am I not a man and a brother?
“I know I know,” came a voice –
“They’re the guys who ended slavery.”
I guess that’s a true story, but not the whole story…
no need for me to exaggerate this allegory,
because to British children of African and Asian descent,
Black stories, Brown tales, Asian past narratives dispensed…
are nothing more than unexplained footnotes in textbooks.
Look, time for an annual analysis,
ready to diagnose Britain’s historical paralysis,
not diagnosing the worries in me,
how Britain views
its nostalgic national pride and its history.
When it comes to that story,
I tell people to ignore the school books
they have been given,
because Britain’s story which is their story
is a book that has not yet been written.
Forward! Always forward!
One league, two leagues,
across perilous seas,
six hundred leagues, to battle!
British history is on every continent,
going from here to there
tooting trumpets, arrogance and dominance.
When it comes to this story,
I do not follow protocol; I do not follow
the half-truths of school history courses,
teaching normalised lies, ignoring how
Britain colonised with horses and naval forces.
Cannon fire all round,
bangs and whizzes,
from the bellows of Lord Dunmore,
bodies wrought with rot and smell
into the jaws of Hades and hell itself.
I am not interested in five pages on the Slave Trade
when only white saviours are permitted,
not when we have Solomon Northup,
his captors acquitted from justice.
Not when we have Equiano and Nanny,
not when we have Tubman, Jacobs and Mary Prince.
I will not promote infinite whites fighting for abolition
when for screen time, my own people have to audition.
Flashed to sabres naked,
flashed to writhing white eyes,
battle under burning blue skies,
shattered and sundered,
slaves thrown drowned –
the seabed their new stomping ground,
the one hundred and thirty three
conjoined together swallowed by the sea.
I am done showcasing America’s Thanksgiving
whilst Columbus hides behind false fables,
as Washington hides behind Independence Day tables,
America – born from genocide… built by slaves,
tribes, immigration, refugees and more.
Let’s not pretend that that wasn’t a metaphor.
I’m not going to give Columbus the title of explorer.
Thief, outlander, coloniser is more fitting –
partaking in land grabs and splitting continents.
I hate to brainwash young children with these lies.
Check academia, check kid lit; how minorities
oft only see themselves as the set pieces in wider tales
but they’re in the details of news stories on BBC and CNN,
Black and Asian women, children and men condemned again.
The people with something to lose,
brewing wars with High-def cameras and news crews,
trying to convince you with their latest ruse.
They claim the perpetrators are monsters,
yet you have to ask if the narrators have something to gain.
Is there a narrative here or an ideology they’re trying to maintain?
Like captain and first mate
being pirates on the seven seas.
Cannons cannons everywhere
while horse and human fell,
a quelled quiet of thunder and lightning,
wind, rain and cold
whilst man protects his love,
not his life or fellow friends
but gunpowder and gold.
A history repeated
with the anger of an earthquake,
tectonic plates grinding against each other,
thrown into a pan and left to bake.
Starting off as a basic recipe book
and left to simmer, left to cook
and aren’t we quick to eat at the table
without questioning where its contents come from?