#IfSlaveryWasAChoice

I wrote this poem directly inspired from Kanye West. His comments say that he believes the Slave Trade was a choice (for the slaves).

My poem comes from engaging with the memes and threads on the matter, including the frenzy on Twitter and the Facebook comments section.

I did not believe what he said until I saw it myself!


Kanye West said:

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years? That sounds like a choice.”

No, Mr West, marrying into the Kardashian Family was a choice. Praising Donald Trump was a choice. Uttering provocative comments was a choice.

In 1619, the Dutch brought free blacks to America from Africa as slaves.

If slavery was a choice, master be like “I didn’t tell you to stop pickin’ that cotton, boy!”

And I’d be like “That’s my shift for today. I already signed out. This y’all problem now.”

Slavery was conscripted for the African, for those with black skin, button noses and knotted-hair; many thanks to covert and structural racism, what we now call White Privilege.

Anika Noni Rose as Kizzy in the Roots remake (liked it more than the original) was great
Roots, History Channel

And then master starts tripping, belt buckle flipping, his feet doing that late-night tripping down to the slave shacks, like in the Rape Houses of Bunce Island (Sierra Leone), where he and our ancestors would be together.

Refuse, and he’d get angry, his temperament would change like the weather. And at the same time, the free Blacks of the Americas, like the Maroons, who fled slavery for forests, stuck it to the colonisers and their profits.

If slavery was a choice, all you’d have to do is text ABOLITION to 1863. Mr West, If you really think slavery was a choice, you’re going to love what happened next.

Just text JIM CROW to 1865. Just text SELMA to 1965. Just text MONTGOMERY to 1955. Just text Malcolm to 1965. Just text KING to 1968. And that was the fate of The Slave Trade’s offspring.

But according to you, slavery was a choice, published in the meandering mind of Supreme Overlord Kanye West. This is the same guy who had umpteen hits. Great tracks,

but then proceeded to call himself God and pledge himself to fat cats like Trump, superseding Samuel L. Jackson’s Uncle Tom-figure in Django Unchained. I concede, that you are worse because this is real life not a film, not a kid’s storybook written by children’s authors like Malorie Blackman and A. A. Milne.

You spout your shit on Twitter and TMZ to insight reaction, which is followed by media traction but this is the last straw. Slavery is history. It’s raw. See, that’s how you became you and I became me.

Black people don’t forget. We’re not mermaids just looking pretty. We’re the sirens in the stories of Odysseus and the Greeks. We’re on the rocks singing songs to drag the slavers down to the depths where they buried our ancestors.

Rip muscle from marrow with nine-tail whip. We are remnants of our grandparents’ grandparents. We derive from those who survived the Middle Passage trip. Not all were so fortunate.

Just look at the Zong Case (Massacre). Look at Jonathan Strong and Granville Sharpe. Look at James Somerset.

“No master was ever allowed here to take a slave by force to be sold abroad because he deserted from his service, or for any other reason whatever.” – Lord Mansfield

We are the descendants slavers feared. We lived. The strands of family trees survived the mutinies – Morant Bay, the Southampton Insurrection, the Haitian Revolution, the unruly witch hunts in the American South and in England – in places like Manchester, London and Liverpool.

If slavery was a choice, explain to me why the Underground Railroad existed. Truly. That’s history, sue me. Try telling Harriet Tubman who fled her master’s wrath and then went back to help others in bondage. She freed hundreds despite having a bounty on her head!

And that’s in a school of thought in ode to Frederick Douglass, Olaudah Equiano, Harriet Jacobs, Ottobah Cugoano from Ghana and Mary Prince, a West Indian slave. It was do or die.

Slavery is written into the dirt. It is written into places like Selma, Alabama. Edmund Pettus Bridge named for the grand dragon in the Klan.

White hoods and confederate flags – flame-bearing, torch-wielding, black-lynching, our bodies swaying in the breeze of Jim Crow and that bridge still stands to this day, still called Edmund Pettus Bridge.

If slavery was a choice, it would be Starbucks saying “you can work here, but twice as hard for not half as much as is the norm, but for no pay.

If slavery was a choice, it would be Applecare saying you can work for us in the United States and not pick cotton.

Actually, it’s Applecare Plus and you would need to opt in within 60 days of choosing to become a slave. Hand on the Bible and… woah!

Mr West, if you get hurt on the job, how much does the Workers’ Union pay you again? Pension, health insurance, equal rights? But you need to fill out a form on the employee Wi-Fi.

And when the overseer calls you nigger you need to call the white, HR official. You are then fired, because HR isn’t there to protect employees but to protect the institution, the company, the Klan.

If slavery was a choice, there would be a field cookout on Labour Day.

If slavery was a choice, I’d be raiding master’s fridge for the cookout.

If slavery was a choice, I’d be making super fly outfits out of master’s cotton.

If slavery was a choice, I’d be at Slave University looking like Prince walked onto the set of Coming to America.

If slavery was a choice, I’d be telling Master to pick his own motherflipping cotton!


“You can’t buy a slave, you’ve got to make a slave.” – Connelly, Roots (2016).

Wakanda Forever

This poem is in response to a challenge by fellow Northampton poet Justin Thyme and it’s inspired by the land of Wakanda in Africa.

Wakanda is a fictional country in the MCU and the setting of Black Panther, a superhero film that has lots to say about postcolonialism.

This is a long one, so buckle up…


If you turn on any western news programme today, you’ll see stories of a poor Africa. A continent of poverty, disease and famine but it isn’t so. There’s rich Black folk there, living it large and I’m not talking about the men in Nigeria in their big houses.

Let’s go to the land of Wakanda where there were no terrible big boats, there were no white men taking slaves and telling Blacks how to behave.

But there were tribes tripping on each other, fighting one another for the crown of the greatest kingdom on earth, the land of Wakanda.

At the same time, the Black folks in the Americas who were free were mating with local tribes like the Amerindians and the Cherokee.

But Wakanda is true Africa, free from the whip, colonial quips, also the legacy of European slave ships. Do you understand?

And as a result, Wakanda is a land of every shade. From light skin to dark skin, no room for colourism to carry on with its colour chart sin bin.

Not like in Europe and America, in this day and age who put light skin on a pedestal and treat dark-skinned women like the cargo that came through Liverpool.

Wakanda got no time for diaspora rules; British, American, Dutch, French. It doesn’t matter. Black is black, Killmonger is on the right track.

This was such a great scene #WakandaForever
(Black Panther, Marvel Studios)

He knew that the African was the first on the scene and him being from across the water did not mean he was any worse or better than his brethren.

Through the migration of his father, his culture started to change and rearrange like the slaves who had to adapt to the West Indies and England.

So really, if we’re going to go all the way back, and I mean it. Then Adam and Eve may well have been black which kind of means that everyone on Earth is an African. Everybody is Wakandan. Even Mr Coloniser and the Christian slavers.  Imagine that!

So if everyone is an African something, even the Indians and their caste system. They’re African Indians and so on. And the origin of humanity is with the African.

And if one drop of Black blood makes you Black like people say, than everyone’s Wakandan anyway.

Yet, I’m not colour-blind. I’ve got White friends. I’ve got Asian friends but I bet if they gander through their family tree far enough. Perhaps they might find an ancestor that looks like King T’Challa in handcuffs.

However, I’m not trying to change your identity. You all already been born and raised in different nations, some thanks to the devastation of diaspora and colonisation.

Danai Gurira gaves such a great performance as Okoye (hyped for Infinity War)
(Black Panther, Marvel Studios)

I was born British but I tick Other. I’m Black. Born in England. West Indian grandparents on both sides, look wider and I’d have been an African. Dare I say Wakandan, had Africa been allowed to realise itself?

And not been made to sit on the colonisers’ shelf. At ten years old, I was called nigger. In America they say that too. They say Negro as well but those slurs for slurs’ sake have vanished (kind of) and Negro is just how you say black in Spanish.

I’m not a nigger, I’m a man. And it seems we’re back in a time when even Black people can’t get along because we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that our skin colour is wrong.

And then Black Panther came showing us to be good. Where we fought each other but there was democracy among the peoples of Wakanda where we walked with purpose and Black was beautiful.

And I’ve even been criticised for celebrating my colour. How about 800 years of White history? That Euro-centric UK curriculum. #JustSaying.

Who even comes up with this stuff anyway?

Was it just a few guys feeling insecure so they decided to create all this racial rhetoric? So they thought African-American and Black Briton sounded a bit more exotic.

Colourism wasn’t a problem and the women of Wakanda were a bunch of badasses!
(Black Panther, Marvel Studios)

Labels make people feel euphoric. Kind of like how Lenny Henry was the only Black man allowed on British television in the 80s. There can only be one! And there’s BAFTA! (Black Britons eff off to America).

And as a result, a lot of Black British artists ended up broke. And that is why we needed Black Panther, as Wakanda represented us all, not just America as is the norm for the mainstream.

People who look like me doing things that are often attributed to Mr Coloniser. Sounds about white and I know there are some people here who recently moved from Grenada and Ghana and Gambia – and Ireland and Holland and America – and Brazil and Benin and India.

But not the peoples whose family lived in the country for generations (I’m only the second of mine) but the people who are from various locations. We’re from everywhere. If you follow the epic wingspan of genealogy, you’ll find your very own Cheddar Man.

Your heritage and history is in the country you’re in, not just your melanin. But it’s also out there in the world. And I’m ready to leave England, but it’s also my home. It’s a leader in oppression and suffering and grieving.

But they must be doing something right, because there’s so many coming and so few leaving. And if you go to Africa in search of your essence, you’ll find breadcrumbs, traces and no pure races.

I love being Black but I’ve never been to Africa. I know Britain better than the country of my ancestors. I’ve never seen Bunce Island or Elmina or Freetown.

Angela Bassett as anything is worth watching, especially her as Queen Ramonda
(Black Panther, Marvel Studios)

What if colonisation didn’t happen? What if there was no slavery? That’s my Africa. Untainted and pure, able to realise itself. Wakanda Forever.

We’ve all just changed so much; many thanks to diaspora and migration it’s no mystery, because we all share a little Black History.

Bunce Island, 1670

I wrote this poem inspired from seeing David Olusoga’s coverage of Sierra Leone’s Buncle Island in his book and documentary series Black and British: A Forgotten History. The video below will explain more.


The screams of Bunce Island
have finally found their form
and it’s barely a whisper –
a whimper on the forest floor –

they treat them like dogs.
Though they’re good enough
to rape. Cremating chastity
in the shack that sits over there.

It’s a game of cat and mouse –
the mansion men are howler monkeys,
The Rape House’s wooden walls
like a box to bury them in –

Photographer: Nomao Saeki

out in the yard the chains crawl,
jingling. Master’s mouth salivating,
ribs throbbing. It’s July, but they wouldn’t
know that based on the sky’s high fever –

parched animals looking like
master’s wrath, Britannia
flying flags like tablecloth in
the sight of the British imagination.

A slave was killed today. They didn’t
know her name. Her scream slowed
to a boil in the face of king and country,
skin flapping like the tail of a dinner jacket –

for a moment, they thought it might never
come to an end. But it does, in heavy hands
on the top of heavy heads and soon
she is half the woman she was.

What a horrid sight, her body
wrapped like a carcass ready
to be submerged – same as the
slaves that jumped from ships.

Photographer: Katherine McCormack

The rain falls from the sky
like dust on a shelf. And
they do, as many have,
catch droplets in their mouths

until their teeth,
tongues and throats
turn black.

An Ode To The Millennial Generation

I wrote this poem yesterday afternoon for our first ‘One Night Stanza’ event of the academic year. There were some great acts and it was a good turnout.

Born in 1995, I am a millennial (aged 21-34) and I think society gives us a bad name. We’re stereotyped just as much as every other group.

I wrote this poem inspired from Olivia Gatwood’s Ode to the Women on Long Island. Her poem is worth watching since it’s freeverse, and I think it’s better seen read aloud or on stage than read in print.

When I was writing the poem, a film was going through my head. There’s an unforgettable character in Marvel’s Ant-Man called Luis (Michael Peña) and his conclusion at the end of the film is what inspired the conversational and nonstop chatter-like-style of this poem.


I want to write a poem for the young people of
today who will tap text their way into arthritis,
as they silently socialise in Starbucks, ready to
key in the next emoji. #PumpkinSpice.

The protest generation: the 50s called them the Beat –
Howl, On The Road, McMurphy and the Merry Pranksters.
Kerouac, Kesey, and Ginsberg – a surge of counterculture
critics who showed that you don’t have to roll over.

Every generation has their Beat – more than just art.
The Sex Pistols, The Black Panthers, #NotMyPresident.
Black Lives Matter #Anonymous. The Teenies… featuring
Ed Snowden, Red Jeremy and JK’s tweets (mischief managed).

The young people. Millennials: aged twenty-one to thirty-four,
a progressive population. Not lazy – as the proud elders would
have you believe – not like the 50s’ and 60s’ society before, who
allowed “No Irish and No Blacks” plaques all over Britain.

Smitten with racism. “Burn the gays too”.
That’s what they said. A class of colonists with a love for
cigarettes, curry and corruption – fools love a fool.
Hate breeds hate. A digital nation: black, white, gay, straight…

Get with the programme. “Young people these days,”
my parents said. My grandparents too –
“You don’t know about young people, not like you use to”.
That’s what I wish I said, but I like my head where it is.

Social spiders: Snapchat and Instagram.
To be a millennial is not a crime. Raised with technology,
and my parents tell me about when they had Spam for dinner.
That’s when they knew their parents were broke this weekend.

I want to write a poem for the Millennials
who march like the Suffragettes –
those who sit like the Freedom Riders
and protest alone like the Little Rock Nine.

The young people who protest Trump.
The twenty-somethings who say “no” to the Alt-Right.
My generation who say “yes” to reproductive rights
and “no” to the oppressive methods of corporations.

I want to write a poem for the Millennial Generation
whose static slang and vocal tics twist and curl like snake’s coil.
This is the Protest Generation –
from London to New York to Mumbai to Paris to Berlin.

The people who work hard. Who create. Who throw parties
in their homes until four in the morning –
and then go to nine AM lectures the same day looking like
death warmed up because they mixed weed with alcohol.

And security at student halls won’t put it past
anybody because students can’t be trusted.
BA, MA, HND, PhD – it doesn’t matter, as all
he can smell is the pungent odour of bleach.

Today’s kids are young and old and angry and furious
but they’ll make you a martyr with Pot Noodle
if you hand in an assignment before the due date
or win a game of Ring of Fire or Beer Pong.

I want to write a poem for the Protest Generation,
who, when I make a cool meme,
reply “yes, old but gold”.
And it’s good enough for the wars to come.

One minute you’re at war
with a troll on Twitter.
And in the next, you’re debating with
your friends if Batfleck is better than Bale.

So when someone calls me lazy,
I look at them, and I say
“thank you, thank you very much”.


#BLM

I wrote this poem as an entry for a competition at the library of the University of Birmingham. Out of the hundreds of entries, I won. And they sent me £20 in Amazon gift vouchers. That was cool.

This poem was inspired by Ava DuVernay’s “must watch” documentary 13TH, a truly a remarkable piece of cinema and an eyeopening look at the injustice in US society and their justice / prison system.


I’m told that racism is a thing of the past.
Not to me and members of my caste.
It’s a long and dreary continuous strife like
a pain in the gut from a bloodstained knife.

The hot topic of debate is Black Lives Matter.
It’s over the internet and frequencies of chatter.
You see protests in the States and the UK
despite the weather here being cold and grey.

From Africa, people were kidnapped and taken,
stored on ships and ridiculed and shaken.
Those who rebelled and didn’t survive the trip
were thrown overboard or wickedly whipped.

Here, with slavery, began this concept of segregation
as masters watched their slaves on sugar plantations.
A society started by an ideology of hate and bigotry.
– it stems this far back in our world’s history.

Black oppression goes back through the centuries,
way even before we were filling penitentiaries.
When Rosa Parkes started the Montgomery Bus Boycott
or was it when protesters in Selma were beaten and shot?

During the 60s we fought to vote and be counted
whilst riot police oppressed us and dismounted.
Doctor King instilled many an honest teaching
amidst his civil rights, rallies and preaching.

Malcolm was the honest, pragmatic nationalist.
while Martin was the pure and moral rationalist.
X was passionate about his black rights and Islam
willing to fight for his rights with his fists and palms.

King Viv fought for black rights through his cricket
but wouldn’t go to South Africa to take a wicket –
where during the 70s apartheid was growing strong.
A way of life that was inhumane, ghastly and wrong.

Into the 80s, NWA preached truths through rap
and because of which, received a federal slap.
Dre, Cube and Eazy, effed the police on the west coast
where law enforcement abused their power and post.

Now into the modern day with a new breed of youths.
Many of whom are still in denial about hard truths.
We catch wind of these daily acts of violence and brutality
but it’s our own people who are at the brunt of this reality.

Black lives matter has a lot to do with history and current affairs
amidst news anchors, media tycoons and annoying cyber glares.
White lives matter, Asian lives matter and Black Lives Matter,
but at this time, I’m inclined most to favour the latter.