Thursday, 15 October 2009


I've been keeping quiet... have you noticed? I started this comment in mid-October and only now, in November, have I posted... Why?

Well, after writing about a million half-poems for Black History Month in October, and deciding none of them put across what I wanted to say succintly enough, things just got a bit busy. And I'm still only 3 chapters into the novel, although I'm already worried about the dreaded s: structure.

Funny how, in October, apart from the odd Radio 4 programme, there wasn't much publicity about Black History Month. But there seemed to be a lot of stories about racism. The BNP got far more exposure than necessary with at least two prime-time programmes that I saw, and Bruce Forsyth decided to make a fool of himself defending a crass comment made by one of his Strictly Come Dancing trainers (I would normally never link to a Daily Mail article, but their slant on this is soo bad - including pictures of his Puerto Rican wife, which, of course, proves he doesn't have a racist/ignorant bone in his body). I varied between wanting to laugh and wanting to punch someone last month. So I kept quiet.

Anyway, I'm back to working in schools again, even as I await my 3rd Criminal Records check this year (I'm working in another borough, so I apparently need a new one before I can be trusted as a "non-con"). So I thought I'd share a section of a poem I started about Black History Month in schools. Maybe one day I'll finish it...

It's that time again

Teachers cut-and-paste words from Martin Luther King and staple-gun them to walls
They line up children to sing Kum-ba-yah to politely-clasped hands
Waiting for the assembly to end

Die-hards dust off their dashikis in solidarity with their African roots
If they could only grow dreadlocks around that bald patch
How they would bind us together!

Aaliyah learns about Mary Seacole
How she was just as good as that other one we learnt about, class
Yes, that's right - Flo-rence Night-ing-ale
Can you all say it now together?

She scribbles the words down in her exercise book
Even though it all means nothing to her
A nurse travelling the world to place bandages on soldiers fighting some war
Is as alien as her mother who talks of running from the village
Her dead sister's hair in a bag.

See, they learnt about war last month
Sketched bomb shelters onto the walls and learnt to hide under the desks
While the siren went off above their heads
And Kwame decided to play dead.

Now Kwame's another story
But it's that time again.

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