Winner, adults category (short story and poetry), by Deborah Bell
My hair upsets you
My music upsets you
My dark melaninated skin upsets you
My stylish style upsets you
My civilisations predating yours upsets you My questioning challenges upsets you
My cut eye and kissing of teeth upsets you My confidence upsets you
My articulateness upsets you
My love for my own upsets you
My pride in my enslaved heritage upsets you What do you do?
You scream, “nigger, go home!
You will never be British
You’ve taken our jobs, homes and buses”
You spit on Stephen’s memorial You ignore our cries of “foul play” You deny your past in our present You scorn all of our s/heroes
You denounce You deny
You dismiss You deny
You laugh You deny You rejoice You deny You sigh You deny
What more do you do?
You assail, assault, beat, belittle, blind, chase, cheat, claim, cuss, cut, drive to madness, drown, drug, embarrass, experiment, frame, hound, humiliate, infer, ignore, inject, isolate, invade, kidnap, jail, jeer, kill, lie, loot, lynch, mock, overlook, plot, prosecute, push, scar, shoot, shove, shout, slap, stab, steal, rape, maim, murder, poison, scalp, separate, shoot, slander, spread rumour and rebellion, strangle, starve, tar and feather, threaten, torture and whip.
You revel, loll and roll around in your denials... But
you are less free than me
For your ropes of denial blinds and ties you down to everlasting orbs of violence
Failing to acknowledge
Fates and relationships long entwined and a humanity denied.
Through so called Fair Trade and World Trade, Through so called developmental theories, Through so called equality laws,
Through deliberately ingrained, historically systematic, institutional racism and discrimination, micro-aggressions, Jim Crown and Windrush scandal.
We are exhausted... but not defeated. Not even by the Sewell Report.
Only momentarily stunned and stupified at the sheer audacity of testimony, video and stats ignored,
Because of our right to exist, soar, swoop and dive
As free as the air we breath
As the water we drink
At the justice we will get
When common sense and truth comes to light - bursting through slush with beauty, warmth, comfort and benediction.
We may be weary but we are equally as furious As steadfast as our blood pressures...
Driven to remain unapologetic about our African ness Of the curls in our hair
Of our wrinkle free visage
Of our ability to keep stepping
Of our ability to remain creative
Of our ability to stand firm and to remain standing
The Universe will make you bow to the inevitable -
We will make you submit to the inevitable
When Race is recognised as a European contrived concept When world history is taught properly
When British history is contextualized
When Eurocentricity reveals global events for what they are When acknowledgement Trumps denial
When you say “I get it” and act right and accordingly - economically and politically.
When My Life and those of my children, Matters.
Then and only then, can we all breath and live the life Lucy should always have led
And the whole world can be less tense
And the whole of humanity can be allowed to be
My hair will continue to upset you
(even though you burn to touch it)
My music will continue to upset you
(even though you try to copy it)
My seasoned food upsets you
(even though you love Curry, Jerk & KFC)
Seeing my dark melinated skin will continue to upset you (even though you compete to tan)
There is no more that I can do but to do what I can do As
My defiance upsets you
My call for diaspora independence upsets you
My protective respect for the ancestors upsets you Our collective memories upset you
at what you did, say and continue to do.
The onus is once again, on you...