Welcome to Day 24 of the April Write 2013: a new era begins
Our Guest Host for today is Zita Holbourne, poet & spoken word artist, visual artist, a community, trade union and human rights activist and a mother.
Many of us live in multicultural cities and towns – in the UK government leaders have stated that multiculturalism has failed and that multiculturalism is dead. I wrote this poem entitled ‘Multiculturalism’ in response to UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech in Munich made on the same day that a far right fascist organisation were marching in a UK town Luton where he stated that ‘state’ multiculturalism had failed.
My view is that multiculturalism is very much alive and that it is strength for our societies. I have written and spoken on this topic over a long period of time and contributed to the book ‘Defending Multiculturalism’.
Culture and identity are very important to me and rather than the government’s view that I should assimilate to some fake ‘norm’ and hide the unique identity that makes me me I believe that embracing culture and identity empowers me and makes me stronger.
The topic for today is ‘identity and culture’
You might want to explore whether they are they an asset or a hindrance to your progression or what aspects of them are important to you and what they mean to you.
Watch Zita performing her poem ‘Multiculturalism’ here :
Donna Parkinson (c) April 2013
Colour me in…
You colour me in,
Looking at my skin,
And completing a mental picture in your mind,
You have confined,
My description to your view,
By my face,
And you never even knew,
What I chose to embrace,
You didn’t know who I really was,
You just categorised me,
Your bigotry incised the very soul of me,
It never surprised me,
That you could not see,
Although I have never disguised me,
I never lied,
There was no one else I ever wanted to be,
Was no mystery?
If you had only chosen to observe….
….My cultural preserve,
Was not defined by my shade,
But many were afraid,
To accept my background,
My upbringing (some would say) was profound,
A white child raised by a black man,
My cultural evolution began,
When I was three,
And the man I love as my father re-wrote my destiny,
A Jamaican through and through,
He stuck by my mother like glue,
When her own family turned their back on his ethnicity,
And from the simplicity,
Of their combination,
My cultural foundation,
Jamaican tradition engraved,
Into my augmentation,
I emulated my father’s ways,
Every today marred by tomorrow,
As I realised I was considered unlike my peers,
I spent years,
Trying to fit myself into a pigeon hole,
The racist patrol,
Had a field day with me,
Told me my mother and I were nigga lovers,
And when my sisters and brothers,
Came along and their skin was darker,
My disparity became starker,
As people who looked like my father,
Called me a wanna…be,
Ignoring my family history,
Where should I be placed?
I was eight and outwardly white faced,
Yet touched with culture and tradition inside,
How could I hide,
From the me?
That my family,
Loved and understood,
How comes no-one else ever could?
Why did they colour me in?
I was just me,
The child I was raised to be…
…later the teenage me,
Angered by insecurity,
Braced my maturity,
I no longer yearned to belong,
I was me,
Didn’t give a fuck who anyone thought I be,
My cultural purity,
Would no longer be diluted,
I was firmly rooted,
My persona would no longer be disputed,
Who I was,
I would not be categorised,
By the colour of my skin or my eyes,
The ‘shade’ of my heart would reign,
No one would ever colour me in again…
Zita Holbourne (c) April 2013
WHEN YOU LOOK AT ME WHAT ARE YOU SEEING
DO YOU SEE ME AS A PERSON SIMPLY A HUMAN BEING
OR DO YOU SEE ME AS A MOTHER OR SOMEBODY’S WIFE
WHAT ASSUMPTIONS ARE YOU MAKING ON HOW I LIVE MY LIFE
DO YOU SEE ME AS HALF CASTE, MULATTO OR MIXED RACE
OR SIMPLY AS A HUMAN BEING WHO HOLDS HER SELF WITH GRACE
DO YOU THINK I CAN’T BE BLACK BECAUSE I’M MUCH TOO LIGHT
OR DO YOU SEE ME AS BEING ON THE DARKER SIDE OF WHITE
DO YOU WONDER AT MY AGE
WHY I’M NOT MARRIED OR AT LEAST ENGAGED
DO YOU CAST A CRITICAL EYE
AND WONDER WHY
I HAVE A CHILD BUT NOT WEDDING BAND
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN JUDGE ME BY LOOKING AT MY HAND
DID THE FATHER LEAVE ME OR DID I LEAVE HIM
DO YOU THINK THAT PERHAPS I’M LIVING IN ‘SIN’
DO YOU OBSERVE WHAT I WEAR
IS IT AN ISSUE OR DO YOU NOT CARE
WHETHER I WEAR A DESIGNER DRESS
OR SIMPLY BELIEVE IN DRESSING FOR LESS
JUDGING ME SIMPLY BY WHAT I OWN
DO YOU EXPECT ME TO HAVE A NICE HOME
OR EXPECT ME TO SIGN ON EVERY TWO WEEKS
JUST BECAUSE OF THE WAY I LOOK AND SPEAK
DOES MY CAREER MAKE ME MIDDLE CLASS
OR AM I WORKING CLASS BECAUSE OF MY PAST
OR AM I SIMPLY CLASSLESS BECAUSE I AM UNIQUE
OR DOES BEING LIKE NO ONE ELSE MAKE ME SOME KIND OF FREAK
DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASCERTAIN MY COLOUR CULTURE OR CREED
IS IT NOT FOR ME TO DECIDE AND FOR YOU TO FOLLOW MY LEAD
REGARDLESS OF CLASS REGARDLESS OF STATUS
WE ALL START OF THE SAME WHEN OUR PARENTS CREATE US
YOU CANNOT CATEGORISE ME AND SAY
BECAUSE OF A LABEL I SHOULD ACT A CERTAIN WAY
I AM UNDEFINABLE
YET I AM STILL DESIRABLE
DON’T LOOK AT ME AND DECIDE
WHO YOU THINK I AM INSIDE
IT TAKES MORE TO DECIDE WHAT I COMPRISE OF
THAN SIMPLY BY OPENING YOUR EYES UP
I AM CLASSY AND CLASSLESS
I CREATE MY OWN STATUS
FOR EVER CHANGING LIKE THE SEASONS
MY LIFE IS NOT FOR YOU TO REASON
Adam Rowland (c) April 2013
Identity and culture
Denuded edifices preclude sameness.
Barren eccentricity breeds tameness.
Staunchly preventing perceptible influx.
Everyone points to the right: Blameless.
Subservient vicissitudes pulse and flux.
Imperceptible lux propagates reflux.
Divisive and derisive open-ended reign.
Evolution to “Avatar: Redux”.
Luminescence entrains grains
of material distrust and mistrust and distain.
Estranged and devoid of structure … shameless.
Deception born and borne; a familiar refrain.