I don’t write about race all that often; I rarely write about anything when I feel that I have nothing new or different to add. I wrote this piece a while back, and then a good friend, Bridget Minamore, got in touch to say that she really liked it and that I should bring it out again. I have only performed it twice but I’m looking to change that. In the meantime, I’ve provided the text along with a free download below. Here, then, are my short thoughts on media portrayals of being “black”, whatever that means.
What is black?
Black is rap;
Black is jazz,
Black is Hackney as a habitat;
“No backchat to your mum, she’s a battleaxe”…
Barack is the new black;
The old black,
Back when they sold black,
Was trapped in the shadow of the gallows…
Black is a straitjacket;
Black is a lower-than-average paypacket;
Black is not gay!
Black is Man!
Black is a brag, a swagger;
Black is baggy jeans, an urban teen with a dagger;
Black is –
Twice as long a wait getting through Customs;
Black is “I don’t know what it is about those boys on the corner, but I don’t think I trust them”;
Black is millions of Billie Jeans –
Single mums with sons whose dads were gone before their delivery;
Black is laughter and anger,
Richard Pryor and gangland pistol fire,
Black is hardcore, Darfur –
Black is a victim…
Black is a street-corner yelling evangelical Christian;
Black is a true story more compelling than fiction –
Black is black-and-white, always the extremes, it seems;
Either President or menacing,
Either thief or first-class degree in medicine…
But my black is grey –
Most, if not all warts on display;
My black doesn’t worship God, but his friends are saints;
My black is not on the Pele, Othello, Mandela level of melanin;
But every day, it’s a little more genuine.