Last night I saw confirmation of the rumours that the Colston Girls School annual commemoration will drop all mention of Slave Trader Edward Colston and his favourite flower.
This comes after 2 years of campaigning by Countering Colston. It has particular importance to me as an ex student with memories of Commemoration held first Friday of November. At first it was simply half a day off school, the wearing of a stupid hat and the hassle of finding a bronze Chrysanthemum and I actually enjoyed singing the Te Deum! Well as I grew I understood more that as a person of Jamaican descent I should not be giving thanks to this man. When I began to challenge and question I was shut down – WE HAD NO EDUCATION EVER ON WHAT EC HAD BEEN INVOLVED IN. The scars stayed with me for a longtime and after leaving school in 1998 it was only in 2015 that I attended Commemoration as ‘an old girl’ in protest and as an observer.
Inspired by recent presentations and conversations by Dr Catherine Hall and Claudia Rankine, I wrote this poem in response to the news which is a draft and personal expression.
Name no more
I am so glad that his name is to be dropped as is his bronze chrysanthemum because I never needed to pluck the petals to know you loved us not,
But to be real I’d also sooner see young whites from nowhere demand that the statue fall
because until then I won’t see that we have actually moved on or gotten over the last hungdreads years wars
Coercion cohesion coercion
So much loss grief sorrow and confusion as anti immigrant and austerity are packaged and peddled out as new endorsements on the deadly agenda
That callous disregard, greed and exploitation effects the many for the few
More people should question their heroes and gods
Spit out the dinner that you were fed on your knees
That toxic soup of fear, difference and beaten out gratitude for their society
They never gave us shit we always had to take it
White man white woman my brothers and sisters in lower classlessness
remember who you were
Was there ever a good old day ?
You boiled a stone
Attended mass for bread
Took the starver bun with lowered eyes then back to : as we were
On their plantation of capitalism
Working to death and left only with debt, cancer or obesity
As defined by a cash crop
Out of Afrika – we are all connected but these last ones in seem adamant to end us all
You started with her
But now that whiteness obscures into
A slum district of the mind
And dehumanises and separates and carves and cuts and leaves so many dead
When did you die?
You were standing in 1831 and in the Southmead riots but now I don’t see you so tough
That EC thinks he helped to civilise my folks in Jamaica
Jamaica the in between worlds of imagination and conversion
‘Saving us’ from the markets on the continent that Long accounts would have traded in our death as a more valuable commodity than our life
Seems in stark contrast with the crest of Canynges or the vegan realities, does it not?
What would Queen Scotia of Ireland and Scotland say birthing you as she did from far off lands the daughter of Nephatiti
My electric ginger braids are a tribute to the embers of identity orgasmed out in the heat of a moment of love between all that I am
My universality touches moons on a cycle reclaimed from rape
Rebirthing perhaps the great wrath that is within us as
We call our children back
And yet again forgive the trespass
On this line of no in between there is no middle ground
You are not better than me
Your elitism and greed was a curse pending retribution
I can fantasize about your remorse
But I cannot piss on your grave today
I can hold a toast against you or with you for them
For the millions whose blood have paved these streets and for the duped and subdued amongst us
Who with their lives prop up the ‘yous’
And continue to be drowned on a global scale or murdered as your war fodder
You had your chances: crown clergy lords and politicians
It is time to step aside
Your world ending whiteness
Your fading legacy at last
It will soon be over
And as it was in the beginning so shall it be in the end
A corner turns where we will rise to face the sun, bathe in the moonshine, smell the trees, praise the rivers; hold hands and heal together for out of many we are one and one day you will be out of commemoration and memory.