This is a piece that I wrote specifically for Emancipation Day on 1st August. I performed it at an event here in the UK, a celebration and appreciation of the slave ancestors who were part of the human trade from Africa to the Caribbean and United States in the 18th century, transporting around 6 million or so human lives to suffrage and slavery.
Clubbed, chained and hauled from the sand of their equatorial bliss
Warriors, kings and armies by the thousand, pinned in ships holds swilling with piss
Woken by the whip, still chained to the dead and the dying
This is how My ancestors stole Your ancestors, to the fields of blood and forced complying
Inhuman disgrace flogged into the backs of any with even a thought of resentment
Leaving broad, tallow healed scars, baring silent witness to the pain of forced containment
Loved ones compelled to watch the jewelled flail flying high and long
A graphic, bloodied reminder of what happens, should they fail to sing the right song
Black meat bred like horses for the satisfaction of the rich and the ridiculous
Sanctioned black on black matting to mould muscular stallions, oiled for their vividness
While young, barely ripe womanhood was stolen for their unready availability
Resulting in innocent black white halflings, sadly belonging to no one, especially their often, parental nobility
Eventually, on paper at least it all ended but how many dropped the whip-hand, who could really know?
Decades of lip-service kept politicians in the clear, but in the fields, brutality flogged on, full flow
Verbose apologies ringing as hollow as the broken transatlantic triangle of their trade
Even the giving of land and a living, couldn’t heal the skin stripped horrors, which the masters had made
Those who escaped and survived, still had to bear and hide the scars, but couldn’t disguise….
The stigma of a colour that even now, struggles to safely harmonise….
As centuries on, that stigma, more like stigmata, won’t wash the slate clean simply by changing the rules
Those who unseeingly think it so, they’re really, the colour-blinded fools
So, let us celebrate the ancestors, here, in the bright light of truth and reconciliation
But continue the daily fight for a better form of justice, and a balance in our general, more humane consideration.
© David Rollason