Black to Britain

Black to Britain


They came by ship on a voyage some years ago,

to a city which was paved with Gold, to the Mother Country of old.

Unskilled and often with trepidation they took their chance,

from the warm sunny balm of a tropical home where they did dance.

To a cold and blustery land of which they had dreamed,

and had read aloud from history books in school and learned.

A promised land yet war torn, bombed and forlorn,

they found a new home in a shabby dwelling of a different from.

A tenament with a ruthless landlord ,an unscrupulous man,

a kitchen bare with no furniture or comforts or even a pan.

They were not made welcome because of their colour, 

Christians yes but with a different sort of cover.

They set to work with little or no skills,

for meagre wages and the usual bills.

Some yearned to be home and cried themselves to sleep,

but there was no going back like a herd of sheep.

Perseverance and hard work in the frost and snow,

hardened them to make a future and make a go.

Children soon came as they struggled to make ends meet,

in fear and dread of living on the street.

The host nation warned, no dogs and No Coloureds here,

as their customary welcome was forever near.

Go back to where you came from and don't look back,

one insult after another was their best of luck.

Years have now passed and they do remain,

they now have the right to make their claim.

Arm in arm they labour with us and inter marry,

and so they do amongst us still happily tarry.

They came with nothing but clothes in a bag,

now they enrich us with a Caribbean cuisine

and a Christmas hog.

Never turn the stranger away from your door,

for it could be Christ your new neighbour.

Who is here to call and be your guest

as he was the very best.


◄ The Subversive Artist

La Ermita ►


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Graham Sherwood

Fri 12th May 2023 17:58

I had to manage a great deal of organizational change when I had a proper job.
The one thing change needs is time! Most times change is forced upon people too quickly who feel powerless and only have one weapon to defend themselves ‘resistance’
Immigration, social change, a sense of belonging are all classic examples of how not to manage change

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 12th May 2023 16:13

What should also be mentioned but rarely is - that an older
England (the primary destination) was a land formed by small
suspicious communities into villages, then larger entities that
viewed anyone from a few miles away as a stranger, to be
treated with due suspicion until they became known, earning
trust and good neighbourliness. Many had themselves earned
their place in hard times and often originated from other lands
where life and danger were interwoven. Even now, on a more
jocular note but one still based in historical reality, there is
occasional jibing between various parts of the UK, with the old
"counties" still vying for one-upmanship. As a Devon-born lad
I'm not unused to the banter between Devonians and our
Cornish neighbours who actually see themselves as akin to a
foreign breed - the people of Curnow within the larger Realm. Loyalties
and acceptance are hard won but
time and things in common are usually the common factors that oil the gears
of a cohesive society.

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Fri 12th May 2023 09:27

Thanks Keith.
I think my first awareness of racism was when I was in my early teens. Two of my fellow "religious" students -themselves sons of Italian immigrants- made a point of habitually and loudly mocking the accents of a couple of my fellow students who hailed from Nigeria...low level stuff you may say!
Then came the news from Ireland of "The Troubles"- My fellow Christians bombing others who were the "wrong sort" of Christian.

It ought to go without saying (unfortunately it doesn't) that anyone, be they Jewish, Muslim, Trans or Gay, can be a racist or a bigot.💗

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Stephen Gospage

Thu 11th May 2023 21:45

Thank you, Keith. A very moving poem. An uncomfortable tale told with passion and , ultimately, hope.

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Thu 11th May 2023 19:42

You forgot to mention the Irish, Keith. No Coloureds’ no dogs, no Irish, no tinkers. I remember these signs very well. As a child it always struck me because most of the patrons in our local pub were Irish.
This is a lovely recognition of all those that have been used and abused by British society over the years. My heart is heavy having seen that not much has changed.

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