Did You Know? By Anne Nicolson

Recently, there’s been a lot of chatter,
Around the anti-racism movement called Black Lives Matter,
There’s been many questions of why “I can’t breathe”
Is a phrase that some will simply never have to perceive.
Within our taught education this has always been a mystery,
So, perhaps we should start by taking a look at events in our history…

Did you know, a long time ago in the days of the Transatlantic Slave Trade,
America went to Africa, captured other humans and brought them back in chains?
In 1857 the Supreme Court ruled that black people were human by only three fifths,
This ruling based on nothing but only the colour of their skin.
Slavery was finally abolished in America in 1865,
But, it would be another century before black people would get equal rights.

The Civil Rights Movement fought tirelessly to end the atrocity that was racial segregation,
But, despite these efforts, still in this day and age racism prevails across the nation,
Did you know the original formation of the US Police was known as the Slave Patrol?
So it would seem that the capturing of black people is embedded in the defenders of societal control.
But, that’s all in America, though, is what some people say,
What has that got to do with us, the UK, and the British way?

The UK, and Britain, have been no better, in-fact we have been worse,
Did you know that it was Britain that colonised America first?
Enforcing British culture and language, whilst using the spread of “civilisation” as a disguise,
Did you know the British owned a quarter of the world at the peak of the imperialist rise?
And that is just one part of the story of how Britannia ruled the waves,
We were the most prestigious players in the game of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

We transported over 3 million Africans as human property between the 16th and 19th centuries,
With the key to Britain’s riches being the revolting mistreatment of other human beings we didn’t all agree,
The Abolitionist Movement argued that a world like this was no world for any of us to live in,
And that it was deplorable to treat people differently due to the colour of their skin.

Finally, in 1834, slavery in Britain was abolished, and it was like the injustice that took place was clear,
But, did you know, it was the slave owners who were compensated and the enslaved had to work unpaid for another six years?!

And the disgraceful actions of the British certainly do not end there,
The disgusting treatment of our black soldiers during the two world wars is a burden too heavy to bare,
And, did you know, the Windrush generation arrived to help rebuild Britain in the 1950s?
They were subjected to a hostile environment decades later after defending their “Mother Country”!
Even after the passing of the Race Relations Act in 1965, that hostility is still prevalent today,
It’s baffling that after colonising so many other countries that we have the audacity to behave this way!

So, this is our shameful legacy, which has brought us to where we are today,
Did you know, because of what happened in the past, in our society, racism is ingrained?
Although so many things have changed and countless Laws have been passed,
It seems that over all of us, the shadow of systemic racism has been eternally cast.
Before 2020, there was no term for white privilege or what it is,
Hopefully, this brief journey through History has helped to shed some light on this.

And this brings us to the 2007 formation of Black Lives Matter,
Trayvon Martin was yet another black life dehumanized by Police, another family forever shattered.
And this one example of systemic racism isn’t just American – did you know it happens here too?
Christopher Alder, Sean Rigg and Darren Cumberbatch also died in Police custody, to name just a few,
13 years later the world cried “Enough is enough!” during the coronavirus pandemic in the year 2020,
George Floyd was murdered brutally by the Minneapolis Police, filmed for the whole world to see.

This tragedy has shaken the world and provoked memories of racism for those targeted in their lives,
Memories of instant dislike and nasty names, even unsolicited violence – a good question would be why?
The dirty looks, the monkey noises, the “N” word, the “P” word, the list goes on and doesn’t end there,
Another very good question would be – why is it OK to touch somebody else’s afro hair?
The very concept of racism has always been quite baffling,
Did you know our DNA is 99.9% the same – why is that so difficult to see?
The toppling of statues and rethinking of things is at least a good place to start,
We are all human, we all bleed the same, and we all have beating hearts,
Protesting and rioting are very last resorts, but this is how we’ve always got our rights in the end,
Just take a look at the past, it’s the only way those at the top ever listen – time and time again!
It’s crystal clear and plain to see after looking at our History,
That we must keep raising our fists in the air and we must keep taking the knee!

“All Lives Matter” has been a phrase with which it’s been known for some people to respond,
Of course, that’s true, but, for certain lives, the wait has been far too long.
Being treated equally by fellow human beings is the bare minimum and really not that much to ask,
There’s no signs of seeking revenge, just to be treated the same – is that such a difficult task?
It’s been a tumultuous journey to get here, the road ahead will be continuous as will be the chatter,
There’ll be no justice, there’ll be no peace, and this long road will never end until Black Lives Matter.

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