The fourth and final instalment of my ‘In London’ series. More controversy, some irony, a bit of pathos, some confusion and an emoticon.
In London (Part 4) – Turning Up
Now it’s not about race, but let’s not debate this:
All my class mates are mainly white faces.
When I say class I’m talking about status,
Where are all the brown and black faces
In the North Face gilets and Asics?
With the Longchamps bags and briefcases?
Or the black labs and big dalmatians?
Can’t be that class is segregated…
Can’t be that we’re still separated…
Informally put in to places
That society thinks is okay –
We don’t even blink, we don’t even think
And when I say ‘we’, I do mean you
And when I say ‘you’, do I mean you
Who sits in a café with a latte?
Thinking it’s okay because a black face
Is over there and he has enough taste
To be one of us: one of our mates?
But you don’t know him or his, cousin
Who’s here, illegally and doesn’t
Pay council tax but cleans the toilets
That you would rather, be avoiding
And, doesn’t speak the language, really
That you are reading, oh so clearly.
I’m not saying, all my family
Are foreign species, freshly landed
But, my route here is slightly, different,
And my perspective, has some distance…
…I’m the blackest guy in Stoke Newington. I
Catch an eye like a contact lens. Why
Do I try, to aspire, to an admired
Status, lately, just to get by?
Leytonstone is the next buy.
From SW9 to N5.
From N5 over to ******* road,
Walthamstow is the next big T-H-I
N-G: Big thing, big thing –
Put the price up and let the crowds in.
Let the crowds in and you’re surrounding
Yourself with wealth – climb the mountain…
Call me racist, call me racist,
I’m not used to all these faces
Turning up in ethnic havens of the 70s and 80s.
What’s the basis for these changes?
I’m the one who’s out of place in
Parts of London that were recently in danger, designated
As a Ghetto –
And yes I know that progress is essential
But the process went ahead without my getting any memo : (
My birthplace is an envelope
That’s closed, and someone sent it to
A bunch of Christopher Columbuses –
I never meant to go
But Brixton as I knew it wasn’t anywhere to prosper
So I bounced.
University – I did it proper like
I’m out! And I try to get back in
But all the locks have changed and someone’s painted over where I’ve been.