You’re just jumping on it cos it’s fashionable now

That’s what I fear they’ll say cos it’s true somehow

I’ve not had braids for years and I’m categorically against weave

I’m vegan too so can’t even claim curry goat and rice and peas

But I’m here to pre-empt, to counter-argue, render myself exempt

From the charge I’ve got coming for not jumping sooner, from the fence

But timing is timing and, I mean the early-adopters no offence

To be honest, I admire you for having it sussed from time

Me, I’m playing catch-up. Only just claiming what’s mine

 

 

 

I could try to blame it on my circumstances

Cos dragged up in Essex there was no Sound System, no dances

My dad wasn’t about to school me on my heritage and he’s second generation

so it’d be more about Hackney than anything

But I won’t insult you by making excuses and I won’t pretend that being so light-skinned didn’t have it’s uses

I can’t know how the ashy Black girl felt when no-one could see her beauty

I’m aware I don’t fully bear the weight of being a Race Representative who’s never off-duty

I’ve only just started to notice the self-policing required to fit politely into all-white spaces

I was blissfully ignorant for so long, thinking I could forever straddle the races

 

 

 

 

So forgive me if my sudden enthusiasm seems disingenuous

but the Serpent Goddess is awakened and I don’t want Her to lose impetus so give me more to do: Marches and outreach, let’s be allies!

You might have to tell me to reign it in if and when my words are misaligned

And if I wear an African print headscarf and ankhs in my ears

Don’t call it culturally appropriative cos I’ve genuinely loved them for years

And what if people say I’m confused, a tragic Rachel Dolezal figure

Well, outsider status is the same whether they’re calling you half-breed or ni*#a

In my year at school there was only a handful of “Black, Brown and Asians”

I needed time and space to discover role models that weren’t Caucasian

But now we’ve got Akala & Reni Eddo-Lodge, their printed word on hallowed page

Should I apologise that they’ve made me less reluctant to put my true self centre-stage

So in a way my imagined critics are right, I am just jumping on it cos it’s fashionable now

But all thoughts and trends have their day, they all come back around. And the fact that in 2018

the spin cycle’s landed on woke, Black Excellent, Afrocentric & Proud is just…..WOW

Rhia will be performing this and other poems at various events around London:

Follow at

Instagram: @creole_birthkeeper

Facebook: Rhia Mandela