thisiswhoiam

United Kingdom

18 (sadly :( I don't want to leeeaavve noooo)
pronouns unspecified
that's for you to decide I guess
physics student with a
tiny dream of being a writer too so
enjoy my words or something :)

Message to Readers

Peer reviews would be massively appreciated on this piece because it is absolutely essential that it conveys its message as well as possible. There are so many points I wanted to bring up so I'm not sure it flows quite right yet. Its such a difficult topic to address and I want to get it right.

To the People of Glasgow

June 5, 2020

It is easy
to feel distant

from atrocities in
other places
other cites on the
other side of oceans
in worlds hidden by a
hazy horizon
haunted by horrors
you couldn't imagine, no
Things Like That would never
happen here

would they?

It is easy
to see the sunny smiles
of Saturday shoppers painted
in every shade of skin
you welcome everyone in
because People Make Glasgow
the very best city in the world
yes

It is easy
to be proud of your city

but your pride hides the truth
like the tide hides the fine line
you've drawn around this 
country, this
city, and now
the tide is turning
boundaries burning
like buildings on the streets
of Minneapolis, boundaries
between their world and yours
between the now and the
then

It is hard
not to love your heritage
your history
and

It is easy
to hold that history in
your heart when you hear
the bagpipes blaring on
Buchanan Street,
Ingram Street,
Glassford Street

You try to ignore the pain
in those names
though it cuts into
your conscience like ropes
cut into wrists
all those years ago
yes you can pretend
not to understand but

It is hard
to hide the truth behind
a name like Jamaica Street
so you try not to look
at the black
writing on white
rectangles nailed to
expensive sandstone walls

It is easiest
to close your eyes
when your past washes up on
somebody else's shore
because if you
open them you will
see the other side of
this city's story seared
into silent street signs and
you will taste the sour
truth that

Black People Made Glasgow

They were slaves to
your ancestors and now
they are slaves to your silence

you say you don't see
colour but really you just
don't see
won't see
because

It is easier
to feel distant
from atrocities in
other places
other cities on the
other side of oceans

than it is to see that those
oceans are filled with the spilled
blood of black people
with the tears of the human beings
on whose bones this
city rests
 
For those who are not familiar with Glasgow and its history, this piece refers to the fact that a large proportion of the city's wealth came from the Atlantic slave trade. This is what funded Glasgow's shipping industry amongst others, as well as the university (which I am a student of, and therefore I myself benefit from this slave money) and many rather extravagant buildings and landmarks in the city centre. Several of our streets, including the streets mentioned in the poem, are named after merchants who owned slaves. There is now a petition running to change the names of these streets rather than continuing to celebrate and honour these people, however I believe that with the right education they serve a potent reminder of our not-so-pretty history, and that we are all tied up in the endemic racism on the other side of the Atlantic. It is our problem just as much as it is that of the USA and we must never forget that.

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

3 Comments
  • ~wildflower~

    Wow! This is absolutely amazing!!


    4 months ago
  • ect.13

    This is incredible! You're so talented. The message comes through loud and clear, and the images you use are so powerful. Well done :)


    4 months ago
  • elliem

    “ It is easiest
    to close your eyes
    when your past washes up on
    somebody else's shore
    because if you
    open them you will
    see the other side of
    this city's story...”

    You are such a brilliant writer. You convey such a strong message through beautiful poetry, and the images you produce are powerful. Thank you for this piece.


    4 months ago