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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Colour-blind - or Simply Racist?


First day, first special school,
I make my way to the first floor.
The first half-landing gives a view
of fists and feet employed in anger
in the playground way below.

At first just two or three boys,
but multiplying as I watch. No sign
of staff. (I'm hoping that's
unusual.) I'd better to the fray.

Beyond the main doors: steps, broad
and semi-circular, descending to
the battlefield, make grandstand seats
from which to watch the show unfold.

I stand above it all and call,
in my best Sunday foghorn voice,
for Silence! The insurgency falls quiet.
All eyes towards the stranger in their midst.
From somewhere at the back, a small quiet voice.
It carries: Could he be the right man for
the job?
I do the usual thing
(remembered from my visit for the interview):
pick out the boys I think responsible
and send them to the first floor hall.

They've done the usual thing and spaced
themselves along the full length of the hall.
I'm wondering what would the usual next
thing be, when as I enter, the nearest boy
accuses me: You've only picked on us
because we're black!
I look along
the line. The first six boys are black -- and I,
until this moment, had not noticed. Owch! But
now, at the far end, boy number seven --
sigh of bless'd relief -- I see is white as I.

So why, I ask, did I choose him?
You can't pretend he's black!

Back comes the quick reply. Nah sir,
you picked on him because he's Irish!



Written for Poetry Jam where this week's challenge is to write on the usual and/or unusual.

17 comments:

kaykuala said...

A lot of things going on this. Sometimes good intentions get off tangent when one least expects it! An insight into a common time bomb in some sensitive societies. Nicely Dave!

Hank

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Excellent commentary of the very sensitive world in which we live today.

Your title says it all.

Anna :o]

Mary said...

I really love this poem, Dave. Was engrossed in it all the way through. It unrolled before my eyes as a movie, and I could picture it happening. And the ending, with the boys lined up in the USUAL way, questioning YOU, and then their answer just cracked me up. Delightful writing, Dave! Made my morning read!!

Brian Miller said...

ha. interesting....our internal prejudices have a way of coming out when we dont check them....whether we really believe them or not...or maybe it is chance...you def lay this out well and it is good to consider as well....

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Very very thought-provoking in many ways. I would like to share this with a couple of old Sociology classmates of mine.

Ygraine said...

Oh isn't that just how it all too often is?!
I've never quite understood what colour has to do with who is responsible for wrongdoing...so it must simply be an excuse for 'getting off!'
Strange old world, isn't it??

Thought provoking, as ever, Dave.:)

Helen said...

Another "boys" poem ... you do them so well!! Unusually well.

Peggy said...

The very idea of having to discipline in such a situation (not matter how usual) is a big reason I never even considered teaching middle and high school! What a challenge! (including the challenge they voiced!)

Margaret said...

... this is really an interesting poem! Love it.

alan1704 said...

Excellent poem, had me with it all the way, on the journey. Made me smile and got me thinking. Well Done.

aprille said...

A card that's played in many different games. And will continue to do so until the end of time, I fear.

Elephant's Child said...

Also an excellent reflection on the lengths some will go to avoid being held responsible - pushing on the racist/guilt button has undoubtedly worked before. And would be even more effective now when many would NOT pick a child of a colour other than their own.

Dave King said...

Hank
Thanks for this, Hank. Much how I felt about it at the time!

hyperCRYPTICal
Thanks for saying, I did think it was quite explicit.

Mary
Wow! Thank you SO much for these kind words. It's good to know you felt this - the poem (the incident) is quite important to me.

Brian
Mmmm, it was quite a shock to me at the time. You can argue it two ways, I guess - but I'm still not sure...

Optimistic Existentialist
Mmm, be interesting to do that. I'd rather like to hear the outcome. Thanks for the comment.

Ygraine
Yes, I htink it is just as you say. Thanks for the back-up - and the kind comment.

Helen
Thanks. I be jist a boy at heart, thou knows!

Peggy
Yes, it was the voiced one that challenged me.

Margaret
Thanks - and a warm welcome to my blog. Good to see you here.

alan
Very many thanks for these comments. Good to have your thoughts.

aprille
Absolutely so. I too fear your prognosis is correct.

Elephant's Child
Yes, it is so, I fear. Your last point is particularly well made.


Laurie Kolp said...

Hi, Dave... this reminds me of the town in which I live, where the school board is spending our tax dollars on false discrimination claims... it's reverse here, really. I wish people would just grow up!

Laurie Kolp said...

Legal battles, I should add... all the way to the top!

Elephant's Child said...

Sorry you can't get to my blog at the moment.
I suspect you are not doing anything wrong. Google Plus seems to have thrown an entire tool kit (not just a spammer) into the mix.
Try http://myjustsostory.blogspot.com - and sorry that the short-cut seems to have gone. (And I cannot unGoogle Plus.)

Loredana Donovan said...

It must have felt badly to be wrongly accused of prejudice, while you had good intentions. It's difficult to be a teacher; yet teachers are not properly recognized or respected sometimes.