Caste in Stone? — Andy Conner

(This is the first section of a longer poem. For the complete work, please contact the author).

As an outsider looking in
From the top of my ivory tower
I’ll come clean
And begin by admitting
White skin
Darkness within
Deepened fatal flaws
On the Jewel in the Crown

But it’s not about the British
Our sin wasn’t the original sin
It was all institutional
Long before we visited
Before we took retribution
For crimes never committed
Snapped the trap door of believing
Means forever down

Are the gods really so cruel
To cast it in stone
To decide who owns what
And what you’ll never own
Then to beat you with the stick
Of sticking
With those they call your own
Should you really resist
Asking them why
Exactly how you’re born
Is exactly how you die

If it is written
Then teach everyone to read
Let them see this truth
You should discard countless millions
Maybe half a billion
On the cow shit grounds
The tone of their name
The tone of their skin
Are a shade or two
Darker than yours

If it is written
Send the third-class train
With a single shard of proof
Their necks should be stiff from straining
At the cold glass ceiling
Reinforced with steel

If it is written
Then teach everyone to read


Andy Conner is a Birmingham, UK-based poet, activist and educator, with a long track record of performing his work nationally and internationally. His work has also featured innumerous publications. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee. His credits include BBC Radio 4, Jaipur Literature Festival, and India International Centre. He has also conducted workshops for The British Council.