Thank you to all who entered Hackney Youth Parliament’s Black History Month poetry competition! We had lots of great entries answering the question “what makes you proud to be of Black heritage?” but these are our winners:

Emmanuella, age 15

The Land of Gold

“Akwaaba,”, they say with a sprinkle of spice,
Maggi cube, plantain and jollof rice
are all dishes sweeter than the pull of a comb,
though through pain and pleasure, I call this place home.

The expedition of this pain, in 1471,
with the scattering of kingdoms, the disruption of our fun.
They painted the Gold Coast with deep crimson slaughter,
with a graveyard of smiles buried underwater.

This unforgiving fire, it still raged on,
political unrest and war were cast upon
the country, soon colonised by ‘Good Ole’ Britty’
until our escape, the late 1950s.

Yet listen carefully and you’ll still hear
a sea of muffled cries of fear,
a choir of immigrants who incessantly appear
on the boarding voyage to the white man’s sneer.

Cheers and Sunday jubilation,
mocked by a late pork dinner.
A bubbling beer to block salvation,
a façade worn by a sinner.

Yet with all her insecurities and battle scars,
none shines brighter than the ‘Black Stars’.
A country beaten and left on one knee
now fluttering with radiance and luxury.

Now rich in both resources and glee,
a “newly emerging economy”,
an anchor of Africa standing tall,
an umbrella of culture, throbbing with gall.

My love for Ghana roams and roams,
through pain and pleasure I call this place home.

Judiel, age 15

What makes you proud to be of black heritage?
is it the way you talk
the way you walk
the love you give
or is it the place you live
you friends ,your family, the people you see
it can be anything , and I personally agree

Martin Luther king
well he had a dream
that everyone should be treated equally
he fought his battles, not with violence but with words
so being proud is what you deserve

black boxers and nurses
black kings and queens
shows how amazing black people can be
just a difference in colour like night and day
but under that colour were all the same

even if it’s for one month
or even just a day
be proud of being who you are
and that’s all I have to say!!!

Phoenix Montana, age 16

You black people…

Is that your real hair?
You black people!
Why are you so loud?..
You. Black. People.

First of what do you even mean ‘you black people’
Is that how we’re really seen?
We’re more than a minority, more than a race
So why am I different because of the colour of my face?

Did you know.. my ancestors created the comb? They were the first to fix the phone?
And the diamonds on the queens crown were mined in Sierra Leone?
Black people did that too, so why are we any less that you? It’s black history month but it’s barely been advertised around my school?

Just because we’re black we’re trouble makers, we’re all the same so let’s leave that statement. But at the same time, we have to get rid of that stereotype. The police just wait, they’re coming to get you, they’re waiting on standby to bag another black yute. A sister can’t get a job because her last name is Abdul… and ‘black girls don’t have hair that’s why they wear lace frontals’.

What a misconception, being black is a blessing my great great grandad may have been a slave but that’s not what I was destined. We was kings and queens before being put on the plantation. Queen cleopatra is a woman I look at in admiration.

My mum taught me to be a strong black woman, because it wasn’t easy for us. We are the rabbits left in the dust and we don’t even ask for much. We want to be heard. We want equality. ‘We are not anti white, we’re pro black’ wise words from stormzy. One of the British values is even democracy but the way the government behave. That is hypocrisy.

Not all black people like chicken. Not all black fathers leave their children. When you grow up, you won’t be in prison…

Us black people are the greatest gift god has ever given.

So you black people.
How are you so strong?
You aren’t doing anything wrong.
Us black people need to continue fighting, we can’t stop now after we’be done well for so long.

Shania, age 16

Empowered.
Am I empowered because I am an independent young female?
Empowered.
Am I empowered because I am black?
Empowered.
Am I empowered because I embody what a “good student” should be?
Or I am empowered because society says I should be?

Society says “being black is your biggest weapon”
and “being a female is your biggest accomplishment”
But they never speak about both.
They never speak of what it means to be
a Black Female.
They never speak about, how much my life will change after I leave this school environment
You teach me how to be a “good student” but never how to deal with the “Real World”

“Is that your hair?”
“Can I touch it?”
“It can’t be real” or “that’s not the real you”
As if they know what’s truly real or fake
But I must feel empowered right?
I must be happy to be black in a society that doesn’t want me
I must feel empowered but will always have to work 10x harder

Always the thorn, never the flower
Animalistic, because I should never be scared
I am empowered; empowered as I am society’s worst fear
Educated, young, black female
Am I empowered or enslaved?