Loyle Carner illustration by Dom Culverwell

A selection of thoughtful poems on race and masculinity

“Internally Hollow” by Anonymous

Numb, Empty, Hollow,

Emotionless, emotional

Contradictory feelings of lethality.

Out of place, in a place of familiarity,

Surrounded by societal notions of being a man,

Societal norms constraining the exploration of my weak ass heart.

How can one be whole without the exploration of oneself fully?

One of the numerous interrogatives I ask myself.

Strength defines a man – physical and psychological

None of which are a part of me…

“A Colourful Narrative” by Jo Nyandoro


Answer my question in the very confines of your own cranium

What is your heritage?


I wish not to hear “I am a quarter Zambian and three quarters Irish”

Tell me what culture you have chosen to embrace and adopt as your very own

Do not feel entitled to claim the culture because the melanin you were gifted with is perpetually present

Being black is simply a matter of fact

An obvious statement if you will

However, embracing your skin colour, loving those within your race (albeit they are nice people)

And actively being proud of the ability to trace back your ancestors and seeing how far we have come and how much we have achieved as a people!

How grand is that thought?

The road is long and arduous and as a whole, and as a collective, let us enable and inspire each other

This crabs in a barrel mentality has long been outdated

Update your mental software, time is of the essence

Our dreams are the screenplays of our lives

Let us live them irrespective of what barriers we may face due to our skin colour

Our pigment is a blessing

I would have it no other way

Robert Nesta Marley said it ever so correctly

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery”

In loving ourself and not being hampered and or poisoned by the ideologies of the west

Then and only then can we have but a slither of what freedom tastes like

The next time you see another human being

Regardless of race

Show some love

A smile goes further than any form of travel could ever do

Teach others that our race is a friendly race

Bar a few individuals but is that not a commonality in every race?

As black people we are caring, ambitious, daring and successful

Do you wonder where our beauty lies?

The beauty of the Zambezi, the serenity of the Kalahari Desert, the awe inspiring pyramids, the beautiful sounds of the Caribbean

“Don’t worraaay…about a thing…cos’ every little thing…is gonna be alright”

I shall not wait in vain to spread the love

As a race let us disseminate the future generations how great we are

Not just as black people but as the human race

If anything

I pray you may install one thing into your mental programme

“Black is beautiful, Black is Gold”

“A Blow” by Rebecca Armstrong

(Rebecca wrote this poem following a conversation with a homeless man who had just been discharged from hospital after being beaten up by a gang)

Two, Four, Six

cuffs to the face,

brought on the black

and split his skin in scarring smile.

The hospital blanket that’s sky blue,

is not the colour of the sky,

which gapes open dark and emptying itself,

as he stands curb side.

Discharged, disenfranchised, cut adrift

and cut open by fists demanding he not cry.

His tears carried thoughts,

surreal and distant:

my brother dancing in my too-tight clothes behind closed doors,

my father crying noiselessly,

desert dry, no tears here, please leave me,

and boys bringing up sharpness to tear jagged scars in their own skin,

and faltering jokes in football strips,

and laughing and downing tins,

the weight of their acting drowning out the son in them,

not free but bound by this choking oath,

least they would be fragile,

like me.

This is a Ghostwriter article.

Ghostwriter is a space where people from any background can contribute their thoughts to the discussion of culture, politics and identity. Read more

Illustration by @domaculver

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