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Redemption: a poem by Alex Ojo

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Please take a moment to take in this powerful poem by Alex Ojo, a student in the School of Law.

In 1833 the slavery abolition act was passed in the United Kingdom

In theory, slavery became a thing of the past

In theory, black people were seen as equal

In theory, there was no more divide

In theory, racism had ended

In theory, In theory, in theory, in theory

In theory is what should be but should, doesn't release the chains from our necks and shackles from our feet

In fact, 186 years later, slavery is still kicking and whipping

Just because I'm not openly called nigger or boy or just because my future isn't openly in the hands of the man doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

You see just because you don't kill cattle inhumanly anymore, doesn't mean you don't kill them

Instead you just developed a more socially acceptable means to reach the same end

I mean 186 years ago you told us what we could and couldn't wear, enforcing it with violence,

Now you tell our children what hair they can and can't have enforcing it with suspensions

186 years ago you would make us feel alien by roasting our skin and judging our features

Now you just stare as I simply walk down the street as if I'm cruising in a UFO

186 years ago you would exert force over us and justified it by saying you were superior

Now you do the same only justify it with the use of the PCEA of 1984

186 years ago, you would hold our mouths and condemn our voices

Now you tell us to stop playing the race card whenever we speak out about feeling victimized

In fact, 186 years later, racism is still ignorantly breathing

The fact that I can't count on my fingers the amount of times my skin has been the target of another pistol tongue speaks volumes

If I showed you my body you'd find so many bullet holes, you could probably play whack a monkey

A painful shot came when I realised that the game we call beautiful still has many ugly heads

I mean if you've never been told to go back to where you came from then stand up

If your hair has never been stroked like a dog by someone who claims to be curious then stand up

If you have never walked into a room and felt the stares on your skin like the radiant sun beaming down on a hot day then stand up

You see the ones standing are probably used to this position of looking down on us seated

Notice how I have not singled out any race or ethnicity because racism run deeper than the physical

It is a mindset that needs to die. A mindset that needs to be captured, bound and thrown on a ship that sails to it runs out of fuel and sinks

Because it is upsetting how all the in theories are still fantasy, yet the in facts are still reality

It is time for black people to be judged by the content of their character, not the colour of their skin

Time for us to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery

The definition of redemption is the action of being saved from sin, error or evil

So we cry out for redemption from the plantation of today's society

For we escaped the master's field only to end up in his grandkid's garden enslaved by the fruit it bears.

We thought we were one

We thought we were safe

We thought we were equal

We thought we were free, till we tried run.


Alex Ojo is a student in the School of Law. You can watch Alex perform Redemption in the video below:

You can also access the video directly on Microsoft Streams, where you can also watch Alex perform his poem True PainYou may need to enter your University log-in to view the videos. 

Thank you for attending the Black History Month events and contributing to the discussion. If you'd like to join the Network as an Ally, please email  

We would like you to continue learning, listening and engaging with discussions on race and equality and to really get involved with making our University community - and beyond - an equal place for all. The BAME Network's Padlet board for Allies has a rich collection of resources to get you started. 

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