Poem: Disbelief

praying woman hand in the dark ( praying in secret room concept )in white tone

This piece originally appeared in the April 2021 edition of Breaking Brown Silence’s Newsletter, We Rise. You can follow BBS’s founder Mayuri Govender on Instagram and Patreon. Please support BIPOC and racism education.


If there is a god
they have a lot of explaining
to do
about why they allowed
my ancestors’ backs to be broken
working stolen land
for masters who hated and abused their brown bodies.

This god needs to tell me
why they permitted others to ridicule
my skin that is rich and golden, kissed by the sun
my hair that is the colour of ravens and reflects both light and dark
my language that has more words for love than any other
my food that is so full of flavour, colonisers wanted everything that went into it

(and killed for it, too)
my accent that was born out of community stronger than their whips
my body that carries a history incomprehensible and beautiful.
Yet they still get to decide whether
I am good, valuable, beautiful, or cultured enough.

The god that is supposedly
loving, kind, and just
needs to show me – step by step –
their justification
of protesters being shot in the back as they ran from police
on 21 March 1960 – screaming and trying to take cover.
Of people being hanged from trees with tyres
around their necks with their families in tears watching their
fathers, mothers, sisters, and children burn.
Of children being gunned down as they marched for a better education
on 16 June 1976, holding each other with nought but their uniforms for protection.
Of burning homes and beating black bodies in their beds
In 1921 as authorities handed out guns

and then washed the blood off white hands.
Of kneeling on our necks while we say, “I can’t breathe”.
Of shooting us while we sleep and arresting a black bystander.
Of stealing our cultures and profiting from them
but demonising our practices like we’re mere seeds to be discarded
while the fruits of our histories are stolen.
And then protecting those who would see us enslaved, destroyed, dead.
If god can give me a good reason
maybe – just maybe – I will listen.
Until then
if there is a god,
they will have to beg my forgiveness.