Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze…

There’s something quite beautiful about words, especially when they’re more than just ‘words’. It always fascinated me how poets and musicians could use words and imagery to create something nerve-wracking. Something beautiful; passing along an ugly message using words, not describing the crisis, but words that create the image of it.

Sitting in my empty studio, I happened to listen to a jazz playlist – a genre that I don’t tend to listen to that often.

When that uniquely beautiful piercing and croaky familiar voice of despair sounded in my room, the world seemed to freeze in time. “Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees…”

The lyrics of this song were first written as a poem; metaphorical words of despair in a time where the lynching of black people was a normality. Yet something about the way Nina Simone sang those words makes you almost feel the despair – her voice,  uncontrollably, screams at the top of her lungs. Jazz. Jazz was used as a way of communicating and telling stories, without having to understand the words, and this song does exactly that.

This song reminded me of the situation that was happening in America for many many years, and it brought me to think about the current situation there. Not only there, but also here, in the UK. When extremists are given power; they use racism to gain votes and popularity. Why? Nobody can understand that – nobody, yet a lot of people don’t need to understand, they simply AGREE with the awful use of the race card. Normalising Islamophobia, disgusting stereotypes about  immigrants and pointing fingers at the minority groups for the locals’ laziness.

How has the Brexit campaign turned into a green card for racism and abuse towards minorities? How has Donald Trump becoming president turned into an open gate for discrimination? Why, after having the FIRST black president and legalising gay marriage, are we moving backwards,  We fight agains the beauty standards portrayed in magazines, yet we allow skin colour to define how worthy we are.

 The amount of times I’ve heard ‘the Polish are stealing OUR jobs’ is actually uncountable – I HATE that expression. Why? Why would you blame a WHOLE race of people for stealing a job that is not even yours? In High School, I heard remarks like this thrown straight at me, just because I was Polish myself – as if the fact that I come from a Polish family is a HUGE contribution to who I am as a person.

The worst thing about hearing people say stuff like this is the fact that you know that they genuinely mean it (not like I was stealing somebody’s job in year 9, but even then it was super annoying).

The point I am trying to make is: how do we get to a point where children make racist and stereotypical remarks at other children, just because of the descent of their family. How do we allow descent and race to be the main indicators of a person’s identity.

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