Benjamin Zephaniah

(15 April 1958 / Birmingham)

The Race Industry - Poem by Benjamin Zephaniah

The coconuts have got the jobs.
The race industry is a growth industry.
We despairing, they careering.
We want more peace they want more police.
The Uncle Toms are getting paid.
The race industry is a growth industry.
We say sisters and brothers don't fear.
They will do anything for the Mayor.
The coconuts have got the jobs.
The race industry is a growth industry.
They're looking for victims and poets to rent.
They represent me without my consent.
The Uncle Toms are getting paid.
The race industry is a growth industry.
In suits they dither in fear of anarchy.
They take our sufferings and earn a salary.
Steal our souls and make their documentaries.
Inform daily on our community.
Without Black suffering they'd have no jobs.
Without our dead they'd have no office.
Without our tears they'd have no drink.
If they stopped sucking we could get justice.
The coconuts are getting paid.
Men, women and Brixton are being betrayed.

Comments about The Race Industry by Benjamin Zephaniah

  • Diana Van Den Berg (11/9/2015 4:07:00 PM)

    I am not knowledgeable enough to know whether I agree with you that the coconuts are getting all the jobs, but I accept that within certain contexts, geographical and job-types, for example, you are probably right. I can also see that it would seem so as well. All, most or any of that being the case, I can certainly see that the rest would follow. I liked the repetition, emphasizing how the truth and/or perception is debilitating for those who are not getting the jobs. I like that you are airing these views. They need to be aired. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (10/8/2015 11:47:00 PM)

    Hi Benjamin. Over the years, I have read many books and poetry about racism. I appreciate Tanya for explaining the meaning of coconuts. Perhaps I have heard it before and simply forgot. I must say that I look for answers and 'more solutions' for such continuing problems such as the type you describe. There is no lack of awareness, but a lack of resolve. (Report) Reply

  • (8/4/2015 12:47:00 PM)

    The coconuts are getting paid
    Coconut is a word used to describe brown-skinned/black people who have adopted white culture, and have neglected their own. Which means - brown on the outside and white on the inside. Just like a coconut (For those who did not know)
    The poem may have a bit more meaning now that the use of the word coconut is explained.
    Its an interesting read though.
    (Report) Reply

  • Nancy Oyula (5/9/2014 1:21:00 AM)

    .......We want more peace they want more police. That.. (Report) Reply

  • (3/14/2014 5:08:00 PM)

    Report mid=5245860
    And it's also because of the ultra-Leftist, white pseudo-liberal establishment that currently shuts its doors on more talented poets, to promote a tone of bland egalitarianism opposed to celebration of talent...because of them, I continue...that this guy is allowed to repeat himself and keep on playing the race card because he doesn't have enough talent to come up with anything less cliched and more interesting to say. And he patronizes fellow black men who don't care about colour the same way true liberal whites don't in every line of this awful 'poem'. Already Reported Reply

  • (2/2/2013 7:49:00 PM)

    I totally agree with this poem...thumbs up (Report) Reply

  • (8/2/2012 5:01:00 PM)

    We despairing, they careering.

    Poignant poem...truth indeed
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/10/2012 7:29:00 PM)

    Hello, this is an awesome poem! I am doing an essay on this poem, and i was wondering is this considered a poem about rascism? ? (Report) Reply

  • (6/4/2010 9:40:00 PM)

    For Andrew James: Zephaniah writes so that everybody can read, including you and I who went inside the four walls/not of prison but of college and those folks who populate the alleys and ghettos of all the corners. He said his mission is to take poetry everywhere, as it has never been done. You charged him with countering old sins of the West; sorry the guy is mad at your progenitors for the rapes committed against his own. Leave the poor alone, Andrew. (Report) Reply

  • (9/29/2008 2:36:00 AM)

    Report mid=5245860
    drivel... evidence that english culture is falling into a cesspool of illiterate dunderheads... zephaniah's ouvre is empty headed drivel... he has little to say other than preachy diatribes imparted with trivial insights slapped together for mass consumption and appeal... most children write better poetry than this garbage.. Already Reported Reply

  • (5/20/2006 3:51:00 PM)

    Ur poems r gr8! !
    1 day others will realize the true meaning.
    (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: justice, fear, women, peace, sister, brother, woman

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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