Foot Off My Neck cover image

Foot Off My Neck

Lendon Telesford • July 21, 2020



Throughout the month of June, the United States saw a series of protests in response to the Police killing of George Floyd. This brought to the fore the issue of systemic racism in the US; highlighting the injustices and impact this matter continues to have on the black community.
Two months ago I began writing about issues, which in my opinion, affect Caribbean development. While these issues cannot be equated to the events surrounding George Floyd’s death, I decided to use his situation as a metaphor to draw reference to some issues affecting youth and entrepreneurial development, relative to accessing financing and other opportunities, by giving an account of my own experiences and observations.
Unlike my previous contributions, this piece does not follow the ‘article’ format, as I felt it would not adequately capture what I wanted to express. As a result, I decided to present a poem featuring my talk with society.

Foot off my neck

You said that I will make the difference.
You said that I am the future.
Sigh… but I’ve been here before.
Lost in hopes that I’ll be noticed by you
I continue to pretend that I will become
And though I believed in myself, my belief of self, fades.
Glazed in drips of bitterness, I cringe.
I now realise that your empty promises lay the foundation to what is now my truth.
I am expendable!
Abused by your trash talk, I’ve become the trash in your landfill of doubt in me.
Love for country, what does that even mean?
I’ve spent years studying the syllabus to a course you decided could get me a better life; and now I don’t fit your criteria?
Tell me, should I better my elevator pitch?
Did I ask for too much?
The uncertainty now makes me certain that this must have been a game of whack-a-mole to hit me back into my hole of dependence on you.
And ain’t it convenient that my presence is invaluable when you ask me to follow?
But when I try to lead, I lack the experience and intellectual fortitude to ride at your altitude.
Ain’t that some shit!
Gasping for breath my body stiffens.
Please… let me up.
I’ll go quietly onto the shelf you’ve constructed for me to be on display.
I promise to only show myself when you need to showcase your talking point… or a vote?
For although I live in your society, I'm not your priority and so you push back at the possibility that I could be the answer.
But what are questions without answers?
And what are answers without… wait, am I the question?
But I can't help it if you're afraid of change, and so I refuse to become the common denominator to your fractions of failed attempts to be different.
From close up, from far away
I’ve watched you sing praises to your liturgy of bullshit so you can feel good about yourself.
You know the irony is that I was a part of the choir for I tuned my instruments to match the chords of your perception of me.
I grasp at straws, my strength dwindles
Please, let me up now
I feel myself becoming the system.
Isn’t that what you wanted?
Mama! Mama….dey gonna kill me
But as you tie your noose of oppression around my ambition, history will remember!
And as I lay dormant as you stand on my opportunities
Please, get your foot off my neck
I can’t breathe…

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