Anti-racism poem scoops national award for year 9 Odetta

Earlier this month one of National’s talented year 9 students, Odetta E, received a prestigious award in the 2019 Arts & Minds competition organised by the teachers’ union NASUWT.

Arts & Minds is an annual, UK-wide competition aimed at promoting race equality and diversity in schools. Odetta was chosen as a winner of the secondary school creative writing category for a powerful poem about racism, written whilst she was still in year 8 – only 12 students were selected as winners from over 1,000 entries, so this is a brilliant achievement.

Odetta’s poem ‘What is Racism?’ explores this societal issue and asks why this prejudice still exists, together with outlining her own experiences. The judges said: ‘This poem is compelling as a deconstruction of what racism is today, as a lived experience. We think it is incredibly sophisticated for somebody who is in year 8. It’s almost adult-like in its understanding of the subject.’

Mrs Clare accompanied Odetta and her family to the awards ceremony and said: ‘I was honoured to be able to be at the awards with Odetta. She is a determined student who shows strength and resilience.

Hearing Odetta’s voice through her poem has given us all plenty to think about. Our academy values focus on achievement, respect, charity and humility and she embodies these values through her words and her actions.

Our academy community is a place where we hope that people of all backgrounds feel included. We are working hard to ensure that it is a place where people of all backgrounds feel represented.’

On behalf of the National Church of England Academy, we thank her for sharing her wonderful poem with the world. All of our staff are very proud of her achievement and honoured to play a part of her story.

We are delighted to showcase Odetta’s powerful full poem below.

What is racism?

What is racism?
How people show hate,
How we discriminate?
Or is it pure jealously
Our own loss of an identity.

Segregating others bent on isolation
They make it their aspiration
This, this,
This determination
All this for what?
Others getting squat
Bang!

A black boy shot….
The steel cold bullet right through
The only heart he’s got
Yellow tape around his body
Hate crime’s what it’s called
The community appalled
Now nearly weekly, people dying
Families crying.

“They come over and take our jobs” they say
“Go back to where you came from” They say
“Change” I say.
Whole years gone
Not knowing where you belong
This behaviour should be long gone.

Actions like these have their consequences
Too much tolerance
Leading to
Self hatred, bullying, depression
Unfortunately, worst of all, suicide.
So, next time you decide to make someone feel inferior
First, check your interior.
Be superior
Say no to racism.

Where is racism?
Why football of course!
Our favourite sport
Horrendous cases in court
Players walking off the pitch
Slurs, so stereotypical the players ditch
Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King,
Nipsey Hussle they did it all for justice
And look where we are now.
In a world so many see as black and white
Strike a match to see the colour in all its might.

What is racism?
An “ownership”
Entitlement
On others freedom
Police with egos bigger than Russia
Shootings and brutality
Why is this a reality?
Why is it anywhere and everywhere?
No representation, losing dedication
How come my heartbreak isn’t loud enough?

So, what is racism?
Our oldest form of bullying
Others dealing with insecurity.
Being kind costs nothing
Herman Munster knows more about acceptance than I’ve ever heard from a human.

What is racism?
To define it is impossible
But it isn’t unstoppable
What is racism?
I’m not very sure to tell you all
But what I do know,
Is one day my heartbreak will be loud enough.

National Church of England Academy