Poem number Thirteen
I wrote this poem in response to being told to “sit down .”
Whenever I read this poem I am reminded of the scene and my pulse races with indignation still.
I was attending a training course for managers-the topic was Safeguarding (level 3)
One manager opined , and I paraphrase- that she did not know what” the fuss” or the problem/ issue was concerning inequality/discrimination felt by workers, She stated with incredulity that she was sure that no such inequality existed in our working environment( where the role of the company was to provide healthcare) . I remember her words shocking me so that my mouth literally fell open and recovering I offered to enlighten her(I was one of two black managers attending the course ). The lady was sat on an opposite table working within her team. She was turned sort of sideways on to me and complained that she could not hear me so I stood and stated that I would happily cross the room to be able to elucidate .
The room seemed to go silent and I do remember registering other attendees expressions of what I can only effectively describe as’ discomfort’
Was I threatening ? Was it my posture? I had had to stand and lean into my desk in order to address the fact that I had to raise my voice because she had turned away saying that she could not hear me?
The course tutor seemed to think that he needed to handle this interaction as he deliberately stopped a conversation with the joint presenter and made his way from the front of the class – across the room to stand leaning against the adjacent wall- nearer to me. He seemed to pause as he leant against the wall, then, he told me to sit down before I had finished what I wanted to say. I was surprised because I was expressing and representing the opinion and the experiences of staff members who I had encountered who had experienced suffering from some form of treatment that appeared or felt by them had been unbalanced and not indicative of support or value of their staffing skills.
I think back on that moment.
When told to sit, I did so- numbly and without argument because as a professional I respected the trainers position. I made allowances for his perception that perhaps the discussion that the manager had evoked was not where he wished his participants to devote their time
But I was disrupted internally
I felt uncomfortable in my gut
The other course members looked unsettled and were uncomfortable;
The incident had been a diversion from the task that our teams of managers had been allocated to work on .
It was some time later before I was able to voice what I had been prevented from saying.
It made me wonder why we could not address the issue at the time that it was raised
It made me question” why not?”
and that worry- that it seemed to me that managers operating across the service did not want to address the discomfort- niggled .
It made me wary that I must remember, must seek to fathom why no-one wanted to start by talking about uncomfortable feelings.
It was like a crossword puzzle that I put away because I was busy- my time monopolised by everyday events but, like a crossword clue I felt uncomfortable until I could reach an eureka conclusion.
Here is the poem:
demands to be heard.
To speak out for:
the oppressed and the dominated.
the voice of reason
might be heard.
Above bullying and domineering dictatorship
Head above the clouds of
A heightened dissenter.
the din of fear
we all, should:
And, be counted.
Do not tell me to
for: I shall laugh
because I choose to stand
But, I shall stand, because