‘I am not de problem’: Benjamin Zephaniah on modern racism in Britain

Language and style:
Theme and message:

Language and style: This poem is very different from others because it contains a lot of words that are not written grammatically “correct”.

This spelling indicates an accent typical of the African continent, which reflects the stereotypical part of this poem. Even though many words are spelled “wrong” it is still easy to understand what the meaning of the different stanzas is. Benjamin is referring to the stereotypes of black people a lot in the poem.

This is an example “I am a born academic, But dey got me on de run, Now I am branded athletic” some people believe in the racial stereotype that black people cannot be academics but instead their only talent is to run fast.

Another example is this one “I can do more dan dance” whereas Benjamin is trying to tell the audience that he is an individual who has a lot to offer and he could teach you certain things and he is mentioning the assumption that black people are great dancers.

This is also shown by this example “If yu give I a chance, I can teach yu of Timbuktu” Timbuktu is a symbolic choice of his because Timbuktu is a place of learning and culture. Benjamin indicates that he is the one with knowledge.

Benjamin is appealing to our feelings (pathos) with the use of some special sentences like this one: “Of silly playground taunts, An racist stunts” here he brings us back to his childhood in the schoolyard and school where he suffered racist abuse. He is doing this by using imagery.

Benjamin also uses metaphors like this one: “Yu put me in a pigeon hole” which is a metaphor for limiting his options for being black. Benjamin uses alliteration as well, which is shown by this line: “But I bear de brunt” this makes the poem have a great flow.

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