All God’s Chillun by Edward Kamau Brathwaite

They call me Uncle

Tom and mock me

these my children

mock me

they hate the hat

in hand

the one-

roomed God

I praise.

Winds raise

the flat-

roofed house

each harvest


each southern soft Se-


“Hey, nuncle!

wanna see

what God in heaven

brought for me?

One pink-ear’d rat,

thick knuckle-headed land

one plot, you know, one

bloody plot; one cow, one dog

one fuckin’ plough that only works one way

a snotty pond in which my children play

leap frog’s habitat.

A sniffin’ mouse

won’t touch the best

we have to offer it; and yet there was a time

we kept

our state on golden stools – remember?


Yes, I remember…

but what good

is to recollect now

my own mock

me;my own seed,

ruined on this rock

of God, struggle

to strike me

and what need

my story

in these fields

where these cart-wheels

turn over heart

crush hard our hurt

destroy the root of love

with pain.

Boss man makes rules:

who works, who jerks

the rope, who rips

the patient dirt

Boss man makes rules:

I am his patient mule.

Boss man rates gain:

I am his living vein

of sustenance:

his corn, his meal, his grain.

Boss man lacks pride:

I am his hide

of darkness. Bide

the black times, Lord, hide

my heart from the lips

that spit

from the hate

that grips

the sweat-

ing flesh

the whips

that rip

so wet, so red,

so fresh.


They call me

Uncle Tom and mock me

they laugh

laugh loud

laugh loud at me

from the barrels of their bellies

swishing loud with liquor.

They laugh and the white

man laughs: each

wishing for mercy, teach-

ing their children to hate

their skin to its bitter root in the bone.

Hold hard


From the bold

sun of the over-

seer’s rod

from the cold

sneer of my own

children’s fear;

for I fear

to see them

back broken

black broken

teeth their own



by fever


by the balls.


‘But to hell with this, nuncle!

You fussy black Uncle

Tom, hat in your hand!

Cut the cake-

walkin’, man; bus’

the crinoline off the white woman,

man; be the black buttin’ ram

that she makes you

an’ let’s get to hell out’a Pharoad’s land


These my children?

God, you hear them?

What deep sin

what shattered glory?

What harsh logic

guides their story?

When release

from further journey?



up, Lord.

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