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By: Zita Holbourne

About The Poem

This poem is my signature poem, it speaks to my experience of both race and gender discrimination in employment and the labour market and my life experiences of drawing on my strength and resilience to stand up to the double discrimination of race and gender discrimination and my work as a trade union and grass roots activists standing up for collective rights.

The Poem

They’re blocking me from progression

Trying to cause my regression

They can’t abide

That I preside

Adept and articulate

Thinking how ridiculous

She’s a woman, soul parent and black

We can’t let her progress, not someone like that


I don’t fit in with their Oxbridge ideal

I come from the streets, I’m real

I grew up in South London, Peckham

Raised by my Caribbean mum

I rate myself second to none


Not afraid to speak my mind

About discrimination I find

I know my rights and represent

All those people that they resent


They call me an ethnic minority

But not with my consent

I define myself as a majority

And that term they use I resent


Only have to look at the world to see we make up the majority

That term is just mental slavery, designed to undermine the likes of you and me


So, they’re blocking me from progression

Call it a permanent recession

Don’t want someone of my gender or race

To honour their executive boards with my grace


But when I tell them how I feel

Give it to them straight, remember I’m real

They tell me they find me

Aggressive, confrontational and excessive

But you know if I was educated at Oxford, Cambridge or even Yale

They’d tell me they find me

Assertive, sensational and progressive


But I’m an ethnic majority

My ancestors fought slavery

And like a suffragette

It’s not over yet

Because I’ll rise above them one day soon

Despite their secret chants of the ‘N’ word and coon


You see I’m fired with a flame

That will burn out all their shame

I may not rise to fame

But I can play them at their own game

And though they won’t give me a level playing field

To disseminate all I yield


Just remember I’ve combatted

Racism, sexism, fascism and oppression

Simultaneously, not in succession

And I’m still standing, still achieving

And there’s no ways I’m leaving


They may block my progression in the workplace

See this face

They may spit at it

Shut doors in it

Look down at it

Disregard it


But still I shine in the face of adversity

And I didn’t need to go to university

To figure out

What they’re about


I may be a woman and I may be black

But know something, I’m proud of that

Life isn’t a concession

And I’ve got a confession

I overcame multiple oppression

So I sure as hell don’t need permission

To achieve promotion or progression

And that’s the end of this lesson.


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