[Marxism] I am profoundly anti-empire

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 27 06:29:27 MST 2003

'Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought'

An invitation to the palace to accept an New Year honour... you must be 
joking. Benjamin Zephaniah won't be going. Here he explains why

Thursday November 27, 2003
The Guardian

Angry: Benjamin Zephaniah

I woke up on the morning of November 13 wondering how the government could 
be overthrown and what could replace it, and then I noticed a letter from 
the prime minister's office. It said: "The prime minister has asked me to 
inform you, in strict confidence, that he has in mind, on the occasion of 
the forthcoming list of New Year's honours to submit your name to the Queen 
with a recommendation that Her Majesty may be graciously pleased to approve 
that you be appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire."

Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought. I get angry when I hear that 
word "empire"; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds of thousands of years 
of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my 
forefathers brutalised. It is because of this concept of empire that my 
British education led me to believe that the history of black people 
started with slavery and that we were born slaves, and should therefore be 
grateful that we were given freedom by our caring white masters. It is 
because of this idea of empire that black people like myself don't even 
know our true names or our true historical culture. I am not one of those 
who are obsessed with their roots, and I'm certainly not suffering from a 
crisis of identity; my obsession is about the future and the political 
rights of all people. Benjamin Zephaniah OBE - no way Mr Blair, no way Mrs 
Queen. I am profoundly anti-empire.

full: http://books.guardian.co.uk/poetry/features/0,12887,1094009,00.html

Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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