Working-Class Absolution

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Working-Class Absolution

White men ran the slave trade, true,
And I’m a man and also white –
But don’t charge me for grievance due,
I played no part in the blight.
While others wreaked this tragedy,
It’s not me, mate, and not my folks –
I come from village farmhands, see,
From ordinary blokes.
While others banked the whole affair,
Or clapped the chain or cracked the whip,
We never owned a single share,
Nor crewed a single ship.
So don’t try laying on the guilt
For crimes my bloodline never did –
The damnable at which you tilt
Were not my fam’ly, kid.
I bear no blemish on my name,
I bear no once-and-future sin –
Don’t think that you can judge my blame
By the colour of my skin.
It’s not me mate, and not my genes,
My hands are clean, my soul is light –
So spare your wrath for dukes and queens,
Not me, mate – get it right !
My ancestors were starved and bruised,
And sometimes even outright killed –
They all were wage-slaves, much abused
By the lords whose lands they tilled.
And so were yours – I get it, I do,
But they’re not you and they’re not me.
But even if my blood were blue,
My conscience still bloom free –
For the faults of our great-great-grands back when
Have died with them, and have passed away –
Look, nobody alive back then
Is still alive today.
For none of us in here’s a slaver,
No-one’s whitewashing the trade –
So please, just do us all a favour,
And find a new crusade.

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