David - Colour Craft Collective

Colour Craft Community

Words - Julia-Beth Harris and photos Benny van der Plank

How do you write about something that doesn't exist? Through Poetic Portraits of the people who experience its effects the most. Color Craft Collective is a conversation building platform processing the effects of race.

David - Fire Element

You tell me it started with your own people

Meaning the other brown kids at school

With both parents from Ghana, your origins were not common

And therefore subject to ridicule

‘Boku’ and ‘Freshie’ were the terms used to point out you were somehow animalistic, blacker

And as the classroom laughed they never questioned whether that distinction

was even their idea

With divide and conquer as one of the oldest tools for masking fear

You learned that being a dark-skinned African was not gonna be so easy here

You tell me when you were younger your family moved to Britain

And if you had any illusions of better fitting in you were in for a knock

Darker skin was still like sin between a hard place and a rock

But structures made of brick and stone are known to contain heat

A kindled flame from the sticks thrown at your bones

Became a place within you to retreat

I imagine that’s how you defeat the spectre of race

By giving it air in a controlled space - becoming a fireplace

Releasing hot waves of energy

Your words give voice to unsung legacies

You tell me your parents always had music in the house

Your mom’s singing showed you the power of voice to reach

And as a pastor, your father’s gospel modeled how to preach

You describe a memory of sitting in the back of your dad’s car

Hymns of worship washing over you

I imagine this was when your rap craft had begun

It reminds me of your namesake from the bible - David, the shepherd’s son

He was the one chosen to become king

But before he conquered Goliath with his sling

He watched over his father’s flock and learned to sing

Writing rhymes in the fields that turned into Psalms

A soothing practice in keeping the mind calm

For a fire left to rage maims and mars

So you vent it in your rap, avoid the trap and spit bars

You mention you’re drawn to music that lifts the spirit

And that’s what you intend to do with it

share messages people can actually use

and I think of all the points of view that came before you

black gold sold on the Atlantic coast

A sea of histories submerged in history

and in my mind’s eye, I see a reason to amplify sound

a distant hum rising from the depths, un-drowned

a beat bursts from your chest via the mic to the speakers

and I imagine a bonfire circle complete

your forbears providing the fuel, and you bringing the heat

I ask you about your experiences with whiteness

You say you encounter it when trying to advance in life

At school, at work, you’d have to blind yourself to not see it

You notice you are perceived in a certain way

And you have to train yourself to not be it

You wear Africa on your skin

The very soil of Dutch and British exploitation

But despite your country of origin

The West is the environment you grew up in

So you come with all that plus more

And when you enter a room your aura is not small

I imagine it must be intimidating and I ask you what you think it’s rooted in

You say it must be insecurity on their part

Fear that you might be the one to spark a change

A tipping of the scales that have been weighed for so long in their favour

You tell me you cannot let it deter you and simply continue diligently

It’s hard to make people see what mostly takes place subliminally

You say those reaping benefits may not be aware of the flip side of their advantage

I think about how that leaves it only to the other side to feel the damage

It strikes me that even as the bent system prevails

Fire in full bloom blazes a trail

You tell me you grew up feeling your mother had the best singing voice

You say it’s one of the main reasons why you do what you do

It made you feel good and that’s what creating rap does too

I think about music’s power to soothe

How rhyme and rhythm whispers to the nervous system

Like a steady flame softens the toughest bark into ash

Hardened crust cracks releasing curling smoke

Like incense, it evokes peace, a collective release of social tension

And the weight and glory of living life while appearing African

David performs under the artist name Dame1, works from the Treehouse community and is of Ghanaian, Dutch and British nationality
Check out David's Spotify!

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