Check out the new song version of Multi-Cultural tuned and performed by Meenamba:

Before There was Multi-Cultural

by Sreejit Poole

I write poetry
So you can flow with me
Not really trying to make you think
Just to keep myself off the brink
My system is a little pragmatic but not really analytical
I have a little cynicism mixed with the old world theological
Though more spiritual than religious if you’re feeling philosophical
But let me break it down for you if you think that I’m illogical
I feel it’s more like a categorical imperative
For me to force on you this narrative
About a little mixed boy
With his whole world telling him
Which ancestry he should embrace
And which he should shun
From which parent he should face
And from which he should run

Growing up mixed in the 80’s
Was a whole different kind of racism
You didn’t get stopped by the cops
Or followed in the stores – as much
But you got that psychological garbage
Which said, “You’re just not good enough”
Born a mixed boy before they called it “multi-cultural”
And people just started getting into politically correct
They really tried hard to say all the right things
But people didn’t quite have the hang of it yet
White friends telling, “You ain’t really black”
With a smile and a nudge and a pat on the back
And black friends telling, “You’re black, you keep it real”
But at the same time mentioning, “You can’t know how we feel”
All friends trying to be so understanding
But me only hearing, “Even though you’re messed up we still like you”
And when I moved to India
They told, “You’re white”
What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?
Got me quoting Different Strokes
And that was a show for the other folks
In India black is black and white is white
And all their different shades are still Indian
So does that make me black no longer?
After a lifetime of clinging and wishing I was darker?
But I heard that in Kenya they’d call Obama white
So if my pride is hurt
At least I have good company
It is enough to make you cry and scream
And hate everybody regardless of the dream
But in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King
“I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
You know all light skinned brothers can rock a Dr. King quote
As if just the mention of his name is our simple antidote
We want to believe that we are the dream
And not just a case of Jungle Fever
Though the world is only now starting to accept us as beautiful
It has not made us yet believers

And now the anxiety that’s plaguing me
Is the reality
That we systematically fail to see
Systematically meaning
Turning our backs on true being
Attached to ancestors
As far back as we’re seeing
But detached from the ultimate mover and shaker
Our one Mother and Father
The ultimate Giver and Taker
The one who gives us the power to dream
And the one who allows us to think we are what we see
When so much more lies on the other side
Of a wall we’ve put up in order to survive
‘Less we’d cry and we’d cry and we’d cry and we’d cry
If we knew the truth we’ve forsaken for our entire lives
From time immemorial the truth sets us free
But we cover the truth with the mud of the world
In order that the ego has something to sit on
A wit without wisdom
Egotistically driven
Sinless or sinner
Equally ignorant
To the truth
That under all that we see
It is unity, love
Is all that we be


Meenamba took the last verse of this Before There Was Multi-Cultural and made a song out of it. She was also inspired to write two new verses of her own… here they are

Meenamba’s verses:
“I write poetry
So you can flow with me
Take the poem that I’m flowing
Ride it in like a wave
If you feel like it
you can even bob or sway
Just relax and let it take you
to another state

It used to be Langston Hughes
With his” Dream Deferred”
The noose making “Strange Fruit
If you too free with the word
The tragedy
of these particular times
We got the freedom of speech
But now our tongue is tied
And if you look in the eyes
Of an inconsolable child
You’ll see your very own self
Is the one who cries
The soul longing to be free
The heart reaching out
for that unity”

The Brats
The Brats



  1. aaahh so you grew up in America? interesting, I was thinking the last poem I read of yours that your style has such a rhythmical hiphop kind of flow to it…but I was surprised cause I thought you grew up in India…are you in Kerala? When did you move and why? Just curious 🙂


    1. cool. yes Indian pop music is sooo funky, I love it. I stayed for a while in Aranmula at Vijnana Kala Vedi cultural center, near Kottayam. Kerala is such a special place, so beautiful! I used to have amazing dreams when I was there. Be well, have been enjoying reading your poetry 🙂


  2. No matter what color, or combination of colors, you are, there’s always going to be someone in the world who hates you for it… You’ve written a beautiful poem, one that clearly demonstrates the inner and outer conflicts you suffered, and perhaps still suffer, from being a link caught between two warring ends of this chain called humanity.

    I long for the day we’re all judged for the type of human being we are, not the genetic make-up that brought us into being; judged not just by others, but by ourselves, as well.


  3. Loved this. As an Irish mother of a daughter with an Egyptian (half Nubian) father, I was very interested in your take on identity. We’ve chosen to live in the UAE – a multi-cultural pot, if not exactly melting – so-called ‘mixed’ marriages are pretty ‘normal’ here, even amongst the native Emiratis whose origins vary, hence their skin colour too. Pleased to be following this blog for gems like this. Keep it up. PS. My daughter says you look like her dad, and the photo of you and your sis? Reminds her of her friends Adam and Hanifa (German father, mother from Niger). Salam.


  4. Thanks for sharing this. I have a 2 year old step-granddaughter that is multi-cultural and soon to have a grandson that will be multi-cultural. This gives me a little insight into what their world will be like while growing-up. 🙂


  5. Sweet!!! Note: I did not listen to the audio. I wanted to treasure it as beautifully as I read, which was like a freestyle rhyme. I imagined the hands gesturing, giving life to even the line breaks, as you rocked side to side, foot forward, one at a time, occasional lean back, a pause or two, as you rapped the words (or should I say “spit”) WhatCHU’ talkin’ bout, Willis? 🙂 Rhythmic, poetic and all ‘a dat good sh…ush!

    We’ve gotten so hooked on the labels – multicultural, biracial, interracial. I too, prefer LOVE… transcendental, monumental, fundamental… LOVE… intercontinental. Word! (Now, I’m gesturing.)


  6. But people didn’t quite have the hang of it yet
    White friends telling, “You ain’t really black”
    With a smile and a nudge and a pat on the back
    And black friends telling, “You’re black, you keep it real”
    But at the same time mentioning, “You can’t know how we feel”

    Don’t we know it! On the plus side, it’s really easy to sidestep the rhetoric and step outside of the box when you grow up seeing that race isn’t a thing, but a construct we can give up at any time.


  7. (although we can’t count on others to give it up, so talking about it is still important)


  8. Hi, I am visiting your page for the first time. There is so much to see and admire. You look sweet and cute in your childhood photo. Your poetry is sublime. I am a fan now.


  9. One of the beautiful things about being mixed nowadays is people can’t tell where you’re from or what you are ecactly. Great way to start conversation. Great way to embrace ambiguity in a sometimes overly conscious world of discrimination. How one deals with it is an interesting choice. Yes, as a child it is easy to feel less than in all regards, especially if racism exists within your own familys. As an adult, however, it presents a wonderful opportunity to embrace it all and offer a natural relatability to multiple cultures, with Yah’s love as the spearhead.


  10. I’m glad I tripped and fell into this place.

    I caught a rhythm by the 4th line, and followed it through to the end. Like SomerExpress, I like the sound that I hear in my head. I will save the audio version for another time.

    Thanks for catching me. I’m glad you are looking at these issues and bringing them to more people’s attention.


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