A poem for Stephen Lawrence Day

Aaron Bent often says: 'I didn't find poetry, poetry found me.' Poetry for Aaron, personally and societally, is more than a way to entertain people - it is God's empowerment to influence change. Once upon a time, Aaron struggled to do many basic things, but poetry transformed Aaron's life and most of all, provided him with the meaning he lacked in his childhood.

Now, Aaron, who has performed at 3Generate, seeks to recreate similar experiences for others with poetry through the workshops he's invited to host, the poems he presents on the radio, social media and in churches.

Introduction - Prayer

‘Who can I turn to for justice in this unjust land?’ Our Father who is in heaven, holy is your name. ‘This system continues to ignore the cries of my people, black people, including those going through a similar situation of another persuasion.’ Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. ‘I’m so outraged! How can I forgive those who have so badly mistreated us!?’ Forgive us of our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. ’Tell me, why I shouldn’t I hate them when they’ve taken so much from us!’ Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory. Forever and ever. Amen.


Summary Stephen Lawrence's life

Stephen Lawrence was born on the 13th of September, 1974. 

Stephen Lawrence was a dreamer, with a dream - he desired to be an architect.

Stephen Lawrence was the child of Nevil and Doreen, brother to Stuart and Georgina.

Stephen Lawrence’s dreams, however, were cut short when he was murdered on the 22nd of April 1993.

Stephen Lawrence was innocent of provocation. It was proven that his murder was racially motivated.

The police were no help. Doreen Lawrence was forced to launch a private investigation!

In 2011, almost 20 years later, only three of Stephen Lawrence’s murderers were brought to justice.

Then came the Macpherson report, containing over 70 recommendations. Many were designed to tackle police racism.

On the 22nd of April, 2018, in remembrance of this tragic situation, Stephen Lawrence Day came into creation. 

As a national day to celebrate Stephen’s life and to remember and acknowledge the horrible incidents that can result from institutional, systemic and individual racist behaviours. 


Poem for Stephen Lawrence Day

In the year King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw a vision. His country laid waste; his nation in ruins. As he dreamed, this destruction stretched far and wide! No one was safe, for the Lord had correction in His sight! Yet still, let’s examine this vision, for within it lies provision. ‘Holy, holy, holy’ the Seraphim sing, because ‘the Lord’ is ‘Almighty’, the Powerful King! Their voices shook the Temple alongside ‘the threshold’ they were upon and ‘smoke’ ‘filled’ ‘the temple’ of the Lord! Beholding this vision made weak Isaiah’s knees. Pride has no standing here, it must flee! Witnessing the glory of the Spirit induced repentance. He cried out: ‘I am ruined!’ Isaiah recognised the sin upon his lips, this description included his kin - the people within his native nation. Water poured forth from the crack between his eyes, because the sin he perceived was brought before his eyes! These tears are a byproduct of a punctured heart, one which the Lord has broken with the truth upon His heart. The people are corrupted by sin! Their idolatry had bit the Mighty Hand that feeds them. Till this sin dissipates, destruction shall cover the Land until it rots away

What is the sin of our day? Why is it significant that we mediate upon this, on Stephen Lawrence Day? Long ago, Britain was known as the Mother Country. Inviting Caribbean melanated people to her Country, to rebuild her walls after the war. Resistance did persist. Even the church expelled these people from their premises. Such adversity did they face, simply because of the dark pigment which so beautifully permeated their face. They were the object of white British hate. A racist disposition had poisoned them from the start. An attitude that promoted separation, even though their government had invited these British colonial citizens from another nation. Difference was perceived as different. Not an extension of God’s manifold self, but something to be banished from the shelf. Associated with Black skin was fear. An inherent suspicion of coarse hair. Prejudged for the thickness within their noses and lips. Perceived as a threat to Britishness. 

Doreen, Stephen Lawrence’s mother, you didn’t ask for this. To shoulder the burden of British racism. Born in Jamaica, where your sons body now lays, your beautiful warm home. Moving to England, your new cold home. You had a dream for your son. A soul as bright as the sun! I often wonder, ‘How do you go on?’ Does Stephen Lawrence Day pluck at the chances of you moving on? 

In the year Stephen Lawrence died, I believe a fire was set in his mother’s eyes! Although this was involuntarily, she committed herself to transforming Britain voluntarily. Exposing the racism within the British policing system, which today still exists. Fighting for over 10 years for justice. Like Isaiah, your heart also broke. Although, it wasn’t your fault. The ‘unclean lips’ infiltrated your home. With racist words, they spoke of your son. Verbally painting a false corrupted picture of your beloved one! 

As Christians, how should we respond this? How should we remember Stephen Lawrence while responding to Britain’s racism? God commanded Isaiah to cease not from his prophetic fire. ‘For how long?’ Isaiah asked. The Lord responded, this fire shall never retire! ‘Until the cities lie ruined… until the houses are left deserted… until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken…’. As long as racism persists, destruction shall rest upon our nation! Doreen reminds me of Isaiah. She too embodied this stubborn prophetic fire. Inspired by the never-ending love for her son, we must learn from this and translate our love for humanity into concrete action. 

This Stephen Lawrence Day, is a day to change! Like Isaiah, we must become conscious of our ‘unclean lips’ and the uncleanliness within our nation. Here’s a way I believe we can honour Doreen and Stephen Lawrence: by becoming active-radical Christian, justice agents.


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