'Checking Out Me History' - Key Quotations

"Dem tell me / Dem tell me / Wha dem want to tell me"

- STANZA 1 -

CONTEXT:

The speaker is describing how often he is told things by other people. Learning about the identity and history  of others and not his own.

THEMES:

Identity; History

LANGUAGE:

Dialect = "Dem tell me" - this poem is written in the way the speaker would speak, meaning he is embracing his own identity and culture rather than conforming to the one he finds himself in.

"Bandage up me eye with me own history / Blind me to me own identity"

- STANZA 2 -

CONTEXT:

The speaker feels he has been denied access to his own history and culture, instead having a British identity thrust upon him, changing him.

THEMES:

History; Identity; Loss

LANGUAGE:

Verb = "Bandage" - suggests there is a wound or an injury. Perhaps this wound could be that of his own culture and identity, which he feels he has lost.

Verb = "Blind" - prevent him from seeing and learning about his own true identity.

"Dem tell me bout 1066 and all dat"

- STANZA 3 -

CONTEXT:

The speaker explains how he has learnt about British history, such as the Battle of Hastings in 1066, which carries no significant connection to him personally.

THEMES:

Education; History; Culture

LANGUAGE:

Phrase = "all dat" - suggests he doesn't care about it. British history isn't the history he is interested in learning about as it is not related to his own culture and identity.

"But Toussaint L’Ouverture / No dem never tell me bout dat"

- STANZA 3 -

CONTEXT:

The speaker points out the historical information he is not taught or told about in Britain.

THEMES:

Culture; Identity; History

LANGUAGE:

Noun = "Toussaint L'Ouverture" - a historical figure famous in the speaker's culture for fighting for the end of slavery and leading the Haitian Revolution is never mentioned.

Adverb = "never" - highlights the speaker's negative feelings towards the fact he hadn't been taught important things about his culture.

"And de cow who jump over de moon / Dem tell me bout de dish ran away with de spoon"

- STANZA 5 -

CONTEXT:

The speaker points out the seemingly ridiculous things he did have to learn, such as nursery rhymes, when he feels he should've been learning about his own culture and history.

THEMES:

Identity; History; Education

LANGUAGE:

Nursery rhymes = the speaker quotes a nursery rhyme he was taught in Britain, almost in a mocking fashion, implying that these silly stories were considered more important than learning about important historical figures from his culture.

"I carving out me identity"

- STANZA 10 -

CONTEXT:

The final line of the poem has the speaker declare what he needs to do in order to learn about his own cultural identity.

THEMES:

Identity; Struggle; History

LANGUAGE:

Verb = "carving" - implies he is working to learn more about his history bit by bit, but also that it is no easy task.

Pronoun = the first-person pronoun "I" tells us that he is doing this on his own, as the only way he will find the information he is looking for is if he looks for it himself.