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Subject to Change: ‘I’m Rooting For Everybody Black’ by Jeremiah ‘Sugar J.’ Brown

Photo of Jeremiah
16 Feb 2018
2 min watch

For February, Jeremiah ‘Sugar J.’ Brown shares his poem, ‘I’m Rooting For Everybody Black’, inspired by one of Tobi Kyeremateng’s tweets, ‘I’m rooting for everybody black’.

What inspired your poem this month? 

I think black people are being lit again, as they do, from Michaela Coel and Letitia Wright in Black Mirror, to Inua Ellams and the cast of Barbershop Chronicles, to Anita Barton-Williams and the night Heaux Noire, to Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy performance, to everything Black Panther that’s been building up recently. I’ve got friends starting up flight clubs and taking their GP exams. So I’m sitting there with this brief to write about change thinking of these people, wanting everything that’s going on positively to grow and multiply and be a beginning.

As I’m thinking about all of this Tobi (@bobimono) tweets ‘I’m rooting for everybody black’ and I realise that’s the vibe I’m on, that’s everything I’m feeling and trying to write about, and that’s how I got the frame for this poem, that’s where the inspiration came from.

Sometimes I hear people talk and I see lines, stanzas, poems, so sometimes I listen in poetry now

Who do you think writes well on the topic of change?

I think of who writes the best pictures of what’s here, that often turns my mind to change more than something more explicitly so. Caleb Femi does that really well. I think of Ross Gay’s poem ‘A Small Needful Fact’ and there’s little else I’ve read that makes me want change more. I read that poem and it makes me want the past present and future to change.

Why do you think poetry is a good way to talk about change?

Poetry is a good medium to talk to express and to articulate. It’s a medium that allows for pure emotion and immediacy whilst at the same time being a medium of patience, clever thought and intricacies. I think change wants/needs/deserves to be spoken about/expressed/articulated along the whole of that spectrum. Change is passionately championing for a different future, but it’s also sitting down and calmly analysing the past. For me poetry is a medium that comfortably allows you to do both and everything in between.

How has poetry changed your life?

I write poetry now. I read poetry now. Sometimes I hear people talk and I see lines, stanzas, poems, so sometimes I listen in poetry now. Sometimes I see things and hear the images, so sometimes I see in poetry now too. I feel things I can’t fully understand or articulate and because of poetry I have somewhere to put them, I don’t have to carry them around with me. Poetry put me back on stages, which is a kind of home I thought I’d never get to go back to. Poetry has changed my life because it’s changed me, and how I engage with others, the world, myself and God. That’s how poetry has changed my life.

I'm Rooting For Everybody Black


Mostly that means I don’t want the black character to get dead off first. My hope is a poke at the
swaying Jenga tower. It doesn’t always fall, sometimes the black character get dead off second.

I’m rooting for everybody black

Mostly that means screaming when I see a black face. One you recognise is sweeter; a British one
is sweetest. Like the taste of my shout when I saw Michaela Coel on the USS Callister.

I’m rooting for everybody black

It looks like he’s singing and dancing, but this brother’s taking enormous chances 2. Kendrick
finishes. The audience rise to their feet applauding, white froth from every ocean gathered in
that room to clap.

Pastor came and preached the same sermon two years ago. Rockface hits water over and over
hoping at some point thy listen.

I’m rooting for everybody black

Mostly that means paying to see Black Panther more than once. So much black on a Hollywood
screen, I must soak my eyes in it. I would drown in black like a satellite floating in space.

I am hoping against sense that Hollywood is the same. I am done seeing blackberries drowned in

I’m rooting for everybody black


(1) During an interview on the red carpet at the 2017 Emmys, Issa Rae (award winning actor, writer, director, producer and web series creator) was asked who’d be rooting for that night. She responded, ‘I’m rooting for everybody black. I am. Betting on black tonight’.

(2) As part of Kendrick Lamar’s 2018 Grammy performance, Dave Chappelle (legendary comedian and actor) made some timely comments about what the great artist was doing. During his second interruption he said, “Is this on cable, this CBS? ‘Cos it looks like he’s singing and dancing, but this brother’s taking enormous chances. Rumble, young man, rumble!”

Watch more Subject to Change

Discover more performances from our Young Poets as they respond to our changing times through poetry

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