In Culture, Lifestyle, The Biographies Series, UK

All peoples and nations have a cultural stamp that is the mark they leave on the world. Traditions and customs help to preserve a sense of identity. No matter where we may go in life, we will never forget where we came from.

One of the world’s most popular celebrations of Caribbean culture, Notting Hill Carnival, takes place this bank holiday weekend. In recent years, the carnival has come under fire for inciting violence and drug use. Although some may attend carnival with their own agendas in mind, we should never forget why it was started in the first place.

Activist Claudia Jones, who was an immigrant from Trinidad, decided to start a carnival to celebrate Jamaican culture. Rhuane Lauslett is also credited as the founder of Notting Hill Carnival. The first event took place in 1966.

notting-hill-carnial-1966

Notting Hill Carnival – 1966: Photo credit: Charlie Gillett/Redferns

Notting Hill Carnival – 2017

Notting Hill Carnival – 2017: Photo credit: UK Travelers

 

At this time, racial tensions were at their peak as many British citizens believed that the Carribbean people were taking ‘their’ jobs. Despite the constant criticism they received, the Windrush generation and their descendants continued to make a remarkable contribution to British society. They first arrived in Britain in 1948 with hopes for a better life. Their resilience and was and still is, admirable and respectful. Remembering Carribbean culture is important, especially when we think of the recent Windrush scandal. When she was home secretary, Theresa May, set out a policy which required employers to demand evidence of people’s citizenship or immigration status.

Empire Windrush in 1948

Empire Windrush in 1948 – Photo credit: Affinity Magazine

The revelation, which came to light earlier this year, shocked the entire black community in the U.K. The Windrush generation has gifted Britain with leaders in many fields such as business, sport, politics and cuisine. Caribbean influences can also be seen in national cuisine, through dishes such as rice and peas, jerk chicken and mouth-watering patties. Black culture in the U.K is about pride, having a sense of belonging, rising in the face of adversity and being inclusive of others. I think one of the reasons why black culture is celebrated so much in the UK is because there are no limits and people from other backgrounds and nations have embraced it and all it has to offer.

Notting Hill Carnival is an important part of the UK’s black culture and its history. It should serve as a reminder that we are all one and when we come together as a society, beautiful memories are created.

Photo credit: @Dazzle_Jam courtesy of Nappy Co

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