My introduction to the racial dynamics of the 60s/70s came from my parents, who both came to Britain at very young ages.
A volatile environment stoked by racist fear mongering (under a far right government) and frequent clashes between caribbeans and the disgruntled white working class; my dad’s weekend adventures involved squaring up to slack jawed teddy boys, whose idea of banter was chucking firebombs through the letterboxes of black families – it was no easy feat.
… the shocking, eventful death of thirty-three-year-old Kelso Cochrane in May 1959 revealed the depth and character of racial violence that official political commentary had been at a loss to explain as the attacks and sporadic conflicts dragged on for months
– Paul Gilroy
This is the climate that birthed the Notting Hill Carnival: racism, resistance and weary Caribbeans finally standing up to the bullshit.
So fast-forward to Sunday 28th August 2016, and I’m heel toeing it to a Latimer road apartment to meet up with a photographer friend and his partner both working for Trinis in London. Although the following day would see me liquored up on magnum tonic wine and henny screaming ‘man ah di least’ at the top of my lungs, I still recognised the gravity of treading those yuppified streets in my chunky black sandal heels, with camera in tow, feeling like a badass goodaz Caribbean goddess. Taking up space and staking my claim, just like those who came before me.
The triumph of the carnival crowd lay less in any short-term defeat for the police and more for the immediate pleasure of its autonomy, and in a fleeting sense of its own power being temporarily restored
– Paul Gilroy
I spent the final carnival day posted at a reggae/bashment sound system, and it was stirring seeing my people just living good, living life and living care free. It would have been such a waste not to, you know?