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Is Notting Hill Carnival Losing Its Magic?

Photo credits: Yossyakin

Notting Hill Carnival came to be in the late 1950s after a series of violent racist attacks in West London known as the “race riots”. In response to this, the Trinidadian activist and founder of the Western exec, Claudia Jones started a Caribbean festival that was originally indoors in St. Pancras, and it was televised on the BBC at the time.

A few years later, a woman called Rhaune Laslett (again in the context of the trouble) started a street festival to promote multicultural unity in the area. It became a “Caribbean carnival” when Ross Henderson and his Trinidadian steel band took to the streets of Portobello Road and has had that Caribbean flavour ever since. 

Notting Hill Carnival has always championed diversity and this is seen even today.

We have to give a particular shout out to the Trinidadian community because it is very much a Trinidadian origin festival, but in the 1970s the London carnival became what it is today by the blending of the Trinidad street procession and the Jamaican sound system. 

It is this Caribbean culture cocktail rooted in a multi-ethnic anti-racist struggle in West London that makes Notting Hill Carnival the largest street festival in the world outside of Latin America enjoyed by millions every August.

Obviously since the 1970’s London has evolved to become a melting pot of cultures and diversity and after 2 years without Notting Hill Carnival EVERYONE was going to be there.

But in the aftermath of the Notting Hill Carnival some parts of the Caribbean community are outraged by the mono-ethnic display of “Black British” culture instead of the purely Caribbean origin and what some have described as a “white wash” of carnival traditions. 

 

 

 

Some may describe these issues as protectionist and even anti-diverse in an “everything for everyone” 2022, but there is an important point here: Black-British isn’t a term that accurately describes the culture of everyone who is Black and born in the United Kingdom. We are different, our cultures are different and when you come to Notting Hill Carnival, it’s to celebrate that. Indulge in the euphoric Caribbean culture cocktail. It’s important for the organisers to respect the London Carnival’s heritage by keeping Notting Hill Carnival for everyone but not by everyone. 

 

Do you think Carnival should be strictly Carribean themed? Vote on Twitter below.

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