After three full years of waiting – Notting Hill Carnival is back – (I do not count that virtual) – and I was front and centre ready for all the Shenanigans! If you follow me on social media, namely Instagram, you got a first-hand experience of me walking carnival.
Dubbed as Europe’s largest Street party/Festival – Carnival is so much more than that. Believe it or not Carnival was birthed as a response to extreme racial tension at the time – can you believe August Bank Holidays were unofficially days for racial attacks on Black people to ‘get n*ggers out of their country’. During the mid-1950s when Caribbeans migrated to the UK to help build the country, they were met with the most hostile reception; Notting Hill was the place where many settle and were able to rent out which is why the main Carnival in the UK is based here.
Carnival was birthed as a positive celebration of unadulterated black joy, black magic and black resilience! I remember there was a point when I went to church and they would tell me that rituals were done during carnival because of the monsters and etc. I decided to do my research (aka do to the Elders of my family) and speak to the Caribbeans I respected from across the islands.
I found out that Carnival in the Caribbean is not a way to pay homage to the devil like churches say but actually it’s extremely symbolic. The monsters with horns and the depictions of evil people are in fact the slave masters – the racist white people and the ‘jab’ where the monster is ‘captured and beaten’ is showing the way we fought for our freedom against oppression. (Isn’t it hilarious that churches who are inherently racist want us black people to stop celebrating the Emancipation of our people?! Let me leave it there.)
Anyway, you get my drift. Carnival is more than a street party of festival; its the life, breath, creativity born out of the struggle for black people in the UK. Its a showcase and labour of love, strength and resilience and I could not be any prouder of being a Black West Indian Woman at Carnival.
I love Carnival for the history and all that it stands for – the black power of it all! We never sit in oppression or make it ‘fashionable’ we create and birth beautiful things from it. And what better way to say EFF you to Covid19 than Carnival!
Although the media wants to act like it is just a violent event and should be cancelled – respectfully FUCK YOU. Carnival is in our blood and it will carry on as long as we are here.
That’s all from me!
Love and Hugs,