Black London: The Side You Don’t Know

It’s 6pm. Reruns of Casper play on TV, as kids eagerly rip open a box of Celebrations. Up the road, a mass of black boys in hoodies and hockey masks congregate.

They exchange sinister glances between themselves, uttering only a few inaudible phrases. One reaches in his bag, and pulls out a football. Probably wasn’t what you expected.

Well, what do you expect, when you see an article about young black people in London?

If your mind diverts to some form of crime, I don’t blame you.

It’s the distasteful impression that the media likes to cast, to have everyone thinking the same way. I know.

You can’t remember the last time you read an article celebrating young black people in London, particularly because The Evening Standard tends to only have something to say when a crime has been perpetrated.

Black History Month.

Is it really just one month?

Are we supposed  to only celebrate black people for ONE month in the duration of the year? Then when the month ends, pretend like we’ve never heard of Elijah McCoy? (there’s some knowledge for you, there’s famous black historical figures besides Malcolm X and MLK.)

London is a special one. It’s like a two-sided coin, except the faces on the coin are never the same after each flip.

The popular opinion is always changing, especially in an age where it’s all too easy to formulate one.

With that being said, I’d confidently say almost everyone is celebrating the rapid growth of Streatham’s golden boy, Santandave. Or more recently, the art exhibition entirely centred around grime by Sophia Tassew (@SophiaTassew on Twitter).

It’s captivating to see pieces of art inspired entirely by a music genre which black Londoners champion. It’s captivating to see black Londoners carving their own path.

Sophia Tassew at her Grime inspired art exhibition
Sophia Tassew at her Grime inspired art exhibition

The thing about being a young black person in London is, it’s hard to cherish the defining moments in your life, when you’re made to believe the odds are against you.

The unspoken rule, is that as black people, we have to work twice as hard to get half as much. What they don’t tell you, is the difference between working smart and working hard.

Take Jamal Edwards for example. SBTV started from a basic camera he received, as a gift from his parents on Christmas, when he was only 15. “The only failure is not trying” he rightfully says; the simplest ideas tend to be the most profitable in the long-run.

His idea wasn’t exactly revolutionary, but he’s worth more than £8M simply because he followed through with a thought.

Jamal Edwards holds his Member of the British Empire (MBE), after it was awarded to him by the Prince of Wales.
Jamal Edwards holds his Member of the British Empire (MBE), after it was awarded to him by the Prince of Wales.

I could go on listing all the successful black Londoners, but that’s of no relevance to you.

What is relevant, is acknowledging the side of Black London you don’t know.

The side that doesn’t make headlines. The side where black boys chill on their estate sharing banter with one another.

The side where black girls are heard uplifting each other and embracing their sisterhood.

Black History Month is more than just putting up posters of Martin Luther King.

It’s about recognising a race of people who refuse to let adversity be their undoing; it’s about understanding the events that shaped the world you live in today, because the past still dictates the future.

More importantly, acknowledging London’s blossoming black community.

The winner of this year's critically acclaimed Mercury Prize.
The winner of this year’s critically acclaimed Mercury Prize.

I am nothing, we are everything.” – Skep


IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GUEST BLOG YOURSELF: [wp-svg-icons icon=”arrow-right” wrap=”i”]     Click Here