It’s nearing the end of the year and looking back it seems that we young black brits have finally paved a way for to us showcase our talent, success and most importantly a space to truly be ourselves.
Away from the oppression and micro-aggressions that follows us daily, into a place to reconnect with each other and be authentic.
Especially, important spaces like the UK’s first ever Black Girl Festival created by two friends and Londoners, Paula Akpan and Nicole Krystal. It was launched this year to celebrate black British women past, present & future with arts, workshops, panels, a marketplace for all ages. The festival was a huge hit and completely sold out, showing the high demand for black brits to come together as a community and support each other in new un-charted waters.
Or how about Black in The Day, a submission based archive, launched in 2016 to document the experiences of black British people over the decades. Having starred at the Tate Gallery’s ‘Late At Tate’ exhibition, and part of Dazed’s 2017 Black History Month Feature, the archive has received over 200 submissions and is moving from strength to strength.
Not to mention, the spaces created for queer black brits, who have notoriously been left of the conversation all together. Co-founders by Nadine Davis and Tia Simon-Campbell are dedicated to changing this, through the creation of BBZ, a platform exhibiting the artistic works of queer women of colour via a range of diverse events. This is similar to the Black Creatives Dinner Party, founded by Tobi Kyeremateng, is a DIY, informal and fun dinner party to celebrate excellence, toast to the next one and meet fellow Black creatives across all the industries.
Tobi said: “The arts is segregated depending on the industry you are in and there aren’t many clear forums to come together or meet new people that is open to all sectors. I wanted to create the kind of space I would’ve loved – and still would love! – to have access to when starting out and seeking a support network. Physical spaces are necessary, and the ‘coming together’ over food has always been a great way for me to bond, so why not?”
So, the past couple of years have breathed life into spaces that are unique to black Brits, particularly creatives. With each space growing and collaborating across the board to feature as many of us as possible, I can’t help but think on how important it is to protect these spaces. We have historically been locked out of areas where we can fully express ourselves and struggled to get necessary projects off the ground. Our skin colour often acts as a barrier to organisations who may harbour racial prejudices and discriminate against our ideas for those of our white counterparts. Or these ideas are stolen under the protection of white privilege and an unjust society.
Now, things are different with social media and crowdfunding platforms which allows us to do this without the backing of any company. And as these spaces gain more momentum we can’t afford to let them go to the wayside. They are unique and crucial to the black British experience, entitling us to share our stories in areas like hair, work place and identity struggle.
Banding together means that we can protect these spaces for future generations to come, ensuring our special narrative is never forgotten. And while our beginnings may be humble, their impact is most certainly felt and will only get bigger.
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