My favourite part of London is Notting Hill and not because of the movie. As a native New Yorker and Parisienne, I feel at home here. The neighbourhood has a little bit of each city that makes me feel right at home.
The extra plus is living right smack in the middle of Knotting Hill for what I like to call the Pride for BrownWomen parade. The Notting Hill Carnival 2019 reminded me that many different ethnic groups call the Caribbean home. Right outside my windows, the ancestors were calling me this weekend to praise and dance with all the Caribbean Queens.
When one fo the floats woke me up while they were practising before they turned the corner to enter the float route. We rushed to the windows to see what the spectacular commotion was. This carnival crew wanted to remind us of the crisis going on in the Amazon.
The Pride for Brown Women
It was time to Samba and the rhythms started to make our hips move and twerk. Let’s get ready to hit the streets with our sisters and brothers. Thank you to the float that teased us to come out and get down with our neighbours.
Notting Hill Carnival 2019
It was a party like a New York City block party but wilder like an Ibiza free for all. This beautiful phenomenon gathered all the brown people in London. From Afro Caribbean, Asian Caribbean, Mixed Race Caribbean to Afro Latino. All cultures felt included. It was a day to celebrate the pride of being brown.
A safe place for brown people to feel safe in their skin. Kinda made us wish we had a carnival costume on with feathers, jewels and a headdress. At this party, culture was what everyone wanted to see. It was all about jumping and winding it up.
Knotting Hill Carnival 2019 Vibes
It was a joy to feel free and yourself. This is why this carnival in London is so important to us brown women. The first and largest carnival in Britain, Notting Hill, sprouted from the charred ground of a London borough rife with racial tensions, poverty and inequality.
Many Caribbean immigrants had settled here in Notting Hill area. After promises of jobs, wealth and work. In the form of the British Nationality Act, which invited Commonwealth citizens to come and lend their hand in the ‘mother country’ during the UK’s post-war labour shortage.
But at the heart of the Westside of London, is the spectacle: Notting Hill Carnival. Complete with masqueraders in jaw-dropping costumes, flamboyant floats and chest-pounding sound systems. An unabashed celebration of everything it means to be black and British.
Even though the British Carribeans started it, the rhythms are from where all brown people are from. You are sure to hear Afro Beats, Reggae, Calypso, Hip Hop, Reggaeton, Soca to Samba.
This is our chance to see ourselves reflected a thousand times over in joyous technicolour. For black women, especially, carnival can feel like a weekend of runway to beauty pageants where there is a space for all of our beauty and talent. It’s a time to be loud and proud in a society that so often shames us for it.
There is power in seeing ourselves represented in ever shade. A day where black and brown faces, we see dancing, laughing and performing at the carnival a happy day of pride exclusively for brown women. We might not see them in magazines, or on television, or in parliament – but every August, we can be sure to see them peacock down the streets of Notting Hill.