Almost a month away from London’s iconic Notting Hill Carnival, the controversy begins. Today, the Evening Standard published this article, describing how the yearly event is frightening residents and causes them to “flee” their homes to avoid the “frightening and intimidating event”.
The article discusses only the negatives of the Carnival, describing how “many [residents] are so fed up with the noise and nuisance they are forced to leave every August Bank Holiday while some businesses resort to boarding up their shop fronts.” It also shares results from a poll started by Tory MP Victoria Borwick, who found that that 7/10 residents felt that “anti-social behaviour was a major problem.”
Understandably, both Carnival-goers and non-attendees are pissed off about the ignorance of the article and the people quoted in it. The Standard doesn’t mention that the carnival began in 1966 aiming to celebrate West Indian culture as a response to widespread racial attacks the previous year, choosing to ignore Carnival’s political origins to focus on how irritated the current locals are by it.
Claudia Jones, known as “the mother of carnival”, started the first indoor “Caribbean Carnival” in St. Pancras Town Hall in 1959, to encourage racial unity and raise spirits after the Notting Hill riots of 1958. The outdoor celebration as we know it today began in 1966.
Today, the middle class residents of the area are complaining about the noise and mess the carnival leaves, disregarding it’s cultural heritage and what it symbolises.
In wake of the article, Twitter began a discussion over gentrification and the politics of culture, also moving onto the gentrification of other areas of London.
For more information about the beginnings of Carnival, read Oxford Student Jordan’s blog post here.