British Caribbean History Reading List

Each August, Notting Hill in London fills with people attending Carnival.  Notting Hill Carnival has been held since 1966, and this year it’s beginning on Saturday the 26th of August and finishing on Monday the 28th of August over the bank holiday weekend.

Carnival has a long history, and is led by members of the British Caribbean community. Although Notting Hill Carnival itself falls outside of the global carnival season, it has a prominent place in both the hearts of British Caribbean people and the wider community in Britain.

The event has, to some extent, seen a loss in its connection to the British Caribbean community over the years, many people outside  this community often see it as a space to appropriate traditional carnival attire, and as just a street party. In the run up to the carnival, you can see articles on how to re-create the looks of (mostly white) celebrities attending the event for example.

This year, Notting Hill Carnival has been at the centre of some controversy partly due to a debate over whether Carnival should go ahead at all due to the parade route passing the site of the Grenfell Tower fire. Following the tragedy, there were calls to move the carnival such as from Conservative MP Greg Hands. Both Sadiq Karn and many from the community rejected the suggestions to move the event, instead opting to see Carnival as a way to honour those who died. This year, a minutes silence will be observed in order to pay respects for those who died.

Additional controversy has been caused by the Metropolitan Police, as they have claimed to have seized a variety of contraband in the run up to the event on Twitter. It’s perhaps worth considering that such figures were not released in the build up to events like Glastonbury Festival. Many people, grime artist Stormzy for one, have claimed this is as a result of racial profiling as the festival is heavily attended by members of the black community.

In light of all of this, we felt it was important to recommend some reading about the history of the British Caribbean community and Carnival in the hopes people can understand and enjoy Notting Hill Carnival in context.

Reading list

A huge thank you goes to Romario McCalla St Luce for helping us compile this reading list.