Love Music Hate Racism. Challenging bigotry and remembering Grenfell at Notting Hill Carnival

Europe’s biggest street party got a welcome injection of politics and defiance from Love Music Hate Racism for the third year running as their float took to the streets of Notting Hill with a massive sound system and around two hundred followers. The music was provided by veteran Carnival legends the Smokey Joe Roadshow who kept the political message at the forefront of the festivities from beginning to end, along with keeping absolutely everyone dancing. DJ Smokey Joe said: “Since teaming up with Love Music Hate Racism, I’ve decided that I’m going to do carnival with a purpose. We’re not going out on the road to do protests like you would on a march, we’re going out there and still having fun. But just the mere presence of LMHR on the road – just with the banners and the t-shirts – says it all.”

Dj Smokey Joe

There were regular chants of ‘Fuck Boris’ and ‘Justice for Grenfell’ as the entourage made its way around the Carnival route. Huge thanks go out to the NEU trade union who sponsor this venture along with donations from the NASWUT, ASLEF, Prospect, CWU and UNITE. Zak Cochrane, campaign coordinator of Love Music Hate Racism said:
“the carnival is a fantastic spectacle that shows the strength of our multicultural society. LMHR wanted to celebrate the positive role the carnival has played over the decades in pulling communities together at times of hostility or rising racism. This was the intention of Claudia Jones and her contemporaries when they brought the parade to London. Once again we are seeing how racist ideas are becoming normalised by politicians like Donald Trump and the far-right have become embolden enough to commit violent attacks.This weekend was about taking strength from the carnival, being one of the many creative ways people have resisted racism in the past, so we can apply it to the challenges we face today.”

72 seconds silence for Grenfell

One of the most utterly jaw dropping moments of the entire carnival came at 3pm on Sunday. We witnessed an incredible feat of cooperation and coordination between the organisers and the sound systems that saw the entire event fall silent and raise the fist for seventy two seconds in remembrance of the Grenfell victims and in solidarity with the survivors fight for justice. Seeing a one million strong party go from being the noisiest place on the planet to the quietest is a powerful reminder of how feelings are still running high in West London two years after the tragedy that saw seventy two mainly poor and BAME people lose their lives due to the irresponsible greed and stupidity of their land lords. Firefighters who were collecting for their own charity outside the North Kensington fire station, which was on the route of the carnival parade, received a grateful and positive response from the passing crowds.

North Kensington Fire station on the route of carnival

Yet again overtly negative (aka racist) mainstream media coverage of the carnival has come under the spotlight. In a superbly researched piece by the Huffington Post it has been pointed out how the news channels and tabloids weave a very different narrative when discussing carnival, which is very black and working class, in comparison to other large scale events like Glastonbury Festival which these days is very white and middle class. We highly recommend a read of their article which you can access here.

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