August 23, 2019
Two weeks ago, I sat in a local park watching the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform ABBA while munching on a kebab, surrounded by families dressed up for Eid. 
Notting Hill Carnival Must Remain An Institution – But I Wont Be Attending
I am no stranger to such mishmashes of cultures. As a 25-year-old, Jamaica-born, London-raised Brit, I know that identity is not defined by surnames but by stories. And it is the stories we share with those around us, and pass from one generation to the next, that create community.
Few things define Britain’s black communities more than Notting Hill Carnival. From its origins under the roof of St Pancras Town Hall, to its current status as one of the world’s largest street festivals, Notting Hill Carnival is a part of the story of black Britain.While I may not be able to stomach the idea of a day in the street caught up in the jubilations of millions of party-goers, I am proud that Carnival exists.Despite that, I have never actually been to it.
Between growing up in a conservative Christian household and struggling with anxiety for most of my adult life, my only experience of Carnival has been second hand. As a child, I heard about the extravagant costumes, colourful floats, and noisy parades, but was content enjoying my sunny Bank Holiday weekends eating ice cream in the park with my family.
However, as I grew older, I became curious about Carnival, not least because year after year it would feature in the news. From the pews, I heard stories of debauchery and carnality, and on the news, I heard stories of danger and criminality.
It was not until my late teens that I heard a different story: not one of sin nor criminality, but a story of resistance.
In 1958, Majbritt Morrisson, a white woman, was seen arguing with her husband, Raymond Morrison, a black man. It was this argument that sparked the descent of hundreds of white men, many of them “Teddy Boys” upon the prominently West Indian community of Notting Hill and Notting Dale. The black residents responded in turn, resulting in five nights of unrest.
The following year, Trinidad-born Claudia Jones, founder of the West Indian Gazette, responded to the unrest with an event in St Pancras Town Hall to bring the West Indian community together. The event was hosted again in the years that followed, eventually moving to west London. It took on many of the aspects of a Trinidadian carnival – costumes and processions – and became a highlight of the London year.
I soon saw the story of Notting Hill Carnival to be one of responding to oppression with unity, hardship with creativity – violence with strength. Why then, I wondered, was its narrative marred by threat and violence?
By the 1970s, the festival had grown in popularity. Hundreds of thousands flocked to west London for the celebrations and more and more police were allocated to the event. In 1976, tensions that had been growing between the black community and the police spilled into violence. While many covered the unrest as criminal riot, others viewed it as political rebellion.
Four decades later, this focus on criminality persists. Attracting over two million attendees, Notting Hill Carnival is the largest street party in Europe.  Of course, crime occurs and must be addressed. Still, many, including Stormzy, have called out the disproportionate focus on crimes at Carnival when compared to other festivals such as Latitude and Glastonbury.
Last year’s event saw a record number of police officers and metal detection arches, and enhanced stop and search powers, notably the use of Section 60. Section 60 permits officers to search anyone in an area without reasonable grounds for suspicion if they anticipate violence. Earlier this month, the government announced a nationwide extension of enhanced police stop and search powers, including lowering the bar for authorisation of Section 60.
Black people are already disproportionately affected by stop and search laws and are nine and a half times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. Under Section 60, black people are 40 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
This is even more disturbing when we note that the Home Office did not find any evidence for increased stop and search having any significant crime-reducing effects. 
When we consider this alongside increasing gentrification, the hostile environment, and anti-knife crime chicken boxes, it feels that the environment which created Carnival still exists. Minoritised groups continue to be scapegoated, hate crimes are increasing, and the nation is fragmented. 
Carnival has its problems, but I believe the solutions lie in the hands of the community that birthed it. While I may not be able to stomach the idea of a day in the street caught up in the jubilations of millions of party-goers, I am proud that Carnival exists. Its story begins with resistance, hope, and celebration; we should do our best for it to stay that way.
Samara Linton is a junior doctor and editor. 
is a part of the story of black Britain.
 
Despite that, I have never actually been to it.
Between growing up in a conservative Christian household and struggling with anxiety for most of my adult life, my only experience of Carnival has been second hand. As a child, I heard about the extravagant costumes, colourful floats, and noisy parades, but was content enjoying my sunny Bank Holiday weekends eating ice cream in the park with my family.
However, as I grew older, I became curious about Carnival, not least because year after year it would feature in the news. From the pews, I heard stories of debauchery and carnality, and on the news, I heard stories of danger and criminality.
It was not until my late teens that I heard a different story: not one of sin nor criminality, but a story of resistance.
In 1958, Majbritt Morrisson, a white woman, was seen arguing with her husband, Raymond Morrison, a black man. It was this argument that sparked the descent of hundreds of white men, many of them “Teddy Boys” upon the prominently West Indian community of Notting Hill and Notting Dale. The black residents responded in turn, resulting in five nights of unrest.
The following year, Trinidad-born Claudia Jones, founder of the West Indian Gazette, responded to the unrest with an event in St Pancras Town Hall to bring the West Indian community together. The event was hosted again in the years that followed, eventually moving to west London. It took on many of the aspects of a Trinidadian carnival – costumes and processions – and became a highlight of the London year.
I soon saw the story of Notting Hill Carnival to be one of responding to oppression with unity, hardship with creativity – violence with strength. Why then, I wondered, was its narrative marred by threat and violence?
By the 1970s, the festival had grown in popularity. Hundreds of thousands flocked to west London for the celebrations and more and more police were allocated to the event. In 1976, tensions that had been growing between the black community and the police spilled into violence. While many covered the unrest as criminal riot, others viewed it as political rebellion.
Four decades later, this focus on criminality persists. Attracting over two million attendees, Notting Hill Carnival is the largest street party in Europe.  Of course, crime occurs and must be addressed. Still, many, including Stormzy, have called out the disproportionate focus on crimes at Carnival when compared to other festivals such as Latitude and Glastonbury.
Last year’s event saw a record number of police officers and metal detection arches, and enhanced stop and search powers, notably the use of Section 60. Section 60 permits officers to search anyone in an area without reasonable grounds for suspicion if they anticipate violence. Earlier this month, the government announced a nationwide extension of enhanced police stop and search powers, including lowering the bar for authorisation of Section 60.
Black people are already disproportionately affected by stop and search laws and are nine and a half times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. Under Section 60, black people are 40 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
This is even more disturbing when we note that the Home Office did not find any evidence for increased stop and search having any significant crime-reducing effects. 
When we consider this alongside increasing gentrification, the hostile environment, and anti-knife crime chicken boxes, it feels that the environment which created Carnival still exists. Minoritised groups continue to be scapegoated, hate crimes are increasing, and the nation is fragmented. 
Carnival has its problems, but I believe the solutions lie in the hands of the community that birthed it. While I may not be able to stomach the idea of a day in the street caught up in the jubilations of millions of party-goers, I am proud that Carnival exists. Its story begins with resistance, hope, and celebration; we should do our best for it to stay that way.
Samara Linton is a junior doctor and editor. Related... Worried About Police Facial Recognition Cameras? Here’s What You Should Know Stop And Search Rules Relaxed In Bid To Curb Knife Attacks Notting Hill Race Riots: 60 Years On, How Has The Community Changed?
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