Category Archives: Arts

Black Girl Festival founders Nicole Crentsil and Paula Apkan

I Went to the UK’s First Black Girl Festival and It Was Beautiful

On 29th October 2017, the country held its first ever Black Girl Festival at Kachette in East London. The festival is the brainchild of curator Nicole Crentsil and Paula Akpan, co-founder of the ‘I’m Tired’ project. Its aim was to “celebrate and explore what it means to be a Black woman in the UK”.

The ongoing (mis)treatment of black women in this country remains a huge problem. We are undervalued and too often treated as if we’re invisible. The racism and sexism (or misogynoir, a term coined by queer black feminist Moya Bailey) directed at us impacts our everyday lives. This year alone, numerous black British women have been vilified by the media and the masses for simply being vocal. Black Girl Festival seems to have come at a perfect time.

Featuring panel discussions, workshops, entertainment and a bustling marketplace full of black-owned businesses, the sold-out, crowdfunded event felt like hugely a self-affirming, joyous safe space for black women and girls. Black women showed up in droves to this historical event; the queue must have stretched hundreds of yards down the street. Black British women’s experiences and achievements aren’t highlighted enough. Therefore it’s no surprise that Black Girl Festival attracted overwhelming support from the moment it was announced. To me, this proves that there is a clear need for spaces like Black Girl Festival.

The atmosphere at Black Girl Festival was incredible. I was thrilled to see so many black women I admire in one place, including Siana Bangura, Kelechi Okafor, The Slumflower, Danielle Dash, Jay and Tri of Curlture. The energy that filled the venue was on another level. You could hear it in the laughter and hums that rippled through the audience during the panel discussions and in the many voices that loudly sang along to Lauryn Hill and SZA in the crowded marketplace. It felt like everyone was basking in pride and joy the entire day, because we knew that Black Girl Festival was created for us, by us.

We were able to comfortably share our experiences and opinions without fear of being judged or silenced. We also talked candidly about everything from natural hair and black women in the media to education, mental health and starting a business. The marketplace was one of my favourite parts of the day. The festival was a perfect opportunity to meet and celebrate black women as well as support black-owned businesses. The businesses in attendance sold makeup, books, zines, artworks, stationery, clothing, accessories and more.

'Black girls in education' panel | Black Girl Festival

L-R: Chante Joseph, Rianna Walcott, Tekisha Henry, Tanya Compas, Sophia Tassew and Rikki Knight on the ‘Black Girls and Education’ panel

I think I’ve been waiting for something like Black Girl Festival for a while. In the last couple of years, I’ve realised that I’ve felt happiest and most comfortable when surrounded by black women. That’s why I love spaces like Black Girl Festival. They show that black women don’t have to see each other as competition. It reminded me that as black women, we are each other’s biggest supporters and that our voices matter. Black Girl Festival is a brilliant example of what we can achieve through collaboration. I’m so happy to have left the festival with some new friends. Thank you to Paula and Nicole for organising a festival for black women and girls of all ages and genders. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

It’s been a week and I’m still mentally reliving all the magic of the UK’s first Black Girl Festival. At last month’s Women of Colour Europe conference, someone said that all you need to do is have a group of black women in a room and it’s going to be amazing. I can’t think of a better way to describe Black Girl Festival.

 

(Because I was having so much fun and getting my life on the day, I didn’t take many pictures. If you want to see what went down, search #blackgirlfestival on Twitter/ Instagram and follow @BlackGirlFest for updates on future events.)

5 Independent Magazines You Need To Read Now

It’s an amazing time for independent publishing, and it’s so easy to publish a print magazine now. Whatever your interests, there’s a publication out there that caters to them. I don’t believe that print is dead (but I’m a bit biased). Here are some independent magazines that I feel deserve your attention and coins.  Continue reading

The Revival Of Print – Why Independent Magazines Are Thriving

Print is dead, apparently, but the world of independent magazine publishing is growing by the day and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The demand for beautifully crafted print magazines has defied the countless bleak warnings of print being on its way out.

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Meet Ballet Black, The Company Diversifying The Pale World Of Ballet

The world of ballet is a pale one. Like other high art forms, ballet is often seen as an interest reserved for upper-class white people. The stark lack of diversity in this field of dance means that white performers are simply the norm.

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Do Emerging Black British Artists Struggle To Gain Recognition In The Art World?

The issue of diversity within British art is a big problem. Numerous reports have shown repeatedly how white and middle-class the creative arts are in the UK and things don’t seem to be improving. Continue reading

Interview: UK rapper Rageouz Talks Growth, His Upcoming EP & The UK Music Scene Today

2015 has been a great year for East London Hip-Hop artist Rageouz. In January, he had everyone talking when he dropped the visual for his track ‘Eastside [Sup Preme]’ and shortly afterwards, GRM Daily selected him as one of their favourite emerging independent artists. I caught up with the 21-year-old to chat about his growth as an artist, working with creative collective one50 and his upcoming EP. Continue reading

Film Review: The Fourth Estate

Cast your mind back to 2011 and think about the news stories that dominated the headlines. Remember the phone-hacking scandal that caused widespread public outrage and consequently led to the Leveson Inquiry? How could any of us forget? Continue reading

My Bloggers Love Fashion Week Experience

Last month I received an invite to the third season of Bloggers Love Fashion Week, which took place on 25th and 26th March at the super cool Fourth Floor studios in East London. This is the first blogger event I’ve attended, and it definitely lived up to my expectations!

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Film Review: Beauty Is…

Beauty Is… is a new documentary from social activist and filmmaker Toyin Agbetu. Featuring a number of interviews with people like British rapper/poet Akala and British actress Judith Jacob, the film looks at how we ourselves define beauty and how black beauty is viewed by society. Continue reading