Don’t Forget to Celebrate

Anita Israel, Student/Staff

Having come to the UK from Kenya as a child, I was raised with western ideals, however, my mother never let me forget my origin. My photography career began as an exploration into my own identity, but as the projects have grown so has my approach. My role as Education Officer at UAL’s Student’ Union delivers a unique and often melancholic perspective into what young black creatives are up against. I’ve had to bear witness to the effects of institutionalised racism. The experience of lobbying the university for a fair and equal education has moulded my perspective and strengthened the urgency to uplift the black voice through my work. I’m consistently documenting the evolution of the black identity, using my camera to examine the ways in which African and Caribbean culture has evolved and thrived in spite of society’s limitations. 

‘Don’t forget to celebrate’ consists of a series of portraits taken over a three-year span at Notting Hill Carnival. My images demonstrate an ownership and comfortability over the black identity. They signify a time of celebration, elation and youthfulness, serving as a reminder to myself and others that struggle is not without celebration. 

Sometimes it can be impossible to disassociate from societal and political chaos, I often feel as if we are simply recycling the same fights our ancestors were having years ago. Nevertheless, we owe it to ourselves to celebrate our identities, be proud of our achievements and praise each other… always. 

This article was originally written and published in Decolonising the Arts Curriculum: Perspectives on Higher Education Zine 2 (2019).

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