As a journalist for “Milling Around” the online magazine at The Mill E17, having graduated from Joy Francis’ course “Words Of Colour ‘Mapping the Change ‘” in Hackney, I decided to use my 0615h start to the day by asking permission of a certain forty year old café’s septuagenarian owners if I could interview them with specific regard to their having seen changes in Lea Bridge Road over half a century. They said “No”.
After High Street Seniors I raced up to Dalston Junction to the new CLR James Library. Those of us who booked with Joy Francis, Managing Director of Words Of Colour were the lucky ones to get into the venue before the masses. Tonight’s presentation as part of Black History Month celebrations in Hackney Libraries and, let’s remember it’s UN Year of People Of African Descent (which means all of humankind), was a debate chaired by Joy. The pertinent issue debated or rather discussed by the panel of eminent writers, editors and entrepeneurs is the fact that African fashion designs, black designers and black models in UK 2011 are not achieving equality of opportunity.
The room was packed. The session was serious and really the speakers wanted we the audience to get the message that when they support each other as black business people they will have the power to make others (mainstream white businesses and media) realise that they, black designers and black houses of fashion, will have definitely and without compromise equal and solid shares in the business hierarchy. Often the word African was used such that one listener asked whether the panel saw themselves as Africans designing fashionable attire or black fashion experts creating all that is marketable based on African designs.
There was much to ponder in less than 90 minutes. There are many people from many backgrounds who are surprised at the British Gas’s advert which reflects the diversity in London, at least, with a cartoon using what could be a Sikh guy, then a woman technician/engineer, a black guy and a laughing cat. There are many people of many hues asking “Where are the black people in the adverts?” Age UK had their token black guys and that was noticed and I mean that it was not enough.
Media keeps the world spinning and so is powerful. That lightweight Dyson still belongs to a woman. We all have miles to go yet. Tonight at CLR James Library was a step more towards demolishing complacency about the status quo.