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Celebrating what it means to be black and British, part 2

'Untitled' by Kariima Ali

Q: Do you come from a particularly creative family?

A: I wouldn't say creative in the conventional sense, but my family are definitely creative in their own ways whether that be figuring out ways to survive or very simply navigating their own paths. My parents never stifled any creativity that I ever showed and I owe them for that.

Q: Who are some of the BME artists you admire?

A: A lot of my friends that are artists definitely inspire me. A handful of black artists that I admire are Ming Smith, Roy DeCarava, Carrie Mae Weems and Arthur Jafa among many others. My instagram feed also gets a shout out, I follow a lot of amazing young BME people creating artwork that I wish could be seen everywhere.

Q: What does it mean to be British to you?

A: I see it as very much just a place holder for where I am in the world at this time, I don't necessarily think it's an integral part of me, as a black muslim woman in particular and I'm more than alright with that. What does being British mean in the context of today's world anyway? I don't think identifying oneself as British has any remedying effects on the realities of how minorities live and are treated in this country.

Q: When did you begin to come to terms with your dual identity as a British and BME woman?

A: I came to terms with that years ago, I just don't think a lot of people in this country have.

Q: Was there an initial struggle for you, dealing with identity as a black British woman?

A: I think there is always the initial struggle of the 'where am I from' phase in your teen years, but as I've grown and had a clearer outlook on who I am and consequently what Britain is/represents, it is easier to distance myself from that and still be able to keep my own subjectivity.

Q: How does your artwork reflect your current social/economic beliefs?

A: They're a very integral part of my work, I always strive to build the work I'm creating around how I can express how much I love the beauty and alienation that comes with my people. It's important to me that my work is about the things around me that I care about, even if it's just taking portraits of my talented friends and their work. I think it's important for black people in particular to be able to archive and document themselves on their own terms.

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