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Why the haters wanted to shut down the Notting Hill Carnival

OPPOSITION: Critics of carnival were vocal in their bid to stop this year’s event

WHEN SOMETHING bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.

Carnival 2011 was, according to police, carnival organisers and carnival goers a resounding success. Attendance topped the million mark, arrests were roughly about the same as last year, at around 102 people. Yet the clamour to stop the carnival continues.

Ok, I have not attended the street festival for many many years – it’s just not my thing.

But as one of the world’s leading events which generates a big chunk of change, it beggars belief that the authorities wanted to shut it down. Why? To be brutally honest it’s because the Notting Hill Carnival is a black event that has its roots in black culture. The 52-year-old carnival is a lightning rod for racial stereotypes held by every Tom, Dick or Harriet.

Even before one ping had been struck on a steel pan, the carnival haters were calling for this year’s carnival to be shut down because of the possibilities of riots given last month’s disturbances.

The thing that sticks in the craw is how easily the Notting Hill Carnival is aligned with aggressive rioting and disaffected youths. They are two very different beasts. The real issue is that the chattering classes are afraid of what they see as the dangerous black bogey man. But who can blame them when their only knowledge of the bogey man comes from newspaper headlines and slanted news reports labelling a community as lawless, dangerous, threatening and feral. I’d be scared and I’m black!

It’s telling that the blight on the British landscape less than twenty years ago was football hooliganism. The ferocious unrest which accompanied weekly football fixtures captured public attention in the 1980s. Vicious fights between supporters of rival teams took place before or after football matches both here and abroad. It got so bad it was dubbed The British Disease as gangs attacked each other with deadly weapons including bottles, bats, knives and guns. People were injured and some even died.

Were football matches ever cancelled? No. Was every white football enthusiast or supporter classified a hooligan? No again. Then why do the same to black people?

Unlike the football hooligan who is “allowed” to grow up and get a life, or see the errors of their ways, the big black scary guy will never be allowed to do the same.

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