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Our #iamblackbristol campaign picks

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The #iamblackbristol campaign promoted the African and Caribbean members of the Bristol community in a People of New York-esque style. This campaign ran for a week and asked individuals about what Blackness meant to them and what they loved about Bristol. Everyone that took part in the project is in some way shape or form moulding culture  in Bristol.

Below are some of our favourite people from that week and a little bit about them:

Zahra Ash-Harper


Meet Zahra Ash-Harper an inspiring and driven Studio Producer at Pervasive Media Studios Watershed. In 2012 she co-founded Antithesis, a slow fashion brand breaking away from the fashion mainstream through slow design. The multi-functional pieces aimed at contributing to a new consumerism philosophy advocating quality over quantity.

What does being black mean to you?

Home, Humility and Humour – I feel that Black people are very lucky to have MANY home’s outside of Africa (our first home). We have successfully travelled and spread out genetic wealth far and wide. I think being able to settle and adapt quickly and develop a sense of place is the basis of our continued survival, despite consistent and historical persecution through the ages.

We as a people have struggled to be heard and understood or be afforded fair rights or reparation for our historical experience for hundreds of years now. Nonetheless, it is actually very rare for this to boil up into anger, or violent revolution – despite the common sense and human rights adverse nature of prolonged institutional racism. This for me is a show of the strength and confidence inherent in the Black experience – that we as a community of people can and do make a difference by being generous of spirit toward those who misrepresent, patronise and/or dismiss our culture and contribution in society.

What do you love about Bristol?

Bristol is a place where I can be my whole self. I am quite irreverent, joyful, inclusive, Queer and creative in my approach to life and work (and can be a handful but that’s me!).

(Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of her employer)

Laura Lewis-Paul

It is an absolute pleasure to introduce you to your guide on all things musical Laura Lewis-paul. Laura is the Creative Director of Saffron Records a female youth record label that is producing incredible artists. Laura was born in London and moved to Bristol 10 years ago to study fashion. She completely fell in love with Bristol and decided to stay and we’ve all been blessed because if it!

What does Blackness mean to you?

Honestly, it has been a struggle to find my identity and space due to my half Caribbean half British background. However, I know being black is about understanding and embracing your heritage and culture. Blackness is about being true to yourself and constantly aware of your impact. We are a community and individually we are influencers so blackness is about being aware of that influence.

What do you love about Bristol?

I love that Bristol is so creative and supportive. I have noticed that when it comes to anything that’s independent people are always willing to help. It’s about community here and I really love that.

Shout out to Sam Mulvey for amazing photos!

Ngaio Aniya


Meet the colourful campaigner and singer Ngaio Anyia. Ngaio is currently working on her mixtape and sings backup for Eva Lazarus. After feeling angered by the unlawful killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling she helped to organise the Black Lives Matter march in Bristol and has since formed a group of like-mindedd individuals to help organise future events.

What does blackness mean to you?

This is quite a loaded questions for me. Blackness as a thing is something that I have had to allow myself to feel accepted into as I am mixed heritage and grew up in a predominantly white area. Surprisingly, I didn’t always feel allowed to call myself black I was even called a ‘crap black person’ at one point. However, seeing the struggles that black people are facing worldwide made me realise that Blackness means standing up for what you believe in despite the world trying to hold you down. Blackness is about educating yourself on your identity and heritage and not allowing anyone to tell you about who you are.

What do you love about Bristol?

I hate to be so cliche but it has to be the thriving music scene. In addition to this Bristol is an activist city just as much as it is a creative city and I love that!

Jasmine Thompson


Meet the vibrant and vivacious Jasmine Thompson Illustration an illustrator, designer and writer. She is an experienced reportage artist and cartoonist, operating as both a freelancer and content creator for Rife Magazine at Watershed. She has also worked alongside Situations Rising and Saffron Records. Her recent practice focuses on identity and culture within our cities, and projects include ‘Refugee Women of Bristol’ and ‘From Curls To Coils’; a visual reportage on natural hair. She is unapologetically #BlackBristol!

What does Blackness mean to you?

For me blackness means connection, it means belonging. It gives me community and that is something I have always needed.

Why do you love Bristol?

My time here has provided me with so many options, and has allowed me to access people who share the same interests. I’ve had a unique experience living here and it has opened up so many doors. I can create opportunities and art for all the things I feel strongly about and know there will always be an audience for it here.

Photo Credit: The incredibly talented and wonderful Ailsa Fineron Photography

Vanessa Kissule

Meet your new favourite writer Vanessa Kisuule.

Vanessa has won several slam titles including Farrago Schools Out Slam Champion 2010, Bang Said The Gun Award, Poetry Rivals 2011, Next Generation Slam 2012, Slambassadors 2010 and South West Hammer and Tongue Slam Champion 2012 and most recently The Roundhouse Slam 2014, Hammer and Tongue National Slam 2014 and the Nuyorican Poetry Slam in New York. She has worked with the Southbank Centre, RADA, The Bristol City Council and had her work featured on BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 1 and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, The Guardian, Blue Peter, Sky TV and TEDx in Vienna. She represented the UK in two European Slam Championships in Sweden and Belgium and completed a ten-day tour around Germany in 2015. Her debut poetry collection ‘Joyriding The Storm’ was published in April 2014. She has performed at an array of renowned poetry events such as Blahblahblah at the Bristol Old Vic, Tongue Fu, Chill Pill in London, Hit the Ode in Birmingham and Shake the Dust in Plymouth and many festivals including Shambala, WOMAD, Wilderness, Secret Garden Party and Glastonbury.

What does Blackness mean to you?

Blackness is not a monolith – I like to believe that it means different things to different people and that as a community we allow space for that. For me, it is a socio-political thing which can be tied up with cultural hallmarks but for the most part, I think my idea of blackness changes and evolves with my life experiences.

What do you love about Bristol?

Bristol is a great city to be a creative – it’s got the balance between being vibrant and exciting whilst also having a grassroots, community vibe.

Effiom Ene-Obong



Meet the He is an entrepreneur, pioneer, and community organiser. He is best known as the founder of The-Society, a community interest organisation set up for the relief of unemployment. He is black Bristol.

Ene-Obong expressed his desire to become an entrepreneur at a young age. By the age of fourteen, his first business venture was selling superhero comic books with African characters to his school mates. In the last 15 years, he has run businesses in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Leicester, Manchester, London and Bristol.

In 2014, he started to run job clubs, and later the same year started The-Society, which has grown rapidly in the last year. Ene-Obong is currently the Chairman of the board of ‘The-Society’, a Director of Ethical Staffing Alternatives Ltd, and the President of Bristol Pop Ups and Bristol Rickshaws.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Meet the young black women carving out safe spaces in Bristol and Cambridge | gal-dem

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