Asian Music and Dance

Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack

Through soulful singing, theatrical performances, pop-lock dancing and thought-provoking lyrics, youths hailing from nine different London boroughs called for an end to youth knife crime.

The original production, ‘There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack,’ was organised by Pan Intercultural Arts and the Asian Dub Foundation Education (ADFED) and performed at Hackney Empire in July. It was inspired by the book of the same title written by Paul Gilroy and published in 1987. Both the book and performance examined themes such as ‘Britishness,’ identity, (un)belonging and cultural diversity, among others, to celebrate interculturalism. ‘Interculturalism’ suggests an actual exchange between cultures that triggers dialogue and understanding; as opposed to multiculturalism, which merely suggests placing cultures side-by-side, Pan Artistic Director John Martin said.

“Through the project we were able to bring the politics to the youths in a form they would be able to understand,” said ADFED Managing Arts Consultant Sonia Mehta.

Developing the project took nearly two years and involved approximately 200 participants. Youths worked with professionals to create original plays, lyrics and music — mostly rap, hip hop, R&B and grime (a genre of music originating in London  combining rap, electronic and other music genres) — to interpret the themes with their own experiences.



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