What does culture mean to you?

Culture.  A word that has the ability to instantly spark discussions and create waves.  This is how I knew that The Kickback on October 24th was set to be a brilliant one and it did not disappoint – this was definitely one of our best conversations yet.

The conversation was led by Paul Macey, a man of mixed race who grew up in Burnley and was adopted by a white family.   He started off the night by sharing his own cultural experience growing up – “I started off by being identified as half-caste and coloured.  Then it was mixed race.  Then it was dual identity.”  Paul emphasised that culture is something that we can too easily get fixed on and that it should be quite fluid – “Black is not one thing, it is many things.  Asian is not one thing.”

Paul then opened up the conversation for everyone else to get involved, asking what we feel the difference is between generations.  Jenniah was the first to speak, telling us that he thinks you’ll see an imposition of what black culture really is through the media.  Tegan spoke next, saying “I think it would be important for us to define what culture is… You [Paul] said something really interesting about culture being fluid.”

For Alana, talking about culture is not about race.  “I see people based on the character of their soul… Culture is more spiritual,” she explained to us.  When it came to Gus he said, “One thing I’d say about culture is it’s very hard to define,” as he thinks that things are always being tampered with and taken to different places.  However, Susan thinks that culture is finding your own true self.

Picking up on a point Gus made about cultural appropriation, Tegan expressed that “there’s a difference between appreciation and appropriation.”  She referred to cultural appropriation as a nuance and gave the example of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus using black women as props in their music videos.

Paul later gave us food for thought, saying, “It’s interesting how much culture can flourish in the face of discrimination” and “Sometimes culture is silenced.”

As we spoke more about the perception of culture or blackness, Andrae raised the question, “What does black sound like?”  He also provided an answer to his own question, saying, “I think we have to adopt to society” and that it seems like slang is more associated with black people.

The conversation later shifted to what it’s like being black British.  Susan thinks that it can be really difficult for black-British people and African-Americans to find out who you are, as you can go to school and be at home, and have to be different people.  I shared that although I may see myself as British, I do not see myself as European and refer to myself as West Indian.  However, Tegan does not even see herself as British, but rather as a Londoner.

As we spoke more about identity, Boy Nash strongly expressed, “We live in a society and in a system that does not work.”  He told us that it’s up to you to find your strength, define your standards and define your truth, as “we all have our own truth.”

Boy Nash also believes “culture has divided us to some extent” and he thinks that “maybe we should help push each other’s culture and respect each other’s culture.”  Alana thinks that most of the problems we see would be solved if there was less segregation and more love.  Jenniah also made a very interesting point in regards to love: “Being kind and loving is a  powerful tool.  Weakness comes when we don’t combine love and knowledge with the game.”

Paul later asked us how we felt about Black History Month and if we think it helps the conversation.  Tegan thinks that Black History Month could be important for non-black people, while Jenniah thinks it gives time for reflection and that we need to shape the discussion.  Tamar said, “I don’t feel like it added any value to who my identity is… [but] we have to start teaching our children and our youth about their history from a very early age.”

Gus feels Black History Month is a double-edged sword, and Hakeem does not think that it has helped the cause – “I feel like we’re settling.”  Susan believes that it depends on how you perceive Black History Month, seeing it as “us organising events together”

However, Jenniah said, “The dangerous thing is that it dissociates us from general history.  We start to see ourselves as bubble-wrapped and disenfranchised from knowledge.”  Boy Nash also counteracted this point by saying, “We have to play the game here.  The system is cooked.  We have to use that one month wisely.”

To finish up the conversation, Paul asked us to share a positive word on culture that could empower and inspire others.  I’m going to end on some of those gems, which I hope will inspire all of you:

  • “Pressure makes diamonds.” – Gus
  • Be proud of who you are everyday.  Don’t just wait until October.  Everyone’s unique.  Just find the uniqueness within yourself. – Mac
  • “I’m not here to fit into your world.  I’m here to build mine.” – Alana
  • “You’re powerful.” – Jenniah
  • “Knowledge isn’t power.  Applied knowledge is power.” – Boy Nash
  • Know thyself and love thyself.  It’s only through self-love that we’ll heal our people. – Tamar

The Kickback will return on November 21st when we’ll be talking Online Dating, which I’m sure will be an incredibly different but also interesting conversation.  I’m looking forward to it already.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

Guest Post: Insight into Culture Through Spoken Word

We’ll be talking culture next Tuesday at The Kickback, so in the lead up to our conversation, I wanted to have another voice outside of mine to have their say on culture.  Usaama Minhas has performed a number of spoken word pieces and related to culture.  Below is a selection of some of those pieces with his own commentary to tie them all together.

“You Don’t Always Have To Know Your Favourite Colour” offers an amusing insight into pursuing the Arts as a young person that comes from an immigrant background, where a career in theatre, music, poetry, photography and other mediums is not always encouraged.


Departing from that introspection, in “Renaissance”, Usaama tackles the culture of Hip Hop and the art of Emceein’, drawing parallels at many points between moments of turmoil in his personal life with his analysis of the game and the industry.


“What I Am Not” demolishes various minority stereotypes in a post-Brexit, post-Trump, increasingly Islamophobic and racist world. The poem offers humour, insight and hard-hitting truths.


On the other hand, in his first song release in four years, in “Why” Usaama departs from humour, conjecture, absurd lyricism, and speaks his mind in the most simple words and melodies, reflecting on Islamophobia, racism and police brutality.

And the new name is…

As you probably know, one of the key changes I have wanted to make to Young People Insight is the name of the YP Insight Forums.

I think that the term forum can come across as quite formal to some young people, which is not the impression I want you to have – these are relaxed, informal conversations giving you the chance to speak your mind.  I also get a little confused when I see the term forum myself, as it can mean a number of different things or take various forms, so it is definitely time for a change.

After asking for your name suggestions, I shortlisted four of my favourites, which I also believed would have an impact when marketing these events.  The four I chose were:

  • Woke Nights
  • The Kickback
  • The Chat Room
  • Free Your Mind

Once I’d made my choices, it was of the utmost importance that the final decision be made by you, so I started a Twitter poll that would give you the chance to vote for your favourites over the course of a week.

It was interesting to watch the changing trends, with Woke Nights starting out in front before Free Your Mind crept up to take the lead, which then had to fight it out with The Kickback.  Weirdly enough tough, Woke Nights finished with the lowest votes, even behind The Chat Room, which never led once.

However, I am happy to announce The Kickback as the winner, which will be the newest addition to our repertoire of names that of course includes Poetic Insight, Come Out to Play and Get Together.

Thank you to everyone who suggested names and also to everyone who voted – it would also be great to know whoever it was who suggested The Kickback in the first place, so send us a DM or email shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk

Now all there is to say is see you at The Kickback on October 24th when we’ll be talking all about Culture.  I for one can’t wait.

What’s Coming Up in October

I want to start off by saying ‘Happy Black History Month’ to all of you and I hope you’ve been enjoying the beginning of Autumn.  After taking time out and enjoying some much-needed reflection time, which you can read a little about here, I’m back and ready to go with more Young People Insight activities.

October is shaping up to be a busy month for me personally, with the start of a protest poetry course at the Roundhouse, getting involved in a knife crime campaign with Croydon Council and also a projection project for the festive season, alongside some of the amazing poets from Poetic Insight.

I’m also humbled and excited to have been selected as a finalist in the 2017 Mayor of Croydon Civic Awards in the category of Young Achiever of the Year.  The awards ceremony will take place on October 17th when the winners will be announced, so I’ll keep you updated on how I do.

Of course, the regular YP Insight events are coming up too, which you definitely will not want to miss out on.  The Civic Awards ceremony falling on the 17th has meant that I’ve pushed back our conversation about culture to October 24th, so make a note of the change in your diaries.

The topic of Culture – when we’ll be joined by a guest speaker – is set to be an incredibly interesting one and I’m sure that it will be a conversation that will take a number of twists and turn.  As you can see on the flyer above, the name for our forums is still a mystery, because I want the final choice to be yours.

Please take a second to choose your favourite name by answering our Twitter poll or let me know your choice on the comment section below.  I want this to be a collective decision, so your vote is essential.

The name may be different, but the time and location will be the same, so join us on October 24th from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B when we’ll be talking all about Culture.  You can register for the event here: http://bit.ly/letstalkaboutculture

Poetic Insight returns too and I cannot wait!  Since it is Black History Month, the theme for the night will be Black-Ish, so if you’re a young poet or spoken word artist, get ready to make a statement and speak out on any ‘ish’ related to being black.  If you want to perform, send a message to 07910092565 or get in touch with us on social media.

We’re at the usual location of Project B from 7-9pm, so make a note and don’t miss it.  It is gonna be a beautiful, powerful night.  Register for your free tickets here: http://bit.ly/poeticinsight-black-ish

As you can probably tell, I’m excited to be back and immersing myself in everything that is coming up.  I’m looking forward to connecting with all of the familiar faces and new faces too, because you are at the centre of all I do and you make it worthwhile.  See you soon.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.