I’m Ryan Jordan – your Ethnic Minorities Officer. The theme for this year’s Black History Month is the 70th anniversary of Windrush: a notable period in history in which the ship MV Empire Windrush carried several hundred individuals from Caribbean countries to the UK. Its first voyage took place in 1948, however it’s not only people it carried along the way, but decades of discrimination and controversy too.

In order to celebrate BHM this year, the Womanist Society, the African Caribbean Society and I have organised a showcase of music and art. Despite touring around other universities across the UK to promote his educational and politically-charged songs, award-winning artist Scratchylus will be coming to our campus on 27 October, to perform in the Hive along with UEA students. I had the pleasure to interview him about his music and experiences of Windrush:

1.   When did you get into writing and performing music?

I have been writing and performing music for the last 20 years.

2.   What are your inspirations and why?

I am inspired mostly by my mum and by the words spoken in all music, especially Reggae. Reggae music highlights truth and justice; it brings communities together and has a heavy bass line with words, sound and power.

3.   What are you hoping to achieve while touring around universities for Black History Month?

The main aim of the Black History Month Tour is to raise awareness about the Windrush Generations; to highlight the arrogance, naivety and false perceptions that surround it, and of course to interact with the students, have fun and Reset The Mindset.

4.   Can you speak to me more about Windrush?

To start off with Windrush was a boat that brought invited people from all over the Caribbean to help rebuild the UK after the devastation of the Second World War. They came as doctors, nurses, labourers, working on the London Underground and within the Royal mail. They also came with manners and courtesy, but because of willful neglect, racism, arrogance and naivety, they found out after all these years, after all the sores and the blisters, that they still had no status in the UK.

5.   Do you think music can help reach an audience in order to make a difference and how so?

Music is a universal language and spoken word can transcend and resonate with people that are thinking the same things but don’t know how to articulate it in a contextual way. Therefore, music acts as a vehicle of education.

6.   Do you have any advice for black students trying to make it in the performing arts industry?

My first advice to students would be to stay focused, nurture your skills, practice every day. Know what you want out of the music business, and listen to good sound advice from people with experience.

7.   What are your career plans for the future?

My plans are to keep Resetting The Mindset near and far.

This will be an open-mic event, with the opportunity to showcase art in a gallery space. If you are a black student and would like to perform or showcase your art, contact me via e-mail: ryan.jordan@uea.ac.uk


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