Several of the acts who played at the Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) carnival spoke out last week about why they are taking a stand against the fascist British National Party (BNP).
The Paddingtons are an indie rock band from Hull, an area where the BNP have been active recently. The need to fight back against the Nazis in their home town was a key reason why the band has played LMHR gigs in Hull and decided to play the carnival, says guitarist Josh.
'The BNP were only a couple of votes off getting in where we live,' he told Socialist Worker. 'This is really personal to me. People in my family campaigned against the BNP. We woke up one morning to find thousands of BNP leaflets dumped in our garden.'
For Jay Sean, appearing at the carnival was a way of making a public statement about what it means to be British and Asian today.
'There are very few Asian artists in the mainstream – Nitin Sawney, Talvin Singh and myself, perhaps, not that many,' he told Socialist Worker. 'We're still such a minority and it's still so new to see an Asian artist – especially one that does R&B songs.'
Jay Sean draws parallels between the racism faced by young Asians today and that of young black men who have long been targeted by police stop and search policies.
'The first thing that my friends say when they get pulled up by the police is that it's because they are Asian. And even if they don't say it, they're still thinking it. That's what people are feeling – victimised.'
The irony is that this is happening as Britain becomes more cosmopolitan and multicultural than ever, he adds.
'I think there's still a lot of ignorance. But at my shows I see all sorts of people – black faces, brown faces, white faces, people from all over the place. And the one thing that brought them together is music.'
Bashy also spoke on this theme of bringing people together. 'Events like the carnival show unity,' he said. 'In my shows I make a point of saying, when I say 'one', you say 'nation' – and everyone joins in. I had a track out called 'Black Boys', but when I'm on stage I see white boys and white girls singing along to it.
'That shows we can overcome boundaries – and that we can overcome parties like the BNP, people with that mindset that wants to take us back in time to when my parents were growing up or my gran came over to Britain.'
He adds that he sees himself as part of a tradition of radical black British music. 'The grime and hiphop artists over here are the new wave. Back then it was ragga or reggae – that kind of music was the rebellious music of the time, now it's evolved.
'So we're the next generation representing ourselves at these kind of events, showing ourselves in a positive light together with the rock and the indie bands – showing that music doesn't have a colour.'