The British Library

Carol’s Story

My parents came to Britain from Jamaica in the late-1950s as part of the recruitment drive that encouraged citizens of the Commonwealth (and, formerly, colonised 'subjects' within the British Empire) to contribute towards the post-war reconstruction of a nation considered as their (so-called) 'Mother Country.' Like many of their peers, a lifetime of service in the NHS and the transport sector meant they both experienced overt and systemic racism, even as they worked diligently to improve the lives of their fellow citizens and actively support the economic and cultural development of our society. I am proud of the values they instilled within me, and the secure foundations they laid, so that my sisters and I could realise our dreams, achieve our full potential and make our own contributions to civic life via professions in the arts, education, business and commerce. We are the inheritors of an important legacy that has equipped us to be resourceful, reflexive and resilient people of the Caribbean diaspora - who, although we continue to experience the challenges, impacts and traumas of racism (in all its many guises), also have the strength, self-confidence and ontological security to always push back against and contest the inequalities and injustices we encounter. I am proud to embody and articulate the 'talawa' spirit of my parents and our ancestors, and also to be part of a new diasporic generation that is comfortable navigating and negotiating the complexities, paradoxes, pluralities and co-existences of diverse, multicultural life in Britain. The 'British Library' installation by Yinka Shonibare CBE encapsulates all the beauty and the complexity of multiculturalism, and I am delighted this contemporary work will be on display at Tate Modern for quite a long time to inform, enthuse and inspire many people...and memorialise the names of even more individuals, in gold, on these wonderful book covers.

-Carol, London

© Yinka Shonibare, 2018 | Website by Hanna Sorrell