Rachael Minott, Horniman’s Curator of Anthropology (Social Practice), with the help of Shasti Lowton, created a series of events where multiple generations of Caribbeans could gather and share food, stories and advice.
Here, the group shares challenges in the education system, career successes and aspirations, through letters to their parents.
Mum tells us how fortunate we are, she was born during wartime and had little schooling. She always looks up at us when she needs to write her letters or complete forms.
She tells us stories of her childhood days, sometimes not attending school and having very little to eat as it was difficult in the war.
I must say I am grateful for what I have achieved in my education here. I believe the education system in the Caribbean overall is much better than here. All of my friends who went to school with me always talk about how we were left behind when we came to school here.
We had already learnt all the subjects which was being taught according to our ages in the class. However, when you get older to 18 years on, you do need to leave Dominica and seek to travel to another country to study at university level as Dominica doesn’t have a university.
Mum and Dad – Your courage and persistence helped you succeed in creating a home for your family, providing for your growing family needs and inspiring your family and others to reach for the stars and follow their dreams.
What you will be delighted to know is the little clan you have created did just that.
The name Ross is now associated with entrepreneurial activity and a range of business ventures – children’s nurseries and playschools, fashion and beauty salons, art and culture, and catering.
All these businesses have the same ethos as the one you created in your early days in England, bringing people together and helping them to survive, thrive and navigate their way around English society.
Your house parties were legendary; people still talk about them today. Many people say they don’t know how they would have coped in the early days of settling into the country if you hadn’t generously opened your home and hearts to them.
Shebeens and Blues Parties developed from house parties, but Caribbeans needed these spaces where they could escape the racism of those days.
Mum and Dad – Despite your knowledge and experience you had to start over with work here, because no one trusted what you knew.
You went from managers to receptionist, sat through interviews for jobs – which no longer existed – just to be tested.
You conducted yourselves in the constant pursuit of excellence and told us that it did not matter what we chose to do, but that we were the best we could be in that role.
You encouraged excellence and we too pursue excellence until this day. However, it means I expect excellence in return. Sometimes it means I am disappointed, by the world, the people I interact with and in myself.
Pops – It’s been nine years since you passed but not a day goes by without us celebrating your love of photography.
With me on my Samsung 8 plus and Vanes on her IPhone 8, we continue capturing magical memories and to make our own mark documenting history.
Your journey meant you were known throughout London (especially east London), as Andy the Photographer who did weddings, christenings, passports and many other celebrations.
I am pleased that you got to see the start of my Photography Journey, with Soca News, then the City of London Black Police Association, which led to my connection with the 100 Black Men of London, and becoming their Official Photographer in 2002.
I know you will be pleased to hear that Vanes is continuing photography for 100 Black Men of London and taking things even further by creating videos that highlight the work we do.
In fact, last week she was representing at Caesars Palace Las Vegas!
I know as a boxing fan, that’s one place you would have loved to capture Muhammed Ali.