The Afropean is an online multimedia, multidisciplinary journal exploring the social, cultural and aesthetic interplay of black and European cultures, and the synergy of styles and ideas brought about because of this union. In 2014 Afropean was invited to be part of The Guardian Newpaper’s Africa Network.
We hope to fill the void left by Erik Kambel’s Afro-Europe blog, which closed down in 2013, and, under Erik’s guidance we will continue to shed light on art, music, literature, news and events from the Afro-European diaspora, as well as produce and commission original essays and projects.
WHY THE Ø ?
We aren’t suggesting you attempt to pronounce our ‘Ø’ in Afropean as they do in Scandinavia. Ø is also a symbol used in mathematics to denote ‘diameter’, often shortened to ‘dia’, from the Greek, meaning ‘between, through, across’. Dia is also the root word of ‘diaspora’. Spora means ‘to scatter’. We sometimes feel between cultures, we certainly travel through them, and we aim to be across all the diaspora news. But we hope we aren’t scattered. On the contrary, Afropean is all about bringing everything and everyone together.
Born and raised in Sheffield, UK, Johny describes himself as a Northern Soul Child.
His father is African American, from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York and met his mother, a white woman from Sheffield during the late 1960s in one of the many soul clubs in the North of England. Having been born out of a happy union of two cultures, Johny is interested in the interplay of black and European culture as a way of understanding his own identity, and shining a light on second/new generation black European identities.
Johny spent four years as a youth worker with Sheffield Council’s pioneering Multiple Heritage Service, the first of its kind in Europe, and mentored young people of mixed heritage at various schools across the North of England.
Having spent ten years working in TV as a writer and presenter with MTV, Sky One, ITV, Channel 4, Discovery Channel and currently the BBC, Johny is also a published author, and won a Decibel Penguin Prize for new writers for a short story about his mixed race heritage published by Penguin books.
As a photographer, Johny collaborated with author and mentor Caryl Phillips on a project for The BBC and the British Arts Council’s ‘The Space’, called ‘A Bend in The River’, looking at immigration, and had his first international exhibition at Liege University’s ‘What is Africa to Me Now?’ conference in 2013.
His photographs have appeared on the front covers of The Journal of Postcolonial Writing and Harvard University’s W.E.B DuBois Institute Transition magazine, with a 2000 word essay about Afropean identity published in the latter.
In 2010 he set up the Facebook page ‘Afropean Culture’ which won an ENAR Award in 2013 for its contribution to a racism-free Europe. He is currently finishing a travel narrative and photo essay about black Europe, and working with French publishers Les Arenes on a book about young people changing the world.
Born and raised in West London, Nat was putting on underground Drum and Bass parties by the time she was 16 with the legendary IRS Sound System, and has been knee-deep in music and street culture ever since.
By the time she was 20 she had gained a reputation as a respected music journalist and co-founded Undercover magazine, an important monthly Hip-Hop culture publication responsible for shedding a light on a then seriously underrepresented UK Rap scene. During this time she distributed 20,000 copies of Undercover across 15 countries and interviewed everyone from DJ Kool Herc (The Godfather of Hip-Hop), to Common, De La Soul, Talib Kweli and Gangstarr, amongst others.
A renaissance woman, Nat has promoted a number of successful parties, tours and festivals, working with Hip-Hop legends Skinnyman, Masta Ace and The Sugarhill Gang. She has run numerous soundsystems at Notting Hill Carnival and hosted two acclaimed pirate radio shows, including a slot on the seminal underground Hip-Hop station ITCH FM, until the government closed its doors in 2007.
After a long career that saw her work with the BBC, Blues and Soul Magazine and One Week To Live, interviewing everyone from Rihanna to Ziggy Marley, Nat decided to take a break from the music and media industry in order to travel, study and start a family. During this time she worked for charities such as RadioActive (helping to set up an internet radio station in a Rio favela under Brazil’s AfroReggae organisation), as a youth worker for Ladbroke Grove’s Rugby Portobello Trust, and re-launched a magazine for London’s leading race equality thinktank, The Runnymede Trust.
Upon the completion of a BA in Sociology at Westminster University in 2013, Nat is currently undertaking an MA at Birkbeck entitled ‘Culture, Diaspora and Ethnicities’. Her current research focus includes political demography, the critical study of whiteness and the mixed race experience. Summer 2017 will see her embark on research for her thesis surrounding the changing dynamics of mixedness in 21st century England, with an emphasis on new forms of racial fluidity and forms of ‘diversity’ capital. After her degree is completed Nat will present her work on Afropean.
Nat’s focus on race relations, policy analysis and issues of identity makes her an ideal co-editor at Afropean.
Dad. Geek. Music hunter-gatherer. Polyglot.
Yomi spent his childhood to-ing and fro-ing between his Nigerian birth parents in London and his English foster parents in Milton Keynes. He enjoyed and was often baffled by both scenarios.
He studied Media, Culture & Information Technology at Middlesex University. Upon graduation he moved into the burgeoning London tech scene of the late 90’s and set about combining his passions for code, data and content.
“Combining things” has long been Yomi’s core skill and as a result he boasts a rich set of non-professional formative experiences including: a stint as secretary of the Association of Trans-Racially Adopted People, trips to Brasil to study Capoeira with Amazonas Capoeira Academy, performing poetry with arts organisations like Apples & Snakes and Urban Griots, and regularly attending Co-Op (AKA: the greatest Sunday night session of all time).
Yomi is one third of the music blog: http://thewaysoundtravels.tumblr.com, and he rants about tech things here.
He speaks Spanish, Brasilian Portuguese and Catalan, and aims to make use of his technical/personal experience and his language skills to continue growing Afropean’s audience.
Nina has a professional background in marketing and is involved in curating content for Afropean social media channels. As a culture seeker with a curious mind, she loves exploring the diverse Afropean diaspora.
Born in London to West African parents, a love of reading became a thirst to write. A self-confessed busybody and wanderlusting Afropean, Tola is currently based in Brussels.
You can read Tola’s blog I Was Just Thinking.. here.
Afropean: Notes from Black Europe by Johny Pitts
Hope you enjoy traveling with me,
J A Pitts
Afropean would like to thank The European Network Against Racism for its support in turning our humble Facebook page into a full website, and Erik Kambel for his invaluable guidance and years of work increasing the visibility of the Afro-European diaspora with his Afro-Europe blog.
Afropean™ is a registered trademark with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market.