For two days in late August, more than a million people inundate West London to celebrate one of the world’s largest street festivals—the Notting Hill Carnival.
Elaborate floats and colorful-costumed performers wind their way through streets to the sound of steel bands and calypso music. It’s a tribute to the traditional Afro-Caribbean carnivals of the early 19th century that celebrated the abolition of slavery.
What stood out most for UW School of Public Health student Eric King wasn’t the vibrant sounds or endless sea of people, but rather the sight of British police officers embracing and dancing with carnival-goers.
“I didn’t notice any law officials with firearms. This was different from my experience as an African-American man living in the United States,” says King, then a public health major and now a graduate student in the School’s Department of Health Services. “It speaks to the prominence of gun culture in the U.S. as well as the climate created when law officers are viewed as members of the community instead of controlling outsiders.”
King (BS, Public Health ’16) was attending a four-week exploration seminar called Dark Empire: Race, Health and Society in Britain, which examines the presence and well-being of minorities in Britain, who now make up 14 percent of the country’s 64 million residents. Students explore the social, emotional and physical determinants of health within the framework of Britain’s history and multiculturalism.