Caricom is the magazine using football’s ability to encourage a sense of community among fans of differing backgrounds to tackle subjects absent from mainstream sports media. In particular, it recognises the need to see “football and fan culture examined through the under-explored lens of the black experience in Great Britain and beyond”. Founded by writer Calum Jacobs and Shawn Sawyers, Caricom is now in its second issue; a more refined, more diverse and even more celebratory issue.
While it was Calum that wrote the first issue of Caricom, using “features, essays and commissioned art to explore issues and subjects inherent in football – and mirrored in wider society”, this second issue “encourages different voices to drill down into both the broader and more specific aspects of the black experience, while rejecting the notion that trauma is the only lens it can be examined through”, he tells us.
As a result, the issue is multifaceted in its conversation surrounding the black experience, featuring a piece on Caribbean players that have made it to the Premier League, next to a personal piece by Musa Okwonga outlining how playing for Stonewall FC helped him reconcile his identity as a bisexual black man. Visually, these contributions are bolstered by a plethora of illustration, photography and art by the likes of Joy Miessi, Lewis Khan and Tripod City, all of whom communicate some element of Caricom’s concept through their work.
A major new addition to Caricom comes in the form of an insert titled The Caricom Guide to Black Male Mental Health. Separate from the rest of the magazine – a fact which only serves to elevate the feeling of importance encapsulated in this small publication – inside its pages, Kwaaku Dapaah Danquah puts forward accessible techniques for alleviating isolation, anxiety and non-clinical depression. “While the methodology discussed – which includes meditation, therapy, physical outlets and creative outlets – is universal, I thought it important to target it specifically at black men for a few reasons,” Calum outlines.
Explaining how Western societies remain hostile towards black men, a fact that can take many forms including “being constantly surveilled and perceived as a threat”, Calum tells us: “While this is something we individually and collectively laugh off – because the alternative would be to live in a permanent state of rage – the effects of this are insidious and wearying.” He goes on to say: “The statistics bear this out: black men in Britain are 17 times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious mental health condition, six times more likely to be inpatients in mental health units and have the highest rates of PTSD and psychotic disorders.” Having experienced the effects himself, and seen it first hand in close friends, Calum felt the inclusion of the guide would “add more weight to a societal shift that’s enabling men to open up about their own experiences with mental health, which in turn is working to de-stigmatise the topic”.
Ultimately, the latest issue of Caricom is a triumph in using popular culture and sport to challenge societal issues. Featuring a clean, contemporary design aesthetic which invites engagement, it promises football-related content, but delivers so much more. Whether its a Calum’s central piece attempting to understand whether untempered blackness is compatible with European identity, A Nation Within a Nation, or Thomas Theodore’s piece Blind Idealism which outlines the ways in which big brands direct and influence culture, often at the expense of black people, Caricom provides genuine depth to an often polemic conversation.
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