Black to the future: the fresh face of alt-culture

Alternative black girls have been around for a long time but have faced ridicule and alienation within their community. But with the likes of Rico Nasty and Mimi The Nerd embracing their alternative identities, changes are coming, writes Isatou Ndure.  

A pale, skinny white girl, that’s the ideal aesthetic for an alt, punk or e-girl: the signature deathly pale look, complete with dramatic eye make-up and a bold black lip.

Caprece Harvey

But scroll through TikTok and Instagram and you’ll see the faces of alternative girls are no longer white. Black alternative girls have blown over social media as more people begin to appreciate their uniqueness. 

What most people do not understand is that it was never a prerequisite to be pale or specifically white to be in the scene. It was all about the state of mind, the beauty, and the music. It’s never about the skin tone. The concept itself is absurd.

Growing up any black girl who dressed as a goth or punk would be labelled as an Oreo, “black on the outside and white on the inside.”   

If you were black and dressed differently you were not accepted by either race. You were somehow too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids and were deemed as outcasts. 

But these days, black alternative girls no longer rouse such negative reactions anymore from their peers, not to say they don’t receive negative reactions at all, but it is more likely from those in the older generation.  Trends that were once specific to particular groups, have to some degree submerged into the mainstream standard. In earlier times, a septum piercing was a stature of subverting the status quo. Now? Not so much. 

In high school, I had some guy scream ‘vampire’ as I walked into class. I took it as a compliment

Connie Williams

Eighteen-year-old Sumaya Botan, or Maya, from Birmingham classes herself as an alternative black girl and pinpoints her style as cottage core, scene and baby-doll like.  

Maya Botan

“I’ve always leaned towards being alt mostly because it’s such a welcoming open community and I love that anything is acceptable as long as you’re a nice person.

“I’ve always had a fascination in alt culture but would say I had the confidence to dress the way I do now around 2018.”

Even though alternative styles are now celebrated, girls like Maya still feel like outcasts to those that do not appreciate alternative culture and there are still occasions where girls are judged for the way they dress.  

“I have received quite a lot of hate for the way I dress and present myself mostly when I’m in public, I get a lot of stares or get called out in public quite often, but I mostly just take that as a compliment at this point!” 

“People are scared of what they don’t understand or know and it’s fine I know it mostly comes from a place of self-consciousness of not being able to fully be themselves.”

It seems to be a normal thing for alternative girls to take the negative reactions they receive and view them as compliments. Across the pond, 24-year-old Connie Williams and Caprece Harvey, 23, have had similar experiences. 

New Yorker Connie says: “In freshman year of high school, I had some guy scream “vampire” as soon as I walked into class. Everyone laughed whilst I was unfazed. I actually took it as a compliment.” 

Model Caprece, from Pennsylvania, chooses to not give her energy to those that do not match her own and spoke of her own negative reactions to the public. 

“If by negative you mean soccer moms scoffing at me in the grocery store, yes, but I view it as a compliment. Someone took the time out of their day to acknowledge me. Like what? Thank you boo it’s always a pleasure, mwah.”

Many of the foremost unconventional, exciting and edgy individuals within the world are black and they’re not any less because of it.  

I would try to hide the bright clothes my mother bought me. It just feel normal to shop for dark colours

Connie Williams

Connie grew up loving alternative styles. “I was a quiet kid and felt insecure around a lot of other girls who developed more than me. At the time, I would put more of an effort into my fashion in order to feel attractive and less like a wallflower.”

Connie Williams

Connie describes her style as e-girl, kawaii and preppy goth. She loved alternative clothing before it was labelled “cool” by the rest of the world.  

“I’ve been doing this since middle school, so it’s now natural to me. I hated pink, yellow and green on me. I would try to hide the bright clothes my mother brought me in the back of my closet. Now it just feels normal to shop for dark colours.

“Dressing in pink and wearing “girly” clothes made me feel ugly. Once I was able to shop for myself, I bought more black clothing and felt more like a pretty kickass wallflower.”

Many alternative girls are now aware of how mainstream their style has become over the years. Now it’s a trend to be an alternative.  

The rise of unconventional rappers like Rico Nasty, Willow and Mimi The Nerd who portray self-expressions that have been made invisible within the black community and as a rule are seen as the sole realm of white social pariahs, have displayed a new dawn for alternative black girls. 

Down in Pennsylvania, Caprece describes her style as “daring, unique and ethereal.”

“I have always had a fun style since I was a little girl. I used to reconstruct my clothes all the time, the older I got the more diverse and unique it became.

“I will always take my style further, evolution is inevitable. I don’t even stick to one style, so I can’t imagine staying on one wave, yikes.”

It’s fair to point out that goth and alternative cultures are connected to whiteness within the well-known imagination, but many characteristics related to these subcultures, such as tattoos, piercings and rock have roots in the black community.  

The deletion of black people’s commitments to such subcultures is overwhelming, if you look hard enough, it’s not difficult to spot how blackness and alternative styles converge. 

Sumaya, Connie and Caprece are keeping alternative styles alive in the black community.  Many don’t believe that the black alternative community is bigger than they think. Whilst some are open-minded, a certain stigma remains within the minds of others that alternative equals white.  

Connie Williams

As the new era of black alternative girls begins to take over the world, those that have come before offer some advice. 

Sumaya says: “Be the most you possibly can be because nothing anyone says or thinks really matters. They are too caught up in their own issues to worry about that outfit you’re too scared to wear.”

Caprece says: “Keep doing you babe, you’re going to change the world.” 

Connie says: “Buy wigs, not cheap hair clips from Hot Topic, they do not match your hair texture!” 

Lights, camera, stupefaction: filmmaker stunned to find herself on the Forbes tip list

The Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list is an incredible place to find yourself, no matter your age, writes Izzi Rix. It indicates significant achievement before you’ve even hit your prime, with previous year’s line-ups going on to become stars on a global scale. To her surprise, on the morning of April 8th 2021, at just 19 years old, that list is exactly where Ella Greenwood saw her own face gazing back at her.

“I was just scrolling and saw my face and it was literally incredible, I think it was 7.30 in the morning and I thought ‘oh my god I need to have cake and I need to have prosecco right now’,” she says.

Ella is one of an increasing number of female filmmakers disrupting the industry. For her, the world of film was clearly where she belonged from the get-go.

“I just always loved films. I would see the same film in the cinema so many times just because it was my favourite thing to do, all I wanted to do was sit in a dark room rather than be outside or anything,” she says.

While some children become obsessed with their favourite superhero or Disney princess, for Ella is was Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia.

“I can’t remember what age I was, maybe about – god time is a weird concept – maybe about eight. I would be like, ‘please I’ll use my pocket money on it’ and then for my birthday all I wanted to do was see it again and again,” she says.

Besotted with watching films, she knew she had to become a part of that world. She assumed acting was the way in, “For so long I thought that was it, that would be my only passion, if I didn’t do that, I would just be such a failure,” she says.

After years of auditions and landing a few projects, at 18 she realised acting wasn’t fulfilling her creative desires and decided to take things into her own hands.

“I just wanted to do something myself, to have more control and not just wait around for other people to decide how I spend my time and what I’m able to do.

“Now that I’m on set I have no urge to get in front of the camera. I still love acting, I really enjoy it, but I love film making more,” she says.

As well as being an ambassador for Stem4 (a charity promoting positive mental health in teenagers and their support network) she hopes to increase the number of representative portrayals of mental health by featuring them within her own films. Her first, Faulty Roots, delves into what it’s like for teenagers with depression.

“I wanted to do it on something that I thought could be important and potentially help people, because I have experience with mental health that just made it a bit easier,” she says.

Faulty Roots was met with great success, being nominated for an award by Film The House, a competition run by MPs to find ‘the filmmakers of the future’, and is now a feature film adaptation.

“I just felt like I didn’t have much to lose, I thought, well if the review’s bad then I just won’t share it I’ll just try and forget that it exists and hope that nobody sees it,” she says.

Being taken seriously as a female filmmaker is a struggle at any age, never mind at 19 years old. Ella decided she wasn’t leaving people’s perceptions of her up to chance, it was time to get serious, so she created Broken Flames Productions.

“I just thought ‘I’m nobody’ if I go to people like ‘Hi, my name’s Ella, I’m making a film can I hire you?’ people were going to skim past me, so I thought, if I’m going to do it let me try and do this properly and make it seem more professional.

“I had no qualifications, no training, I was like the least qualified person ever, but if you have a story you want to tell and if you’re passionate about what you’re doing then people are really nice,” she says.

In addition to a lack of personal expertise, Ella finds herself in the midst of an industry half frozen in its archaism and half hysterically trying to encourage equality.

“There is just so much in the industry based on structures that only help a certain group of people and elitism and nepotism that, I don’t know, I’m not sure I want to be a part of that,” she says.

A main aspect of her dedication and drive is to create change through her own work. In terms of mental health, the areas she sees as lacking representation are, “just everything.”

“I watched so many films growing up and so much TV and I just had no clue what mental health was at all. You’d see these really dramatic suicide scenes, it made it seem so intense and unrelatable. It just needs to be more normalised because so many people struggle with their mental health.

“For me, something that sticks in my mind a lot is the suicide scene from 13 Reasons Why, it was so graphic,” she says.

One of Ella’s upcoming films, Self-Charm, focusses on self-harm, but Ella made the decision to never show a cut or anything graphic.

“I think you can still get what you need to across and tell a story without, because it seemed like that (scene) was put in there for dramatic and entertainment value,” she says.

As a newcomer Ella wants to ensure she makes the right decisions socially and ethically, this means constantly assessing her options. “It’s so important to get it right and I’m very conscious of what I’m putting out there. It can get hard sometimes, I’m the only person making the decision.

“When I wanted to hire a fully female crew it was such a struggle to find females, but I was like, ‘No I want to do this and if it takes extra effort, it takes extra effort, but it’ll be worth it’,” she says.

Ella’s new projects are raring to go, with four currently in the works all progressing fantastically.

“I love working on different projects, it’s just nice to get to work with different people and different actors and different stories and themes, it’s really nice to have a variety of things going on,” she says.

When asked if there’s been any standout moments since she began producing, Ella encapsulates the typical manic beginning of a blossoming career, saying, “It’s all been a bit of a blur.”

Revealed: the front runners in magazine cover prize showdown

These are the gorgeous glossies making a splash in the clash of the covers contest for journalism students at De Montfort University, Leicester.
Six striking designs have made the shortlist in the university’s annual cover prize competition, which is being judged this year by Joe Brewin, deputy editor of FourFourTwo, the world’s biggest football magazine.
Students on DMU’s Journalism degree create print and digital magazines in a final-year project which puts the writing and design skills they have gained during their studies to the test. Each year, the best covers go head to head for a cash prize.
The page-ones to watch in this year’s crop are:

MMXX, a defiantly upbeat magazine showcasing inspiring stories amid the gloom of lockdown, created by Khrista Davis, Mary De-Wind, Beatriz Ferreira, Luke Pawley and Rean Rehman.

Horizon, a contemporary lifestyle magazine telling tales of hope and trauma created by Maryia Lall, Claudia Montague, Temba Ncube, Sonia Raju and Millie Steptoe, which includes a powerful story of a survivor of so-called conversion therapy.


Escape, a socially-aware health and wellbeing magazine with a keen interest in environmental and mental health issues, created by Matthew Childs, Izzi Rix and Abbie Wilkinson, and featuring an in-depth report on women with endometriosis and their long struggles to get diagnosed.


Blood.Sweat.Tears, a modern sports magazine with a focus on football, wrestling, boxing, basketball and tennis, created by Samuel Gill, Adam Rear, Harry Shellard, Oliver Taylor and James Wynn.


Spotlight, an entertainment/culture magazine aimed at Gen Z and millennials created by Savannah Duncan, Samuel Hornsby, Salma Ouaguira Abir and Khadisha Thomas, which boasts an interview with the I May Destroy You star Weruche Opia.


Rivo, an arts and culture magazine created by Rhys Bailey, Victoria Kingsley, Isatou Ndure and Omar Qavi, featuring an in-depth interview with Sex Education star Rakhee Thakrar.

The winning magazine is due to be announced next month, with a £200 prize up for grabs. Journalism programme leader Brian Dodds said: “Each year, I’m struck by the impressively high standard of the magazines produced by our talented students at DMU and this is yet another very strong shortlist of contenders. Well done to them all.”

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Leicester charity donates electronic devices to support children in at-home-learning

By Grace Cushnie.

A local charity has helped provide £6,500 worth of electronic tablets to Leicester school children.

The Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation (LRCF) partnered with the School Development Support Agency (SDSA) to provide the electronic devices to children unable to access online learning.

The LRFC is one of forty-six community foundations, that together make up the UK community foundation. They work as ‘middlemen’ between people who wish to do good and those that need the help. The charity handles the financial and legal responsibilities, both for the people they help and their donors, making each process easier.

Sian Jones, communications lead for LRCF, explained that the money received for the smart tablets “came from a mixture of fundraising and grants.

“SDSA works very closely with lots of schools in the local area to find out where there are pockets of need, and find families who are struggling to access online learning because they might not have devices, or enough devices for the number of children.

“They have given out eighty tablets last week, with another 80 being distributed this week.

“It’s also a sustainable project – the devices belong to the school, so once remote learning has finished and the child no longer needs the device, the school will benefit long term because they will have use of the devices still.

“This is most definitely making a difference. You don’t have to spend much time listening to the news to find that one of the real inequities of the lockdown is that those who need support most aren’t getting it, because they didn’t have access to the equipment they need or even WIFI. Anything that can be done to equalize the playing field so that vulnerable children aren’t impacted even more is fantastic.”

Lisa Saunders, an NHFT nurse who works with several schools, agreed that “doing anything to help the inequality our children are facing, which this pandemic has highlighted, needs to be a treated as a priority.

“Donations like the LRFC’s are essential to begin the fight for equality for working-class families.”

The fundraiser event of the summer – Leicester’s One Big Weekend

By Jessica Smith

Leicester’s One Big Weekend, a fundraiser for the Sue Young Cancer Support charity, promises popular headline acts, family fun and delicious treats this summer in Market Harborough.

The event is set to take place from August 14-15, in Leicestershire Show Ground; with adult weekend tickets starting at £35, and all proceeds going to charity.

Event organiser Stacey Coleman, 35, said: “We’ve got Sam Bailey, the ambassador for our centre, Jake Quickenden, who tragically lost his brother and father to cancer, Roman Kemp, and Scouting for Girls and so many more local acts.

“The proceeds are going to a range of charities, Sue Young, LOROS, Macmillan, because we want to bring awareness to all these great causes, of all the services out there that are united in their cause, to support those vulnerable or in need.”

The event celebrates the 40th birthday of Sue Young, with proceeds helping fund the charity in her namesake, which provides emotional and practical support to those affected by cancer in Leicestershire and Rutland.

With services for cancer patients being extremely limited due to COVID-19, Stacey said: “We’re not a massive charity; we’re just trying to give the best possible care with services like person complimentary therapy.

“Because of the pandemic we have had to take on children, and we’re hoping this event helps bring awareness to the services we provide and help provide funding for the services to continue.”

Tara Simms, a local guitarist/vocalist set to perform on the weekend said: “I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to join the line-up – the other artists on the bill are incredible so I’m looking forward to seeing them too.”

Tara will be performing a range of acoustic covers and she added: “I like to go with the feeling of the crowd, I don’t plan sets. I’ll be sure to include some big sing-along numbers, I love audience participation.”

The venue has already reduced tickets from it’s 23,000 capacity to 12,000 over the whole weekend in line with government guidance, but has passed COVID risk assessments, and looks set to offer fun for the whole family this August, with fairground rides from Billy Bates and Sons Funfair, local talent with Tara Simms and Tin Pigeons, and tribute acts Take@That and Little Fix.

Tickets for camping, VIP Golden Circle, and Day/Weekend Tickets are available at leicestersonebigweekend.com, and the latest Tara Simms cover of Creep by Radiohead is available here https://music.apple.com/gb/album/creep-feat-vikki-holland-bowyer-single/1553434908