There’s been no shortage of independent football magazines over the past few years. Caricom sets itself apart by situating itself in the intersection between football and the black-British experience.
It’s been a bit of a wait since the first issue launched at the beginning of 2018, and issue two makes just as big an impact. Founding editor Calum Jacobs’ editorial letter is revealing, both in terms of the magazine’s ethos and reason for being, but also in that he speaks about the process of beginning a magazine on your own, and the level of stress and amount of labour involved.
Not many editorials speak of this journey – and Jacobs does not mention it for sympathy, but because it is highly relevant to the publication. This issue comes with a supplement on black male mental health by Kwaku Dapaah Danquah – and anyone would benefit from reading this essay, black man or not, as it delves into a lot of the history and context surrounding racism and toxic masculinity. What makes it so powerful is that half of the supplement is devoted to active ways to look after your mind and body as a person of colour, supported by the Black, African and Asian Therapy Network.
The issue is split into four sections: Celebration as Activism, Critical Resistance, Reconciliation, and Legacy. Reading these subtitles you get some idea of the relevance of the magazine beyond its immediate subject matter – it forms astute criticisms of society and culture at large while talking about something very specific.
Notably, in the ‘Celebration as Activism’ section, a piece by Musa Okwonga – in which he confronts the racism faced as a black football player, mixed with the stigma of being bisexual, and learning to embrace tenderness toward men in the context of playing for Stonewall FC. It's illustrated by Joy Miessi – who somehow manages to combine simplicity of form with an artful sense of movement (above).
In ‘Critical Resistance’, the essay ‘Blind Idealism’ is a sharp takedown of cultural appropriation based on Nike’s ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ advert, and is peppered with wittily altered logos of multinational corporations – making it a visual highlight of the magazine as well as a memorable piece of writing.
Jacobs remains the primary author in the magazine – having penned many of its features himself. One of them is ‘A Nation within a Nation’, which moves away from the subject of football to focus more specifically on the historical fallacy that England is inherently a ‘white’ country (above).
As Jacobs mentions in the editorial, Caricom ‘is an attempt to encourage different voices to drill down into both the broader, and more specific, aspects of the black experience, while summarily rejecting the notion that trauma is the only lens it can be examined through.’ His magazine does an excellent job of deconstructing whiteness, however it’s a shame when women aren’t included in the conversation, especially in the context of football, with the women’s world cup coming up very soon.
Caricom is our magazine of the week, as it is a razor-edged social commentary and a well-designed magazine, and the additional supplement marks it out as having the guts to address tricky subjects head-on. It also arrives at a time when many high-profile footballers are being loudly critical of the racism within football, and the mainstream media’s complicity in that narrative. Caricom’s relevance beyond the ‘sports’ section is undeniable and is a voice that is much needed in the magazine, and cultural, conversation right now.
Founder, Commissioning editor, Art director: Calum Jacobs
Deputy editor: Jerome Neil