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The concept of assimilation is based on whether groups of people from different ethnic minorities will begin to socially integrate. In 1945, the Second World War ended, and as a result, there were many casualties and people unemployed. Also there was a huge task of rebuilding Britain from results of the war. Britain before 1948 was mostly a white society; until 1948 when the British government demanded that, workers from different ethics should be invited to Britain to rebuild Britain. Firstly, the government encouraged people from Ireland and Europe (allies) to come over and help rebuild Britain. In the 1950’s Britain set up recruitment centres in the West Indies (Jamaica, The Caribbean and Cuba) to recruit bus drivers and bus conductors for the UK. Many females from West Indies chose to be a nurse for the NHS and New Commonwealth doctors, particularly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This resulted by 1961; over 80,000 migrants were from the Caribbean and Immigration figures rose to 58,000 in 1960 from the India, Pakistan. Many of the colonies i.e. West Indies, Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) found poor housing and slums in popular migrant areas such as North Kensington and Notting hill. In 1950s, South Asian population grew in Southall because there was a factory which was owned by a British Indian army officer and nearby was Heathrow airport which improved employment.
This caused the menace to the politicians who ensured that Britain remained white and stick to their syllabus. 1950’s race relations in Britain were shockingly poor. Assimilation was flawed because of ‘coloured people and white British people couldn’t consist peacefully. Also the white people were using cruelty to immigrants using bad excuses as saying ‘they stink’. The coloured people were new the English syllabus and didn’t know how to maintain the English culture. The white British people couldn’t get along together because they were new to them and didn’t know what to expect from coloured people. The British white population just could not accept foreigners coming to their land and taking their jobs, houses and also women. The involvement of teenage ‘Teddy Boys’ made violence and crime play a big role in migrant areas such as North Kensington. The gangs of Teddy Boys were becoming more violent and crueller toward each person who was Black; and Caribbean shops and business were being attacked. The motto of the teddy boys was ‘Keep Britain White’; this explains why the mobs were declining the fact that the black neighbour hood was growing numbers in the area.
On 24th of August, two white youth attacked a black man which occurred in Shepherd Bush and were carrying iron bars and knives looking for trouble. After that incident, the youths went to Notting hill and left a number of black men catastrophically wounded in hospital.
On 29th of August, this incident sparked the 1958 race riots in Notting Hill. A Jamaican man was arguing with his white Swedish wife called Majbritt Morrison. This caused crowds surrounding the scene which made it easier for the white mobs to attack the Caribbean residents. At least 400 white mobs were attacking the black neighbourhood with petrol bombs and knives. This lasted till the police regained control on the 5th of September 1958 and arrested 150 people (which was mostly white but also black people because usage of self defence).
On Saturday 23rd August 1958, more than a 1000 people went on rampage on the streets of St Ann’s involving a 21 year old blonde haired women and a black man at a pub. This caused much violence on the street between black men and white men. The wounded were injured by bottles, razors and knives. One of the black men, who was wounded over the clash that happened, needed 37 stitches in a throat wound. Nottingham at that time was home to 3100 coloured including people from West Indians and Asia. The spark that lit the fuse was because of the people in the white community felt outraged that black men were having affairs with white women. Also factories in Nottingham were reluctant to take black employees and a man was attacked whilst going out to buy medicine for his pregnant wife.
After letting in a lot of migrants, the government’s fear grew because what happen before 1962. Their ‘mistake’ of the commonwealth immigrants act, allowing citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations; had elite rights to enter and migrate to England. The Commonwealth of Nations consists varies counties such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh (which all of these classed as British Indian Empire) and African counties such as Nigeria, Kenya and Sudan. The 1962 commonwealth immigrants’ act was passed and made restrictions for recruiting people in Barbados.
The commonwealth immigration act 1968 restricted the recruitment of workers from the Caribbean. This is because there were already a lot of migrants in England working for the NHS or TFL. Also, this law was a patch for the Commonwealth immigrants act 1962, allowing more people fro the commonwealth to migrate. This allowed thousands of Kenyan Asian to migrate; but this created a huge crisis which led James Callaghan to make a new legislation. This act distinguished those UK passport holders and had right to entry. This act also changed the old commonwealth countries as English. (Australia and Canada). So this act was made to differ the skin colours of white to those are coloured.
During the 1964 election, Patrick Gordon walker was intended to become foreign secretary and join forces with Labour. There was an event which Patrick was defeated in Smethwick elections in 1964 which the conservative won by the slogan ‘if you want a nigger for neighbour, vote labour’ created by conservative party whom won the elections. Peter Griffins is the head of conservative in 1964, was prime minster at the time of election. Peter was forcing on immigration of the commonwealth since 1948. This effected many migrants and made the British people tagged along with the conservative. Peter griffins lodged this attack on immigrants and the coloured were fearful of the country and some of them fled.
In 20th April 1968, Enoch Powell became very popular for his attack on immigrants and he was minister of health since 1960-63; He invited many immigrants from Jamaica to work for the NHS and the London transport. In 1965 The British government did very little to deal with the problems and tried to help the immigrants but this was ended by the Slogan created by Peter Griffins. Enoch Powell was elected shadow cabinet in 1965. Enoch Powell gave a speech in Birmingham were most of the immigrants were settled which impacted throughout Britain. His speech implied that the amount of immigrants being allowed into the country would cause ‘rivers of blood’ (referring to the violence) and this created a furious response in the near future. Powell claimed he had much support and the right-wing press seized the opportunity to call for stricter controls on immigration. The conservative leader, Edward Heath was forced to fire Powell from the shadow cabinet. Governments’ policy also encouraged new commonwealth immigration in 1948. The 1948 nationality act gave commonwealth citizen British status and therefore they’re allowed to come to Britain freely. The act established the status of citizen of United Kingdom and colonies (CUKC) they actually were invited by the government because of labour shortage. The government welcomed the new migrants because of labour shortage after the war. Between 1962 and 1971, the British government’s fear grew as immigrant figures grew. Commonwealth acts of 1968 and 1971 slowed down and the rates of immigration because of restriction of immigration. This was hard for many coloured people trying to get into Britain.
The 1965 Race Relation Act was soon refused by the British and tried to integrate people whom are different than them. The problem with immigration, English people weren’t coming from either country or origins. This made the white British kind of curious and just didn’t accept it. This is going back to Enoch Powell’s Speech, The future will make the people of Britain more coloured and soon to be British which you cannot kick out and therefore the coloured will soon takeover. Some migrants were happy to accept the English traditions but different people coming from different colonies, differed language and traditions sticking to their new way of life.
The Race Relation Act 1965 allowed Britain to address racial discrimination. The discrimination of colours race or ethnic even nation origins was forbidden in public. This is because, the UK saw the results of the economic migrants after the Second World War; and people were using colour prejudice daily. This prejudice grew during Notting hill riots and in 1963 the Bristol bus boycott. This act was strengthen with the Race Relation Act 1968 which made it illegal to refuse to serve public services, employment on the grounds of colour, race and origins.
This fact goes to a book I’ve read about immigrant. The author is SriLaken and had experienced the 1950 and 1960s. His name is Ambalavaner Sivanandan and he said ‘you are here because you were there’. This explains that the colonies that belonged to Britain was taken over and used for politic power, slaves, and wealth. He explained that Britain persuaded their colonies for cheap labour after the war and demanded to impose racist immigrants’ acts.
I’ve read a book called ‘never had it so good’ this was a slogan used commonly in the 1960s to describe humorous sectors in 1950s. Jonathon miller was a satirist he played in the ‘beyond of fringe’ a revue in the west end and also on TV. People like Jonathon miller in the beyond of fringe poked fun at racists in the British society. For example in one sketch he had a student from London school of economics.
“Excuse me, I am from the LSE and I am looking for lodging for students” says Jonathan miller. “But don’t think of what the neighbours say it’s me I am prejudiced” This is because; the non coloured were prejudice against the coloured people. As I worded earlier, prejudice against coloured people and saying excuses like ‘they stink’.
The foundation and the equals were people from all over the globe and they are all bands. (The group was made from West Indians, Sri Lankan and white British). The band was formed and made a lot of hits during their years in the music industry. There were white British people cheering at the band and accepted multicultural. They have tolerant attitudes to racial minorities and accepting racial diversity. From the crowd, the people are fond of coloured people. Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys was a song that was composed by the group called ‘the equals’ was against the racial discrimination.
Notting hill carnival has been a yearly carnival which takes place on the 26th and 27th of august each year. The event began in 1965 when immigrants from countries such as Trinidad and Tobago decided to bring together the people of Notting hill who faced racism since arrival. The event had a purpose to raise alertness of racism, cancelling it out and bringing about a more acceptably diverse society, the carnival also worked to raise awareness of the lack of employment opportunity for the black immigrants as well as the poor housing circumstances.
Assimilation can mean by taking an idea of culture which can lead to carnivals and be able to move to another place. Politics used the immigration and public thoughts and their attitude towards the ethnic minorities caused Britain to become very much today. Legislation of immigrants caused the people of Britain to socially integrate. If you pop down to the Notting carnival, you may see a lot of black people and whites socially integrating. Britain stands today as a great example of assimilation and it is a mixed society.
By Saleem Adat
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