chapter  7
26 Pages

A quiet fire

One of the few orthodoxies in race relations is that the period following the arrival in Britain of the ss Empire Windrush was one of relative calm. Research in the postwar period claimed that, while racialist practices were widespread, migrants were, in some emotional sense, a.ttached to their 'motherland' and were reasonably content with their position. Studies from such scholars as Ruth Glass (1960), Sheila Patterson (1963), R. B. Davison (1966) and Ceri Peach (1968) gave rise to an image of the typical 'dark stranger': optimistic in the first instance, devastatingly disappointed at reception, but often sustained by an unsubstantiated faith in Britain and a vague ambition to travel back to the country oforigin, hopefully enriched after a prosperous spell ofwork. This was 'the myth ofreturn', as it is often termed (so-called because the return was often only a myth, and the migrants settled permanently). Whites' hostile feelings were generally unrequited. Migrants, the research suggested, were insecure and demoralized, but revealed no antagonism and sought only the opportunity to adjust to the new environment.