Such theories and arguments legitimated ideas of white supremacy and practices of slavery. British merchants and traders sold their goods for black slaves from Africa who were taken to the West Indies to work in the British colonies there. Although slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century, the notion of the superiority of the white race and, in particular, the British empire have left a legacy of racist thinking. And such thinking was brought to the fore in the 1950s and 1960s when immigration from the British colonies was encouraged as a result of the labour shortage in Britain. While there was a clear need for immigrant workers in Britain, their arrival still
encouraged racist sentiments and worries around the ‘racial degeneration’. There was widespread hostility to the inﬂux of ‘coloured’ immigrants to particular areas of Britain, the best-known example being Enoch Powell’s 1968 speech predicting ‘rivers of blood’ on the streets of Britain as a result of immigration from Asia and the West Indies. Although Powell’s comments were widely condemned, when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 her sympathetic comments over white fears of being ‘ swamped’ by ‘alien cultures’ reﬂected similar sentiments. In the early 1980s the inner-city disorders in many parts of Britain, most notably Brixton, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester, lent support to the stereotype of black youths as disorderly and criminal.