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18 June 2014
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Immigration and Emigration
Sand, sea and …. Reading

Racism

Despite the attraction of coming to Britain as their “Mother Country”, Barbadians did not find life entirely smooth running. The British Nationality Act, 1948, recognised and gave preferential treatment to people who were "citizens of the independent Commonwealth countries", in this case, Barbados. In the 1960s and 1970s, more and more British colonies attained independence and became independent Commonwealth countries.

Public opinion about the government’s immigration policy was being agitated by political activities. Enoch Powell,
Pat Cutting, Barbados And Friends Association
Pat Cutting enjoys the BAFA social life
© Pat Cutting
Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West, provoked racial tensions with his “Rivers of Blood” speech, in April 1968 in which he questioned the right of Commonwealth immigrants to come into the country at will.

But that did not deter people from either coming or staying. Pat Cutting came to the UK from Barbados in 1963 and went straight into senior schooling where she experienced racism personally: “Most Barbadians felt that coming to the 'Mother Country', having known Barbados as Little England, there wouldn’t be any problem, you’d just be accepted to do what you had to do, if you wanted to stay – you stay, or if you wanted to go back – you’d go back, but there was an awful lot of racism about.”

After finishing school, Pat started work in London and, with promotion, was relocated to Reading. It was there that she first came into contact with the growing Barbadian community in this town 40 miles to the west of London.

She remembers the community’s growth in the 60’s and 70’s,
Members of BAFA
BAFA hold sociable committee meetings
© Pat Cutting
“Initially Barbadians would do their own thing, and keep themselves to themselves, and the black community would get together in the various homes as there was nowhere to go – they’d play dominoes, talk politics and chat. They were a community at work too, with so many of them working in local factories such as Gillette’s, Mars, Burberry’s, Huntley and Palmers and of course the Royal Berkshire Hospital – they became a significant part of the workforce.”


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