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By John Western

ISBN-10: 0816619840

ISBN-13: 9780816619849

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Additional info for A Passage to England: Barbadian Londoners Speak of Home

Sample text

They interpreted this as a clear indication that they were not welcome. The immigration laws of Britain, their transatlantic country of destination, dealt with them in ways very different from the way immigration laws, a decade later, Transatlantic Homes 11 dealt with me: they made me feel welcome indeed in my first transatlantic country of destination, Canada. The year 1962 was also the year we got our first television set. This acquisition nourished curiosity about current international affairs and brought a degree of awareness—albeit not grounded in any experience of my own—that not all the actors on the world stage were white like me.

Simply by their presence in places they have not previously inhabited, are blacks ceasing to be oddities and becoming, say, Londoners? Blacks have since the 1950s changed British culture and will continue so to do, ever more ubiquitous on TV screens or in Parliament or on professional soccer teams or as principal actors in the Royal Shakespeare Company or whatever. Yet these immediately preceding sentences have a ring very similar to that of the liberal consensual views of the 1950s and 1960s Establishment, in whose political culture I was raised and to which I suppose I rather unquestioningly aspired.

I won't take this. I have a right to be here. " Such would be my water-off-a-duck's-back reaction to the probing on the Reculver sea wall: "I know I belong. " Suppose, however, that nearly all those I meet consistently and unblinkingly counter my view. They tell me I am now merely a visitor, with no particular entitlement to this place anymore. I continue to dismiss their misguided opinion. But I begin to wonder now, despite my brave assertions; do they have a point? How many times do they have to flatly contradict me before I start to lose my certainties?

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