The Influence of Real and Imaginary Blacks

  • Kenneth Hudson


‘The black man, by his presence in the community, made everything possible’, wrote Dick Hebdige.1 It was an interesting observation. Since the large-scale immigration from the West Indies and the Caribbean during the 1940s and 1950s, the attitudes of the British people have undergone a great change. Whether this has been for the better or for the worse, and to what extent the blacks, either as individuals or as a community, have been a major cause is a matter for discussion and, so far, prejudice has prevented this exceedingly important question from being answered with the care and objectivity it deserves. If the introduction of large numbers of people with a different skin colour and a different culture has, over a period of thirty or forty years, so shaken British society that its traditional values and modes of expression no longer exist, especially among the young, then we have been witnessing something comparable to what took place in Russia between 1917 and 1921, something for which ‘revolution’ can hardly be too strong a word. But Hebdige may conceivably be exaggerating or he may be on the wrong track altogether. In order to be in a position to make up our minds on the point, we need to know what kind of black culture was brought across the Atlantic to Britain, how that culture expressed itself in words and other forms of behaviour, and how the British have reacted to an immigration which was upon them before they began to realise what was happening.


Black Community Black People White People Black Immigrant Black Culture 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Dick Hebdige, Subculture: the Meaning of Style (London: Methuen, 1979) p. 55.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Edward Bone, The Negro Novel in America (Yale University Press, 1965) pp. 53–4. This is of great value in understanding black culture in general. Its analysis and insight go deeper and wider than the title of the book indicates.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Thomas Kochman (ed.), Rappin’ and Stylin’ Out: Communication in Black America (University of Illinois Press, 1972) p. xi.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kochman, Rappin’ and Stylin’ Out, p. 172. On this, see also J. L. Dillard, Black English in the United States (New York: Random House, 1972).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    A summary of his findings can be found in Kochman, Rappin’ and Stylin’ Out, p. 172 onwards.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Colin MacInnes, ‘Reggae’, New Society, 31 December 1970.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Quoted in Bone, The Negro Novel in America, p. 198. Ellison was born in 1914. His Invisible Man won the National Book Award as the best American novel of 1952.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Oz 21, June 1969.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Attila, no. 25, 23 October 1971.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Melody Maker, 27 January 1979.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Black Music, December 1979.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Colin MacInnes, City of Spades (London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1957) p. 41.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid., p. 47.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hebdige, Subculture, p. 45.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kenneth Hudson 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Hudson

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