The British colour bar

Ms. Gopal again and her knowledge of history:

In the postwar period, the colour bar in hotels and other public spaces was challenged by people like the famous cricketer Learie Constantine, who won a landmark judgment.

Britain never did have a colour bar. This wasn’t Jim Crow, you know, that was some other group of wipipo. As was apartheid some other group. Sure, we all look the same but really, you should be able to distinguish.

Constantine booked into a hotel, having been assured that his colour was not a problem. Then the actual management of the hotel on the spot insisted it was. After remonstration etc he moved to another hotel owned by the same company.

So, clearly not a bar in law nor by the hotel chain. Racism, yes, clearly. The case was breach of contract, having taken his booking and not supplying the room. He won.

This is many things including a righteous biff on the nose to racism. It’s also not proof of a colour bar having existed.

38 thoughts on “The British colour bar”

  1. It’s also not proof of a colour bar having existed.

    It’s also not proof of a colour bar not having existed.

  2. Maybe Ms Gopal should forget history & concentrate on the present. There were dance clubs you wouldn’t get into if you were the wrong colour in both Vauxhall & Islington, when I was in London. And that’s just the two of I knew of, for certain. No doubt there were more & they still exist. Of course the wrong colour here is white. Does that somehow make it OK?

  3. At what point does an ‘academic’ become such a laughing stock that their university declines to employ them? I think we might soon find out.

  4. I read the Guardian report on this incident and the Wiki entry. Both major woke entities, and perfectly capable of misrepresenting facts to support a story of a ‘racist’ Britain. And yet they do not seem to do so.

    The Guardian made it clear that the discrimination came from the hotel manager, and was not institutionalised in any way by the authorities of the day – in fact the Colonial Office and Ministry of Labour (two government departments involved) both stressed that government policy was firmly agaianst racial discrimination of any kind. So that sounds simply like personal discrimination….

    But wait a moment… The Wiki entry has something further. Apparently the reason for his move was NOT that a manager had taken a dislike to him on account of his skin. Some people certainly had – they were Americans staying at the same hotel, who kicked up a fuss at having to share the same building with one of our darker coloured brothers. The manager was put in an impossible position, and had tried to square the circle by having Learie Constantine moved to another hotel in the same chain.

    At that time (1948) I believe that The Meissen Bison (above) was quite right. British people held no animosity towards blacks. But they were in hock to America, depended on American money, and needed to somehow work with Americans, who really did see blacks as sub-human. If there is any story there, it is that of American discrimination and segregation causing problems for blacks in a welcoming Britain….

  5. Racism was rare in the UK and by the 1990s it was gone except for a few dinosaurs.

    Can’t say the same now. Racism was reintroduced into the UK by our goverment under their +ve discrimination policies and now it is back and it isn’t going to be going away anytime soon.

  6. There were plenty of “No blacks, Irish or dogs” signs in post-war Britain. Not actually evidence of colour bars. Evidence of discrimination, yes. But not based on colour.

  7. “At what point does an ‘academic’ become such a laughing stock that their university declines to employ them? I think we might soon find out.”

    That bar’s set pretty high. Professor Sponge Bob, Chair of Marine Sciences at Cambridge is a real possibility.

  8. Dodgy Geezer Said:
    “. If there is any story there, it is that of American discrimination and segregation causing problems for blacks in a welcoming Britain….”

    Wasn’t there some of that during the war as well? Yanks complaining about British lack of racial discrimination and trying to make us bar their black servicemen from pubs etc.?

  9. The problem with black history is that it it is really anti white history and (like Brexit and other populisms ) seeks to evade responsibility for now by blaming some “other”.
    This article, like so many others speaks of the cruelty of colonialism and slavery as if they were the same phenomenon.They did not happen ( in Africa ) at the same time. Slavery was conducted by black Africans. Not until the gun boat and quinine was Africa colonised .
    There is no simple goody and baddy story and its gets worse . This kind of infantilising narrative essentially casts White people technology capitalism as the snake and the innocents of Africa as the Eden
    The irony is that the conception of the innocent primitive or “Noble Savage” is a Western Romantic one( Rousseau notably ) . To African people of the time they were not black people ,they were just people.

    I am all for black history but if we are going to ditch comforting narratives, lets ditch them all

  10. @ken You will be unable to prove your assertion, in the unlikely event that you are interested in trying. This is because it is an urban legend.

  11. If there were plenty of such signs then we should have more evidence than the one single photograph we do have.

    No blacks, sure, there was discrimination. But the specific trio is vastly more likely to be legend than true.

  12. One of my favourite Bill Tidy cartoons is of a gentleman in full B&W minstrel get-up on the doorstep of a boarding house. The landlady is pointing to a sign stating “No blacks, no Irish “ and saying ‘Can’t you read O’Shaunessy!’

    On a more serious note, I recall seeing graffiti demanding ‘No colour bar’ in London back in the 50s.

  13. I saw a “Who Do You Think You Are” a few years ago, featuring Moira Stuart, her of the beautiful Caribbean voice.

    She had a photo of an ancestor who read Medicine at Edinburgh. There he was with his dark-skinned pals. She decided that late 19th century Scotland had Apartheid.

    Lovely voice, but thick as bricks.

  14. No blacks no Irish

    In London I’ve come across an African landlord who wouldn’t rent to West Indians and an Irish lady who wouldn’t rent to Irish guys. When your own kind think you’re a crap tenant…

  15. Gopal – she’s the arse who complained that when she walked into King’s Cambridge the porter addressed her as Madam instead of Dr. She clearly believes that white folks are equipped with a secret Doctorate Detector so that they know which stranger walking into College has one.

  16. In defence of Gopal I’ve experienced the same sense of entitlement amongst RAF officers. Many, many years ago when I was in the Air Training Corps I went on a summer camp to an RAF station. Some pillock whizzed by in a car. A complaint was later received that we didn’t salute him. Kind of hard when it’s impossible to work out easily who’s in the car. I don’t suppose it’s unique to the RAF either.

  17. A pal of mine was blown up in NI. Luckily his injuries were limited to his right elbow. He used to seek out officers to walk past and not salute, knowing that when challenged he had in his pocket a ‘No saluting’ chit.

  18. Tbh, I don’t give a shit about racism in the 1940’s, but neither does Priyamvada Gopal.

    The whole point of this stuff is animosity towards wypipo. But if wypipo are dumb enough to let a Mekon-headed Hindoo from a country that still has a functioning caste system and where rape is the third most popular sport to lecture them on morality, then crack on.

  19. Where is the “Thank you for changing?”

    Should make you think changing was a mistake.

    Dwelling on a past that doesn’t exist anymore is to shame you in the present, for what you didn’t do. CM plan to convince you the UK is bad, so you will accept its destruction.

    It’s not about race. It’s about, “Fvck you, I’m going to destroy your country.”

    I happen to like UK. I think it a great and important country. I don’t think it should be destroyed because a man had to change hotels.

  20. Isn’t Gopal employed to teach literature? But her Guardian articles always seem to be about history and modern UK society.

    What’s her view on the wearing of facemasks? Well, they are racist, obviously, but do they prevent viral infections?

  21. At what point does an ‘academic’ become such a laughing stock that their university declines to employ them? I think we might soon find out.

    Hmm. I wouldn’t hold my breath, Julia.

  22. @RichardT:
    “. If there is any story there, it is that of American discrimination and segregation causing problems for blacks in a welcoming Britain….”

    Wasn’t there some of that during the war as well? Yanks complaining about British lack of racial discrimination and trying to make us bar their black servicemen from pubs etc.?

    Indeed. The Yanks enforced a particularly repulsive racial segregation which was unacceptable to the British people – but we needed them in the war with us. The Brits naturaly sided with the black soldiers – at the famous Battle of Bamber Bridge the townspeople supported the blacks against their white officers. From the Wiki: “..The people of Bamber Bridge supported the Black troops, and when American commanders demanded a colour bar in the town, all three pubs in the town reportedly posted “Black Troops Only” signs…”

  23. “Except that there weren’t. / Even the ‘Guardian’ doesn’t believe this one!”

    Few of us here will know the facts of the time, but I personally know Irish whose parents specifically upheld that sentiment quite categorically (North London).

    And lots of reported anecdote if one googles?

    For example:

    https://historum.com/threads/no-blacks-no-irish-no-dogs-no-facts.73110/

    Further to Penry’s speculation that the “No Irish” signs might be urban legend, I can drive 10 miles up the road to have a cup of tea with my dad (he’s 81 now), who left Ireland in the 1950s to work in England. He will attest that, yes, there were signs saying “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs” aplenty. Unfortunately, he didn’t see fit to take photos as he was busy trying to make enough money to feed and clothe his wife and 3 kids back home.

    He even gave me the context. The signs were typically in the windows of landlady-owned bed & breakfast establishments. The Irish tenants (or ‘lodgers’, as they were more typically called at the time) were often labourers on the railways or building sites. As such, they were, ahem, rum characters. My dad was a ganger (a.k.a. foreman) on a railway maintenance crew and the reputation of the Irish labourers amongst the landladies was bad enough that he had a divil of a job finding digs for them all. Often, he’d get some lads into digs, they’d go out of a night and get scuttered, before rolling back to their lodgings. Somewhere between entering the front door and going to bed, various breakages (cups, chairs etc) would happen.

  24. “He will attest that, yes, there were signs saying “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs” aplenty.”

    Could be but then there were plenty of ancient Welshmen who claimed to have witnessed the machine-gunning of miners at Tonypandy by the troops Churchill had sent for that very purpose. And it’s well known to be bollocks.

    Then there’s the sign from pre-revolutionary Shanghai banning dogs and Chinese from part of the city. There’s a photo of that. Yet eventually the CCP admitted that the sign was bogus – they’d produced it themselves. (Which makes sense – how many dogs and Chinese could read English?)

  25. You have to admire the Brahmins. Many are at the forefront of this latest anti-whitey offensive, which is clever as it distracts everyone from their own eye-watering discrimination and position of power at the top of the Caste system.

  26. Through the 50s and most of the 60s there were (to a very good approximation) no black people in Britain to discriminate against. There were a few dock areas – East End, Tiger Bay, bits of Glasgow and Liverpool – with a significant population, but elsewhere you would never encounter a black face. I grew up during this period in Blackburn (now 30+% Muslim) and the first black people I ever encountered were as a teenager – the West African stewards serving lunch on my dad’s ship (he was on the West Africa run for most of his working life). I knew what they looked like (I’d read Little Black Sambo as a nipper), but had never met one in the flesh.

  27. The railway ganger anecdote supports arguments that what people declare to be racism is actually classism. We can’t have Aaron in the golf club, he works in *trade* for God’s sake.

  28. ChrisM: My experience too – no black kids in our school, this in the 60s. Every year we used to get a French assistante to help school us in the language. They were usually very attractive young ladies, a cruel thing to do to us hormonally imbalanced teenage lads! Anyway one day before the summer, the headmaster came in the classroom and asked if we knew someone who could put up a black French guy who was to be the assistante the following year. He must have succeeded as next term this French African appeared, probably from Côte d’Ivoire or somewhere similar. I think he probably learned more about Northern English customs than we did about French pronunciation!

    That he had to ask says something about prevailing attitudes then. He obviously had no problem finding digs for the young ladies.

  29. @ken hasn’t the photographer admitted he staged the infamous photo.
    I did rather hilariously see an article complaining about racism/discrimination in advertising which turned out to be a complaint about prostitutes expressing that they wouldn’t see certain types of clients in their adverts and how the law fails to tackle this issue

  30. The Yanks enforced a particularly repulsive racial segregation which was unacceptable to the British people

    Whew, good thing too, otherwise in [Current Year] you might have legions of blacks protesting against how horribly racist Britain oppresses them. Dodged a bullet, huh?

  31. So Much For Subtlety

    Dodgy Geezer October 14, 2020 at 1:45 pm – “The Yanks enforced a particularly repulsive racial segregation which was unacceptable to the British people – but we needed them in the war with us.”

    I am intrgiued by the idea it was repulsive or unacceptable to the British people. What is the evidence for that?

    The reality is somewhat different. Britain simply had no Blacks. Or very few. So accepting a small number of relatively well behaved Blacks was not an issue. Southern Americans lived with a lot more Blacks. Northern Americans a lot fewer. So naturally the laws were more strongly and openly formulated in the South than in Britain.

    That is not a cause for self-congratulations by British people. After all, there were places where British people did live with a lot of Blacks. We tend to blame Apartheid on the Jaape but in Rhodesia White British people created a similar system under another name. As they did in Kenya. I am willing to bet that Jamaica and Guyana were not models of racial integration either.

    The reality is just that White people cannot live with Black people. I do not know why this is. I do not blame it on genetics as perhaps Theo might. But it is the reality. Everywhere there is a large African-descended population, Whites flee. They are not stupid to do so either.

    The British are determined to copy the Moriori, and will suffer the same fate, but if they want to survive they can only do so through some form of racial segregation. As every other White population in the world has worked out. It is not racism, or at least it is not just racism, it is the reality. You can call survival repulsive if you like. Maybe it is. But at least the repulsive will have surviving descendents to feel bad about it. You won’t.

  32. […]an RAF station. Some pillock whizzed by in a car. A complaint was later received that we didn’t salute him. Kind of hard when it’s impossible to work out easily who’s in the car.

    An it were the Station Commander’s car and Harry Staish were in situ, the car would have been displaying a flag aforeship, which is what you were probably meant to have spotted and responded to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *