Play / pause Racism in the 60s

Racism in the 60s

  • Mark Johnson
  • Interview by: Peter Devitt


I grew up in 1960s Britain.

I was born in the last year of the 1950s.

And my father had arrived from Jamaica on a ship,

not the Windbrass, but another ship.

And I personally experienced

a society in which it was acceptable

to post on a door: no blacks, or Irish, or dogs allowed

in this particular rented accommodation.

It was acceptable to perform on television

with black face on your paint and

call yourself a black and white minstrel.

It was acceptable to put Golliwogs on the jam.

And then the racist jokes that accompanied that

and the other racist jokes that we had to endure,

day in and day out,

were all considered just par for the course.

I don't believe that the Mediterranei have,

certainly in the counts that they have given,

experienced anything like that within the Royal Air Force.

In fact, the Royal Air Force issued a promulgation

at the onset of the war, very clearly stating that

any expression of racial discrimination,

by word or deed, would be treated

as the most serious disciplinary breach.

I wish the British society received the same warning.

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