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Race and Color: Jamaican Migrants in London and New York City Author(s): Nancy Foner Source:

Race and Color: Jamaican Migrants in London and New York City Author(s): Nancy Foner Source: International Migration Review, Vol. 19, No. 4 (Winter, 1985), pp. 708-727 Published by: The Center for Migration Studies of New York, Inc.

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Race

in

and

London

Color:

and

lamaican

New

York

Migrants

City

Nancy

State University

Foner

of New

York, Purchase

This

York City and London. What it means

argued,

in

United

discrimination,

of

York from some of the sting of racial prejudice

easier access to certain occupations and social institutions.

article

the

the

explores

States

there

black

the

significance

racial

context

Britain

of race

to

among

be

Jamaicans

in New

it

is

a black

Jamaican,

area.

York.

migrants

depends

larger

on the

and

of the receiving

face

racial

in New

Although

Although

prejudice

and

Being

in

them

part

New

with

Jamaicans

to living

cushions

are advantages

population

Jamaican

and provides

Since

the

end

of World

War

moved

to

Britain

and

the

II,

several

hundred

United

States.

In

thousand

the

1950s

Jamaicans

and

early

have

1960s,

Jamaicans were, as poet Louise Bennett (1971) ironically

England

States.

areas

United

politan

puts

flocked

have

it, "colonizing to the United

been

in reverse",

Within

each

of settlement.

States

area.

live

and

since

the late

1960s

and

New

they

have

City

country,

About

in the

London

half

Greater

York

the main

and

the

metro?

of the Jamaican

London

population

and

the

in Britain

New

region

York

This

and

article

York.

compares

the significance

on

research

that

being

of

the

New

in

of race

among

among

first-generation

must

Jamaicans

Difficult

black

in London

as

it

is

in

for

in a white

New

York,

and

migrants

New

cities,1

terms

Drawing it is contended

it

of

the

in both

is more

racial

migrants

be understood

both

in

Jamaicans

society,

where segregation of blacks is more pronounced,

residentially concentrated,

a black

receiving

York

London.

Jamaican

area.

context

and

a problem

local

London

of

to adjust

to being

Paradoxically,

being

cushions

in

part of the large,

black population

Jamaican

from some of the sting of racial prejudice

access

and

provides

to certain

occupations

and

social

institutions.

them

with

easier

from the National Institute of Mental

Health and the City University of New York, Faculty

the interviewing by Peter Braham. The London research is fully reported in Foner (1978). The

New York study, carried out between February and July 1982, was made possible by a grant from

Program in Inter-American Affairs. I am grateful to

the Director of the Program, Christopher Mitchell, for his help throughout the research period

and to Neva Wartell who served as a research assistant. For a fuller account of the New York

New York University's New York Research

ResearchAward Program. I wasassisted in

1 My research in London in 1973was

funded by grants

research, see, Foner (1983).

708

IMR

Volume

xix,

No.

4

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Jamaican

OF

have

States

Migrants

in London

and

New

York

City

709

opportunities,

higher

took

them

to Britain

was

was

largely

a matter

the

destination

partly

because

to

move

the

to

PA

TTERNS

MIGRA

long

in

TION

Jamaicans

or

of

for

1952

the

United

economic expansion, providing indigenous

move into better-paying

lower rungs of the occupational ladder (Peach, 1968). While Britian ended

Jamaicans'

mass immigration from the Island with the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Since then, enormous numbers of Jamaicans have head?

ed

was

the

wages, and improved

looked

life

the

abroad

for

better

this

job

styles.

Whether

1950s

it

so

the

War

search

United

post-World

in

the

two

in the

made

same

II period

Britain

early

1960s

for

immigration

thousands

policies

of Jamaicans

Act

At the

countries.

and

difficult

postwar

McCarran-Walter

States.

Jamaicans

time,

years

in Britain

y e a r s in Britain

workers

were

a time

of

with

w i t h opportunities

opportunities

w i t h opportunities

to

and creating

openings

on the

States

opened

its doors

to

shows

no signs

of abating.

stream

arrivals

from Jamaica

from

the

entire

in Britain

1950s

more

(Rose,

early

et. al.,

1960s

and

skilled

probably

than

the

fewer

the

(or common-law

man

in

was char?

of

especially

and higher-status

freely

and

in 1962,

this

mass

1950s and

of

its

never

who

jobs

right

United

to enter

States,

case,

the

movement

Jamaicans

or semi-skilled

(Wright,

were

to Britain

the United

for the

migration

In the British

first

1969:66).

skilled

Jamaican

10 percent,

came

or girlfriend)

men in

high

the

in the

1960s migration

before

1951,

1,000

a year

to Britain

standards

in the

and

a small

mass

West Indies apparently Most

were

the

kind;

exceeded

moved

by Jamaican

1968).

Only

average

than

the family

wife

acterized from the start by a high percentage

and

Jamaican

minority,

white-collar

first,

workers

at home.

by his

emigration

of women,

?

women

Typically,

wife

later

than

followed

for

children.

was

higher

(Rose,

to Britain

it was

but the proportion

and

migration

early

years

et. al., 1969:76).

The

volume

as

Britain

now

coming

before

(Deakin,

were

well

1970s.

that

223,300

over

?

Commonwealth

subject

still

to

to Britain

the

1962

Immigrants

There

Act of 1962 changed

was a marked

Dependents

158,630

of

in

shift

those

the

the composition

from

men

already

to work

in Britain

number

of

From

and

as

in

were

of the immigration.

from

adults

could

to women

resident

to

children.

freely,

limitations.

after

into

July

census

enter

strict

but adults

the

The

effect,

1962 and

and

the

figures

Indian

intending

drop 1962 Act was dramatic.

Jamaicans 1955 to just Britain

Jamaicans

to settle

Act

went

Between

of West

there

of the

Jamaicans

1968,

entered

32,700

1970:50).

December

admitted

All

446,200

were

half

for settlement,

told,

by

people

born

?

1971,

numbers

available

were

origin

Monck,

Jamaican.

declined

still

further

in the

for West

Indians2

showed

living

in Britain,

of whom

1977:12).

A

large

percentage

(Lomas

Indians

and

West

were

2 In this paper, the term West Indian refers only to those with origins in the English-speaking Caribbean, including Guyana.

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710 International

Migration

Review

Jamaicans

century,

wishing

subject

to

move

to

the

immigration

to

United

States

have,

The

throughout

1965

this

only

been

restrictions.

legislation,

not

which

ushered

in the

recent

mass

the

volume

but

also

other

trends

that

The

1952,

1965 law eliminated and

2,743

the small

to

Jamaican

legally

immigration

in

to

immigrating

in both

1966

Whereas

insignificant,

with

going

Jamaicans

reaching

is only

since

Jamaicans

many

from

10,483

the

1978 and

nearly

20,000

entered

the

part of the story.

1962

is clearly

have

years,

in

temporary

without

proper

migration

characterized

Jamaica

quota

snowballed

in

1967.

United

1979.

in Britain,

the

illegal

United

visitor's

documents.

of Jamaicans,

the

had

as soon

From

States

Legal

affected

movement.

been

then,

subject

a

to since

effect,

as it went

the

into

number

of

kept

immigration,

steady

of course,

of Jamaicans

pace,

of

for

immigration

States

visas

and

large

numbers

often

stayed,

Because

so many

on

the

1911

Jamaicans

live

number

States

legally in the United

from

before

net

are not

registered,

Nor

it is impossible

to

say how many Jamaicans

available

migration

of Jamaicans

act.

States

1960s,

reports,

there

there

was a steady

States.

are published

Jamaicans.

The

figures

recent

United

to census

in

the

large to the United came

and

early

of second-generation

is, after all,

not the first large

the restrictive

emigration

Even

By 1980,

in

wave.

1924 immigration

Thousands

in the century,

alone,

(Roberts,

1921

Between

Jamaican

born

to the

in the 1950s and early

amounted

to 30,000

were

about

1979:139-40).

the Island.

people

trickle

according

200,000

Jamaica

living

United

n.d.).

In the

States,

United

for

and

about

States,

women

their

100,000

women,

to

in the New

not

men,

first,

as well.

York

metropolitan

the

area

(Kraly,

and

children

with

it

of

dominated

later

movement,

by

their

1979,

was

common

and,

in many

The

migrate

followed

have

high

the

exception

men.

the "new immigration",

easier for women than men to get labor certification, largely due to the

It was

cases,

of two years, proportion

husbands

Between

stream

1967 and

always

in the

women

of women

as high

in the legal was

as 76 and

outnumbered

early

years

1968.

particularly

73 percent

for 1967 and

demand

obtain

for

immigrant

immigrants

(Palmer,

qualified

occupation,

United

of the illegal

private

helpers

domestic

labor

in

American

cities.

Women

and

family

could

legal

1972

also

were

easily

visas

as nurses,

and

about

as professionals

between

a third

1962

As

the

migration

on

status

progressed,

the

basis

of

probably

as likely

as men

them.

Women

doubtless

make

partly

because

companions

they

can

to the

of the

and

Jamaican

nurses

classified

1974:576).

for

States

households

(Foner,

1985).

a larger

ties

percentage

rather

than

in the

immigrant

women

were

to sponsor

stream

to have

relatives

up a high readily

elderly

and

proportion

find

jobs

in

child-care

as well,

as domestics,

As

in Britain,

migrants

to the

United

the average Jamaican.

The

migration

States

to the

have

United

been

more

in

States

skilled

the

past

than

two

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Jamaican

however,

and

and

Migrants

has

been

in London

marked

by

workers

and

a

New

York

higher

City

percentage

711

of

to Britain

Jamaican

about

14

workers

and

and

laws

favored

decades,

professionals

in

immigrants

percent were classified as professional,

about 13 percent as clerical

the

much

than

listed

and

other

early

non-manual

1960s.

1967

and

Of

1978

and

the emigration

86,000

legal

as workers,

kindred

Immigration

immigration

they

have

the

1950s

approximately

who

were

technical,

between

kindred

workers

United

pattern

(U.S.

States

since

Naturalization

are mainly

highly-trained

Service,

Annual

Annual R e p o r t s ) . f o r t h i

Reports). for this occupational

YORK

London,

3

the main

with

a sample

in the

United

28 or older.

responsible

workers.

STUDIES:

AND

NEW

New

York

and

interviews

of time

to Britain

or the

they

were

arrived

seven

years,

number

THE

TWO

LONDON

In both

in-depth

age, and length

migrated

interviewed,

years, having

for at least

had

research

technique

chosen

of the

were

was structured,

for

sex,

had

when

at least

10

York

sample

large

of Jamaicans

to control

for

receiving

States

All

1952 and

arrived

and

women.

cities

society.

All

when

had

1963,

they

lived

and

between

lived

respondents

18 and,

over

in Britain

all had

1962 and

lived

1975.

in neighborhoods

between

having

of men

in New

Each

an equal

The

people

interviewed

in both

with

concentrations

South

and East Flatbush),

respondents

many Jamaican residents, while in New York I found respondents through

personal contacts and by attending

110 people were interviewed

New York (30 by me,

of Jamaicans:

London;

London,

York,

Queens,

by knocking

church

in London

in

in

several

working-class

(mainly

Crown

Bronx.

known

areas

of

and

North

in New

in Brooklyn

and

the

Heights

I located

to have

In all,

40 in

southeast

simply

northeast

in London

on doors

and

in areas

association

meetings. 30 by an assistant),

(80 by me,

10 by an assistant).

Those

interviewed

in

London

were

typical

of

first-generation

adult

Jamaican migrants in Britain in terms of occupation,

educational

qualifications beyond primary school; and the vast majority had working-class

jobs before they left Jamaica and at the time of the London

York sample was fairly representative

migrant population

It included

many who had attended or were presently

education,

and

age.

New

Nearly all were between

the ages

of 30 and 50; most

of the

had no formal

recent

study.

adult

The

Jamaican

wider,

in the United States in terms of occupation and education.

high

percentage

of white-collar

workers

attending

secondary

as well

school

as

or

a relatively

study and the characteristicsof the London sample are

in Foner (1978). For an elaboration of the methods used in New York and the

described

characteristicsof the New York sample (as well as a detailed comparison of the methods used in

the two studies), see, Foner (1983).

3 The methods used in the London

fully

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712 International

Migration

Review

college.4

Jamaican migrants, were

doubt

States

Important Jamaican migrant experience

visits with 20 people from the original sample. And in both cities, informal

moved

Most

of the men

were

interviewed,

in their

probably

40s,

like

most

recent

the

adult

male

no

30s and

than

although

adult

was,

women

were

older

to the

(half

50 or older)

the typical

years.

interview

ways.

female

migrant

about

who

the

United

as the

in recent

structured

in other

initial

I also

learned

were

In London,

there

follow-up

talks, after the lengthy

formal

interview

ended,

gave

people

about

New

topics

York,

that

where

friends

talks

occasions

interviewed.

BEING

from

interested

I already

them

knew

fieldwork

afternoon

or

and

to tell

of

me

the

into

social

NEW

more

about

many

respondents

(Foner,

the

functions

1973),

evening,

with

YORK:

my previous

lasted

all

in Jamaica

or late

other

AND

sometimes

I went

BLACK

to weddings

IN

LONDON

a chance

their

to talk

In

lives.

or

their

close

these

informal

and

on

people

a few

I had

THE

SIMILARITIES

AND

DIFFERENCES

Whether

painful

As members

discrimination

Jamaicans

settled

black

in

London

or

New

York,

they

experienced

a

change:

being of a racial of a sort

was more

of a stigma

than it had been in Jamaica.

subject

to prejudice

back

home.

and

minority

they

had

group,

not

they

encountered

were

not mean,

skin

has

long

days

history

of

slavery,

Indeed,

a white

population

along

Blackness

few

the top".

past

This

does

of course,

been

that black

on

the

based

skin

was not a stigma

Island,

and

this

on African

slavery.

the

colonial

society

comprise

since

being

position.

black

has not

been

in Jamaica.

stems

Black

Jamaica's

the

rulers.

century. To most lower-class

of the

symbol,

devalued

from

in

as a plantation

were

bias

colony

Whites,

masters,

has

and

throughout

the

entire

?

who

large,

not only

black

?

low

social

?

in itself

mobility

and

period,

18th

permeated

of their

is not

are a majority

the

the majority

is another

Jamaicans

are,

by and

poverty,

however,

to upward

but who

their

with

in Jamaica,

?

for the

"at

to the

decades

For one

some

fewer

a barrier

blacks

or to social

acceptance

thing,

on the Island.

were,

in

were

in

According

Rex

1960

(1972:27) words, touched by

African

culture,

census,

and

91 out

than

one

and

of every

the

percent

100 Jamaicans

override

Nettleford's

as pure

tarbrush:

as pure

can

76 percent

white

classified

or European.

skin

color

For another,

importance

so

occupation,

wealth

4 According to INS figures, about 25 percent of the Jamaican workerswho legally emigrated to

and clerical

is lower than the proportion of the New York sample in these occupational

categories

of the sample in these jobs at the time of the study (33 percent). Because professional and

white-collar jobs require comparatively advanced educational training, it is not surprising that

so many Jamaicans interviewed in New York had gone beyond primary school: 50 percent had

attended or were presently attending secondary school

the United Statesbetween 1962and 1975were classified as

workers. This

professionals, managers,

figure in the three months before

leaving Jamaica(50 percent) but not unlike the proportion

or college.

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Jamaican

can,

and

hair,