Description

This photograph shows an unnamed woman disembarking from a ship which had recently landed in Southampton Docks, in May 1956.

Taken by Haywood Magee, the photograph was part of a set that accompanied an article by journalist Hilde Marchant about Caribbean migration to Britain. The article, published in Picture Post in June, was titled ‘Thirty Thousand Colour Problems’. Its strapline read,

West Indian immigrants are now arriving in Britain at the rate of 3,000 a month. This year 30,000 are expected. All seek work and homes. Both are becoming difficult to find. Trouble and distress are brewing

The accompanying text presented migrants as ‘bewildered’, equating them to ‘cargo’, attempting to fit into society with their ‘‘English’ coats’.[1]

Stuart Hall, when later discussing the challenges of examining Black history from existing photographic sources, critiqued the article for constructing a narrative where migration is framed as a ‘universal, ubiquitous’ ‘problem’ for British society.[2]

[1] Hilde Marchant and Haywood Magee, ‘Thirty Thousand Colour Problems’, Picture Post (June 1956), pp. 28–29, 38.

[2] Stuart Hall, ‘Reconstruction Work: Stuart Hall on Images of Post War Black Settlement’, Ten-8, (1984), pp. 2–9.

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