Of all the immigrants arriving in Britain in the middle of the twentieth century, none attracted as much attention from whites as West Indian men. This was initially explicable by their being the first nonwhites to settle in large numbers. Around ten thousand arrived during the Second World War (more than Britain's entire prewar black population) and, although some two-thirds of them were hurriedly repatriated after 1945, returning ex-servicemen formed the majority of passengers disembarking from the Empire Windrush on 21 June 1948: year zero for mass black immigration. For the following decade, most of the Commonwealth immigrants coming to Britain each year were West Indian, and, of these, men outnumbered women by a ratio of roughly two to one.
In the late 1950s and 1960s, as their womenfolk joined them and as South Asians formed an ever-increasing proportion of new arrivals, it became clear that the prominence of West Indian men was more than merely numerical. It was cultural, stemming from the fascination-cum-revulsion of whites who customarily regarded them as vicious, indolent, violent, licentious, and antifamilial. These qualities were thought to differentiate them from their South Asian counterparts, who overcame an unsavory reputation acquired in the fifties to be viewed as the new Jews, placid and hard-working family men whose strict endogamy nullified their sexual charge. Much the same could be said for West Indian women, who posed less of a threat to white sensibilities on account of being considered less intemperate and sexually predatory than men.