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The Colonial Period to 1900
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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, General Research and Reference Division

Allister Macmillan, The West Indies, Illustrated (London: W.H. and L. Collingridge, 1909)

The Demise of Jamaican Sugar

Not all Caribbean islands saw a decline in sugar production. Well into the twentieth century, sugar was still king in Barbados. The industry utilized virtually all the island's arable land and employed most of its workforce. Black Barbadians were ruthlessly exploited and lived in conditions not far removed from slavery. When the sugarcane was harvested, Bridgetown, the island's principal port and city, was a bustling center of economic activity, and there was a conspicuous improvement in people's standard of living. Sugar was so centrally important that Afro-Barbadians referred the months when the cane was too young to be harvested as "Hard Times."

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