By Lucille Vanek
Learning new things is both interesting and sorrowful. I was very saddened to learn the origins of sweetness cane sugar. Sugar has had its lasting impact on the African American community from vast enslavement around the time of 1720 to current sugar-cane farming discrimination and large increases in diabetes. Sugar cane harvesting consisted of intensive and brutal working conditions for African Americans produced by Louisiana and New Orleans plantation farmers. Brutalities included punishment of placing a slave in a hot box with nails placed in a form in which the individual was unable to move. Workers could not differ the days of the week due to the constant excruciating harvesting of sugar cane. Not only were the workers put through rigorous working conditions, they were also malnourished and dominated by white culture. Black individuals contributed to almost all the work required to create the product of sugar cane, yet they were treated and still are treated, as if they are nothing. Even after establishing basic civil rights, the dominance of white society continued to perpetrate black landownership of black people’s lives. Promise jobs at promised high wages resulted to many black men with high debts due to transportation, lodging, and equipment.
The lack of black farmers within the sugar crop industry is incredibly noticeable and will only continue to decrease with no change. 90 percent of black farmers’ land has been lost since the beginning of the 1900s due to racist government, bank, and real estate entities. A prime example of unfair treatment within the sugar cane farming industry comes from Eddie Lewis III, a minority advisor for the federal Farm Service Agency. Lewis has filed against M.A. Patout and Son, the largest sugar-cane mill company in Louisiana. M.A. Patout and Son is being accused of terminating a seven-year agreement to farm of Lewis’s land without proper reasoning. Lewis used the terms “unilaterally, arbitrarily and without just cause terminated.” Unsurprisingly, M.A. Patout and Son deny the allegations.
This shows the continuing dominance of white power destroying black lives today. The black community has suffered quite enough over centuries for the sugar cane industry, and even with “equality” established they still must please the white standard to keep livelihood. It is an honest disgrace to see hard work not paying off simply due to the color of skin. I guess it turns out sugar is not so sweet after all.