Social Unrest in the Bahamas

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What factors contributed to the social unrest of the 1930s and 1940s?

The principal causes of working class unrest and increasing dissatisfaction were the same throughout the British Caribbean Region colonies: low wages; high unemployment and under-employment; arrogant racist attitudes of the colonial administrators and employers in their relations with black labourers; lack of adequate and proper, in most cases, any representation; and no established structure for the resolution of industrial disputes by collective bargaining. Furthermore the unfairness shown towards black labourers would later result too many complaints and little or no positive response. Black labourers continued to seek some kind of equality due to the fact that most of their work at the same performance level as those who were white.

❖ Political Struggles: The Bahamas, like many other countries that are apart of the Commonwealth, had representative assemblies based on the bicameral system of the mother country. Each colony had a governor who represented the monarch, an appointed upper house, and an elected lower house. The electoral franchise, however, was extremely restricted, being vested in a few wealthy male property holders. Colonial acquisition and administration were not neatly and easily accomplished. The Burma Road riot, however, was more than an isolated act of venting. Although a powerful symbol of black agency that has been referenced again and again in the political struggles of Bahamian blacks, the riot was more than a symbol. The riot also kindled the development of a pro-black consciousness in the country, a necessary precursor to black rule and independence. The majority black population in the Bahamas could literally dismantle the edifices of minority white rule, if sufficiently provoked. The fissure that was created in 1942 would widen over the next few decades and within a quarter of a century it became a gapping hole that the majority black Progressive...
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