Sugar Cane Alley

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Alexandra Mitchell
Dr. Lamont King
GAFST 200
November 30, 2010
Sugar Cane Alley
Jose understands at a young age that in order to escape the indentured life of working in a sugar cane plantation like his ancestors before him, he must do something different. In the classroom, Jose is a very bright student as seen through his peers and especially his professor who eventually helped Jose get into a prestigious school because of his academic excellence. He assures his grandmother who is his sole provider and family that one day she’ll no longer have to work tirelessly in the sugar cane plantation. Jose dreams of taking work in a more profitable and higher field then the plantation his community is chained to all being done by attaining a high education. Through the life of a plantation worker and the ones seen in Van Onselen’s article as a migration worker, slavery may have been abolished, but their freedom is severely limited. At the end of the film, the plantation workers were singing a song and one line of its lyrics clearly summed up what is needed to end the forced monetary economy many of the African Americans are trapped in, “Money and justice are what’s needed to end our suffering.”

In his article titled, “Social Control in the Compounds,” Van Onselen does a good job portraying the hard lives of the Chibaro people working in a nearby mine plantation. These workers paralleled the lives of the ones working in the sugar cane plantation where they were both trapped and limited in their freedom. They were oppressed under the proletarian labor economy that made it difficult to move up in the labor field and many were financially indentured to their plantation living day-by-day and paycheck-to-paycheck. This system made it extremely hard for the African Americans to move around and find better work somewhere else. There was almost total control over the labor and the whole idea of this widespread control was to lengthen its cycle. There were laws...
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