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Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas, 1880-1960$
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Gail Saunders

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062549

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062549.001.0001

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Confronting a Divided Society

Confronting a Divided Society

Chapter:
9 Confronting a Divided Society
Source:
Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas, 1880-1960
Author(s):

Gail Saunders

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062549.003.0010

Chapter 9 examines Bahamian society across the 1950s and 1960s in order to determine whether the turbulence of the preceding decades brought about any fundamental improvements in race relations. Reexamining the populations of New Providence and the Out Islands between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, Saunders finds over time a decrease in the number of individuals self-identifying as black and a significant increase in the number of individuals self-identifying as mixed race. Discriminatory practices still in force across the Bahamas at mid-century are described, as are improved material conditions—including better local and international communications and transportation— affecting all Bahamians. By the 1960s land in the Bahamas had appreciated in value and was attracting developers and speculators. While there was greater access to land ownership among Bahamian nonwhites, the best land, including entire cays, was sold to foreigners and wealthy local elites. An overview of these and related conditions in the Bahamas across the 1950s and 1960s reveals that attitudes towards race had not fundamentally changed since the 1880s and that there was a lack of confidence in Bahamian black leadership. Greater unity and militancy on the part of the Black majority would be needed to defeat the powerful white elite government.

Keywords:   population, New Providence, Out Islands, race, categories, discrimination, material conditions, attitudes, nonwhite, mixed race, black

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