Imagine working in the blazing hot sun at a tobacco field. The land is dry. It smells like old, wet newspaper. You're sweating and your skin is sticky. You see steam coming off of the road. The weather is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit under the tent you're doing work. You're in a new country filled with all types of people you're not familiar with: African- Americans, Caucasians, Asians, Italians, Chinese, and Hispanics. Some of these people look at you with disgust and tell you to get on your banana boat and go home. Others are nice to you and embrace you rather than judge you by your appearance. You decide to keep strong and not to care what others think of you. You are focused on doing your work so that you can have a living and support your family. Do you know which culture had to go through this, this hardship? It was the West Indians. Hartford, Connecticut has the third largest populated place of West Indians in the United States today. In the 1940s, there was a huge impact of immigration from the West Indies to America. The jobs they had were almost back breaking. Not to mention the racism some of them experienced when they first came. All through the pain and hardship the West Indians have left a mark on society, "Whether it be by music, art, organizations, or even uniting a set of people for the same cause. The West Indian culture will never be forgotten.
The immigration from the West Indies to America had a huge impact on the West Indians and the Americans. The reasons they immigrated was for jobs, because the economy back home was bad. They also wanted better educational opportunities. When the thousands of West Indians poured into America both the Americans and the West Indians had to adapt to each other. This is where one of the psychological aspects that West Indians work too much comes into play. Think about it. I believe that the common stereotype that West Indians love to work came from when the West Indians first came over and were working. When the Americans saw these people working in a tobacco field they thought that these set of people must love to do hard work. If you saw a friend always doing hard work what would you think of them? You might think that he or she does not have anything else to do while others may think differently. I would think that they are addicted to work and hate having free time. Another major impact of the West Indians coming to America is that they had to accept some of the different customs. If you were to go to a different school, there would be different rules and obligations that you must follow. The same had to apply for the West Indians. The West Indians had to adapt to the different music, clothes, and even language. I remember when my cousin came from Jamaica to visit the family. She used to speak so fast that I had to keep saying, "What did you say,?" "I didn't hear what you said," or "Can you say that again?" These are just some ways how West Indians had an impact on both set of cultures.
While working in the tobacco field the West Indians had to do back breaking work. It was very hot outside especially under the tent due to the soil and the plants. The men mostly picked tobacco, and they had to tie every plant so it could be straight. The types of tools they used made the work easier, but the weather conditions and dehydration of the body was exhausting. Two of the tools they used while making tobacco was the wurston twist machine and the Bemmis. The wurston twist machine is where the leaves are strung. There is a vehicle which transports the leaves to a shed and they are strung by hand with a needle. The second type of machine is the bemmis. This machine eased the job of transplanting and took 2 days to plant an acre of tobacco. Surprisingly there was a good relationship between the West Indians and the Americans who were working on the tobacco field. Did you know that the youngest age to work at the tobacco field was 14? That is really young. Children who were 14 are usually in the 7th or 8th grade. The child must be very strong to endure the conditions of working at a tobacco field. Even though the work is hard it was only for the best for them and their family.
Around the 1940s most of the West Indians experienced racism when they first came to the United States. Many West Indians were judged by their color instead of who they were inside. This was not fair. If someone were to come to you and judge who you are by your color, how would you feel? You probably would feel that your outward appearance matters more than what you say, think, or how you act. In today's society people sadly experience racism. It might be because of your color that you can't get a certain promotion or position at your job. They can say that you're over qualified or that they found someone better. But the truth is that someone better who was hired might never even be experienced or qualified for that job. They were hired because they were a certain color. This is unfair, but it happens. Also in the 1940s there was racism at school, at the job, and on the streets. One of the things people used to say is to go back on your banana boat and go home. Later on the 1970s the racism started to decrease. It seemed that in America it was good to be West Indian. This was probably because of the influence of music, food, clothes, and other traditions of the culture. Another reason why the racism decreased was because people accepted them more and the new generation wasn't raised with a lot of racist thoughts of the West Indian people. Not everybody may have experienced racism but the majority of people in the 1940s did.
In conclusion just think about the impact of the immigration from the West Indies to the United States. We have been exposed to different cultures because of this immigration. They had to do hard jobs in order to provide for themselves and their family. Some of them may have experienced racism but still kept on working towards their goal. Because of their presence in America the West Indian culture will pass down from one generation to the next.