The tobacco fields

Book pages 30-31

In the tobacco fields too I saw that it is the white man who owns everything and therefore directs everything, while the blacks have to trail along after him - both in the spring, while the tobacco is being planted, when the women are unemployed and must sit in their shacks looking on, and in August, when the tobacco is being picked. "It's real nigger-work," I heard the whites say. "They're already black so the tar doesn't stick as much on them as on whites."

It has been established by law that they must earn the minimum wage, which is only a couple of dollars per hour. But since tobacco picking is seasonal work and there is not much work to find the rest of the year, it is indeed a meager yearly income they scrape together.

Later in the summer the tobacco is dried and sold at auction. There are not many places where the master/ slave relationship is being carved so forcibly into the black mind as at the tobacco auctions.

Wherever I went I saw the white buyers from the tobacco companies walking in front giving quick, discreet signals with pointed fingers and wagging heads, while the blacks rushed behind them as fast as they could packing the tobacco bundles. The whites drive right into the auction hall in big flashy cars, and at noon they eat huge plate-size steaks inside, while the blacks have to eat their bag lunches outside.

These people, who could gain human equality and freedom if they received just a couple of cents per packet of cigarettes sold, I saw working with expressions on their faces that only a slave could wear.


Copyright 2005 AMERICAN PICTURES; All rights reserved.


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