Klaus de Albuquerque


Jerome L. McElroy

(September, 1999)


This study examines 1991 census data in three majority African-Caribbean societies: Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent. It concludes that traditional stratification models based on race/colour and colonial privilege are outdated. Education explains most inter-group income and occupational differences. After two decades of political independence and economic modernization, the top tier of the hierarchy is comprised of an educated elite of black professionals, politicians and businessmen. With the possible exception of the Carib Indians at the bottom, minority groups are very small with limited socio-economic impact. Key Words: race, ethnicity, stratification, Caribbean, Dominica, St. Lucia, St, Vincent.

Bibliographical Note

Klaus de Albuquerque is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA 29424 <albuquerque@cofc.edu>, and Jerome L. McElroy is Professor of Economics, St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN, USA 46556 <jmcelroy@saintmarys.edu>. They have had extensive teaching, research and policy experience in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Their academic research and consulting throughout the Eastern Caribbean has focused on small-scale agriculture, inter-island migration, the implications of political status change, sustainable tourism strategies and, more recently, crime and tourism.


Race, and to a lesser degree ethnicity, have historically been the major lines of cleavage in Caribbean societies. As in most societies/cultures, race in the Caribbean is a social construction, albeit one where phenotype, particularly colour, is its most visible manifestation. Hall (1977) suggests, that in some "indeterminate" way, culture also plays a part in the social definition of race. In its most extreme form, where races or ethnic groups exist as national cultural entities, then we have a plural society a la M.G. Smith (1965a; 1965b).(1) However, as scores of writers have shown (Selvon, 1970; Stewart,1989; Ryan, 1991; Ahye, 1991), at the level of community there is a high degree of social intercourse between racial groups in the Caribbean. Unlike the classic Furnivallian (1948) model, in most contemporary Caribbean societies, different racial and ethnic groups meet and mix in a variety of different venues and share, for the most part, some common values (Smith R.T., 1956; Braithwaite, 1960; Schwartz, 1963). Indeed, earlier cultural distinctions made between, say, East Indians and creoles (Klass, 1961; Yawney, 1968; Lowenthal, 1972; Clarke, 1993), have lost some of their currency in light of interesting cultural fusions underway in Trinidad. Carnival has become an apt metaphor for this process of acculturation.

In the English-speaking Caribbean, much of the discourse on race, colour, and class has focused primarily on the political and economic domains in the multiracial societies of Trinidad and Guyana (Braithwaite, 1953; Despres, 1967; Ryan, 1972; La Guerre, 1975; Hintzen, 1989; Henry, 1993), and less so on societies like Jamaica (Nettleford, 1972; Stone, 1973; 1991) and Barbados (Beckles, 1989; Lewis, 1990) where persons of African origin constitute 90 percent plus of the population. In the latter so-called "majority African-Caribbean societies" (Green, 1995) where post-emancipation immigration was negligible, emphasis has been primarily on minority racial groups in the economic domain (see Karch, 1981; Holzberg, 1987; Beckles, 1989) and on the well-known Caribbean colour complex (Nettleford, 1972; Barnes, 1994).

As in the case with rigid pluralism, traditional stratification typologies based on colour and creole elites (Lowenthal, 1972) with elements of the plantation model (Wagley, 1960; Best, 1968; Girvan, 1975) fall short of contemporary realities. Particularly in the larger2 majority African-Caribbean societies in the post-independence era of economic modernization, these constructs ignore local black control of the political sphere and their penetration of the economy. In such societies where minority groups are negligible, conceptualizing the social hierarchy in terms of race/colour simply does not fit current reality where class is the major line of cleavage.


This paper examines the social and economic characteristics associated with race and ethnicity in three relatively under-researched majority African-Caribbean societies--Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent-selected because of their broad similarities in size, history and socio-economic structure. Four fundamental questions are posed. First, given two decades of political independence and economic modernization, is privilege still associated with race/colour? Second, is the social class factor of education the major determinant of privilege? Third, what role have legacy factors played in maintaining privilege? Fourth, how has the new black political and economic elite transformed the old social hierarchy?

Unlike most studies of race, ethnicity, and stratification in the region, these questions are addressed using both empirical data from the 1991 censuses, and qualitative data derived from observational research (1989-1995) by the senior author, and from key informants on all three islands.3 Although many scholars have constructed ethnicity rather loosely (Braithwaite, 1960; Lowenthal, 1972; Premdas, 1993; Green, 1995; Reddock, 1998) and have used race and ethnicity interchangeably, here ethnicity is defined in terms of cultural differences based on religion, language, diet, music and national origin. Following this conventional sociological definition, all races are ethnic groups, some races encompass several ethnic groups, and ethnic groups may constitute different races.4


These three Windward islands represent a relatively homogeneous grouping. Dominica, the largest at 751 square kilometers, has a similar steep topography to St. Lucia and St. Vincent, although it is more rugged and less densely populated.

For the last 40 years, bananas have been the islands' dominant crop. In both Dominica and St. Vincent, there has been diversification towards other tree crops, fruits, and vegetables for the domestic and regional market, and a major thrust towards tourism, and secondarily, light manufacturing and off-shore assembly. In St. Lucia, tourism has replaced agriculture as the dominant sector.

All three islands have a parliamentary system based on the Westminister model and achieved independence from Britain in the late 1970s. The political elite since the 1950s have been primarily of African origin, and since 1970 there have been fewer "mixed" persons drawn from the brown/mulatto elite holding office. Socio-culturally the islands are also somewhat alike because of their plantation legacy, with Dominica and St. Lucia sharing greater similarities based on their French Creole culture. In both islands, "kweyol"5 and other aspects of creole culture are witnessing a resurgence (Honychurch, 1988).

All three islands had an indigenous population of Arawaks and Caribs. "Black Caribs", to be distinguished from pure or "Yellow Caribs", issued from intermarriage with the African population. Today the Carib population of St. Vincent and St. Lucia is almost all Black Carib. They have been assimilated into the dominant Afro-Caribbean culture yet have maintained some cultural traditions. Assimilation has progressed less in Dominica where "pure Caribs" can be considered a racial minority, though Layng (1985) calls them a "territorial minority". Whatever the case, Dominican Caribs are an ethnic minority , albeit historically stigmatized, and are currently using their culture as symbolic of their distinctive identity.

Unlike Trinidad and Guyana, the three islands did not experience considerable labour immigration in the post-emancipation period. In St. Lucia, a total of 4,354 East Indians arrived between 1856 and 1895 to work the sugar plantations (Roberts and Byrne, 1966). Of these, 2,446 were repatriated

at the end of their indentureship. St. Vincent received only 2,472, with 1,050 being repatriated. This is one reason why St. Lucia has a larger East Indian population today than St. Vincent. Dominica received none. The data detailing nineteenth century Chinese, Portuguese, and Syria-Lebanese immigration to the three islands remain sketchy.

There is considerable scholarly literature on the islands: some historical (Honychurch, 1984; Trouillot, 1988; Howard and Howard, 1983; Jesse, 1953; Baker, 1994) but most on geology, natural resources, fauna and flora, agriculture, fisheries, conservation, land use, and watershed and erosion management.6 The social science literature is limited. The few works that exist have examined diet, income, and food import dependency in a small village (Grossman, 1997), the impact of remittances (Rubenstein, 1979; 1982), subsistence strategies in a poor community (Bentley, 1976; Rubenstein, 1976), family land and development (Barrow, 1996), family planning (Gearing, 1997), national identity (Olwig, 1995), and tourism development (McElroy and de Albuquerque, 1998; Wilkinson, 1997). There is some literature recording the history and plight of the Caribs (Taylor, 1938; Layng, 1985; Pezeron, 1993). Only Green (1995) has a brief reference to the "coloured" elite in Dominica, and Lowenthal (1972) provides snippets regarding race, ethnicity, colour, and class in the three islands.


Data were derived from special tabulations of the 1991 Census of Population and Housing for Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and from periodic field work by the senior author between 1989 and 1995. Special census tabulations were requested by the senior author and were prepared by the various National Statistics Departments. Data are missing for one of the three islands (primarily St. Vincent) in Tables 4-7 because of incomplete tabulations. The income data for St. Vincent should only be used to examine relative differences between racial/ethnic groups since we are not confident the special tabulations on income by race/ethnicity were programmed correctly. Data on minority groups like the Chinese, Portuguese (St. Lucia and Dominica), and Syrians-Lebanese must also be interpreted with caution because of the small size of these groups.

The macro picture captured by the census is augmented by qualitative research, especially when detailing the decline of the mulatto elite and the rise to dominance of a new black economic elite and middle class. The very large size of the population of African origin necessitates that we record qualitatively the social transformations underway that are not revealed by the macro-level data. In other words, care must be taken to avoid cross-level interpretive errors. In addition, although racial/ethnic minority groups are very small (East Indians and Caribs excepted) on all three islands, they have "surplus visibility".7



The population of the Windward islands of Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines is overwhelmingly of African origin. According to Table 1, if the "mixed" population, which is primarily African mixed, is added to the officially census designated population of "African/Negro/Black", 96.5, 96.2, and 94 percent of the population of Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent respectively is of African origin.

(Table 1 about here)


There are fairly significant populations of Caribs in all three islands, but the number of "pure" Caribs has been steadily declining. In St. Vincent with the largest Carib population (3,347), the primarily Black Carib population is not easily distinguishable phenotypically from the black population. They are separated from the latter by a few cultural differences and by geography. Most are found in the rugged north of the island. In Dominica, the Carib population has been able to maintain its identity, and its culture, primarily through the creation (1903) of the fifteen square kilometer Carib Reserve in the parish of St. David. However, in 1993 Pezeron estimated that only 20 percent were "pure" Carib. Despite providing a special symbolism for the nation of Dominica, the Caribs have been increasingly absorbed into the wider society. St. Lucia's very small Carib population is entirely Black Carib and has been fully assimilated into the dominant Afro-Caribbean creole culture.

East Indians

Dominica's small 1991 population of East Indians (49) is of recent origin (from Trinidad, Guyana, and India). The East Indian population in St. Lucia (3,466) and St. Vincent (1,477) is comprised of two groups--descendants of indentured labourers from India who arrived in the post-emancipation period (Laurence, 1971), and the newer immigrants (post-1980) from Guyana, Trinidad and India. The older group, although racially distinct, is culturally creole, and there has been significant intermarriage with persons of African origin. East Indian surnames common in Trinidad and Guyana are much less common in both islands. Many East Indians over the decades have adopted Christian surnames.


Although an early stream of Chinese from Trinidad and Guyana migrated to the Windwards (Shaw, 1985), the current small popula- tion is comprised primarily of recent immigrants from Hong Kong attracted by Dominica's and St. Vincent's economic citizenship programme. A few are also associated with the Taiwanese Agricultural Mission in both islands. Generally the islands have maintained tight control on the number of Chinese immigrants, but their numbers may have increased since 1991 judging rather crudely from the increase in Chinese restaurants, laundries, and cheap wholesale shops in Roseau and Kingstown.


Portuguese migration to the Eastern Caribbean mostly from Madeira occurred between 1846 and 1888 (Laurence, 1965). Immigrants to St. Vincent worked in agriculture or entered commerce. Through intermarriage a sizeable number of persons of mixed race origin in the Eastern Caribbean have Portuguese surnames. In St. Vincent there are white, brown, and black Da Breos, Da Silvas, Da Souzas, De Freitas, Gonsalves, and Pereiras.


Syrians-Lebanese first arrived in Dominica in the 1890s and then again in the 1920s and 1930s. Most migration to St. Lucia and St. Vincent is more recent (post 1960) and comprised primarily of Middle East immigrants (St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 1993). The tightly knit Syrians-Lebanese are well established in retailing dry goods, clothing, alcoholic beverages, and a range of other goods/services. In Dominica the banana boom of the 1960s to mid 1980s enabled prominent Syrian-Lebanese merchant families (Astaphans, Nassiefs, Karams, Raffouls, and Dibs) to broaden their business enterprise to meet the new demand for concrete/block houses, motor cars, and consumer durables.


The white community is composed of a few "native" whites and post-1980 migrants. The latter include mainly white expatriates on short-term contracts with various Government Ministries and Agencies or working in the tourist industry, plus a growing number of North American and European retirees. From census data, we estimate that over 90 percent of the white population in Dominica is foreign born (Commonwealth of Dominica, 1995), 78 percent in St. Lucia (St. Lucia, 1995), and 90 percent in St. Vincent (St. Vincent, 1995). These expatriates and retirees are generally considered outsiders and not part of the social hierarchy since they are non-citizens and since their lifestyles and expenditure patterns are similar to tourists (McElroy and de Albuquerque, 1992).

"Native" whites have declined in number through emigration and intermarriage, but there still remain a few old families descendant from the plantocracy. In St. Lucia, the Devaux's no longer farm and instead have established a botanical garden as a tourist attraction. In St. Vincent, the few native families that are considered white are in really "near white" or "mixed brown". There are also pockets of poorer "native" whites in the Grenadines (Bequia) and on St. Vincent, namely, the Dorsetshire Hill Bajans.9 In Dominica there is only one native white family left, descendants from the Whitchurchs.


The second largest population segment, persons of mixed origin (primarily African mixed), recorded noticeable increases between the 1980 and 1991 census in St. Vincent (28.6 percent). Enumerators explain this in terms of the changeover from enumerator classification to self-identification (St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 1993). Since colour is associated with status, it is not surprising that close to 4,000 persons in St. Vincent decided to "raise their colour" by declaring themselves mixed rather than black.

In commenting on the social hierarchy of Dominica, Hall (1977) and Green (1995) note that the white creole elite disappeared in the early twentieth century leaving an essentially "coloured" elite. This elite, however, included some blacks and were more distinguished by property ownership than by colour. They dominated business, land holding, and politics until the 1950s when blacks took over the political domain, and Syrians-Lebanese and new black entrepreneurs began to compete in the mercantile sector (Baker, 1994). The embattled mulatto elite began to emigrate in the 1960s as whites had done after the collapse of the lime industry (1920s). In Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent the few families left cling to their old established businesses--J.W. Edwards, J.S. Garraway, and L.A. Dupigny.

The Black/Mixed Majority

This group seized the reigns of political power soon after the granting of universal adult suffrage in 1951. With the "green gold", black farmers were able to educate their sons and daughters and position them for middle and top level jobs in the public and private sectors. Called the "banana children", they constitute the new elite with their political parties now in power in Dominica (1995) and St. Lucia (1997), and their domination of the local economy increasing. They own supermarkets, hotels, car rental agencies, computer and hardware stores, construction companies, auto sales and repair, small scale manufacturing, and so on. Many have bought old established businesses from the former mulatto elite.

This new black elite (among them some mixed persons and a few acculturated children of Portuguese and Syrian-Lebanese merchants) is highly influenced by North American consumption patterns: fancy cars (sport utility vehicles), large homes, heavy expenditure on fashionable clothes and jewelry, and extensive travel to North America. This elite spearheaded efforts to bring down Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey (to celebrate Independence Day in Dominica!), and they regularly bring down well known African-American musicians, singers and comedians to local festivals in preference to Caribbean artistes.

With 94 percent plus of the population on all three islands of African origin, this majority dominates the elite, upper-middle class, middle class, working class, and the poor. Indeed, the social hierarchy in the three Windwards is class based and not race based. Conceived of as a pyramid, the class structure of these three societies has a very broad base of poor and lower class blacks, a small working class, a small but expanding middle class, and the new black elite at the apex. The incomes, educational levels, and high occupational status of the latter are very significantly diluted in the census data by the very broad base of black poor and lower class.

Median Income

Race and ethnicity continues to be a very important predictor of income in the Eastern Caribbean (Coppin, 1997).

Table 2 indicates that whites, have significantly higher median incomes than other groups (see Table 2). The St. Vincent exception can be explained by the existence of pockets of poor whites in the Grenadines and on St. Vincent. White income in Dominica and St.Lucia is double to quadruple that of the majority black population. A minuscule portion of this differential is due to the continued wealth of the few "native" white elite families. Most is explained by the occupational and educational differences of white expatriate professionals commanding comparatively very high salaries and the presence of affluent resident white retirees. Although on the surface the data confirm that whiteness continues to be associated with privilege, income distribution data (not shown) indicate vastly more blacks than whites and other groups had incomes exceeding EC$66,000 annually (the upper income limit reported in the 1991).

(Table 2 about here)

Table 2 also illustrates that Caribs hold the bottom income rung. Particularly in Dominica and St. Vincent, this is due in part to past discrimination (Layng, 1985), their inability to use their communal lands as surety for loans, and their lower educational and occupational levels (Pezeron, 1993). The "mixed" and "African/Black" populations differ little in median income. One possible suggestion is that white skin has lost its past luster as a key to white collar employment. Light skin, however, continues to offer advantage in the mating/marital sweepstakes.

The small Portuguese population in St. Lucia (primarily professionals) has a significantly higher median income than their counterparts in St. Vincent. The latter population still has its poorer segment who are unskilled labourers or work in agriculture. The comparatively high median incomes of Syrians-Lebanese in St. Lucia and St. Vincent reflect their status as a business class. The unexpectedly low median income of the Chinese (51 persons) in St. Lucia is puzzling given that the they are primarily involved in business and professional/technical fields.


Historically, racial and ethnic stratification in the region has manifested itself in occupational stratification (de Albuquerque and McElroy, 1985; 1999; Thomas, 1988). According to Table 3, the majority of whites (89 percent in Dominica, 76 percent in St. Lucia, and 57 percent in St. Vincent) are engaged in well-paying administrative, managerial, professional, and technical occupations. Most whites who work are expatriates with highly specialized training who were specifically recruited for their positions. Only a few "poorer" whites in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are unskilled labourers or agricultural workers (the Dorsetshire Hill Bajans). In St.Lucia, some expatriates work as managers of hotels or head chefs, but most are seconded to Government Ministries, work for International Organizations and multi-national accounting firms, or are managers of offshore assembly-type industries. Their "international" pay structure is significantly higher than local pay scales.

The "African/Black" and "mixed" population, by contrast, are over-represented in agriculture, fishing, and forestry, as unskilled labour, and in light manufacture and off-shore assembly type industries. Proportionately fewer blacks and mixed race individuals are involved in administrative, managerial, commercial, or professional/technical occupations, although they have made considerable strides in entering these occupations since 1980. Numerically, the "African/Black" and "mixed" populations in Dominica have 2,008 persons employed in administrative, managerial, professional, and technical occupations, while there are only 80 whites in these same positions. Thus, there is no local perception that whites are in charge. The same pattern holds for St. Lucia and St. Vincent.

(Table 3 about here)

Caribs remain at the bottom of the occupational hierarchy. Sixty-nine percent of the Caribs in Dominica are engaged in agriculture, fishing and forestry. Carib workers in St. Vincent are largely unskilled (44 percent). The absence of a Carib Reserve or clearly demarcated Carib lands in St. Vincent and St. Lucia means fewer Caribs are employed in agriculture. In St. Lucia, where the small Carib population has been creolized, Caribs have experienced occupational mobility. Table 3 shows that over one third are

involved in production, skilled crafts, and related occupations. This partly explains their comparatively high median income.

The occupations of East Indians in St. Lucia and St. Vincent reflect the timing of their immigration. The older rural immigrants are still engaged in agriculture like their indentured forebearers. Some have experienced occupational mobility by finding employment in manufacturing and assembly-type industries. Newer immigrants from India are primarily engaged in commerce and the professions (mostly doctors). Guyanese Indian immigrants to St.Lucia are mostly employed as teachers, technicians, skilled tradesmen and in manufacture. Those in St. Vincent are mostly lawyers serving as magistrates and in Government legal service.

Regarding the other minority groups, the Chinese in St. Lucia and St. Vincent are to be found in commerce (restaurants) and in professional (medical/dental) and technical fields. The small Portuguese population in St. Lucia is involved in professional/technical fields and in sales and services. In St. Vincent, "poorer" Portuguese remain unskilled labourers (25 percent) or work in agriculture (14.6 percent). The more affluent Portuguese are to be found in major commercial enterprises and in the professions (law). The Syrians-Lebanese are primarily involved in commerce (87 percent in St. Lucia and 75 percent in St. Vincent).


Table 4 indicates that 60 percent of adult whites in Dominica and 21 percent in St. Vincent have university degrees. This is mirrored in their higher incomes and occupational status. Proportionately fewer persons of African origin have completed university, but this is changing. In terms of raw numbers, there are significantly more "African/Black" and "mixed" persons who are university graduates in St. Lucia, and who occupy top management positions in the private and public sectors. In Dominica there were 711 "African/Black" and "mixed" university graduates versus 137 white graduates. Although proportionately whites in Dominica are better educated, the university graduates of African origin hold the positions of power and authority. In

(Table 4 about here)

contrast, less than one percent of the Carib population have completed university, and the proportion of Caribs completing secondary school (not shown) is the lowest of any group. The high ratio of university graduates among the Chinese in Dominica suggests that the adults are largely professionals.

Union Status

Research on union status and mating relationships in Afro-Caribbean populations (Simey, 1946; Henriques, 1953; Blake, 1961; Rodman ,1961; Smith, M.G., 1962; Young, 1993; Barrow, 1996) points out that for poor blacks (the majority) marriage rates are low and common law unions are the equivalent of marriage. Minority populations have significantly higher marriage rates, but this is more a function of income than of race or ethnicity. The data in Table 5 on union status in St. Lucia and St. Vincent confirm this literature. Marriage rates are quite high for whites and small minority groups on both islands, and generally lower for the East Indian and Carib populations whose union status and mating relationships more closely parallel that of the "African/Black" and "mixed" populations. The latter confirms the relationship between income and union status first identified by Henriques (1949).

(Table 5 about here)

That common law unions are more prevalent among "African/Black" and "mixed populations" is particularly evident when one looks at the proportion of "never married" females in St. Vincent where the census did not identify "common law" as a union status. Seventy one percent of the "African/Black" and 63 percent of the "mixed" (and Carib) females 15 years and older report never being married. It is likely that the majority of these females are engaged in visiting/friending unions (younger females) or common law unions.


The relationship between female income, educational attainment and fertility is well known among demographers and has been documented in the region (Roberts, 1955; Stycos and Back, 1964; de Albuquerque et. al., 1976; Stinner et. al., 1976; Roberts and Sinclair, 1978; Harewood, 1978; Handwerker, 1993). This relationship is observable in Table 6. Carib females with

(Table 6 about here)

the lowest income and education have the highest fertility, followed by "African/Black" and "Mixed" females, with white females at the bottom. Low white fertility can be attributed to high income and education and not to race or any difference in age structure. In fact, in Dominica white, "African/Black", and Carib women in the reproductive age group (15-44) comprised 41.4, 43.2, and 44.2 percent of their respective total female cohorts in 1991 (Commonwealth of Dominica, 1993). If female education and income were controlled, the racial differences observed in fertility would likely disappear.

Household Size

Average household size is generally inversely related to income, although sometimes cultural factors (strong family ties and religion) may intervene. According to Table 7, whites have the smallest households while Caribs in Dominica have the largest households, a result of their low incomes and largely rural status (Stinner and de Albuquerque, 1980). In St. Lucia, the

(Table 7 about here)

"African/Black" population has the largest households, followed by East Indians and Chinese. Cultural factors may explain large households among the Chinese, but we have no clear explanation why average household size is considerably larger in St. Lucia than Dominica, other than higher population density and greater housing pressure in urban/peri-urban areas in St. Lucia.


The macro picture from the census suggests that "whiteness" is still associated with prosperity and "blackness" with penury. However, the reality is far more complex. Education, rather than race/ethnicity, explains income and occupational differences among various racial and ethnic groups. If the small group of mostly foreign born whites have the highest income and prestigious positions, it is due to their high educational attainment. The declining remnants of the planter class and the colonial business elite suggest legacy plays little role in continuing privilege.

After two decades of independence and modernization, the social hierarchy has been transformed with an educated elite of primarily black professionals, politicians and businessmen at the apex. The new "class" of expatriate whites on contract and the retirees are considered "outsiders". Caribs disproportionately occupy the bottom of the social hierarchy. However, in these majority African-Caribbean societies, blacks and mixed persons numerically dominate the bottom, the middle rungs and the top. The black elite is defining new values (conspicuous consumption), and through the influence of the North American print and television media, forging a new African-American-Caribbean identity.

With the exception of the Caribs (largely assimilated), East Indians (also creolized) in St. Vincent and St. Lucia, and the Portuguese in St. Vincent, the minority groups do not figure in the social hierarchy nor visibly impact national culture. Some do have a disproportionate economic impact (the Syrians-Lebanese in Dominica and the Portuguese in St. Vincent) but the banana boom and subsequent economic modernization propelled many "African/Black" persons into major business enterprises. They now dominate economic decision-making on all three islands.


1. The true plural society has national cultural segments who

have different languages, religions, separate political parties and unions, and sometimes occupy separate territories (de Albuquerque, 1977).

2. The smaller dependent and tourist-driven islands represent another case. More developed destinations have attracted

large labour inflows from less developed islands and smaller

streams from North America, Europe, Lebanon, India and Hong

Kong (de Albuquerque and McElroy, 1999). This is the case in

Antigua, Cayman Islands, United States Virgin islands, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, and St. Maarten (see de Albuquerque and McElroy, 1982 and 1995; McElroy and de Albuquerque1988a and 1988b; Marshall, 1978). These societies now must deal with a large immigrant population that is racially and ethnically distinct from the majority black population and which, in some cases, controls the economy.

3. Lennox Honychurch (Dominica), James Fletcher (St. Lucia), and Adrian Fraser (St. Vincent).

4. For example, the 1990 Census of the U.S. Virgin Islands classified persons of Puerto Rican origin as an ethnic group, composed of three distinct races--Puerto Rican black, Puerto Rican mixed, and Puerto Rican white (de Albuquerque and McElroy, 1999).

5. A French based creole. Dominicans, Guadeloupeans, St. Lucians, and Martiniquians can understand each other.

6. For an exhaustive literature on these topics see the Country

Environmental Profiles for Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent published by the Caribbean Conservation Association/

Island Resources Foundation in 1991.

7. "Surplus visibility" as used here refers to the tendency to see small racial groups as much more ubiquitous and numerous than they really are, because in St. Vincent and Dominica

they tend to dominate the retail trade in dry goods.

8. Although most Syrians-Lebanese are referred to as Syrians in

the Caribbean, they mostly originated in Lebanon. At the

turn of the century, when many Syrians-Lebanese migrated to

the Caribbean, Lebanon was part of Syria.

9. These are poor whites, commonly known in Barbados as "redlegs", who migrated from Barbados to St. Vincent.


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