The Ancestors Prepare for Battle

Soil

Soil, reconceptualizes my paternal family’s relationship to the agroindustrial landscapes of south Florida, specifically the sugarcane fields surrounding Belle Glade, which attracted thousands of labor migrants from the Anglophone Caribbean from the mid-1950s through the 1980s. This work serves as a meditation on the fraught connections between blackness, labor, migration and the multiple afterlives of slavery throughout the African Diaspora. In one sense, the work is an effort to excavate the stories of Caribbean labor migrants whose labor in the cane fields has gone largely unrecognized in the region’s history. Beyond that, however, the project attempts to recognize the kinds of sacred memory that links historical continuities between contemporary labor migration and colonial systems of enslaved labor in the process of industrialized sugar production. As one of the first truly global commodities, sugar has played a central role in the making of the modern world. Soil attempts to re-narrate that drama by focusing on the stories of everyday workers, past and present.