What is the race and social class structure like in Bermuda?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Bermuda was first discovered in the early 1500s by Spanish explorer Juan de Bermudez. He found the islands to be completely uninhabited, even devoid of any natives. The first settlers were British and came due to the influence of Sir George Somers, who, in 1609, led a fleet of ships belonging to the Virginia Company heading for Jamestown, Virginia, but shipwrecked on the reefs of Bermuda. Years later, in 1612, the first British settlers arrived, led by Richard Moore. By 1617, British settlers brought with them the first African slaves; some Native Americans and Carib Indians from the West Indies were also brought as slaves. Due to the number of slaves brought to the previously uninhabited island, individuals of African descent soon made up the majority of the population and today make up 60 to 70 percent of the population (Countries and Their Cultures, "Bermuda").

Though slavery ended in Bermuda in 1834, Bermuda remained heavily segregated well into the 20th century. All over the world, segregation has been used by the white elite class as a "means to politically, economically, and socially control Black populations" ("Connecting the Diaspora: The 1954 Brown Decision and Segregation in Bermuda"). Even Bermuda's Tourism Development Board supported segregation because "wealthy whites would not come to the island if it was not segregated" ("Connecting the Diaspora"). The board saw segregation as a means to "attract the 'right' kind of people--white, rich and prominent" ("Connecting the Diaspora"). Though a boycott officially ended segregation in 1959, racial inequity is still admitted to exist, especially in the business world ("Bermuda's History from 1952 to 1999").

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