Red Legs

Red legs in Barbados are also known as poor whites, ecky beckies, poor backras or edey white mice. It seems relatively unheard of that there lies a possibility of a white race in Barbados that can be considered poor. A country where the word white has always been synonymous with success and power for centuries.


From the emergence of the 17th century, the Caribbean was seen as a place where a great source of wealth and power resided. This essentially became a great attraction to outsiders especially the English as they grew crops of tobacco and cotton. In order to get ahead with production, servants were needed as there were none at the time and so the Irish arrived as these needed servants.


Throughout the period of the mid-seventeenth century, the population in Ireland decreased considerably as Oliver Cromwell squashed rebellions in Scotland and England and focused his attention on Ireland. It appears as if two types of people were sent to the Caribbean at this point in time and they were the poor and the beggars who had nowhere to live. Amongst this group were women and children who were also sent abroad with former soldiers.


Red legs in Barbados are a dying close-knit community that can be found predominantly in the parish of St. John but also scattered throughout other parts of Barbados. These are the many direct descendants of the Scottish and Irish who were removed from their homes and sent against their will way back in 1655 to the Caribbean. There seems to be no real escape from the hardships that were associated with these descendants more than 350 years ago. Though some have risen above their circumstances, a vast majority are still living in poverty deeming this community as the poorest on the island of Barbados. Their picture paints a strong illustration of a set of people who are continually trapped in their current circumstances with seemingly not much to turn to.


On the flipside, a trip into this close-knight community in Barbados will only expose you to a set of people who are warm and giving despite the fact that there isn't much to give. Unfortunately, record keeping is not something that is well orchestrated among the poor and so, understandably, many of their records would have been lost in history.


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