The History Behind A Severe Punishment For Enslaved People

Cane cutters in Jamaica
Leslie Taylor-Grover
July 29, 2020

Life as an enslaved person was filled with pain, terror, and back-breaking work. Aside from working under cruel conditions, our enslaved ancestors also had to overcome much more. Consider the case of Derby.

Derby was an enslaved man who got caught eating a small piece of the sugar cane from the field in which he was laboring. The plantation owner, a prominent slaver known for harsh punishments, decided to teach Derby a lesson. What he did will turn your stomach.

First, Derby was beaten severely. Then pickling salt, with its large jagged pieces, was rubbed into his open wounds along with bird pepper, which is exceedingly hot. But it gets even more repulsive.

Another enslaved person was forced to defecate into Derby’s mouth. Derby was then gagged for hours. As a final act of perversion, the cruel and sadistic slaver named the punishment.

It was called “Derby’s Dose,” and it would be used in barbarous punishments against many more of our ancestors. 

Our ancestors endured untold inhumane cruelties, and we still carry the legacy of those wounds with us today. We must honor them, and ourselves, by continuing the fight for liberation by any means necessary!

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