For residents of the Glades, a string of poor, predominantly African American rural towns dotting the southern shore of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, the beginning of the annual sugar cane harvest in October means the arrival of “black snow.”

“You’d hate to come down here when it’s snowing,” said Kaniyah Patterson, an asthmatic 12-year-old who lives with her mother and grandmother in a housing project surrounded by several large sugar cane fields in the Palm Beach County community of Pahokee.

“That black stuff irritates me,” Kaniyah said, sighing. “Sometimes I can’t breathe.”

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