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Do Black Lives Really Matter in VI?

Commentator Mr Kenneth G. Gladstone believes the ‘elephant in the room’- discrimination against Caribbean expatriates and racism- need to be addressed even as the Virgin Islands show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo: Provided
 Radio host and social commentator, Kenneth G. Gladstone. Photo: Provided
Radio host and social commentator, Kenneth G. Gladstone. Photo: Provided
Xenophobia equals discrimination says radio host and social commentator, Mr Kenneth G. Gladstone. Photo: Provided
Xenophobia equals discrimination says radio host and social commentator, Mr Kenneth G. Gladstone. Photo: Provided
The Black Lives Matter procession making its way to Queen Elizabeth II Park in Road Town, Tortola, on June 20, 2020. Photo: Russel Jones/Facebook
The Black Lives Matter procession making its way to Queen Elizabeth II Park in Road Town, Tortola, on June 20, 2020. Photo: Russel Jones/Facebook
Former school teacher and entrepreneur Mr Jovan E. L. Cline used the opportunity to condemn discrimination against Caribbean expatriates and called for unity in the Virgin Islands during the Black Lives Matter march in Road Town, Tortola, on June 20, 2020. Photo: Russel Jones/Facebook
Former school teacher and entrepreneur Mr Jovan E. L. Cline used the opportunity to condemn discrimination against Caribbean expatriates and called for unity in the Virgin Islands during the Black Lives Matter march in Road Town, Tortola, on June 20, 2020. Photo: Russel Jones/Facebook
Kenneth G. Gladstone

Standing for the cause

Let me categorically declare my disgust for the brutal disregard for the lives of our Brothers and Sisters of African descent as perpetrated by racist factions in the United States of America and other places across the world.

The murder of George P. Floyd Jr is a blatant manifestation of this covert evil, and we join with the millions across the world who are bringing to the fore the callous racist agenda which has destroyed the lives of millions of melanated people both
in the United States and other parts of the world. This psychological dysfunction has become so rampant, that even people of African descent seem to have become infested by this virus in that they kill, fight among each other and degrade their very own.

The recent protests by millions worldwide have cemented the fact that the time has come for the eradication of a system which has caused massive economic destruction and destabilisation through oppression and disenfranchisement of people of African descent across the world. The real question is, now that our people are prepared to act concertedly in solidarity with our affected Brothers and Sisters, what exactly are we protesting for? Are we simply riding the bandwagon in the excitement of the moment, or are we aggressively demanding that the blatant, systemic disregard for the lives of our Brothers and Sisters be immediately halted, relentlessly persisting until capitalists take immediate action to ensure systemic reform and the implementation and enforcement of legislation designed to disembody and abolish systemic racism which has not only pumped billions of dollars into their pockets, but has destroyed the socio-economic foundation of people of African descent, leaving millions totally dependent on this system which does not protect their interest. This system has become so deeply entrenched at all levels of society that the disenfranchisement of people of African descent has actually become the norm from government to religion. Education, housing, and the acquisition of clean wholesome food and basic opportunities have become the basis for exploitation, and the extrapolation of wealth and the marginalisation of our African Brothers and Sisters continue without fail.

Now that we all realise that the system has been cunningly crafted to neutralise the power base of people of African descent, will we demand the abolition of this system? While we stand in solidarity against the killing of George P. Floyd Jr, we must unapologetically crush and dethrone this system which has impoverished and destroyed the lives of people of African descent across the world.

Enough is enough!

The Caribbean Region

Caribbean governments have allowed themselves to be likened unto simpletons, bought by the capitalist regime which exposes their people to exploitation not only at home, but across the world. Caribbean governments have not stood for their people when exploited, and seemingly have no regard for their people’s rights being silent while their people are exploited by racist elements across the world.

As we speak, many Caribbean nationals suffer brutal need, duped by their political representatives for votes. Foolishly, our people have handed over their rights to these politicians without securing the legislated right to equal distribution of wealth and opportunities for personal and national development. Now that politicians are where they wanted to be and are enjoying the good life, the people remain unfulfilled and impoverished. The call is heard from across the waves, and the time has come to demand the restructuring of governments across the region, and the removal of dysfunctional political representatives. Where there is no plan and no agreement to execute in the best interest of people, there should be no votes. Where a certain time has elapsed and there is no execution of plans as presented, such political representative should be removed from office permanently. Thus, all political representatives will either be elected to serve or never seek election at all.

Is there a reason to protest? This is what we should protest for, and unless we stand to protect the future of our  generation, our living is in vain! Be it known that wealth and opportunity should not be limited to the so-called upper class, but there should be equal opportunity for equal distribution of wealth. Simply put, there should be no peace until politicians remove their knees off our necks! This is what we should be protesting for! Otherwise, the death of George P. Floyd Jr will be worth nothing if equity and justice is not demanded, secured and preserved.

As a result of COVID-19, many are literally fighting to find food to eat. The picture is currently so grim that many are totally bewildered to see what their lives have become. The fact is, if people of African descent cannot afford a decent standard of living, decent education, decent housing or opportunities for empowerment and development, and if COVID-19 has further castrated limited opportunities which have literally disappeared before our very eyes, it must be fully understood that if governments could find millions to feed people during the “pandemic” lockdown and provide stimulus packages for whomsoever will, this is sign enough to prove that if governments were focused on the development of people, the lives of everyone everywhere would be one hundred percent better as there would be adequate opportunity created for everyone to become self-reliant and economically empowered. Why then should we be dependent on government handouts when we possess the capacity to become self-reliant and economically empowered? It is indeed shameful that Caribbean governments are so visionless, having no interest in investing in the development of their
people, especially in the midst of this unwarranted COVID-19 manmade crisis. The fact is, if we intend to breed a new generation of criminals while famine sets in, we are certainly not far from it! The question is, will we allow it to happen?

The VI March

Many VIslanders may find this very hard to digest, but let’s place the spotlight on the [British] Virgin Islands (VI) for a moment. While the VI and other Caribbean nations do well standing in solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters against the injustice meted out to the deceased George P. Floyd Jr, we cannot ignore the fact that the VI also has its own discrimination woes to face, and while we have become experts at wearing a mask, ignoring reality only adds fuel to the raging fire when victims observe the hypocrisy!

How can we march against exploitation in the USA and ignore the brutal exploitation we perpetrate against our very own Brothers and Sisters in the VI? Have we become so insensitive and perhaps dehumanised having little regard for the fact that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere? Whether we wish to categorise ourselves as white race, black race, pink or blue race which further divides the only one human race, how could we carry banners of protest without examining how divided we have become in our own country amidst the silent pain of our Brothers and Sisters? While people in the USA have valid reasons to protest systemic racism which has divided and abused generations in their own country, while we
stand in solidarity with them, what exactly did we march for in the VI?

Be it categorically clear that I am one hundred percent cognisant of the fact that there will be problems of one kind or another in any country. This is a given. However, to turn a blind eye to reality is like deliberately driving your car over a cliff with your family. The fact is, the VI has no moral authority to speak on or protest injustice anywhere in the world as long as we continue to disproportionately rape, disenfranchise and discriminate against our own people due to their nationality, social status or economic background. Discrimination is a crime against humanity regardless of where it happens, who perpetrates it, or the reason therefor! Worst, we profess God while having little regard for the rights of our Brothers and
Sisters within the Territory whether they be local or foreign. Isn’t this the epitome of hypocrisy?

Xenophobia equals discrimination

I must commend Mr Jovan E. L. Cline, former school counsellor and entrepreneur, for taking a courageous stance against systemic, local discrimination against Caribbean people. We see obvious discrimination against Caribbean people in places like The Bahamas, The Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos and other such Islands, and this degree of xenophobia has become a serious concern across the region given its racist influences. This can only happen if governments are aware yet allow it to slide. The VI is no different. A percentage of locals view Caribbean people as a threat to the Territory instead of embracing them as assets. Many locals see our Caribbean Brothers and Sisters as people coming to take away their land and opportunity rather than seeing them as agents coming to help them achieve more! As a result, some immigrants are treated with disdain and even seen as imposters in some cases, which has created an obvious full-blown divide within the Territory. Strangely, this seems quite normal to locals, and over the years, politicians have also used the local and belonger card to win elections. As a result, the full-blown “local privilege” mentality continues to divide the nation and infest the psychology of the upcoming generation, and everyone literally turns a blind eye to the elephant in the room.

While there has always be a territory-wide class divide as seen in many places across the world, there is xenophobia and racism in the VI, and if not addressed and eliminated, will needlessly destroy the Territory. The known xenophobic group within the Territory has caused unrest and continues to meddle in everything pertaining to immigrants. On the other hand, the separatist white clan which does not mix with locals, has established its own haven within the Territory. This makes it a very interesting development to watch as it is quite obvious that special privileges do get thrown around if one is found in the right place. In the face of all this, many Caribbean immigrants have been quite fearful to speak out against the injustices meted out to them by employers, landlords and such others in order not to cause upset which could result in their expulsion from the Territory which has happened before. They therefore continue to grin and bear their pain in silence while the actions of their offenders get swept under the rug based on their influence or political affiliation.

The Elephant in the Room

I am one hundred percent an advocate of national pride, yet it must be fully understood that in the case of the VI, where a people becomes overly obsessed with status quo or is cultured so to do, and where the system protects the interest of locals and belongers to the exclusion of immigrants who play an absolutely significant role in local development; and regardless of the fact that politicians protect the local and belonger mindset to secure their place in elections, it must be categorically stated that where government publicly declares a vested interest in locals and belongers and excludes immigrants, this promotes national inequity and breeds contempt for immigrants which ultimately results in exploitation. Within the VI, it is of paramount importance for everyone to understand that should you be asked, “Where are you from…?” your answer is of more importance than your credentials or contribution to the Territory! Be it resolved that if you are “not from here,” this opens the door for immediate discrimination!

It must also be clearly understood that regardless of a person’s qualification or aptitude to serve, if one is not connected to a popular local name or declared an honourary local by a local, you will never be classified as valuable or seen as part of the affairs of the Territory. This is therefore very clear why immigrants who are “not from here” or have acquired “belonger status,” will never be seen by locals as an authentic part of the territory.

On the other hand, children born within the territory to immigrant parents are never seen as local, but stigmatised as expat children because their parents are immigrants. Many such are currently having problems obtaining a VI passport. Yet, children born abroad to local parents have received their foreign passport, yet their status remain local even though many
were born in the USA and elsewhere. The serious problem is the fact that this is the norm within the Territory, and all generations are now fully culturised to think that true privilege or the acquisition of opportunity is only possible if one is either “from here” or labeled as a “local or belonger!”

Call a Spade a Spade

What therefore is exploitation?
To exploit someone is to take unfair advantage of them. It is to use another person’s vulnerability for one’s own benefit.
Every human being has basic need for food, housing and education to be able to take full advantage of opportunities. Where one is denied these basic needs, his rights have been violated. By guaranteeing life, liberty, equality and security, human rights protect people against abuse by those who are more powerful. With that said, every human being has three
fundamental needs. The need for recognition, the need for justice, and the need for development. Wherever in the world any of us may be, these needs remain constant, and none should be deprived of the opportunity to acquire or attain such.

While governments reserve the right to protect the interest of their people and they should, where the rights of one are violated by the interests of another, this is a human rights violation. Where the employed is underpaid or unfairly treated, this is exploitation. Where one is qualified and willing to serve, yet he is denied the opportunity to do so because of
nationality, family name or association, this is a human rights violation. Where a local is given special treatment or privileges because of his family name or affiliation at the expense of others, this is exploitation. Where a belonger or immigrant is treated unfairly because of nationality or status quo, this is a human rights violation. Where an immigrant or local serves the territory wholeheartedly, yet never recognised because he is either “not from here,” or does not have a certain family name, this is depriving one the basic need for recognition. This is exploitation. Where there are programmes in place for the development of people, yet one is denied this opportunity because “he is not from here,” this is a human rights violation given that one is denied his basic need for development. Should an immigrant seek justice, and justice be perverted in favour of a local which compromises the state of the immigrant, this is a human rights violation. I could go on and on, yet the point is this: Where there is inequity, there will be exploitation; and where one group is preferred above another or deemed to be more important than another, there will be exploitation! We may prefer to remain silent about these issues, however, while we protest and shout from the housetop against injustice in another man’s country, what will we do about injustice in our own?

As we quietly reflect on the evils perpetrated against our Brothers and Sisters especially at home, change can only happen if it begins with us! Let us be the change we wish to see, else we will all be guilty of the same sin. The time has come for us to do for our fellow Brothers and Sisters of African descent the very thing we would love for ourselves. Let us embrace our responsibility to create change at home first, then when we have removed the beam from our own eye, we will be able to see clearly to remove the mote from our brother’s eye!

Impressionism is hypocrisy, and the avoidance of guilt is the act of a fool. The man who does good, good shall be returned to him one hundred percent. but the man who does evil, evil shall pursue him and shall overtake him and devour him! Therefore, let us do the right thing!

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7 Responses to “Do Black Lives Really Matter in VI?”

  • Jose (26/06/2020, 14:05) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Great article! Appreciate your courage to talk abt the elephant in the room.
  • On Point (26/06/2020, 15:14) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Someone really needed to do this...…wrong is wrong and right is right....
  • too long (26/06/2020, 20:50) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Article is a little too long sir..
  • Finally (27/06/2020, 13:18) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    well said, now this behavior of the BVIslanders is clear, and in the open, they, do not have any response.
    the truth will set them free. fix your own mentality then talk about the U.S.A affairs.
  • Slim Jim (28/06/2020, 23:05) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Well said... a long article, but worth reading. May not get read by many because injustice thrives on ignorance and fear. But if we don't fix our house, the sure results will come home to haunt us in a generation or 2.

    We are one people... lets stop this stupid infighting.
  • rodent (29/06/2020, 17:38) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Islands governed an run by Black but that’s not good enough so it’s time to blame the Whites again.
    Show me one successful country run by Blacks.. there are non without the help of White governed countries.
    Blame yourselves for your mistakes.

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