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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, February 5, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesRacism on the Virgin Islands

Racism on the Virgin Islands

Dear Source,
Having read and written about the inflamed activities taking place in the Virgin Islands as it relates to race relations in America's Paradise, it is time for Virgin Islanders to look in the mirror. Too often many of us speak about white vs black when we deal with racism, and if that were all there is to the story, it would be a very simple matter to correct. Black on black, white on black, and black on white discrimination are rampant and at a level that can only lead to a major problem if not corrected soon.
Persons in so-called positions of power from tourism to politicians have repeatedly disregarded, injured, and defamed their own people because of the tax situation on St. John, tourism turning its back on potential Island saving positive publicity and exposure because of personal feelings, businesses gouging local residents with outrageous high cost for inferior product, and much more. Tourism turned down the CBS Network telecast which could have put St. Croix in front of millions of viewers, yet was all over a Fox College Sports broadcast which targeted a few thousand visitors in a location that was not only 95% white but almost inaccessible to the Virgin Islands for less than $1,000 coach fare. Politicians keep ignoring the fact that the tax situation in St. John creates a terrible imbalance of residents and the new racist rich on the Island. If we are part of the segregation and racism toward our own people, why should anyone else respect us? It reminds me of a group in the states years ago that only allowed light skin African-Americans to be members and dark skin African-Americans not permitted to join.
What message are we sending out when our schools are in disrepair without books, and even toilet paper, when school officials are too busy with social calendars, and meetings that do not address the real problems. When I went to school on St Croix, we had the highest literacy rate in the U.S. Almost every graduate went to college. We need to take back our Islands with self- respect and pride, with honesty and integrity for our fellow Virgin Islanders, with dignity and understanding toward our fellow Virgin Islanders. The expression "charity begins at home" needs to be inserted into the politicians and high-ranking officials on these Islands. There are too many talented and competent local residents and former residents capable of getting the job done working for someone that doesn't look like them, think like them or give a damn about them, instead of being in charge of projects that would make a difference to our Islands.
I'm reminded of a conversation with our Tourism Director regarding an opportunity to have a No.1 Network and No.1 TV program cover St Croix. 80 million persons view this program. When told it was an African-American producer friend of mine (who just won his third Prime Time Emmy Award), I was told to have him send a proposal, while every country in the world was begging him and the program to visit their country. We must first respect each other before anyone else will respect us.
Renny Roker
St. Croix

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