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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesA Woman With No Country

A Woman With No Country

Dear Source:
It is sad to see what is happening with the Constitutional Convention. I had always been one to support the idea of natives and even of ancestral Virgin Islanders. I was born here, my children were born here and their children will be born here, but according to the proposed definition of what constitutes an Ancestral Native Virgin Islander and a Native Virgin Islander, I have suddenly found myself without a country to call my own. All because my parents are not from the Virgin Islands and had the misfortune to be born elsewhere. According to the proposed Constitution Article III Section 2:
"A Native Virgin Islander is: (a) a person born in the Virgin Islands after June 28, 1932, and (b) descendants of a person born in the Virgin Islands after June 28, 1932"
Unfortunately I do not fit the requirements to be considered Native. I was born here after June 28, 1932, however I am not a descendant of a person who was born here within the Territory after June 28, 1932. Suddenly, I have found myself to be without home and country! Now I have heard the arguments that I am still considered a Native, but I submit to you that so long as the conjunction "and" is there, it stipulates that both conditions must be met in order for the outcome to be true and correct.
This was taken from the Oxford American Dictionaries "and" means (1). used to connect words of the same parts of speech, clauses, or sentences that are to be taken jointly (2). used to connect two clauses when the second happens after the first. By that definition alone the delegates of the Fifth Constitutional Convention disenfranchised thousands of supposed Native Virgin Islanders and have created a class of people who now owe their allegiances to no one. We are not United States Citizens because we were not naturalized. We can be US citizens through proxy because we were born in the territory, but that is as far as it goes. But if this constitution is passed, we will be neither US citizens nor Virgin Islanders, at least not native. So they are basically saying that it does not matter where you were born, where you grew up and if these islands are the only place that you can call home, it is no longer your home and you are not really that welcomed here any more. There is a simple fix, replace the "and" with "or" and the meaning takes on a whole new light.
I have always pledged my allegiance to the United States Virgin Islands, Freedom City, St. Croix in particular, but this draft is telling me that it no longer wants that allegiance. I had always been upset because I felt that the current state of government did not do enough to help those who call the territories its home. Those who were born here were always getting the short end of the stick. I thought with this constitution it would begin to level the playing field a bit more. I guess I was wrong. Because now there isn’t even a field for me to occupy any more. Perhaps I should consider starting my business elsewhere and stop giving to this community since it no longer values me as a resident or Virgin Islands. All because my parents decided that they wanted better for their offspring and moved here to start their family. I guess I should begin to search out another country that will be a bit more appreciative of me. But on the bright side, does that mean then that since I am not a Native Virgin Islander and the Constitution does not make any provision to define me and the thousands of others like me, do I still have to pay taxes? Technically I have no country, so I therefore owe no taxes, right?
YK Hanley
Frederiksted, St. Croix

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