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Sick of the Finger Pointing at Whites and 'Outsiders'


Dear Source,
Although I want to yell from the rooftops how sick I am at all the recent finger pointing at whites and "outsiders" for all the ills of St. John and the Virgin Islands society as a whole, I must refrain for the time being and focus on a letter posted on Sept. 19, by Hugh Magbie.
Mr. Magbie implies that on a visit to the Annaberg ruins in Virgin Islands National Park (presumably during his seven year residency on St. Croix in the 1970's) he was offended by the use of the word "worker" on wayside exhibits that refer to the once enslaved Africans at the site. While I agree with him that the former plantation evokes an Auschwitz-like feeling, I would like to set the record straight about the two exhibits in question. One that was entitled "Workers' Quarters" was changed to "Slave Quarters" and another that read: "Workers ladled the cane juice." was changed to "Slaves and later paid workers ladled." in an attempt by the Park Service to rectify any past insensitivity in this matter. This was done in the summer of 1999.
I have no doubts that the National Park Service, an agency of the U.S. government, is constantly striving to protect the natural and cultural resources of St. John as it is mandated to do. And after 49 years on our beautiful island, I would like to believe that it has the best of intentions for residents and visitors alike. But after 20 years as a full time resident in this wonderfully unique part of the United States, I am wondering what Mr. Magbie's notion of what my "place on the island" should be.

Don Near
St. John

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