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St. John March and The Complex Problem of Racism


Dear Source,
I had been a 15-year resident of St. John, and I feel compelled to respond to this article. Celebrating the history of St. John is very important, and I think yearly bon fires and education about Fireburn on Oct. 1 should be a tradition. However, I just cannot understand this seemingly educated, thoughtful group's emphasis on racial inequality in the Virgin Islands today. If they are referring to blacks in the V.I. being treated unfairly, then I need help understanding why the vast majority of government officials and police officers in the V.I. are black and whether this esteemed group might do better to look in the mirror and find out why, in a black dominated society, their government has created an atmosphere in which they feel discriminated against. We need to use our votes to change this problem and educate ourselves when voting next time around. I have just left St. John, mainly because I can no longer afford to live there. I am a white woman. I worked cleaning houses on St. John and witnessed a very wealthy black family from the States who owned a villa treat the Virgin Islander workers at their house with absolute disrespect. I think this is an economical problem, not a racial one. Not to disregard racism as a problem. It is a problem in all races on St. John, as well as the world in general. Why can't the group include the white Coral Bay woman who was assaulted by black men in her home in their march? Can't we march together in support of education and personal empowerment for ALL St. Johnians who want to keep the integrity of St. John intact in this recent influx of extreme wealth and development? This same sad problem of old-timers and born-here's not being able to afford their land is happening all over the United States, no matter what color the landowner. I have no idea how to stop it, but I do know that concentrating on separating the races from each other is only going to confuse things even more, take away your power even more, while your government keeps taking your money for cool cars and the rich keep getting richer. St. John is a powerful place; the blacks and whites have the same worries, the same love for their children and concern for the future of their island and could come together and be a force to be reckoned with. St. John is what it is: a mixed race and mixed culture island, there's no going back. But there is a chance RIGHT NOW to realize we are ALL here because of the way St. John makes us feel and that is LOVED, EMPOWERED and SAFE. I came to St. John grieving over the too early death of my mother, and St. John, ALL OF YOU, took me in and were kind to me and helped me get through the worst time of my life. You have an amazing gift, it just doesn't exist any place else in the world. Believe me, I've looked. Please, please keep your focus on your power as a whole. I miss you all very much. With love and hope,
Betsy Canfield

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