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Racism Seems to Be Alive in Parts of the Community

Aug. 26, 2005 — It happened before. Now it is happening again. An enterprising, successful young black business person on St. John is being hounded and terrorized. There are those Satanic rituals of domination performed with fire, within circles of stones, on Water Island and on St. John. Recently, a favorable business deal was about to be closed on the phone when the man said to his wife, 'But there is one thing, the guy is black.' One night on St. John, a car without license plates was used to threaten a person’s life. Also on St. John’s, signs have been posted, 'Move nigger, black witch.' and '49 % black 51 % white.'
This threat was made by phone, 'There is a new piece of rope with your name on it.'
Another was made, in person to a black woman at the Red Hook Dock, 'We are not ready to lynch you yet.'
White men disguised and in dinghies make it a habit to sneak up threateningly by the home of a black family living close to the sea. At nights rocks fall mysteriously on the family’s house. Two of the family’s dogs were poisoned. And, on more than one occasion, the woman in that family has been physically assaulted. Meanwhile, the 'N' word can be heard frequently, on St. John. Also, a common statement heard these days is, 'We have a white senator now.'
This reads like a paragraph about the Jim Crow South during the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. But it is really about the U. S. Virgin Islands in 2005. Yes, all this and more of the same is happening here. The goodwill and harmony – the pristine paradise that the black society has struggled to build and maintain through the years is now being attacked and dismantled by jealous and vicious racists.
There are deliberately planned moves to change the social and cultural context of these islands, particularly on St. John. We can all wise-up to the reality of this emerging conflict now, or we must be prepared to deal with it later. That historical black vs. white saga, so ingrained in American consciousness and social history has come to the Virgin Islands. Now it is seeking to inject its venom here.
The tragedy is that this is 2005 not 1905. Despite those gains in race relations, in the U. S. A., there are persons who come to these relatively peaceful islands with a mission in mind. Their goal is to stir those fires of race jealousy and hatred. They are motivated by jealousy and a compelling greed for dominance, privilege and power. And, for their inspiration, such persons go back to those old myths of natural white supremacy.
But myths, including those designed to achieve social, political and economic domination over other people are always lies. Since the Age of Exploration, the white race has exploited other people to ensure itself special opportunities to power, control and privilege. However, there is nothing naturally superior about the white, or any other race.
Anthropologist, Ashley Montague, argued repeatedly during the 1970’s, about the 'Myth of Race.' There is neither a white nor a black race. It is one human race. Now, DNA evidence is supporting Montague in dispelling that super-race myth. Further, the last time I checked the history books, the term Aryans was stolen from the Indians of India.
And, what was superior about a group of grown, hooded men terrorizing poor and powerless people, who could not defend themselves? Those were long, sad years of virtually legalized lynchings, particularly in the U. S. South. It was acceptable homegrown terrorism. But to black Americans, the fear, the stress, and the loss of loved ones paralleled the terrorism now being decried in Iraq. All of us must ask, what is good about that? Then, why would anyone want to take these islands backwards in time to where myths of dominance, and false consciousness, bloodied human history in such callous and horrid ways?
All of us, blacks and whites who live here, must come together and search for change from such confrontations. We are all human beings. If we begin there, showing respect to one another, we can find common ground and mutual survival despite cultural differences. Our critical consciousness must work to promote social and psychological wellness – not harbor anger, discord and pain. We are a gregarious animal. We need one another. That’s why humans can mate successfully across ethnic barriers, a reality that enticed white men, including Thomas Jefferson, and forced a struggle with that inferiority myth during slavery. One applauds Dr. Kern for her attempt to keep the festering problem in focus. On the other hand, why is there such a deafening silence coming from the St.John’s Community Foundation and from the Senator at Large? There is still time for a meeting of minds and a sensible discussion of the issues at hand. As intelligent human beings we can do better than we are doing now.
Whitman T. Browne
St. Thomas

Editor's note: Whitman T. Browne is an educator and author of several books on the Caribbean, including "From Commoner to King," and "The Christena Disaster in Retrospect."
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