No matter how embarrassing it is to us, how painful or angering it may be; still, there is no getting around the hard reality that the government of the US Virgin Islands has in no uncertain terms failed its people.
You name it; whether it is the non-accountability for the misspending of $6.9 million of Virgin Islands taxpayers’ money by our legislature, inferior lunches and curriculum in our schools, the absence of secondary education for public students on St John, HOVENSA’s breach of agreement, GERS’s debacle, the LEAC and our exorbitant cost of living, staggering unemployment and poor health care, corruption alleged in our Board of Elections and elsewhere, the Diageo deal… ink cannot suffice the itemizing of our morass. In every instance the divide is along the class lines and it is not the elite, but the lower class of Virgin Islanders who are left holding the bag, perishing for lack of leadership capable of emancipating us from these socioeconomic privations; none of these problems, mind you, were created by we the people.
Oh, General Buddhoe, we need you! As if identifying with our hardship, a popular contemporary artist sings: “It’s times like these I’m missing our heroes; times like these I really wish they were around…shouldn’t have to be like this.” Our heroes and heroines of yesterday did their best, “buh we haffi go do de rest.” What then is incumbent of us the people in the face of the undoing of our standard of living in the USVI? Do we continue as lambs to the slaughter year after election year? Or, do we identify the cyclical nature of our demise and realize that inherent in us and instructive in our history is the mandate to defeat all that harms and restricts.
Underpinning this slavish state of existence and escaping the analysis of even our greatest leaders and political thinkers are the machinations and devices of a nearly 350 year colonial experience which, unless interrupted, will bear continually the fruit of underdevelopment, inequity, and poverty in all our generations present and future. Even more debilitating than the wound of our brutal history of enslavement is the present-day failure of our elected leadership to address the colonial 800 pound gorilla in the territory which by no pun intended has been unincorporated in all their deliberations. That those in power fail to embrace the reality of our history and identity in this the 21st century remains the single, utmost hindrance to broad-based growth and development in the US Virgin Islands.
Like the legacy of slavery’s aftermath has not been enough for our people; as if our African ancestors did not already pay the price to deliver us unshackled into the 20th century; the vehicle of freedom we have inherited remains steady on course to being driven right off the cliff and into the abyss of Western-world, Ronald McDonald democracy. Somewhere along the lines of my rant I’m supposed to tell you why I’ve decided to take hunger action against our legislature, but somehow, I guess, I expect that you understand why.
The 21st century slavery reparations movement in the Caribbean represents for descendants of the enslaved in the region, and will surpass in achievement, that which the 20th century Civil Rights Movement of African-Americans represented and accomplished in the United States of America. Yet, in the background of this historic undertaking our local leaders still collectively sleep. While I am uncertain if the rumblings of Mr Moorhead’s shrinking stomach will be amplified loud enough to accomplish the rude awakening our legislature needs, this I do know; the entire Caribbean, minus the US Virgin Islands, right now is organizing to get their reparative justice, and I’ll be damned if I sit by and let us by inaction not get ours.
This brings me to what exactly the hunger action will be requiring of our lawmakers. In my capacity as president of the African-Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance (ACRRA) I will commence the hunger initiative on October 23, 2013, at the grounds of the Capitol Building in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas and remain there without eating or consuming food for as much time as will be necessary for senators to take favorable action on reparations legislation. As a citizen of the United States of America I will be invoking my constitutional right to petition our government and abiding by all applicable US Virgin Islands laws. In short, they must “Seek Reparations From Denmark” as resolved by the body on May 4, 2005.
It is no longer necessary for me to convince the legislature of the need for reparations. This has been well established regionally and internationally by the leading political minds, thinkers, and scholars of our time. My advocacy, rather, must at this time focus on helping our senators understand the urgency of implementing initiatives and my activism readjusted to center specifically on causing our government to mobilize a territorial reparations movement.
It is not that the 30th Legislature of the US Virgin Islands lacks knowledge of the damage done to its people by generations of enslavement on these shores that the body remains inactive on reparations, but that there exists in the institution the absence of understanding the direct connection between this historical reality and our present-day exploitation, poverty, and deprivation. The point of disconnect is the lack of understanding the root cause of our social and economic underdevelopment and the corresponding urgent and incumbent senate responsibility to formulate and formalize reparations initiatives.
Hey man! Transfer Day, March 31, 2005, Donna Christensen, Terrence “Positive” Nelson, and Shelley Moorhead on the cover of the St Croix Avis; “Reparations Talks Set. First of its kind session scheduled in Denmark.” It’s we start this thing! Or, ayo forget?
First delegation from the Caribbean to enter Europe and establish reparations talks; first people to secure a signed memorandum from a former colonizer acknowledging their cruelty during slavery and establishing a joint reparations task force; first people in the Caribbean to by law condemn slavery and seek reparations from a European power. To have accomplished all this together as a government and a people and then leave me and ACRRA to do all the work by ourselves with no funding is sinful.
Buddhoe, Queen Mary, and D. Hamilton Jackson walk among us no more. Our black President is not coming to save us. Our black US Attorney has not defended us. Our Congressional Black Caucus will not act on our behalf. We have no representation at the United Nation. CARICOM and Dr Ralph Gonsalves cannot represent the Virgin Islands of the United States. CNN and Fox News will not cover our story and I doubt very seriously that we shall see the day a Navy Seal team storms Mafoliegate. It is only we de people and dem our government and together we have to figure this thing out.
Last night, my priest asked me what role I saw myself playing in the Virgin Islands redemptive struggle. I told him that I did not know if from this people will emerge the type of leaders we have longed for and that I was uncertain exactly how I might manifest my part. I told him that there is one thing he could count on; in the absence of such redeemers he could look for me in the dreadful dry valley where he will find me sling in one hand, five smooth stones in the other.
For those that have understanding, please teach those who do not and in the tradition of our culture… let the hungry be fed, the naked clothed, let the sick be nourished, aged protected and infants cared for. Let us seek reparations for the crimes against our humanity and let us return the resource of our historical investments to our shores. God bless.