This should not have to be said in 2019, but racial discrimination is not welcome in the Virgin Islands. I am aware that racial discrimination should not be welcomed anywhere in the world however, I am inclined to say it is especially not welcome in the Virgin Islands. Quick recap: slavery has a very different history in the USVI than in the mainland United States and the rest of the world.
Every Virgin Islander knows the history, after a revolt in 1848 we earned our freedom, and when that was no longer enough when wages were no longer enough, we rioted and burned everything again in the 1878 St. Croix “Fire Burn”. That story, that spirit, resides in Virgin Islanders to this day. It is a story that we take pride in and a story that we use to uplift ourselves. Knowing that, how does that spirit react in 2019 when faced with the absolute absurdity that is “Trumpism.”
Trumpism is the philosophy and approach by the current US President Donald Trump, and his supporters. This includes xenophobia, anti-Muslim rhetoric, anti-Hispanic rhetoric, nationalism, fear-mongering, and overall hate speech. Like me, you may have noticed a rise in these white nationalist tendencies. This is not a matter of opinion or even an isolated incident. A national statistic in 2017 saw a rise in hate crimes by 17% since Trump’s election. More recently, an analysis in 2019 found that counties that hosted trump rallies saw a rise in hate crimes by 226%! This connects directly with stories like the VI Consortium story of a man, Bernard Cuffy, a local on St. Croix who was being terrorized off his own land by Caucasian Americans who lived on the island.
This article isn’t about whether Trump is racist (He is, by the way), it is more on how we as a nation (that’s right, a nation) must continuously establish a unified stance damning Trumpism and racism in all forms through laws, addressing land ownership problems, etc. Although Cuffy mentioned to the Consortium that he was being terrorized by neighbors because of his race, his day in court ended a legal dispute over his property and showed that the court case was being pursued by a Black resident residing in St. Croix. More importantly, this is an informal reminder to all would-be racists, all those who hide behind hidden social media profiles, confederate flags, and an unexplainable, damn near the hilarious and insane amounts of self-importance, that this is not and never will be the America that you are used to — the rules are different here. We are different here.