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Racism, Why?

Dear Source:

There seems to be a great deal of talk recently about race relations on the Source Open Forum. I read with Interest Mr. Mueller's article where he had concerns about the reality of racial relations in the Virgin Islands and how they affected prior writers who felt they had to either leave or live here under duress. I also read Mr. Fontaine's letter that was, to my surprise, a verification of those concerns.
I have lived in the Virgin Islands for over six years on St John. During most of that time, I have not felt the kind of tension that some people have experienced in terms of racial separation.
Last fall, events on St John brought out some true feelings concerning race relations. As everyone knows by now, the island was the focus of demonstrations and sit-ins in an effort to bring to light certain facts about an alleged racial incident. People from all over the Virgin Islands descended upon St John on two separate occasions. At that time, I was assuming that the demonstrations were targeting the police who lacked of information on a supposed racially motivated rape case that went unsolved. I had also thought, after receiving assurances from some very influential and decent citizens, that the demonstrations were to be peaceful and had only one goal-to seek information and the truth. As it turned out, the opposite became reality. There were very peaceful demonstrations, which I attended. There was much talk about racial harmony, which I applauded. There was even a march through the streets of St John to show unity. A march, by the way, that included equal numbers of whites and blacks. What followed was a surprise neither I, nor many others on St John (white and black), expected, sit-ins of white owned businesses.
It became apparent that this was not at all a unity issue; it was clearly a means to target and accuse white people of the ills of the moment.
Usually, sleepy St John is the farthest place on earth where you would expect racial tension, and yet, there it was for all to see. Whites and blacks on St John have generally lived in close harmony with each other for many years. Even though the marches and speeches did not bring the intended results, the demonstrations did bring out some very important truths- that underlying racial tension does exist even on St John. There are many reasons for the disharmony-economic disadvantages, historical considerations, culture and invasion of "continentals". All these reasons are cause for concern in any community and they must be dealt with openly. What was most disturbing was that it became, simply, a white/black issue.
Perhaps there will never be true harmony between peoples of the world because of color, ideology, religious beliefs or socio-economic standing. All we have to do is read the papers to see that it exists all around us-from extremist Muslims to political believes. Maybe there are some Darwinian concepts at work here. Maybe, looking at the big picture, whether it be belief in god or the big bang, humans were not supposed to live as equals unless they are culturally, politically or religiously similar. If that is true, then humans are surely lacking something.
There was a remark in Mr. Fontaine's article that "racial disharmony stems from slavery". It can also be said that political disharmony stems from historical contempt (i.e. Israel vs. Palestinians) or that war based upon religious beliefs stem from one not subscribing to the others philosophies and are a reason to kill each other. Countries go to war simply on political differences. We all know intuitively that this way of thinking must end but we always seem to find an excuse to continue the wickedness of our ways. If slavery is a reason to hate whites, then it follows that most of the world should hate each other on the other grounds mentioned. Silly isn't it? So when does racial disharmony stop? Will it or can it stop? Where is this paradise we talk about anyway? Can a true paradise exist in a world where we all disapprove of each other for any assumptive reason? Most importantly, why do we continue to perpetrate disharmony when we all want the opposite? Did the architect who created earth and the inhabitants really consider hatred of each other as our destiny? God! I sure hope not!

Paul Devine
St. John

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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