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Monday, January 30, 2023

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A Necessary Discussion

Dear Source:
The ongoing dialog in The Source in regards to slavery and reparations is mind-opening–a good thing for all of us.
I would like to add some of my thoughts to those written by Dominic Latty in response to Mr. Brundage.
Please, Dominic, don't be alarmed at the honest dialog happening here as it is absolutely necessary if we are to sort out the many perspectives and truths deeply believed and most importantly felt by all people.
It is intellectually easy to say "Blacks enslaved their own…" and think that this will end the discuss or justify the atrocities of slavery. It can not. Ever.
Too often this intellectual rationalization ends the important emotional work absolutely imperative to look at this issue with our hearts or "to walk a mile in some else's shoes" as generations of suffering dark skinned humans impacted by slavery have had to do; and still do- because of the deep roots that still impact our society.
Look at statistics. Slavery's impact is seen in the number of dark-skinned brothers and sisters in incarceration; the number of single mothers–unmarried and living in poverty–to name only two. These sad statistics come from our lack of courage in failing to open up and tackle this "Slavery issue" and too often flippantly thinking and saying: "It's in the past…get over it". (This in no way negates the incredible progress in spite of the horrendous challenges of blacks!)
I do believe that Mr. Brundage's comment about being white and married to a black woman is relevant. He obviously has had his own profound, deep emotional experiences that should be respected and acknowledged.
Dominic Latty says: "I am also surprised at Mr. Brundage's allegation that there are racist black people in the Virgin Islands. While there are black Virgin Islanders who are prejudiced, "racism" by definition is a system in which a racial group are systematically oppressed by another race. There can be no black-on-white racism in the Virgin Islands – one look at the socioeconomic classes on the island will show that whites do not have any disadvantage at all from the so-called racism that Mr. Brundage alleges " is both intriguing and deeply thought provoking.
If this definition is accurate and only based on "economical disadvantage" then we certainly have to look more deeply into the unique situation that we have here in our Islands.
I happen to be a light-skinned woman.
I have never experienced the depth of prejudices against the color of my skin as I have in my 25 plus years here in the VI's. It may be because I am a native Canadian.
When I look carefully at my feelings here…without the personal hurt and frustration…I see that much of it is fear and ignorance. Most of the time it can be transcended with time and demonstrated trusting behavior on my part. But it isn't easy.
What I see is "projection"…where some black people expect because I am white that they need to be on guard for a perceived "racist" in me. This is also seen in too many inappropriate places like our Legislative floor with Senators feeding into this fear with "KKK rants".
These perceptions whether seeded in the colonial days or the naval rule in The VI's…maybe even fostered by strong customs of "mind your own business" which had to have been rooted in slavery days where arms and legs were sawed off if anyone spoke out or communicated.
The fact is that I have been called a "white mudder scunt" too many times to remember– often by an angry black person–sometimes when I was simply walking down the street.
I have only heard one person in my 25 years say the N word much to my dismay. (There was dialog–I assure you.)
Why do I share this? Because this is why we need dialog on the subject of Reparation.
We must take this subject out of the closet and talk about it. It is the only way towards healing here in our Islands.
Thank You Source for facilitating this subject.
Bonny Corbeil
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 visource@gmail.com.

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