Where Are The Ones Who Put Territory First?
I learned something great from Senator John McCain. His campaign slogan is “Country First.” And, recent discussion have caused me to think about what that means for us as Virgin Islanders.
Several people have asked me: “I’m a ______. What does it mean for me when you say: ‘Virgin Islands for the Virgin Islanders?'”
Then, I recently had an argument with some members of the Virgin Islands Republican Party. Certain members had the audacity to be racially insensitive, and then intellectually oblivious. Instead of embracing the Virgin Islands Community, they choose to remain separate from the majority – confining themselves to a country club of sorts, organized for their own self benefit.
These are the types of people that are detrimental to progress in the Virgin Islands. These are the type who seek to benefit from the lack of structure in the Virgin Islands, and the ease of corruption. These are the type who use the Virgin Islands to rebuild from the failures of their path, in a location where they are not known. If that were not the case, they would gladly weave themselves into the fabric of Virgin Islands society, right? And, we must be on guard against their kind at every turn.
So, I am forced to think: “where must we draw the line?” I found myself beginning to understand why there’s a debate over who is, and who isn’t, a Virgin Islander. And, although I disagree, I also understand why folks are caught up trying to define a “Native Virgin Islander” in our Constitution. Yet, in all of that, I think I may have found a solution.
Let me be clear: this is not a White thing or a Black thing. It is not a Republican thing or a Democrat thing. This is not an issue of who is native and who is foreign.
The issue at hand is: who answers the call in defense of the Virgin Islands? Who thinks “Territory First?” Who is asserting our position as a free and independent people? By those actions we shall know who is – and who is not – a Virgin Islander.
What does it mean to be Territory First? It means that we see everything from the perspective of the Virgin Islands. Territory First implies that we always seek ways to advance the Virgin Islands either politically or economically. Being Territory First means that no matter our outlook, we all stand on the foundation of the Virgin Islands.
Regardless of where we’re from…regardless of our ethnicity…regardless of our political affiliation, we must all tout the mantra of Territory First. So, ask those who wish to be leaders: “what will you do to advance the Virgin Islands?” Ask them: “what do you bring to the table to enhance life for Virgin Islanders?”
If they cannot answer those questions, we must reject them. They can feel free to live amongst us, but they ought not have any role in VI society. We should not frequent their businesses; we should not elect them into public office.
It’s time that those of us – Black, White, Indian, Frenchie, native, transplant, Democrat and Republican, Christian, Muslim, Jew and Hindi – who care about the Virgin Islands step up in defense of our homeland before it’s too late. Before the colonist-minded folks find a way to gentrify the Virgin Islands, we must stake our claim.
What has been your experience? Have you encountered people whom you know have no concern for the Virgin Islands? Do you know folks who only desire to serve their self-interests to the detriment of the VI? How does it make you feel? What do you think should be (could be) done?
Only through self-government can we secure the blessings of Liberty afforded by our homeland. And, only through a Constitution can we develop the framework that will fortify our stake in the Virgin Islands. Only we can do it…our ancestors are counting on YOU.