By Alred Frett, Contributor
These rough times are getting rougher and more rather than less we find ourselves complaining about the problems we experience and the pains we face.
We allow ourselves no time for concern about others as we totally reject the idea that our own actions or inactions may be the root cause of our problems. Instead, we have become consumed by our own perceived social status and self-importance.
At a glance, our forefathers may think we have come a long way over the two centuries until noticing that our children, their descendants, still face the same problems they fought to overcome.
Our progress report has remained chronologically stagnant.
We still have no faith in ourselves and still accept universal disrespect as second-class citizens whose haven of rest is only promised after death.
No wonder we reject the realities of life but embrace our pains and hardships as badges of honour in preparation for our big journey home.
In our zeal and misfocus, we say one thing but do the other. We sing about gathering stars for our crowns through acts of kindness even as we totally ignore the golden rule and take pleasure in doing unto others what we would not like done to ourselves.
Indeed, if we followed this rule, there would be no need for hunger, wars, murder and slavery but instead of caring and sharing, we place greed over need and measure ourselves by possession and suppression.
We have shackled ourselves to the same earthly we decry and all that matters is how much we can we possess beyond our needs and how many we suppress in order to achieve this.
We have become materialistic with greater interest in roads and walls, steel and concrete than in the health, education and welfare of our People.
So, we generate and enforce laws and policies designed to oppress and suppress without reasoning that ‘to every action, there is a reaction’ and what goes around comes around so the grief we spread is practically guaranteed to boomerangs right back to us.
None of this matters when greed replaces need.
Instead, we disconnect from reality; waste time, substance and opportunity while developing a zeal for complicating simple things.
Our comfort zones are where too much is not enough and bigger is always better so our bank accounts must bulge, our jewelry and cars must be oversized and our 20-room home only occupied by two persons.
Aren’t we all descendants of immigrants?
Meanwhile, we care nothing about others and we see this behaviour exhibited from top to bottom and a classic case of this is the work permit and Immigration processes that have become both cash cows and whipping boys for governments.
Somehow those involve managing to convince themselves and others that the harm they do is excusable if perceived as being done to expatriates and not locals.
Of course, they are wrong and although I shouldn’t have to explain this I will try.
Let us begin by putting ourselves in the shoes of such a worker – a single parent mother – who may be highly educated but has stooped and applied for a job to clean the mess made by others in order to support her child or children.
From the get-go government has skyrocketed the cost of this process; not based on quantity or quality of service but simply as a means of providing extra funds or government revenues.
By the way, this was all instituted before the hurricanes the promise to have this whole process shortened has never materialized.
Instead, the new non-refundable application fee encourages room for abuse.
The injustice worsens with her permit renewal because, although she does everything as directed, Labour habitually fails to complete their part of process and have her back and forth day after day losing time and money.
After many delays and postponements, she is them directed to pay additional monies to Immigration simply because Labour failed to perform.
Even the ministers should know this is wrong.
However, more unfairness is encountered when the lady is not allowed to bring her children with her, (which may be understandable) but she is next ridiculed for sending out the wages she earned to these children and that interference is unreasonable.
When we order pencils from Amazon, their money goes out even before pencils come in so if we import her services her money belongs to her.
Following the steps and shadows of their masters
Instead of victimizing others and fracturing the golden rule, we BVIslanders should develop our people so they may provide the brawn and rain we now import to build and maintain our country.
In addition, it is wrong for government to further exploit the situation by exempting itself from the Work Permit process while continuing to take workers from the private sector after what they put them through.
Not only is it unfair and unjust for leaders to act in this manner but it should concern us all because such behaviour is the root cause of slavery, a crutch for colonialism.
This excuse allowed racism to continue for far too long. Furthermore, we are seeing this in America and other nations where the social abuse and police shootings of unarmed black men are treated with little or no accountability.
Just recently we learn of the arrest or two black men just for being at Starbucks – a place that sells coffee – and many BIIslanders may think of this as having nothing to do with us but they are wrong.
Racism is universal
Racism is universal and while there is no place for it in the BVI that does not mean there is none and play blind and fail to recognize this the less able we would be to prevent and ostracize it.
Our ideal approach must be to treat everyone with dignity and only judge persons based on their merit rather than our personal biases.
Moreover, it is hard to deny existence and practice of racism by Labour and Immigration when we see Afro-Caribbean applicants treated differently to Anglo-continental applicants with those of African descent are mostly treated harsher and with less respect.
We may hate to hear this but this is not the only evidence that a racial, colonial mentality is very much alive in the BVI.
This may be a closely guarded secret but from time to time even whites who have lived with us all their lives still feel that urge or right to exhibit the tendency to exploit black locals and impede their progress.
They are your friends for as long as they can use and abuse you.
Besides, it does not matter if everyone knows their actions are wrong because they feel in control of a system where their colour-coded right is to suppress us and our afro obligation is to be silent.
If we dare resist, they feel confident that our preachers, politicians and lawyers can be used to do their dirty work and it is simply a matter of compensation and whether we call it a bribe, donation or ‘blood money’.
We have seen this happen time after time where lawyers and courts are used to frighten us ordinary BVIslanders into submission.
It is not uncommon for innocent persons to be scared out of their rights just the threat of lawyers.
This is the same tactic used by Trump until persons said ‘enough’ and stood up to him. He started losing and even his personal lawyer may now face a long jail time.
Our wars for fairness and justice are finally showing rays of hope but not all battles have been won.
We may be labelled as ‘laundromat’ and ‘tax haven’ but our Immigration and Labour departments should not subscribe to racism, unfairness and injustice.
Remember, oppressors relish the wrong they do so we must stay focused and continue the struggle for we lose it all by accepting what is wrong as right.
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