By Dickson Igwe, Contributor
The Virgin Islands economy composed of the financial services industry, ecotourism and maritime, and the domestic market economy is the core tool for the empowerment of Virgin Islanders and citizens.
The economy works in partnership with local and foreign investors for the mutual benefit of Virgin Islanders, citizens, and residents.
The economy cannot become a means by which specific interests disenfranchise and dis- empower citizens.
There are signs that this may be happening. OK. Post Irma, Virgin Islanders and Virgin Islands citizens appear to have come under the onslaught of aspersions and innuendo from specific quarters that are not only inaccurate, but apparently designed to disembowel the local culture and way of life.
At a vulnerable time for citizens, negative rhetoric by specific interests has become the order of the day.
Now, this Old Boy is basically an empiricist.
He worships at the altar of God and Jesus Christ of course but he also vibrates with excitement at rational thought, reason, and logic.
The preceding have been virtues completely lacking since Irma and Maria devastated the territory’s economy in September 2017.
Entitled and lazy
Ok. Some prominent citizens have made allusions that Virgin Islands youth are ‘entitled and lazy’.
Not only are these assertions completely inaccurate, they are an insult to the local culture and traditional way of life.
To bring context to this story, it has to be stated that the Virgin Islands has always been essential, economically, socially, and racially segregated.
Rich go to rich schools. Whites go to white schools. The rest go to public schools.
Various communities within the greater community tend to socialize and exist separately. And so on and so forth.
Entitlement exists in all societies
Any concept of entitlement is not a unique feature of any one social group. Entitlement exists yes: it exists in all the various ethnic sets.
To say it is specific to any one social group is a completely flawed assertion. Social segregation is a feature of the community that has been swept under the carpet.
It is one reason specific crimes are difficult to solve. Segregation is a hangover from the days of slavery, plantation, and colonialism.
Heaven knows why it is a silent matter. It is a ‘no go area’ for social commentary. But it is a feature of VI community that is glaringly obvious to any observer of British Virgin Islands society.
Like segregation everywhere, it is subtle. It is also innocuous. Segregation is a universal evil.
However, in a micro-community, it becomes especially overt and malevolent. Social separation is an ever-present subculture of these Paradise islands.
And it is very damaging to all: ruler and ruled; white and black; wealthy and poor. Social Segregation will never produce a safe, cohesive, and harmonious, culture and society, for these Virgin Islands.
Social integration is the one option for harmony. However, integration is accepting the native culture as the dominant Modus Vivendi by all residents and guests.
There are economic factors in the social segregation of Virgin Islands society. The society is top down, and practices an austere type of economics, even though government is the largest employer.
That divergence in the economy has to do with geography, history, and social demographics.
However, the preceding sociology is acceptable to this Old Boy, and he has never made it an issue.
If it is acceptable for the country to exist in a type of splendid separation of the various ethnic, racial, and social groups and subtypes and sets, who is he to comment on this absurdity, idiosyncrasy and anachronism.
Where he swiftly pulls the sword out the scabbard, is when one social set believes it has the authority and right to label the other as ‘lazy and entitled’.
Then goes on to infer that certain foreign imported elements have a better work ethic and more efficient way than the local workforce.
Not to be unreasonable and patronizing like people who generalize about ‘entitled’ Virgin Islanders, and not to generalize, but this writer will swiftly add that the vast majority of employers does not hold this idea that certain foreigners are better workers.
This writer’s great friend and old school buddy is a fellow Briton and hotelier who manages a very well known bayfront hotel.
The man delights in employing Virgin Islanders, and he goes out of his way to ensure their welfare and wellbeing with generous financial support.
Post Irma, he has been enormously generous to his workforce who have been put out of work.
But it now appears the subtle segregation, a sad reality of this territory is increasingly becoming a feature of the imported labour matrix, with specific nationals considered better employees than others.
This is simple patronage and is used as an excuse to change the employment matrix at the grassroots, for the benefit of specific elements in the society.
One could even label the idiosyncrasy, racist. It is totally inaccurate that these foreigners are better in the workplace than locals.
This consumer has had some pretty terrible customer service from these imported, ‘bright lights’ in the services and retail sector, so there!
In any event, this assertion that these imports are better at customer services than locals is the same assertion that has been used to keep blacks in the deep south USA in economic and social shackles for decades since Civil Rights attempted to free blacks in the USA from social and economic oppression.
Tool of empowerment
The tragedy is this: economics is a tool of freedom for VI Youth. The economy is a tool of empowerment for Virgin Islanders and residents.
However, the economy, which belongs to the country, and no one specific business or person must not be hijacked by certain interests to change the composition of the local workforce.
Virgin Islanders are not as stupid as these people who call down natives in the workforce believe.
These damaging assertions that locals are lazy and entitled are simply an excuse to continue to import labour into the territory while locals go unemployed.
Locals are bread and butter of many businesses
Locals who are the bread and butter of many of these businesses who inaccurately label natives as entitled.
This idea that specific foreigners are better workers is a growing narrative that must be stifled immediately before it grows and infects labour policy to the detriment of Citizens of the country.
It is a type of manipulation of the labour matrix that is very subtle.
However, it is designed to change the facts on the ground to the detriment of Virgin Islands Natives and Citizens.
The question is this: post-Irma with rising unemployment among the country’s youth especially, and warnings of job cuts in the public service, can this deleterious culture of exchanging natives for foreign workers be allowed to continue?
Of course not! It will never lead to social harmony. And it must not be allowed to work. Charity begins at home, I remind the businesses who make these unfortunate assertions.
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