nor would i call it ignorance. i would call it cynicism mixed with anger, sadness and frustration at some of the things i've seen here over the last 13 years and the last 7 of those years as a property owner, a taxpayer and a holder of a usvi voters registration card. don't get me wrong i love it here and would never dream of returning to the states full time--never, but as a holder of that usvi voter registration card that gives me the RIGHT to bitch piss moan complain commend and encourage as i see fit. all one has to do is read the 4 daily papers here to know how screwed up politically the territory is, i think it was at it's most corrupt under turnbulls reign and not because he himself was corrupt,just that he was so out of touch with everything and he just let his advisors run everything. i have never felt discriminated against, i came here knowing i was a minority and had no problem with it, i was a minority growing up in a texas border town so i was used to it. i've seen discrimination here on all levels from the school kids spitting in the street when white people walk by all the way up to when a long term resident white woman was appointed the first casino control commissioner and she had to give up the post because of drive bys at her house and death threats. before i became a homeowner,taxpayer and resident i was content to "dance in the streets" and hangout with all the hippie chicks selling toe-rings and smoking pot and drinking rum punch all day, once i bought my house the politics here became personal to me because they have a direct effect on my financial bottom line(resale value and the ability to attract buyers to the territory)i've signed more petitions , marched in more protests, was on the front page of the avis the first time turnbull tried the raise thing and we had to raise hell with him over in fredericksted.and so once again it's not ignorance it's just cynicism mixed with sadness, anger and frustration and the sincere hope that deJongh will turn this territory from the banana republic that it has become into a first rate place to live, visit, grow and invest
This is a very interesting and worthwhile thread because so many different points of view are expressed.
I like it here quite a bit and stand by my original comments. BUT I can see that this place has been governed quite badly for a very, very long time, and the situation has created many quite serious and firmly embedded problems. I can also see that these problems cause many "bahn heres" to feel that there is no choice but to move away, and many transplants to move back to the place from where they came.
I think that is why a PMV is so strongly recommended. There is absolutely no "one size fits all" way to describe or predict what type of an experience one will have. There are just way too many variables to consider.
In the meantime, let's also hope that DeJongh can make a real difference around here. I remain optimistic that he can, but only time will tell..........................................
terry - I think you very much hit the nail on the head as to why more white males than white women perceive themselves as being victims of prejudice in the islands. They are used to being the top dog leader of the pack. Many men think nothing of treating women as inferior and that often carries over into how they treat people of other ethnicities.
Coming to the USVI and finding themselves to be the minority is a majorly eye-opening experience for them. Some recognize that their role is now reversed and the experience may lead to them overcoming some of their own prejudice. Others just dig in their heels and complain that the locals don't show them the respect they deserve... perhaps without ever showing the locals the kind of respect that THEY deserve as people and thereby earning a mirror response that they don't like.
I see prejudice and disrespect pop up here and there around the island. Unfortunately it's human nature for many people to compete to be in the power position. Too many people only feel good about themselves if they feel superior to others around them. It's unfortunate that it's not always easy to let someone's undeserved animosity towards you just slide off your back. Prejudice, by definition, isn't directed at who a person actually is inside. It's not personal and yet it's hard not to take very personally when you are the one that the undeserved hatred or anger or disrespect is being directed towards.
Most people fear anything that is different from who they are or what they know. To overcome the fear, they react emotionally to give themselves power over what they fear. "It's different, therefore it's bad" is what many people grow up thinking. It all builds to prejudice. Learning tolerance is the only remedy.
Alexandra, I say that we are no more superior to any other ethnic group. I "would" say that we are superior than women, but then you woiuld tell my wife, and she wouldn't let me come down there for an extra three weeks witout her. ROFL 🙂 🙂
I'm a well-educated, level headed, attractive brunette. When I first moved to STT was very positive and made many friends with locals and transplants, which I still have. However, I have experienced several instances with racial discrimination here on STT and STJ. I have been attacked once on STT(at Pueblo) and once on STJ (at the ferry). Although THRE ARE MANY WONDERFUL PEOPLE that do live down here, I have unfortunately found there is a larger percentage of bad people that live down here, which is why I'm currently seeking to leave the island. I do not even go to Price Smart, or Kmart or do any shopping without a friend anymore, I just feel unsafe. I've experienced too many local guys catcalling, hooting and hollering, and grabbing at me to do that anymore. I cannot fairly judge STX, but I DO NOT RECOMMEND MOVING TO STT OR STJ! There are many other reasons that living down here is NOT paradise, here is just a few examples
· Lizards everywhere that crap everywhere
· Roaches, rats, mosquitoes, scorpions, termites, ants (I live in an upscale condo and have these problems, even with a clean place and pest control)
· No place that can dry clean without overcharging and ruining your clothes
· Racist and rude islanders that would love to sue a white person just for looking at them the wrong way
· No major department store other than KaMApRT, which is usually only half stocked)
· Horrible crazy drivers (anytime you drive anywhere you are guaranteed to nearly get into 3 accidents minimum), Oh yeah and Safari Taxi’s they are twice as bad as a local driver
· Cabinets that do not close be they have been warped by the humidity
· Metal objects that are corroded by the humidity
· Way too expensive, electricity, water, rent, groceries
· The roads are terrible here, in a year and a half we have been to Tire Kingdom 4 times and each time get horribly ripped off bc the other tire stores on the island never have the tire needed in stock
· Cannot keep the floors here clean they get so dirty so quickly, it baffles me!
· P.O. BOX only, no mail delivery to home
· No Central air
· No Fresh milk
· No Internet that actually works regularly
· Insurance takes forever if you are in an accident and is a rip off…1,200 per year and has a $1,000 deductible and charges depreciation
· Roads are horrible, speed bumps and potholes abound!
· Recycling not available in the VI
· No GOOD Library
· Horrible humidity
· No cultural activities (no museums, theatres, etc.)
· Get bored easily, going to the beach is fun but it would be nice to have something else to do.
· Did I mention lizard crap everywhere, on the bed, on the walls, on the floor, on the phone, on books, on EVERYTHING!
· RUDE, RUDE locals, in the past two days I almost got run over by one and was ordered to empty my groceries that were in the hand held basket I placed in the check out line.
· No cheap restaurants
· No quality healthcare available
· Laziest people in the world, can not put carts away, can not wait to find trash basket to throw garbage away
· Dirty grocery stores
Uh, yeah, Whitebrunette I think it's time to leave. 🙂 I'm sorry you're hating it but again, I have to say your experiences & mine are nothing alike.
Hello Nypan. I have been here for over a year now. I'm a 40ish white male from a southern border state and run my own business here. I have noticed discrimination and I can second Mango's post in that you will never be accepted totally as an islander because you were not "bahn ya". Your partner is unlikely to be attacked or murdered because of her race... statistics bear that out. However to be truly accepted as part of the community is another matter. The dominant West Indian culture is one that is difficult for an outsider to ever assimilate. There is some resentment of the "colonial" relationship with the US (read the "Does the VI need a new flag" posts) and that plays in to the acceptance factor. You may find friends from both transplant and West Indian communities and still not feel a part of the community no matter how hard you try to be accepted because if they don't want to accept you it doesn't really matter how hard you try. I know transplant people here who are happy here and others who are not. Individual experiences vary widely and only YOU know what you want and need to be happy. Paradise is a state of mind. Cultivate it within. Know that there are good people, bad people and people who are ignorant everywhere including here. The variable is the percentage of good vs bad vs ignorant and so much of that ratio is dependent upon your own perception. You can read all the information on this site but ultimately you'll have to decide for yourself. All we can do is relate our own personal experiences which vary widely. Be good to your partner though, because (in my experience) you don't want to be a single man down here... that is another story.
Whitebrunette: Do you need a ride to the airport? 😉
Re: your list... Did you know that you were moving to the tropics? Lizards, rats and termites are part of the environment. You forgot bats! Yes, it is humid in the tropics. I think your note is a good example of why it is recommended that folks come for a longish, serious visit to be aware of the differences from the states. I hope you didn't burn your bridges back home. Good luck with your move.
Ok, guys and gals - let's just leave it at that. That was her subjective view of the islands.
whitebrunette, most of your complaints are about things that could have been nipped in the bud if you had just did a little more research before you moved down there. But who are you to call the people of STT and STJ lazy? Can you elaborate on your encounters with the "racist and rude islanders that would love to sue a white person just for looking at them the wrong way"?
Can someone say superiority complex?
I understand your pain, I really do. A few weeks before we left, I felt the same way. I never verbalized it, but felt that no one understood me. Do understand that those feelings and being overwhelmed with all the problems will actually go away. I decided to just let go of all the problems and issues and enjoy what I could of the island and thankfully we were able to leave soon after. My husband loved the island from the moment his foot hit the ground, but he also felt overwhelmed with the issues of island living. He and I actually laughed with delirious relief that we both felt that way. We each felt so guilty for not loving the island. Everyone stateside would call and not be sympathetic to our frustrations, after all, "we were in paradise complaining of a few bugs...". You may feel that no one understands, but many have felt that way you do and you are not bad person for not liking the island. It doesn't fit for many people.
To all of you who love your island, I am sorry that many of us couldn't love the islands the way you do, but please let us express our feelings. It is even more miserable to think you are the only one who can't take island life. Just knowing that you are in company of many and that being miserable is not forever will help to make it thru the day.
I made it thru and while I do not think I could live on island even in retirement, I would love to visit as much as possible. For me, it is a place to vacation and enjoy on the short term. I love my life stateside and am fully okay with not living on island. I still care about the people and my friends on island and miss the beautiful water, but not living there.
I must state, I have NO REGRETS! I love the fact that I lived on island for two years. I love that I had crazy experiences that none of my friends stateside understand. I even love that I overcame fear of spiders, and the never ending list of bugs and creature that visited welcomed or not to my island home. I love that I was warm for two winters in a row, however you can not truly appreciate spring until you are frozen and waiting... 🙂
So to those of you who are miserable on island, it is okay and there are many who understand.
To those of you who love the island, you crazy me son. 🙂 Okay okay, many of you love the island and you found your place or know no other place. I am happy for you, just as I am happy for me!
Peace love and I don't care who knows... I love have a Star bucks ($3 not $10) once a week and buying a just printed book for 20% discount after browsing as many books as I want and sitting in a comfy chair with a blanket not sweating nor ant covered and watching t.v. without the electricity going out and NO mosquito's. I found my paradise too! 🙂 Love you all.
Excellent post Teresa
I am not a racist and I know this because I see everyone as a human and we are all the same in that way. Where some see differences based on color, I see similarities. I have had so many experiences on island with islanders who don't know me and treated me badly based on the fact that I am white and do not have an island accent. I know this because they have told me so in other words. Sometimes I would be caught off guard and not realize it until later. I didn't take offense, because they did not know me. I actually got past it and made friends with some people who regarded me as a 'rich white mainlander' at first. I actually am not rich nor all white, but who cares? I don't base who I am on a color anyway.
In reality, many islanders do have a certain prejudice against white mainlanders and express this. In my experiences, they were younger people and not having many interactions with mainlanders, I understand why they think or act that way. Even with all the understanding in the world, it is hard to live on a daily basis with the struggle of getting past the prejudice. I LOVE the fact that I went thru that, because I now know what it is like to be a minority. While I can never fully know what it is to be black in America nor an American Indian in America, having lived on island I have felt that exclusion from the 'norm'.
You can protect the negative image from many mainland visitors, but not from those who move to island. But knowledge is the key. If those who move to island really know what to expect, they can be prepared and decide to let it roll off their back or find their way to make it on island. To say that prejudice against mainlanders does not exist or that it doesn't happen very often to very many people is keeping people ignorant and will leave them unprepared.
In my opinion, most mainlanders of any color who move to island, will be treated badly by an islander at some point. No matter what attitude they have and no matter if they are a good person or bad. While I would love to see the world as a loving peaceful place between all colors, religions, etc.. it isn't. On the mainland America, there are places you can go to fit in and remove yourself from prejudice (bury your head in the sand so to speak). On island, there isn't that option. You have to open your eyes and learn to deal.
Also in my opinion, it is only temporary. When you have lived on island long enough you get to know a lot of people and the prejudice events will go down. I do know some 'white' people who have had an event happen based on color of skin after living on island 20+ years, but I consider that rare, hopefully.
Anyway, you will have to deal with some amount of prejudice when moving to island, but if you have a positive attitude and are prepared, you may not notice or you may not consider it a big issue. For myself, it wasn't the defining issue, it was just a small part of why I left island, but I felt it nonetheless.
DL, I didn't mean to point you out. I started out by trying to explain and ended up just rambling and my point is probably lost. I just want newcomers to be prepared as much as possible and understand some of the realities of life on island (which is sooooo different from life in the states as I know it). Hopefully it helps.?
Okay, I quit 'talking'. Anyone else more eloquent than I should 'speak'.
Please excuse Whitebrunette's choice of words.
Instead of 'Lazy', she may have meant "Island Time".
I tell people that "Island Time" is like Manana, except that Manana doesn't mean 'tomorrow' in the islands, it means 'sometime after today'.
Interesting how you challenge her experiences with racist and rude islanders and accuse her of having a superiority complex. Unfortunately, such comments may simply be the mechanism of compensation developed by you as a result of feelings of inferiority. Could you have an inferiority complex?
It must be double depressing knowing you are in a place that most would find "paradise" and not finding it that way to you. Probably makes one wonder what's wrong with me?
I claim no eloquence, but I too support her post. I had all of those feelings when I left St Croix. I have travelled extensively, so I don't believe that I had a superiority complex or a naivetee as to other cultures. For some strange reason I found her close relative, PR, much more agreeable.The local population is a difficult one to get along with - the dog fighting and animal neglect is difficult to accept etc etc. Nowhere is perfect. I just don't care to live there and I think that I have the right to say why.
PS. Count the lawyers...the VI is one of the most litigious places that I ever lived! It is also the only place that I have ever encountered such blatant racism (both ways). Yuk!
Prospective Islanders will look at all the posts, chuck out the ones that they consider biased (both ways) and go with their best guess. Some will leave and some will stay.That's OK.
The VI will end up with the people that it deserves and the people who left wil end up with the place that they deserve (and hopefully they are happy there). I know I am.
I couldnt agree more with whitebrunettes post, although the bugs never got to me. But not feeling safe or that I couldnt enjoy running errands...because everything was a process, a very slow, inefficient process... that was taxing on the soul. Luckily the beach,sun,weather,etc did provide solice that balanced it some....after enough time i was sick of feeling guilty too (teresa) for not loving this place my friends would "dream" of coming to, or that people save their whole lives to visit. I always told them...that magazine picture of palm lined beaches doesnt show it all... there may well be a machate laced person waiting behind the palm tree, or gunmen waiting outside that quaint looking beach bar, tonight and tomorrow night, too!!
As far as lazy crucians...even my crucian friends will tell you they are lazy..and joke that its "island time". It was fun for awhile, but when i could never get things sent, or errands ran, or things accomplished...that just doesnt flow with my personality. I was warned by my boss there when I told him I was TYPE A... he was like then you are setting yourself up for quite an adventure here, welcome!
I understood it was a cultural difference, a slower pace, a different attitude than America's food in 10 seconds mentality...but after awhile... dont people want to stop for a sandwich and not wait 30 minutes just in line, for the one person behind the counter to tell you they are out this and that... but for $20 we have a side order of corn. ( i guess i realized grew up with not needing and wanting, I was blessed. At it affected my perceptions)
But aside from a cultural difference... i could never understand why people didnt care about customer service, or efficient ways to do things... it was literally like ... (well my boyfriend and i joked, too to help make it through) let's thing of the best, most efficient, cost effective way we could do this where everyone feels good about it and then lets just do the oppositie..so that they are never satisfied, we hate doing it, therefore dont, and then we can be resentful that the customer is upset with us and hate them back! Becuase that makes sense. But i guess years of a certain mentality, a certain distain for acceptance, CHANGE, etc.. and its hard to combat that with positive energy. Negative begets negative... and I always thought if I was just positive (POSITIVE IS HOW I LIVE, right) that it would all feel better eventually. Not for me.
I guess I didnt appreciate the America I grew up in (the one I used to look down on for convenience, fast paced, development, big box department stores, melting pot) - becuase I walk into a convenience store back here in the states and can enjoy my exchange with the people and cashier, whether he/she is black, white, Native American, Hispanic, Iranian, etc... but we come and go mixed together. On STX - I was always "watching my back" or super aware of how I could be perceived and tried to come across as _________ as possible. I dont have to "think" about any of my coming and goings here, and I can run errands at midnight, alone and feel completely safe. People around me would help, the POLICE would help, the stores around would have up to date risk management procedures in place and know the phone numbers to call - if anything happened.
I can feel rightful in telling the cashier i was just overcharged or the waitress that my rice is undercooked. On island, i just sucked it up. I knew of too many repurcussions from people ... when someone just tried to get a justful situation.
Like the horse situation that just occured on STX... here it would be on the news, the police, animal rights, vets, neighbors would all be outwardly doing something, talking, making hype for change and help in similar situation, awareness... but it feels like there its hush, hush...here's some money to help this sitaution, lets all drive by and notice and see how long we can feel horrible about not saying something.. and when the guilt feelings override the fear of repercussions from owners, owners cohorts, etc... then we take action. WHAT, its the 21 century....
I loved the 17th century feel of downtown christiansted, but not the backward mentality.
I understood the historical perspective and respected my native friends attitudes toward some things...their resistance, their steadfast beliefs...but still wished for them neighborhoods that were safe, salaries that reflected their long hours, hope that a consistant government provides for taxes,money, safety etc..
No about of warm weather and sunny skies could overshadow that.
I go back to visit next month and will soak up the people that smile at me on the street downtown because they know my face, or that say good afternoon only after looking at their watch to make sure what time of day it is, will enjoy it from the vacationers eyes...that dont see it from the living perspective. There just long enough to see the young men washing cars in government parking as "quaint", good ole day living.... as opposed to frustrating, as this is their livlihood, their limited options for careers, opportunity... hope until another brother dies to gunfire.
Amen to the part about "just sucking it up". That part, I could not get over.
Great post - I am glad that my family was not alone.
I respect the posters for their honesty about not acculturating to the VI culture. I wanted to point out that people from the Caribbean, including the VI, living in the US, have their share of stories about the US mainland that can be just as critical.
I was born and raised in STX and have lived in the US, Europe, and Japan. Throughout my travels, I have come to appreciate similarities and differences. In terms of culture and one's way of life, we can all be ethnocentric and believe that our culture is more positive or the ideal. We all measure our experiences with cultural filters. For instance, where mainlanders may see efficiencies in the US, an individual from a different culture may see deficiencies in the hurried and sometimes individualistic culture.
Like many mainlanders who return to the US, I must be honest, I have come to appreciate my culture even more from living abroad. There truly is no place like home.
Rudeness, racism, poor customer service, fraud, rogue or corrupt police officers, etc.............ALL these are UNacceptable in ANY culture (and community) including the VI. No one should have to '.....acculturate' to these elements any where. I acknowledge that I'm a part time VI resident. Each time I leave the VI its a bittersweet departure. There is no excuse to maintain and - what I perceive - cultivate bad behavior in any culture including VI. Low income, high income, black, white, West Indian, native or no - - - there is no excuse for bad behavior. And, shame on anyone who rationalize that certain groups in VI society or culture are some how 'excused' or proactively 'forgiven'. No one gets a free pass for being unkind to their neighbor or a stranger.
I do get tired but I wake up every morning and muster a kind attitude again in my heart and endeavor to spread a little around with everyone I meet. Of course, I am only a Part-timer - that's still on the hook.
Johnny cake... I agree. Thank you for the reminder that it is through a lens that we see and experience the world around us. I tried to keep this in mind too when on island and would try to take myself out of the expectations my own culture had instilled in me and to experience from another standpoint. This did help to acculturate to some degree.
I am grateful to have gotten to experience another culture and broaden my experience of the world and I did see that I am limited by the ethnocentric pull. And now that I have come to understand that, and am back in my comfort zone (yes, there is no place like home) I can appreciate more of my experience, and BEST OF ALL... be excited to go visit a place I couldnt wait to leave.
Could I ask who jumped on Whitebrunette? Why are so many getting so defensive about not liking it living in the VI? We get it. You hated living here & are thrilled to go back to the States. That's fine & it's also why it's constantly said over & over again on this forum that living here is not for everyone. I'm glad you're back in your comfort zone & I'm glad some still like to visit.
But there are tons of us who ARE happy here & we aren't lying about & speaking for myself, I certainly can go live anywhere I choose. I choose to live here. We don't hide what it's like. What's in it for us to do that? There are bugs, rats, iguanas, lizards (who eat tons of bugs & my suggestion is to name them if they move in with you). This is the tropics. Extended PMV's are important for those not accustomed to living anywhere in the Caribbean but even that isn't enough in some cases. Tons of people left after Hurricane Marilyn.
I can't speak for STJ or STX but driving here, while "different" also has very courteous drivers. Sit on a side street in the States & you can turn grey waiting for someone to let you out into traffic. Someone waves you in here almost immediately.
There's no disgrace in not loving living in the VI & by the same token, it doesn't make one insane if one does.
The original question is about racism in the VI. So we are each describing our experiences to someone who is doing their research on a possible move to the VI. Simply stating that some like it some don't, isn't very helpful. I am glad that you have a full understanding and that is what we are trying to relate to others. I am happy for anyone that finds a place to call home and be happy. For people who move to the VI, many leave behind friends and relatives that have strong feelings of jealousy or misunderstandings and it does tend to make one feel guilty about not being happy after having gone thru so much to move to a place that they thought would be 'home' and make them happy. It is a paradox and when you feel miserable in a place many call 'paradise', you tend to think you are crazy. It isn't so easy to see or understand when a person finds themselves in that situation. Anyway, contribute if you can, but don't put people down for posting their own experiences as it really does help, negative or positive. That is the purpose of this forum.
And you contribute if you can & don't put down those of us with different experiences who do live here & enjoy it. I didn't see anyone putting down those who left because the VI wasn't their thing. There was a hint in their posts that we were all conspiring to lie about our experiences & how WE find life here. That's not the case at all. There would be no point to doing that.
I know the original post was about racial harmony & I posted my experiences. Maybe one gets back what one puts out, even unconsciously? Or more likely, one has to have a tough skin & stick it out & see how things change. Remember I mentioned about the "testing?" At work it was almost like hazing because it was assumed I wouldn't stick around. I did. And all that is JMHO.
An old bumper sticker says:
if your not mad your not paying attention.
I think that saying could loosely apply here:
If your happy in the VI your not paying attention.
IE, you are rich, have a drink in your hand and not having to dealing with it all.
I also think posters here that defend the vi so diligently are people who have businesses here.
realistate or investors. Thus Bias. Or the defenders are the other way. The escapist. People who sleep in a cheap sail boat and avoid as much responsibilities as possible.
I think the biggest shame of the island is the unrecognised potential. The rudeness the litter the neglect the corrupt, the crime...all with the back drop of a beautiful blue water.
The vi needs a strong leader. That behaves ethically and fairly with a vision. Not necessarily to become americanized just civilized.
This place could be great. Now, well I don't want my parents to visit; I'm ashamed of where I live.
Relocator beware. Currently there is no paradise here. Just pistol whippings and begging for half assed service etc etc. like whitebrunette so passionately and, in my book, accurately stated.
To thine own self be true.
Be well folks.