Racism in St Thomas  


Barbara
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 Barbara
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It is a sad day for me to have to address this topic, however, this board was extremely helpful to me to put together my move, and I feel I must provide some feed back. The island of St Thomas is extremely racist. I am white and abhor racism of all kinds. I married a black man in 1971. I respect and admire black people.

Recently I visited one of the Subway's sandwich restaurant's, the black man in front of me ordered exactly the same thing I did. The black women waiting on him reached straight behind her and gave him his bread. When I asked for the same bread she bent down and took mine off a rack almost on the floor. Mine was stale and went in the garbage.

I recently went to one of the carnival events. I had been warned the event here is racist and to be careful. I went to the food fare and was glared at by most of the black vendors and unable to get waited on to get something to eat. I so wanted to go to carnival and party and enjoy the celebration. I sat home and skipped the rest of it.

I work for a property management company. A white women who owns a business here was moving into one of our commercial properties. A group of black men, hanging around called her a white bitch and, she was told she would be murdered if they ever saw her again. She refused to move to the property.

I am glared at, and treated rudely by a large % of the black people on the island.

I have lived here over 7 months now. I love it and will stay. Racism is a reality down here, so if you can live with it no matter what color your skin is come on down.

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jewel wrenn
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Welcome to America- this happens to black people all the time on the mainland.

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darrelj1984
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I DONT WANNA HEAR THAT BULLSHIT NO IT DOES NOT HAPPEN TO BLACK PEOPLE IN THE MAINLAND ALL THE TIME I WAS DENIED WATER TODAY IN DOWNTOWN CHARLOTTE AMARLIE ST.THOMAS AND I EVEN OFFERED TO PAY FOR IT AND SAME RACIST RESULTS THESE RACIST WHITE PEOPLE THINK THEY CAN COME TO THE USVI AND GET AWAY WITH THAT BULLSHIT AND HAVE IT THERE WAY BECAUSE I LIVED IN MANY SOUTHERN STATES BEFORE AND WAS NEVER DENIED WATER OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT EVEN BY PEOPLE THAT MAY LOOK LIKE REDNECKS BUT THEY ARE ACTUALLY COOL  And this was at a bar and restaurant in downtown Charlotte Amalie I can't believe this if it was the kkk they would have given me water what has the VIRGIN islands become its way more racist than the united states mainland 

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speee1dy
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this happens to all people everywhere no matter the color 

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STT Resident
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I was inclined to read this and ignore it in the hopes that it would just "go away" but decided to put down my thoughts and comments for the benefit of prospective newcomers.

First, I'm an almost 60 year old single white female. St. Thomas has been my home for over 20 years.

Barbara, you've related two incidents of rudeness/"racism" which you have personally encountered and one relating to someone else. I'd say two incidences of rudeness in seven months is less than average - even though you go on to say that, "I am glared at, and treated rudely by a large % of the black people on the island."

Rudeness borne of ignorance is common here but I look upon it as just that - rudeness rather than racism. I couldn't even begin to count the number of times I've been called a white MF b**** and worse - always by strangers and often by young children (!) but the terminology is easy for the ignorant to use because they simply don't have any eloquence of speech or knowledge of language to put it any other way. Despite my cheery attitude and formal greetings, I'm treated at least once or twice a day during my shopping routine with a surly attitude. Nonetheless, I continue to say "please" and "thankyou" even if ignored because to react would be futile and fall upon deaf ears.

Of course there is racism here as much as there is racism everywhere. And there is also outright rudeness here, as there is almost everywhere. And there are ignorant hoodlums here as there are everywhere. So, if you take it all personally and develop an edge of paranoia, then you'll definitely have a problem.

Fitting into a new neighborhood and a different environment is a difficult transition wherever one goes. Getting used to "foreign" mores takes a while but if you're going to get your knickers in a twist at every perceived slight or outright demonstration of rudeness, then your fitting in and being happy will be a problem.

However, I do take exception to your labelling the rudeness as racism and I'm truly sorry that you feel the way that you do, even though you finish up your post by saying that,"I have lived here over 7 months now. I love it and will stay."

For the benefit of prospective newcomers, these are islands replete with history and some incredible people from all walks of life, of different creeds and colours. The Virgin Islands are a melting pot of diversity and culture. The best thing for anybody coming here is to invest some time in the community by doing volunteer work, joining organisations and seeking opportunities to better the islands. It's just as easy to be a part of the background community here and meet wonderful people as it is to NOT contribute your spare time and effort and harp about the daily rudeness.

Cheers, Barbara, and I hope that whatever time you spend here will be half as enjoyable as mine has been and continues to be!

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Anonymous
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I am both confused and shocked by the following posts on racism.
I am moving in the fall to stt. i have spent months on st. john and st. maarten and have never encountered more then some guy sucking his teeth at me.
I am also from a tourist resort which a large population where jamacian workers. most where very nice after you got to know them.
When someone wrote "welcome to america this happens all the time"
this also shocked me i have never experienced people swearing at others for no apparent reason.
It does make me think twice, i can't imagine people swearing at me or threatning me because i am different.
do any other people from the islands experience this?? if so how do you feel safe and deal with this?

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Steve
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With no small amount of trepidation, I'll put my 2 cents worth in on this subject.

Coming from Atlanta, I see racism all the time, and from both sides... from the camo-clad rednecks who I've had the displeasure of working with, talking like they just walked out of a clan meeting, to the psudo-gangsta kids who seem to idolize the MTV begotten images of violence, drugs, and money, to my own city government. Our last 4 Mayors have been black, and all have done awesome jobs (Andy Young brought us the 96 Olympics, and Jackson's name is now attached to our airport (the busiest in the world, thank you very much)), although we now have this affirmative action policy in place that smacks of racism and the Atlanta city government seems like a jobs program (thanks to Bill Campbell, the only shmuck in the bunch). But to be honest, the flair-ups are pretty rare, especially being the South, as it is.... the epicenter of the civil rights movement, so... I'll have to kindly disagree with Jewel Wren and the post above. Things like that DO NOT happen to black people all the time around here, and like I said... I live in Atlanta and not far from where King grew up. In the past.... I'm sure, but it's not like that now. I think we've come far enough along that things are actually changing for the better.

As to the situations down there? Hmmm... don't know, but I guess I'll find out, as I'm down on the 28th to STX. I tend to get along pretty well with most folks... black or white and love diversity, I don't intimidate easily, and I don't take a lot of shit, so.... I guess if I got a stale sandwich I'd send it back across the counter and tell them to make me another. If I wasn't happy with the second, I'd probably send it across the restaurant and they'd lose my business.... then I'd be making some complaints. You'd be amazed at the shit-storm you can create with a well worded letter to corporate about a franchise when it comes to something as touchy as racism, but then again... you're pushing a button.. playing the race card, and I hate THAT as much as I hate racism.

Anyway... just wanted to add my comment. Sorry for the language.

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Anonymous
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I have had an opportunity to travel much of the world and live in a lot of places so I have seen racism on a lot of levels. As a kid I lived in the Middle East and experienced life as a minority at a early age and saw racism on a daily basis especially directed towards the females in my family. I think it is a valuable experience for those of us who no matter what our race have been minorities.
I have been here on St. Thomas for 1yr now and have seen rare instances of racism. The worst that happens to me is being ignored or having a black person waited on before me eventhough I am next in line. I dont really get offended by the teeth sucking as I usually just chuckle and suck my teeth right back at them and insult them in several languages they dont understand. I think my life experiences have helped me here on the island as I am highly adaptable and get along with most anybody. I do travel back to the mainland a lot and feel that my experience as a minority here on the island makes me appreciate the states more and treat people better while I am back home. I do like the fact that I can express myself more on the mainland and if treated unfairly I will light someone up no matter what their skin color, where as on the island I still feel like a guest and go out of my way to be polite and talk my way out of uncomfortable situations. I just returned to St. Thomas yesterday from a mainland visit and I always feel like I need to get back into character when I step off the plane.
I would like to get to the point here on St. Thomas that when I feel I have been treated unfairly that I let the person know about it, but I am not at that comfort level yet. I still feel that I am a guest and need to learn more about my host and their culture before I start expressing myself. You will always experience rare cases of blatant racism wherever you live and that is caused by ignorance and unfortunately there are ignorant people no matter where you travel or live.

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YesterDaze
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Well, interesting. In my opinion, Racism, is everywhere in some form, so we need to work around it and let those people be. It is my experience (i lived on STX for a few years in the early to mid 90's) that the people tend to look unhappy or pissed, but are not doing this to you directly, it's just the way their expressions are. You may be "thinking" they are ignoring you or giving you a hard time, but they do that to everyone, not intentionally, but in general, it's just one of those "island" tings. When i first moved to STX, I would say that now i know what many blacks experienced as i was now a minority and they get preferential (sp) treatment, but guess what, it is a DIFFERENT world with different customs, expressions, attitudes, ways of doing business, views and outlooks. The reason a lot of us move move to the islands is too get away from the city crap...don't take it personally and work WITH the system, not against it. ACCEPT that they are not us and we are in their world and things work differently than in our world...most of the islanders are beautiful people willing to accomadate anyone, as long as YOU TREAT THEM WITH RESPECT!
By the way, i am moving back to STX in June and now look forward to their ways!

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LA
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I have to express another opinion on racism.I was born in Washington D.C. and experienced severe racial riots/discord.Not a mere piece of stale bread,more like my brothers stuffed in trash cans at school and rolled past the principals office.You had to take something to protect yourself at school or you wouldn't last a day.On the other end of the spectrum,I had the MOST WONDERFUL black nanny in the world.We were quite poor,but she was even poorer than we and helped out.I've lived where Spanish was the prime lingo(here in the states) and have met many people of many diverse races who felt as scared as I when violence was pointed towards others or themselves.If an initial coldness/alufeness is what someone calls full blown racism then,I will not even notice when I move to STT in Oct.I am NOT a people person either,but am never rude.When people get to know you are not there to shake up their way of living then you might just blend right in.Give the GOOD people in the world a chance.I beleive there are more GOOD than BAD people most places you go.My boyfriend is Haida Native American,there are ONLY 12,000 left on planet earth.Talk about a MINORITY!!!!!!!Have A Great Day.....

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Max
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Another 2 cents worth. My wife and I have lived in STT for about 2 years now, and have not seen much racism at all. We have seen our share of surly clerks, etc., but their rudeness seemed to extend to everyone - black and white. We are members of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, and are the only white members. We have been very well accepted, and have been invited to join the men's and women's groups. The ony direct discrimination story I've gotten first hand, is from a black friend of mine from Texas who has been here several years. He went to a local cleaners, and they refused to serve him because he was from the mainland! Like others have said, if you are pleasant, wish people Good Morning and Good Afternoon, and are open and honest with them, their nature will come out - most good, some bad.

Max

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sttanon
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I wouldn't say St. Thomas as a whole is racist and I lived there for 23 years until I moved to STX. 

That group of black men that said that, isnt exclusive to St Thomas, trash is trash and its not limited to a specific location.

Food Fair day is one of the last days to expect the norm, those vendors are crazed so interactions for that day should not be judged.

Can race be a issue in the islands ? Well yeah and no. Racism is a thing anywhere. 

You are new to the islands, I was always told when I got here that many people (white or black) wont give you the time of day until you've lived here a year. I would put a few suggestions out there that can make a world of difference based on my years of living here ...

  • In any interaction with people here be the first one to greet with a good morning/afternoon/etc. You would be amazed how far that goes, cannot stress that enough.
  • Realize that islanders see people come and go like a revolving door all the time and as a result can be standoffish which might come across as rude to someone newer to the island.
  • Many people get put off by the change of pace and the way that t'ings happen soon come. Learn to live with it, because the islands arent going to change. After awhile you learn how to plan around the pace of how long things take.
  • Be care about making statements about the way things "should" work here. This is easiest way to show you are new to the island and can cause no end of grief. This also can cause instant attitude from a local.

I am sorry that you have had some bad experiences but island life is different in the fact that you have to work a bit harder in the beginning to make a fit. Realize that we see people come and go all the time as a community , and while it may not be you others that have come and gone may not have been the nicest so we are a bit jaded...

I wish you good luck in your endevors and will say it does get better...

 

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East Ender
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sttanon: Did you notice that she was new in 2005? LOL People keep dredging up these old threads...

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sttanon
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Oopsie

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vicanuck
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The VI Consortium provoked a racism sh*t storm yesterday with their poorly researched, one-sided, race-baiting article about a property/unopened road dispute. The community's true colors sure came out loud and clear in the 700+ comments.

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Gator's Mom
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Posted by: vicanuck

The VI Consortium provoked a racism sh*t storm yesterday with their poorly researched, one-sided, race-baiting article about a property/unopened road dispute. The community's true colors sure came out loud and clear in the 700+ comments.

It's too bad the Daily News has set a daily online subscription rate equal to that of the NY Times. Not to disparage the VI Source, it would be nice to have another online news outlet that doesn't cost $365 a year.

The VI Consortium proves time and again to be the purveyor of race-baiting half truths guised as journalism.  Same with News 2 - did you catch that on the same story? That video's "reporter" actually said Caucasian when referring to white people. OMG

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kayanne
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Posted by: vicanuck

The VI Consortium provoked a racism sh*t storm yesterday with their poorly researched, one-sided, race-baiting article about a property/unopened road dispute. The community's true colors sure came out loud and clear in the 700+ comments.

Yes, it was a horrendously one-sided article that contained outright lies, according to one of the people in the article with whom I have spoken. But the vast majority of the commenters bought into it without question, posting comments about "whiteys" and "Make St Croix black again." It made feel ill, afraid, and quite unwelcome here. I hope down the road, VI Consortium reports the facts that are sure to come out in court, but I wouldn't put money on it.

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kayanne
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Posted by: vicanuck

The VI Consortium provoked a racism sh*t storm yesterday with their poorly researched, one-sided, race-baiting article about a property/unopened road dispute. The community's true colors sure came out loud and clear in the 700+ comments.

Yes, it was a horrendously one-sided article that contained outright lies, according to one of the people in the article with whom I have spoken. But the vast majority of the commenters bought into it without question, posting comments about "whiteys" and "Make St Croix black again." It made feel ill, afraid, and quite unwelcome here. I hope down the road, VI Consortium reports the facts that are sure to come out in court, but I wouldn't put money on it.

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speee1dy
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yes. they sure did. its also interesting they dont like gentrification but want open borders for the states . it was also interesting how worked up they got over that situation yet when a murder happens you are lucky to get 5 comments. 

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stcmike
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There is absolutely no excuse for racism of any kind. With that said I don't understand why if you felt slighted at Subway you didn't specifically ask for the "fresh" bread that was apparently given to the customer before your order. If they refuse to give you that bread than you should have taken your business to another vendor where you felt you were being given better service. I now live on the upper west side of manhattan and I am always amazed at how people willingly give their money to places of business that don't treat them with respect. I must say in general business owners and employees are very friendly and seem to respect their customers but its always a nightmare if you have to deal with local civil servants who know you have no other recourse but to deal with them. Bottom line don't get mad, let your pocketbook do your talking. Poor service means no business.

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singlefin
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You can’t look at this from the perspective of a “resident on the upper west side of Manhattan”

NYC has an almost limitless number of options for a consumer. The VI does not. There is one Ford dealer, one Kmart, one movie theater, etc... The key is to loose the NY attitude (whether your from NY or anywhere else). Treat people of every color, as you wish to be treated. And above all, have patience.

But more importantly, why are we adding to a post that started in 2005???

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