The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]
I, too, am tired of the hypocrisy, Mr. John. The hypocrisy of the self-righteous few Vincentians, who feel brave enough to step on their soapboxes every single time something global happens, and preach to the masses, to say that they are not allowed to have an opinion about what happens in the rest of the world — the same world that we are so much a part of. The same world, predominantly led by the self-proclaimed, and widely accepted as such superpower, the United States of America, on whom we rely for most of our imports, tourism, and even most of the food we consume daily.
Try this on for size. Let us play a game of What If?
What if I told you that we could be upset about the issues relating to the sexual assault allegations leveled against our prime minister over the past several years, AND be disgusted by the verbal sexually derogatory statements made by the President-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, at the same time?
What if I told you that the allegations of voting fraud spoken about by the opposition of SVG AND the blatant disregard for people’s basic rights spoken about by Mr. Trump can be both seen as a cause for concern?
What if I told you that WE the women of SVG KNOW that we live in a country where violence against women is a daily occurrence and sometimes we have to leave the country for our safety, WHILE ALSO KNOWING AT THE SAME TIME that Mr. Trump’s policies might result in us, or our aunts, or mothers or sisters being deported to a country where our stalkers/rapists/abusers walk freely on the street?
The policies in SVG are cause for concern; make no doubt about that. There is work to be done relating to mental health, juvenile justice, women’s safety, and the economy. You name it, and I can have a conversation about it. Those situations are not comparable to what is going on in the United States, which I dually can speak about. As a lawyer, you should know better than to speak in generalities and to raise arguments with flawed premises.
Do not clamber on to your high horse to call this country “a chicken back country”. At no point I’m sure have you felt like you did not belong to the country you were born in, nor did you ever wake up wondering what racial slurs would be hurled your way just because you and your neighbour have different skin tones.
I know Vincentians don’t care more about America than they do their own country. I saw the vitriol spewed during the past elections. I heard stories about households divided because of party colours. I remember my mother specifically choosing not to wear particular colours because of what they could signify. I saw the name calling on Facebook, and I saw the clashes that occurred in the streets of Kingstown. Vincentians cared so much that they took to the streets in protest. The same way the Americans are doing right now. Or am I not allowed to make comparisons? Being a citizen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who is now residing in the United States, be it only for a stint, I do believe that I have seen enough to offer a reasoned opinion on the affairs of both nations.
People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, please do not think that you are not entitled to an opinion about what just happened in the United States. What happens in the U.S.A affects all of us. In fact, from the late 1920s to today, the phrase “When America sneezes, the world catches cold” could be heard echoing around the globe. We are not immune by any means. There are already so many Vincentians living illegally in the city of New York alone, if indeed the immigration policies Trump spoke of were to be immediately enacted, we would have a different housing crisis on our hands. Let us not forget that our economy here in SVG gobbles up remittances like a starving man does food. Many of us rely monthly on the money sent down by relatives living abroad illegally because without it, bills remain unpaid and children are forced to stay away from school. Are we to ignore the fact that the EC dollar is latched on to the U.S dollar and has been since July 1976? Those barrels that we so gleefully await at Christmas from abroad, who is going to fill them when our relatives get deported? Are you still of the opinion that what happens in the USA is of no concern to us? I hope not.
You know what else we get to have an opinion on, Mr. John? The education policy of the USA. Mr. Trump gave an interview about cutting back the number of J-1 visas. The same visa that permits me to pursue my master’s degree on. The same visa that a countless number of Vincentian scholars apply for in order to pursue their bachelor’s or master’s degree in the U.S.A. Allow me to explain as simply as possible. If the J-1 visas are discontinued, the hopes of many young scholars of having the opportunity to study abroad in the next few years would be dashed because of the diminishing opportunity for international students to study at universities in the United States. And with Britain blatantly stating their obvious dislike for non-nationals – well, I hope I don’t need to spell it out for you any further. WE also get to have an opinion about that Mr. John.
Another reallllly big issue we get to have an opinion on Mr. John, is the one related to America’s climate change. As it stands, when America shits, we wipe, and it has never been clearer that this is so, than when it comes to issues of climate change. Mr. Trump does not believe in climate change. He does not feel the insane Caribbean heat, he does not snorkel in our dying reefs, he does not see the rainfall at odd times, and the droughts that have been affecting our crops for the past several years. It has been rumoured for years that he holds real estate on a particular Grenadines isle, but how often has he visited these shores, especially in recent years? We LIVE here. We don’t have the luxury of debating whether or not climate change exists. We are living in a changed climate — a changing climate. But the decisions made by the elite few, the toxins their factories emit, the pollutants that are released in seas and oceans, affect the many who live in third world countries. I GET TO HAVE AN OPINION ON THAT Mr. John; whether you agree or not.
There are also many Vincentians legally living, working and studying in the United States; children of people who reside in SVG. Frighteningly, for the most part, we Vincentians in the USA predominantly pass for African American citizens. The racists who have been emboldened by Trump’s campaign never stop to ask if we are Vincentians or African Americans before they spew their bile. They see our skin tone, and assume that we are black American citizens and act and speak to us accordingly. As a student currently dealing with that type of rhetoric simply because of my skin colour, and on account of the scholarship that I was awarded to pursue studies here, in order to COME BACK to offer my assistance towards the state of mental health affairs in MY country, I DEFINITELY get to have an opinion on THAT, Mr. John; and so do my parents, my siblings, and any other holder of a Vincentian passport who has concerns for my safety and well-being.
But what if I told you, I could feel all these things relating to the outcome of the USA’s elections, and still call home, and message friends, and implore people to be careful, AND mourn the loss of two young lives as a result of several hours of rainfall, ALL AT THE SAME TIME? Would you believe me?
I don’t know about you Mr. John, but I personally know how to multitask.
Interestingly, I am not surprised at the slant you took. Unfortunately, for a select few within SVG, everything bad and negative degenerates to a myopic view – as a FB friend queried: How come they haven’t blamed Ralph yet for the American election results? The reality of the American election is more than spouting the rhetoric that informed and underpinned our elections in SVG. And we can have an opinion on both.
Rehabilitation therapist and mental health counsellor
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].