Posted by: Reginald Cyntje | March 30, 2010

My Story: The Virgin Islands Movement for Change

Many ask me “Do you take for granted the beauty that surrounds you in the Caribbean?” I reply, “many love it but it is hard to enjoy when you are struggling.”

I did not truly watch my first sunrise until I was 20. Why? Well, like many, I was caught up in the day-to-day of living. I can only imagine what others go through. My mother worked all the time. She worked overtime at her job. She worked to take care of extended family. She is considered the second mother to her younger siblings. She worked at home. I don’t remember my mother saying “Good night son, I’m going to bed.” She usually fell asleep sitting up working. She has been working since she was nine and was laid off from her job a year ago.

My aunt works a lot. She goes to work during the day then heads straight to her second job and works until 9pm. When she gets home, she cooks a delicious meal then starts the day again.

My father is a technician, electrician, engineer, radio announcer, carpenter, mechanic, etc, etc. He goes from one job to the next. I don’t think he has a day off.

There are numerous other people who work all the time. The cost of living keeps rising but the pay scales are not. I don’t think they get a chance to relax and watch the beautiful tropical sunrise or sunset. They don’t get a chance to challenge the political powers because they are just trying to keep their heads above water. They don’t get a chance to demonstrate because if they take time off, it means something will not be paid.

Do they benefit from the large sums of money passing through the Virgin Islands? No. Some families extend their homes to make room for relatives or rent to help with mortgage. Many find ways to survive, very few are living. I think their only request is for the powers that be to do their job and ensure their safety.

My family, my friends, my community love the Virgin Islands. They want less corruption. They want less idle hands roaming the streets. They want to feel safe in their homes in the middle of the day and at night. They want to feel safe driving down the street. They want to feel safe going out to get a drink.

One evening I was out late and when my father did not hear from me, he freaked out. When we finally spoke, he was terrified that something happened to me while I was out. He was worried about my young family. I’m 34 years old and my father was worried about me being on the streets of the Virgin Islands. I’ve lived in places like Boston, MA, NYC and Washington, DC and my father was worried about the streets of St. Thomas? That did something to me. That triggered something.

All the programs available to my sisters and me growing up kept us busy. My parents worked all the time. When my sisters and I came home from school, it was just us in the house. My parents would arrive three to four hours later sometimes more depending on work load. We were not rich nor middle class. We did not have the latest anything. Our parents struggled but we had community.

Before music, I played sports and danced. When I got into music, my time was consumed with practicing, performing and learning. There were distractions but I had role models.

As a kid, I had rage but I was taught effective ways to release anger. Teaching and personal experiences growing up showed me that there is a way to reach people. There is a way to inspire someone to be their best self. Not everyone roaming the street is hopeless. The human condition forces certain outcomes given the circumstances. Where would I be if I didn’t have family, friends and community to guide me?

This movement is about educating the uneducated, inspiring the uninspired, employing the unemployed. This movement is about allowing more people to see the beautiful sunrises and sunsets until they transition peacefully. This movement is about allowing people the breathing room to think so they can elect officials who will enforce the laws so more people can live life. This movement is about checks and balances. This movement is about providing hope and change. This movement is about our sons and daughters.

Whatever your political, religious, organizational affiliation, we have to work together. We have a common goal. Safety! We all have bad experiences we can talk about but I humbly think solutions far out weigh the plaguing issues.

The Virgin Islands are more than a tourist spot with great beaches. The Virgin Islands are more than a port for traders to make money. The Virgin Islands are a place where people live, love and learn. This movement is about the Virgin Islands.

The Virgin Islands Movement for Change…

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