During a recently held Virgin Islands Day ceremony held at the HLSCC auditorium, which is named in her honor. Former legislator Eileen L. Parsons OBM, who is popularly regarded as a Culture Icon stunned residents with what many are calling hurtful and disrespectful comments regarding who she thinks is considered a Virgin Islander.
Her remarks were a response to a question posed by the moderator on what exactly it means to be a Virgin Islander. Parsons prefaced her response by saying, “These are my personal opinions and I make absolutely no excuse for what I am going to say.
She then said, “A Virgin Islander has to be able to trace his parentage back three generations of Virgin Islanders on both sides.”
Her comments have since caused widespread anger and hurt among residents, with many calling her remarks disrespectful and distasteful.
Residents of all walks of life along with social media bloggers have voiced their concerns and are calling her comments a true sign of xenophobia.
Saskia Barnes, Cindy Rosan, Kareem Hull and Broderick Penn, just to name a few all spoke against the remarks and called for change.
BVI’s long history of Xenophobia
Former Education Minister and attorney, Myron V Walwyn, shared a post on his social media stating, “The strength of the Virgin Islands lie in its diversity.”
He furthered commented on a remark shared under the post says, “They (Parsons’ remarks) are a part of the xenophobia that we need to rid our country of.”
In response to the very same question, former Miss BVI another panelist at the forum, stated that we need to redefine what a Virgin Islands is, because some standards like the one Miss Parsons shared, no longer applied. She said, “In this time that we are in, and I guess in this generation that I am in as well, we can rarely find persons that can trace themselves back to that group of persons.”
She continued, “Though I can trace my heritage as far back as that, the majority of persons in my age group today cannot. So, the perspective of being a Virgin Islander has changed over the years and I think it has to – I guess all of us now – have to really define or redefine what that looks like.”