“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
I believe that in order for any institution (whether it is the church, your marriage, the country, the workforce) to be successful, it requires unity. However, unity should not be one sided. It must involve the coming together of all groups and not one set of people.
I grew up on the island of South Caicos, Turks and Caicos and while we had our differences, I felt we were living in harmony for the most part among the locals and expatriates. I don’t know if it is because we did not have much and we needed each other but I do know the way we are living today is not how we lived when I grew up.
The Turks and Caicos Islands have now transformed and is considered a melting pot of over 91 nationalities. There is so much division in our country. Division among locals and division among locals and expatriates.
Every year there is a clarion call for us to unite especially after an election is held and then during National Heroes’ Day (now called JAGS day). However, the clarion call this year particularly seems to be one-sided. The call is for Turks and Caicos Islanders to embrace and unite with non-Turks and Caicos Islanders.
I agree that the stability of our country depends on the unity of the people but everybody needs to come together. While it is true that there are some Turks and Caicos Islanders who have an issue with non-Turks and Caicos Islanders, there are many non-Turks and Caicos Islanders who also have an issue with us. Therefore, this point must not be overlooked.
The Turks and Caicos Islander Point of view
Turks and Caicos Islanders used to embrace and accept everyone that came to our country to a point where we put non Turks and Caicos Islanders above Turks and Caicos Islanders. Except for the Haitians, we felt that other nationalities were superior to us. As our country started to develop and many of us started to become educated and acquire material possessions, our eyes begin to open and we realize that nobody is better than us. We started speaking out for our rights and then we are labelled that we do not like foreigners. Do you know how many of us are being treated like foreigners in our own country? Do you know the struggle we face trying to get a job in our own country? Do you know the struggle that we face trying to grow our business with the support of non-Turks and Caicos Islanders? Do you know the amount of times we get rejected and are replaced by non-Turks and Caicos Islanders who are less qualified than us? Do you know Turks and Caicos Islanders are heavily supporting non Turks and Caicos Islanders business more than their own? Do you know that many non-Turks and Caicos Islanders do not care about us as Turks and Caicos Islanders? A lot of them are here to get what they want. They do not assimilate with us. They stick with their own. Turks and Caicos Islanders are outnumbered and it seems that non Turks and Caicos Islanders have more rights than Turks and Caicos Islanders. Because of these aforementioned issues, Turks and Caicos Islanders have a hard time uniting with others.
The Non Turks and Caicos Islander Perspective
There are many non-Turks and Caicos Islanders who feel that the citizens are xenophobic and that we abuse our rights as citizens to interfere and threaten their immigration status. They also feel that some Turks and Caicos Islanders are lazy and have a sense of entitlement even if they do not qualify for the position. They also feel that we do not mingle with them and they are being taken advantage of. They are always reminded that they are ‘foreigners”. They feel they have no voice especially in the work force. They feel their opinions do not matter. They are reminded if they do not like it, they can leave Turks and Caicos. Some non Turks and Caicos Islanders feel that some Turks and Caicos Islanders feel that they do not care about their jobs and that they are only here for the money.
Some say they do not feel welcome and unappreciated so they resort and keep company with their own nationality. In other words, they feel more comfortable with their own.
I challenge those in authority to challenge the non-Turks and Caicos Islanders to unite with Turks and Caicos Islanders. Tell them to support our businesses. Tell them to give us a chance. Tell them to come and mingle with us at our church. Tell them to live among us. Many of us have some nice apartments and houses but they will find excuses as to why they will not live in our areas. Tell them to assimilate and become a part of our culture rather than them forcing their culture on us.
I am also challenging the Turks and Caicos Islanders to respect those individuals who are not from here and learn to treat them well. The truth is, our country will continue to grow and people will continue to migrate here for a better living and so we will continue to be outnumbered.
I know this is a sensitive issue but we have to stop looking at issues from one side and learn to put ourselves in the position of others. I know many people are manipulating what JAGS meant about unity but JAGS focused was on the citizens becoming together as one. It is true that our population matrix has changed and we must learn to live in harmony. However, no one should act as if the unity issue is purely from a Turks and Caicos Islander perspective. Discrimination, prejudice and racism are prevalent in this country and until these issues are addressed, we will continue to be divided.