Beautiful Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022

Outrage over Eileene L. Parsons' ‘opinion’ on who is a Virgin Islander

Outrage over Eileene L. Parsons' ‘opinion’ on who is a Virgin Islander

Scores of persons born in the Virgin Islands (VI) or deemed to belong to the territory were left upset following statements by local icon Ms Eileene L. Parsons, OBE during a Virgin Islands Day, July 4, 2022, Panel Discussion held at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in Paraquita Bay, Tortola.

During the event entitled, “Virgin Islands Day: A Lasting Legacy Panel Discussion”, Ms Parsons was asked what does it mean to be a Virgin Islander, to which she replied, “These are my very personal opinion and I make absolutely no excuse for what I am going to say.”

Tracing parentage back three generations


“A Virgin Islander has to be able to trace his parentage back three generations of Virgin Islanders on both sides. The virtues or characteristics by which we were once known used to be good manners, friendliness, and kindness to each other and strangers within our gates. Children were mostly well behaved and the villages raised the children,” she added.

Ms Parsons response immediately angered several persons in the community who felt such a response had desecrated for many, their right at being called a Virgin Islander on a day created to celebrate the legacy of Virgin Islanders.

Personal views must remain personal - Kareem Nelson-Hull


Author and co-writer of the Territorial Song, Kareem Nelson-Hull in a social media post lambasted the former legislator for the statements.

“There has to come a point when your very personal views remain personal and private because the insolence of the statement will not rest well with me and people like me, regardless of how much I absolutely love whom you are.

‘Being a Virgin Islander starts with me and ends with me. I don’t need the validation, credentials nor birthright of my parents. Is I who born here and there’s nothing that anyone can do to undo that,” he said.

Nelson-Hull added that the sentiments of Ms Parsons are what cancel culture should cancel,“These sentiments are so outdated. Even Crandall’s change their building colour, it’s time for ayo to change ayo ways,” he added.

Author and Co-writer of the VI territorial song Kareem-Nelson Hull in a social media post lambasted the former legislator for the statements.


More users add to conversation


Another user, Sachkia Barnes in a Facebook past added, “I will be honest and say that I get nervous every time I see Ms Parsons on any platform. I remain grateful, and my life has been enriched by her ardent support of and for Virgin Islands' culture and heritage. But as far back as I know myself in the Virgin Islands, she's been a figure that constantly reminds many of us that we don't belong.”

“While my teenage mind tried to make sense and understand her very divisive words at my high school graduation, after 20-plus years, should I and thousands of others accept the continuation of those ideas? Ideas that have no basis in reality and ideas that threaten the productivity of the Virgin Islands and successive generations,” she said.

Definition of a Virgin Islander has changed - Bria A. Smith


Immediately following Ms Parsons’ response at the H. Lavity Stoutt College, former Miss BVI, Bria A. Smith said that for the majority of persons in her age group, they cannot trace their parentage on both sides, however, she questioned whether that means they are not Virgin Islanders.

“In this time that we are in, and I guess in this generation… we can rarely find persons who can trace themselves back to that group of persons, so to be able to say that [what Ms Parsons said] I can’t say that,” she added.

“The perspective of being a Virgin Islander has changed over the years, and I guess all of us now have to define or redefine what that looks like. Is it really the focus on tradition? Is it really now the focus on our values? Because if we focus too much on too many things, we have lost what it means to be a Virgin Islander,” Smith said.

She said like a soup, the VI must now clearly define what are the key ingredients to being Virgin Islanders, “we really have to understand what those things are and stamp it in, because as time goes on, some of the things are going to change and we are seeing that today,” Smith added.

Many other persons also shared their disagreement with Ms Parsons on social media.

Immediately following Mrs Parsons’ response at the H. Lavity Stoutt College, former Mrs BVI, Bria A. Smith said that for the majority of persons in her age group, they cannot trace their parentage on both sides, however, does that mean they are not Virgin islanders she lamented.

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