Beautiful Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Mar 21, 2023

'Stop this I am born here’ talk- Businessman & Author Don M. Martin

Pioneer businessman in the textile menswear industry and author Mr Don M. Martin, who has strong roots in the [British] Virgin Islands (VI), has blasted the popular discriminatory “who from here or not from here” talk that has been ripping through the fabric of the Virgin Islands for quite some time, adding that he will be strongly advocating against such behaviour of disunity.

Mr Martin was at the time addressing a full house at the Rotary Club of Central Tortola’s dinner meeting on the upper flat of Pusser’s in Road Town, Tortola on Thursday, September 1, 2022.

“Stop this I am born here, who is born there, yada yada. Who really cares?

“Until we as a race understand that we need to be together instead of all this being apart we will never truly understand the reason why we are all here and living on this beautiful planet, this beautiful world,” Guest speaker Mr Martin stated.

‘Black Man White Industry’

Martin’s recently published book entitled ‘Black Man White Industry: My Journey through the men’s fashion world, is a story of a young black man arriving in an industry by accident in 1975, straight out of high school, and breaking all barriers.

It is described as a riveting story of Martin bonding with his white counterparts in the textile menswear business and tells how he became the only black man in the United States to form his own textile corporation.

While one might have expected the story to chronicle experiences on racism, systemic oppression and other related topics, Mr Martin previously told Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) his journey was quite the opposite.

“There’s nothing negative about… it’s a very simple and it’s a story about me and me traveling the world… and I had a tremendous following in the US in the south where racism was supposed to be very rampant and quite frankly, I never received it,” he added.

‘I see a lot of disturbing things’- Martin

Addressing Rotarians and invited guests on Thursday, Mr Martin said he has observed some discriminatory practices in the territory and urged its people to learn to live to work together in peace and harmony.

“I going to say one thing here and this may not be popular, but I am going to say it anyway. I am not a person that is concerned about what is popular or what’s not, I am concerned about what I think is right and what’s wrong.

“Here in the BVI and I have been here for about three years now, I live here half the time, and I must say that I have seen some things here that disturbs me among the people of the BVI, the people that live here, I see a lot of disturbing things. I don’t understand…In America I always preached about togetherness among the races and here I see a lot of people apart among the races and that disturbs me and the one thing I do understand is that when the slave ships came back in the 1700s and they dropped us off on these islands, my forefathers were dropped off here, my foremothers were dropped off here. They could have been dropped off on any island; Grenada, Antigua, it could have been any of those places.”

‘Caribbean as a people could be a force’

It was at that juncture Mr Martin called out the ‘who from here talk’ among Caribbean people in the Virgin Islands.

“The thing that disturbs me a little bit, it seems to be a distinction of which island we are from, and I think that we need to stop that, I really do.

“I think the Caribbean as a people could be a force if there is more togetherness among us and I think this is one thing I am going to be strongly advocating. I don’t like separation of people; I don’t like separation of humans.”

Mr Martin emphasised that the people of the VI need to get together as human beings and understand each other, including that their cultures are very similar.

“If I can say that black and white can live together, how can’t black and black live together? I will be a total hypocrite…. We have a lot of work to do in terms of working together and we can work together.”

The successful businessman and author, whose father is from Luck Hill, Tortola and his mom from North Sound, Virgin Gorda, said it is known worldwide that the seismic change in society and history was kind to the Virgin Islands.

“At this juncture, many, many years ago, my grandparents in Virgin Gorda couldn’t make a living here, so they had to go to different places … because there was nothing here for them to do.”

He said the VI now thrives economically, including because of the US dollar, but its fortunes could change suddenly.

“So I think that we all need to work together a bit more,” Mr Martin emphasised.


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