Cultural engagement and cultural integration between ethnic and racial groups is no longer optional for these Virgin Islands: It is necessary. Looking afar, global social change shows that populism and nationalism are no longer sustainable. Societies that refuse to harmonise various cultures within their walls and borders will never have peace.
Make no mistake. A look into recent history shows how countries in the West failed to understand the vast changes to their societies that unmitigated migration would bring. Had countries factored culture into their migration policies, there would not be the level of hostility on the streets of the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe towards migrants being experienced this 2019.
The simple truth is that migrants change the social and community dynamic and fabric — most times for the better.
However, it is crucial to understand the impact migrants and large-scale migration have on communities. Migration and citizenship will always be the most contentious matter to residents of a country or territory. That is why it is no surprise that the VI government’s recent citizenship amnesty proposal was greeted by outcry from a subsection of the community.
In the UK of the late 1970s, after the large-scale migration from Jamaica and the Caribbean that started in the 1950s, a second large-scale migration began from Pakistan and the Middle East.
The previous migration from the Caribbean unleashed a backlash against these black migrants that was led by Enoch Powell, a powerful intellectual and politician, much the same way Nigel Farage views Brexit as a reaction against Eastern European and African migration into the UK.
However, many black migrants to the UK adopted the UK culture and enriched the local culture through music, cuisine and a Caribbean way of life that was friendly to the white UK culture. Eventually, black West Indians became very much part of the UK social and cultural fabric.
On the other hand, the Asian and Islamist culture was largely separatist. This was a culture that preferred to remain within its shell and religion. Eventually, it changed the demography and culture of vast areas of large UK cities. And when the Islamist terror threat manifested in the late 1990s, some of the young adherents to Sharia and Jihad were born in London and had no hesitation planting bombs on the underground and on buses or blowing themselves up in public areas, destroying the lives of scores of Britons.
The simple fact is that cultural integration and engagement across racial divides and ethnicities are no longer optional in a highly interconnected world that is growing smaller as globalisation removes borders and trading barriers.
In racially homogeneous societies such as Scandinavian states, where the local culture is overwhelmingly dominant, there is no real issue with cultural integration, and the dominant social type is unassailable.
However, when there is large-scale migration such as in the VI, cultural integration becomes necessary to promote peace and harmony.
Cultural and racial separation simply will not work in this territory. Those who believe they can get away with social separation are ultimately deceived.
The answer to community harmony rests in social engagement and cultural integration between various races and ethnic groups.
Where there is refusal to culturally integrate, relations between the various social groups simply deteriorate into unpleasantness.
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