On the fast track

When 300 people pack a room in the Virgin Islands, you know it must be important. There were that many or more at Monday’s information session on the new “fast track” process to apply for residency and belongership. Covering this story as a relative newcomer to the territory, it’s hard to fathom what it might be like to live here for 15 years or more and finally get the chance to grab at an opportunity like this. It’s no wonder that people are feeling excited and anxious. It’s also understandable that they are full of questions and eager to get everything done correctly to give themselves the best chance at being approved. The second the premier announced his plan at last week’s press conference, a Beaconite was receiving calls and texts from people asking her about the process, and so she feels a certain investment in it and a responsibility to help people out and ensure they receive correct information. That said, she also has to praise the government for holding meetings, setting up phone line and a social media page, and attempting to be transparent about a complicated process. And as for the motivations behind it? The premier himself acknowledged that he has been accused of angling for the votes of new belongers come election time, and perhaps he is. But all the Beaconite can say that it is possible to be self-serving while also doing the right thing. The process has yet to play out, and, as with anything, there are bound to be hiccups. But for all applicants’ sakes, she hopes they get the result they are hoping for.


The Buju show

A Beaconite is excited to see Buju Banton come to the Virgin Islands in what is being billed as the biggest social event ever to hit the territory. She hopes that the various government agencies will step up to get the island ready to host the approximately 8,000 people organisers are promising, and that the concert will be both an economic boon and a unifying event for residents. However, she was dismayed to find out about the artist’s history of homophobic lyrics, particularly one of his early songs calling for deadly violence against LGBT people. She is encouraged by the fact that he has since denounced this song, removing it from his catalogue and refraining from performing it since 2007. But still — 2007? She finds it shocking that only 12 years ago it was socially acceptable for a major star to stand so openly for discriminatory violence. She hopes that his about-face is a sign that more and more LGBT people in all parts of the world will be able to live and love freely without fear of persecution or retaliation from their communities.



A night out

A Beaconite was enjoying a night out on a recent Thursday, attending the opening of a night club with friends when a fight broke out outside and police arrived on the scene. In the passenger’s seat, she rode past the crowd and the police, hearing shouts and feeling the tension in the air. What if someone got arrested? What if they were in Magistrates’ Court the next day, where she goes on occasion during the week? This was the beginning of a story: What happened to get people riled up enough to begin a fight in the middle of the street? All it took was hanging out in the community.