“No University has faced what UVI has encountered in the last two weeks. We could not have imagined that our two beautiful campuses would be severely harmed by two catastrophic events that attempted to take away the dreams of our students. Yet it is in the face of unimaginable destructions and challenges that we must imagine a future that embraces and exceeds our dreams. UVI will not only rise again, but it will be more creative, profound, resilient and prosperous than it was before, or than we ever imagined.”– UVI President David Hall 1.
After hurricanes Irma and Maria, the University of Virgin Islands is trying to raise almost $1,000,000 to rebuild their campuses and reimagine possibilities for their students, staff, and beyond. Sign, share, and donate to help SOSOADAE raise the profile of this issue. 2.
The truth is, we have two crises in the US Caribbean post hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The USVI is a close neighbour to Puerto Rico. Their colleges share an athletic league. So why haven’t we heard about the suffering of USVI Americans in our outrage over US Caribbean hurricane relief?
Instead of raising the plight of US Virgin Islanders with Puerto Rico, the media has given us what can only be understood as anti-Black micro-aggressive comparisons to the US disaster response in Haiti 3. after the 2010 quake and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, in an effort to make the national response in Puerto Rico feel like, not only a question of race but a question intended to challenge the premise of #BlackLivesMatter.
Not only is this an attack against non-Americans in need of US disaster relief, anywhere, Americans in neighbouring USVI, somehow did not serve the purpose of this graphic — That aside, it might be illuminating to see numbers relevant to the US disaster response to Haiti after Hurricane Maria included in this model.
The sad irony is that in the wake of this disaster response crisis neither Puerto Rican relief activists, national progressive leadership, nor the media in general have raised the plight of the US Virgin Islands in their hurricane relief narratives, despite knowing that the USVI is in a situation as dire, if not worse, than that of PR.
At a recent press event for PR relief, I had the opportunity to speak with Rep. Raúl Grijalva, longtime AZ congressional district three representative and respected member and co-chairof the Congressional Progressive Caucus,4 in order to raise the question of why post-Maria hurricane relief in the US Caribbean is a discussion of Puerto Rico alone and not Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. He suggested that the matter rests with Black local and national leadership in raising the profile of the USVI issue.
If this is true, is unfortunate given that Black leadership raises the profile of so many underrepresented populations, regardless of race, while raising their own.
— But if this is true, and Black leadership, in helping others, refuses to acknowledge and raise the plight of USVI, we at SOSOADAE desire to disrupt this quiet process.
In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the University of the Virgin Islands sustained significant damage, and their classes are suspended indefinitely, but this isn’t how they intend for their story to end. The institution is presently trying to raise close to $1,000,000 to feed, clothe, and house students and staff in recovery and rebuild their campuses so classes can resume for students and normalcy for faculty and staff.
At the time of this post, UVI has raised around $16,500.00. We believe that given the voice raised for Puerto Rico, UVI Rise Relief could twice exceed its goal.
Help SOSOADAE raise the profile of this issue — Let’s end the silence and let US Virgin Islanders know that they are not forgotten as Americans.
There are Black Puerto Ricans, and indeed a lot of African ancestry on the island, but for some perspective, the University of Virgin Islands (shown above, left and middle) is the USVI’s only university, and it is also an HBCU (Historically Black College and University), the only HBCU in the US Caribbean.5,6
Here’s how you can help:
1. Text 2017Irma14 to 71777 and make a 100% tax deductible donation to the UVI Rise Relief Fund.
2. Make an online donation after the link with the option to become a “fundraiser” and set your own funding goal to help out UVI.
** If the donation links do not work, please copy and paste this link to your browser: https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/2017IRMA/SOSOADAEL3C
USVI in the media, post Irma and Maria:
- People: Victims of Hurricane Irma in the US Virgin Islands: Don’t forget us.https://people.com/human-interest/victims-of-hurricane-irma-in-the-u-s-virgin-islands-dont-forget-us/amp/
- After Hurricane Irma, Bloomberg heads to devastated US Virgin Islands to raise awareness. https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/video/after-hurricane-irma-bloomberg-heads-to-devastated-u-s-virgin-islands-to-raise-awareness-1048419395655
- NYT – In the Virgin Islands, Hurricane Maria drowned what Irma didn’t destroy. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/us/hurricane-maria-virgin-islands.html
- UVI President David Hall’s statement after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. http://www.uvi.edu/administration/about-uvi/hurricane_irma_maria_recovery.aspx
- SOSOADAE stands with USVI https://howtososoadae.com/standforusvi/
- Washington Post compares PR disaster response to 2010 Haitian earthquake https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/investigations/us-responded-to-haiti-quake-more-forcefully-than-to-puerto-rico-disaster/2017/09/28/74fe9c02-a465-11e7-8cfe-d5b912fabc99_story.html
- Congressman Raúl Grijalva. https://grijalva.house.gov/3rd-district/
- UVI Photo Tour. http://www.uvi.edu/administration/about-uvi/photo_tours/default.aspx
- The US Virgin Islands was like stepping on another planet. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/14/550940009/the-virgin-islands-after-irma-it-was-like-stepping-onto-another-planet
- Change.org / US Virgin Islands, You are not forgotten. We support the UVI Rise Relief Fund https://www.change.org/p/us-virgin-islands-you-are-not-forgotten-we-support-uvi-rise-relief
- MoveOn.org / Tell Congress to Raise the Profile of US Virgin Islands Hurricane Relief http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/tell-congress-to-raise-1?source=c.em&r_by=18845055