Opinion: Brilliant

POSTED: 12/28/12 1:03 PM

It is a pity that the champion of the indigenous St. Maarteners, drs. Leopold James, keeps using the term cultural genocide by substitution. It somehow overshadows the message he wants to communicate. That his grassroots movement has now named five persons of the year – Governor Holiday, dancer Nicole de Weever, letter-writer Todd Peterson, St. Martintalk’s Christopher Emmanuel and radio-host Stephane de Robert – is a great initiative, but how many of them want to be associated with a term like cultural genocide?

We have had some discussions with James about his objectives and they are quite parallel to what this newspaper stands for: we want the best for our community, but we disagree about the best way to bring this about.

The grassroots movement has always championed the St. Maarteners first mantra. We keep saying that this is the wrong approach. Instead of claiming positions based on origin, positions ought to be claimed based on skills. If St. Maarteners don’t have those skills, we’ll have to make sure that they get them.

There is of course one form of positive discrimination that we would support: if two candidates apply for a job – a foreigner and a St. Maartener – and they have the same qualifications, that job ought to go to the local candidate. If the candidates are close, but the foreigner is better there is something to be said for a buddy-system whereby the local candidate is brought up to par in a period of, say, three years.

Life is all about choices and those choices have consequences. There are many smart people on this island and they certainly are not all foreigners. We have enough local talent to make us proud.

Why then is there this perception of, in the terms of Leopold James cultural genocide by substitution? It somehow smells of an inferiority complex. Why should locals even want to go there? We have brilliant musicians like the Mighty Dow, brilliant dancers like Nicole de Weever and Clara Reyes, brilliant writers like Lasana Sekou. The examples of success are there but none of these artists received its achievements on a silver platter. They had to work for it and they still have to work for it. there is nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, this ought to be the example for many others: to demand the best of themselves.

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