Two months have gone by since Hurricanes Irma and Maria, rare Category 5 storms, slammed into the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, the devastation there has been widely overshadowed by places like Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, which were also heavily damaged by the storms.
In an effort to bring about more dialogue and change to the Caribbean area and its 76 percent Black population in the storms’ aftermath, Virgin Islands Rep. Stacey E. Plaskett recently debuted the documentary “Dear Everyone” at the U.S. Navy Memorial in northwest D.C. on Nov. 9.
“You have to put in context Katrina … which happened 12 years ago and they’re still recovering,” Plaskett said. “There are still unmet needs for the people of Louisiana based on Katrina and it is my assumption that as minorities, people of color, people that live outside of the U.S., in an area that does not have a vote for president, that those needs will be even more difficult to get.”
“But what I think is that this is a huge opportunity not just for the Virgin Islands or Puerto, but the entire Caribbean, to kind of rethink who we are.”
Produced by first-time millennial filmmaker Taroue Brooks, the film does a unique job of looking into the lives of everyday men and women, children, trade workers and health care specialists, whose facilities were hard-hit by the storms.
In addition to the film screening, during a followup question-and-answer segment, one participant delivered his personal encounter of the storm and overall perception of the film.
“I actually arrived from St. Thomas, back to the U.S. mainland Oct. 14, so I lived in all those storms and I remember being on the roof with no water,” the survivor said. “I remember nearly dying in two of those storms. … So I flew in from Miami just to see this film as a guest from the delegate. And quite frankly, I knew that after the storms, our story as a people would be very marketable and our pain a commodity. … I wrote in the New Times piece ‘The Americans that were forgotten,’ but I don’t think Americans ever knew us.
“I spoke to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and what confuses me as a Virgin Islander is that we’re in a time in America where we’re talking about ‘stay woke,’ Black consciousness, yet [Virgin Islanders] are in a place where Black people are the sole majority, 76 percent, and I haven’t heard the activists, I haven’t seen Black Lives Matter,” he said. “And so, I can’t critique any film, because our lives are more than just a film.”