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Queens Igniting Fire Ending Violence Against Women in the Virgin Islands

” Queen Mary, oh where you gon’ go burn?
Queen Mary oh where you gon’ go burn?
Don’t ask me nothin’ at all. Just give me the match and oil.
Bassin Jailhouse, ah there the money there.
Don’t ask me nothin’ at all. Just give me the match and trash.
We gon’ burn Bassin come down,
And when we reach the factory, we’ll burn am level down. “

Click on the you tube link or copy/paste it, to see fantabulous women from the Virgin Islands singing this song

This year my work has taken me around the world taking the pulse from women leading social justice movements in their respective countries from Camaroon, breast ironing to Puerto Rico, Queens are ending sexual assault .i celebrated the return of the sun, the summer solstice in Puerto Rico and the USVI and I spent last week in the Island of St. Criox where I got to present at the US Territory Summit on Violence Against Women and have come back truly honored and humbled to share this earth with such amazing women eradicating violence in this lifetime.

I have learned many things in the past two weeks but nothing as important as the two things I want to share in this blog post. 1. A Global love letter to sisterhood and 2. What the song above ” Queen Mary” did for me this summer 2014. When the women sang it during one of the workshops it sparked a revolutionary flame in me that I thought had burned out along time ago. What way to re-ignite the return of the flames of the sun in me. We are everywhere, women rising up, Queens in position of leadership given or chosen creating another sisterhood, giving out crowns to share royalty at a time when there is a war on women’s bodies, minds and spirits.

The song was an example of how women have fought back against colonization and oppression generations in the making. It made me think about the direct correlations between violence against women and colonization. The personal and collective stories that I heard from women living in America Samoa, Siapan, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands of personal trauma contextualized in historical violence mirrors and reflect how violence is a learned behavior of torturing, invading, raping, killing and colonizing not just countries but women’s bodies as well. In addition, the legacy of how women fought back during those times speaks to not just their role culturally but how they fight today.

“In 1878 four women on St. Croix, traditionally called “Queens” in Crucian tradition, organized a revolt known as “Fireburn” to demand all plantations pay better and repeal the Labor Act of 1849 that kept workers unequal with their counterparts on other Caribbean islands. These V.I. heroines were: Queen Mary Thomas, Queen Mathilde Macbean, Susanna “Bottom Belly” Abrahamson and Axeline “Queen Agnes” Salomon. For five days, much of the West End of the island burned. Women made up the majority of Crucian workers and were largely called “Queens” because of their ability to articulate the needs of the agricultural sugarcane workers on the plantations. The women were young. Queen Mathilda was in her mid to late teens at the time. The four queens were imprisoned in Denmark. But the labor laws were quickly reformed”.

There is a Queen Mary in all of us, a revolutionist, womanist, warrior spirit and goddess and I dedicate this love letter to my sisters on the frontlines rising up, uprising and burning down mountains crossing oceans and uniting us by song.

I see you, you are my sister!

I see you. I chose you. I choose you. We are scarred in similar ways. We are beautiful in unique ways. We are tied together by elastic golden threads that weave supportive cases around our hearts. We move far and wide with great gaps of time between our last goodbyes. But when we see each other the laughter that so naturally flows between us fills any space that time created.

Shared experience breeds all kinds of comedy, connection and re-lived trauma. Our histories are complex, our connection no less so. We carry the burden of every system we step in and out of. And yet we find our way into those sacred conversations that bleed into the wee hours of the night. We gather around kitchen, boardroom and cafeteria tables or any other commons we encounter. We scheme, we team, we inspire, we reignite and we see how starved we were for reflection. We revel in the comfort of friends.

I take the time to show my love to you through the time I dedicate to simply listening to the woes, the flows all the while witnessing your greatness. I am honored to be the audience to your show. I applaud, support, challenge and grow along side you. I am dedicated to those that share the same set of principles and I am dedicated to those in my community that might need a little extra.

I give what I have to give when I can give it. What I get in return is the opportunity to see the astonishing power that we have when we find common ground to stand on. Together we have the power to do anything. I wake up to this power. I build bridges to those who love me. I open the door to those that I love.
Taken from

much love to all you fantabulous women
may the fire keeping burning



As I was perusing through the GBV posts, I was drawn to yours, and immediately realized I listened to your interview with Delphine only yesterday! My heart agrees with yours ... there are a multitude of points I could highlight but will leave that for another time. Suffice it to say that I was happy to hear another being who reflects what I hold dear; we can all achieve wholeness when we scrape away the 'muck' to reveal our true, sparkly selves!

Thank you for empowering women to be their best selves.

Let us Hope together-
aka: Cali gal


I truly applaud your efforts there as these themes are worldwide of course. Educating and partnering with different groups helps get the word out.

As challenging as it is tell men we aren't a target, are equal, intelligent and worthy of better treatment.

Sherna Alexander's picture


What a truly beautiful and captivating post. It was truly a delight to read about your exploits and connection with women and groups.
May you continue, may we all join this journey of supporting our sisters around the globe.


Sherna Alexander Benjamin
Sister in Unity, Technology, Service, and Voice

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