Commissioner Joseph Boschulte, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, CULTURE

Power In Representation: Celebrating Black Culture In The U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands stands out as a unique destination, blending a tapestry of cultures across its three main islands.

Written by U.S. Virgin Island Commissioner Joseph Boschulte

The U.S. Virgin Islands stands out as a unique destination, blending a tapestry of cultures across its three main islands. Influences from Taino, Amerindian, Spanish, Dutch, African, Caribbean, and American heritage create a rich and diverse atmosphere. While the territory has a long history of hosting Black travelers, we are now witnessing a growing trend wherein many destinations are beginning to appreciate the importance of showcasing their distinctive cultural identity to attract visitors.

The current landscape for Black travelers in the U.S. Virgin Islands reflects a journey of growth and empowerment. More and more members of the African diaspora recognize the beauty and historical significance of the U.S. Virgin Islands and are choosing to explore and experience its rich culture. From lively carnival celebrations to music and food festivals, these travelers contribute to the islands’ local economy, supporting businesses and adding unique perspectives to the cultural panorama.

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Embracing a variety of perspectives in travel representation is important because it enables the sharing and acceptance of diverse experiences. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, we believe that if you want to encourage diversity in those who visit, your marketing should authentically capture the essence of the experience. We actively feature the people living on our islands, who represent the wide range of our cultural makeup. When Afro-Caribbean culture is celebrated and represented in destinations like the U.S. Virgin Islands, it sends a powerful message of inclusivity and equality. It gives travelers of color a sense of belonging and pride while educating and inspiring others. In our commitment to creating a welcoming environment, we actively promote the exploration and appreciation of Black culture through our cultural exchange programs. We invite musicians and artists from around the world to share their work during festivals and events, creating a space for global connectivity.

Our carnival celebrations are the heartbeat of our culture. With three annual festivals, we begin with St. Croix’s Crucian Christmas Festival, a month-long celebration featuring parades, music, and cultural performances. Come April, St. Thomas takes center stage, hosting our biggest carnival, a vibrant showcase in the capital city where day and night events bring Caribbean culture to life through dance, costumes and music. The finale arrives in July on St. John during the island’s celebration, honoring the enduring spirit of the Afro-Caribbean and indigenous natives as we commemorate the emancipation of slaves in the Virgin Islands.

More than just America’s paradise, we welcome Black travelers from all over to fall naturally in rhythm with the U.S. Virgin Islands, where representation matters. Together, we can build a more diverse and inclusive travel industry, one that resonates with the true essence of our islands.

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