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Mapp Hopes To Attract More Moneyed Visitors To The Territory By Speaking To An All-Black Audience On Homophobic Host’s TV Show

GIFT OF GAB: Gov. Kenneth Mapp was careful not to mention violent crime spiraling out of control in the territory nor the number of people fleeing the Virgin Islands due to a lack of meaningful employment and entertainment options.

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — Political status, the minimum wage, economic opportunities and St. Croix’s burgeoning culinary scene were among the topics Gov. Kenneth Mapp addressed during a live national television appearance today.

Mapp was a guest on host Roland Martin’s morning show, News One Now, a one-hour weekday news program on the TV ONE network airing in 57 million households nationwide and available as an audio simulcast online.

Martin is well-known as a former CNN contributor and as a senior analyst for the Tom Joyner Morning Show. He was forced to resign from CNN after making a series of homophobic remarks over Twitter during the Super Bowl in 2012.

Martin and his panelists were impressed with the ability of the territory to increase its minimum wage – a battle that is being fought in cities and states across the U.S. Mapp said that he shared credit with the Virgin Islands Legislature for advancing this issue and said it was critical to bring residents closer to a living wage.

Mapp also told the signed a bill into law last year that increased the USVI’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.50 beginning this month – with another increase scheduled for next year – bringing private sector salaries to a minimum of $10.50 per hour.

It is estimated that 15,000 residents in the territory will directly benefit from the increase in pay. The governor added that he is also responsible for raising the salaries of thousands of Virgin Islands government employees.

“You can’t have people living in the margins,” he said. “You have got to work to bring the quality of life of workers in the territory up.”

Mapp said that the U.S. Virgin Islands’ status as an unincorporated jurisdiction of the United States and highlighted the contributions of Virgin Islanders serving in the military, despite being unable to vote in Presidential elections.

“We are subject to the call of the President for conflicts,” he said. “We have a robust enrollment of Virgin Islanders in the Armed Forces.”

The Governor indicated that more than 40,000 Virgin Islanders live in the U.S. mainland and that Virgin Islanders have deep family ties throughout the 50 states.

“Most African Americans’ ancestors who live on the mainland came through the Caribbean in the slave trade,” he said. “We are very much connected.”

The Governor invited show panelists and viewers to visit the USVI and noted the nonstop flights to the USVI available from Washington, D.C., Houston and many other cities.

“It’s just an exciting place to be,” he said. “We are at a crossroads where our economy is growing. We are creating more opportunity for our people and we want them to get in business.”

The Governor highlighted St. Croix’s reputation as a destination for food lovers and said the big island was “driving our culinary industry” with young Black men playing a leading role as chefs and entrepreneurs.

“It’s just an exciting time to be in the Virgin Islands,” he said.

Martin was suspended from CNN in February 2012 for making what were widely considered to be anti-gay remarks in tweets about the Super Bowl.

“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad,” Martin wrote, “smack the ish out of him!”

GLAAD (Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) immediately responded by demanding his removal from the news network, though Martin insisted that his tweet was not a homophobic encouragement of violence — but a dig at soccer fans.

“Let me address the issue that some in the LGBT community have raised regarding some of my Super Bowl tweets yesterday,” he wrote. “I made several cracks about soccer as I do all the time. I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise.”

The apology was not enough to satisfy those calling for his removal. Following CNN’s news, GLADD responded by applauding the network’s actions.

“CNN today took a strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community,” said GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro in a statement. “Yesterday, Martin also spoke out against anti-LGBT violence. We look forward to hearing from CNN and Roland Martin to discuss how we can work together as allies and achieve our common goal of reducing anti-LGBT violence as well as the language that contributes to.”

In 2016 NewsOne Now ranked as a Top 3 Cable news program in its time slot among African Americans who are ages 25 to 54, according to the company that produces the show.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1989. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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