To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing this in hopes that it will reach someone of authority who will address this matter in a conscious effort to make things right. Although this is a personal matter, it symbolizes a greater problem that is occurring on St. John, the wider Caribbean and also in the world. The problem is exploitation, in my case it is cultural exploitation.
I have been a professional musician for many years. I have been playing music for Steven Pague for about 13 years on and off, for the self-help organization, the Omega Institute which operates out of Maho Bay Camps every year. All of the varied musicians in the band get paid seperately, and although I have never seen any other members being paid, it is assumed they are.
I have been paid $50 per two-hour gig since the beginning of our business relationship. Although I have repeatedly explained that the economy has changed and I am in a business and need to be paid a better rate, it has never been addressed by Mr. Pague or his partner Stephan Rechtschaffen.
I am very disturbed because after so many years of playing music for them, being a facilitator of folk music and stories and giving presentations about local historical information, I am still being paid $50 per gig. I have been made to feel on numerous occasions as I am in a subservient position to these individuals.
My presentations have always been well received by the audience and I know my contributions are positive. Over the last 13 years, I have shared a considerable amount of knowledge through my craft and this is cultural knowledge which is not easily learned in a text book but kept alive through the ancient practice of oral tradition.
I know the relationship which Omega has with the island of St. John would have been different and possibly less cohesive, had I not been part of this organization.
The final straw came just recently when in my ending this business arrangement I told Mr. Pague I would not play with them any more. Instead of honoring my wishes, and respecting me as a professional, he proceeded to use my name advertising the band and the gigs. I specifically told him I would not be joining them, and he specifically used my name in promoting the shows.
I am outraged and upset by this false advertising and I want to know what will be done about it.
There is a level of hypocrisy going on in the organization, and I feel tremendously exploited, saddened and used. I have shared and exposed a lot of personal and cultural experiences and have not been supported by Omega sufficiently or positively.
The word Omega is supposed to represent the highest canons throughout the world. It is a scientific as well as a cultural and spiritual word used to describe enlightenment and the higher universal truth. The Omega Institute, however, does not characterize or reflect these traits and should not promote itself as a facilitator of consciousness or enlightenment, when there are basic cultural biases, racial biases and ignorance being inflicted by their employees.
St. John especially has been and continues to be in a precarious state of flux. There are many incidents like this one occurring every day. There are social and economic exploitations happening here as well as other places in the world, but we are in a small community, whose richness has helped make Omega millions since its arrival and continues to do so.
It is a shame that most of the St. Johnians I know can’t afford to attend! It is also a shame that Omega is being represented by this type of hypocrisy. I would like to be contacted. I appreciate your time.
Delroy “Ital” Anthony