The United States Can No Longer Ignore the Territories

By Sarah Culmone, Opinion Writer

Many companies are looking to take advantage of the recent disaster that has struck Puerto Rico. However, TJX Companies are taking a different stance, by continuing to send paychecks to their workers, despite most of their stores being closed. TJX Companies are the leading low-price retailer in our nation. HomeGoods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Sierra Trading Post are all owned by TJX Companies. There are 29 stores in Puerto Rico that are owned by the Massachusetts based branch. Most other American retail companies stopped sending paychecks right away, knowing that their stores would not bring in a profit by being closed. In turn, sending paychecks would lose the company money. TJX is making a bold statement by supporting the people working in their stores. This is because they know that these people are in severe need.

As someone who has worked at HomeGoods for the past year, I am proud to see my parent company being an outlier in doing a good deed. I am also not surprised by the generosity that the parent store has shown. TJX is a company that focuses on the individual, with an unending need to take care of employees along with their families. When these companies need help, the parent store does not hesitate to come forward. The location of the stores does not matter either, clearly because here is an example of TJX helping in a U.S territory. TJX is encompassing an idea that will hopefully grow on a much larger scale, we need to take care of our belongings.

In this case, The United States of America needs to support our territories in times of need. The people in our territories are considered to be US citizens, even though they lack the individual right to vote in our elections. These places include Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, The Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. It’s not like US has left these places high and dry in the past, but sure hasn’t treated them like the kind parents to our children, just as TJX has with Marshalls, Sierra Trading Post, HomeGoods, and TJ Maxx.

Puerto Rico is still looking for help from the US in order to become stable. Some have argued that Puerto Rico is asking for too much, and that they need to figure it out themselves. Others say they were never stable to begin with. But here’s the catch: Puerto Rico is a US Territory. Their help lies within the States! If the US wants to consider Puerto Rico a territory, then we must treat them with the help they need. This has not been the only instance of the United States leaving behind our said “children.”

The island of Guam is made up of 29% military base. Considering this, one would think the US would take very good care of Guam. However, North Korea has threatened to strike Guam. This came about after President Donald Trump warned North Korea to stop threatening the United States. Guam, however, is the territory that will face the possible backlash for the President’s threats. The problems do not end there. Most territories are left with a lack in resources and supplies. Parts in Puerto Rico have a substantial lack in food, an issue that has been happening for decades. This problem has yet to be fixed.  The expectation is to be able to ask the mainland for help. This is not how it always goes, as the territories are often left helpless. The United States currently has a lot of responsibility not just to us, but to the world. Being overwhelmed is understandable considering the amount of people who want help.  But there needs to be an urge to refocus on our territories, and help them get to where they need to be. If “America comes first” then that includes our territories. The time to look past them is gone. We must act as the strong parent to our children, helping them grow. The American territories are part of us, and therefore should thrive when we do.

 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 21st print edition.

Contact Sarah at

sarah.culmone@student.shu.edu

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