Commentary: October is designated as domestic violence awareness month, did you know?

By. D.R. Miller:   

Beyond October: It was conceived out of a day of unity led by the National Collation Against Domestic Violence in October 1981 with purple as the official color.

For several years I have participated in three miles walk/run in support of victims of domestic violence with members of the law enforcement community, advocates, treatment providers and other support groups.

During this annual walk I often think about the Caribbean migrant community.

Domestic violence tends to mask in the shadows in this community.

This walk comes at a time when some will be focusing on the raking falling leaves, or checking their windows and roofs in anticipation for winter in the northern region. And for those in the tropical climate, it is life as usual.

The fact is, inside this concentric Caribbean community and few other cultures, domestic violence remains a taboo subject and where not all victims know where to go for help even for the perpetrators.

Violence against women must stay a priority: This issue will not stop through the world as many domestic panthers will continue to abuse.

These cultural colors often emerge in the summer for celebrations, dancing to the latest soca, reggae and Latin rhythms; beneath the costumes, one love vibes, someone is hurting from irrational decisions by perpetrators.

There are plenty of definitions of domestic violence regardless of the type of relationship. It is not about a single fight. If it feels wrong, it is… It is never the victim’s fault:

  • Forced sexual activities
  • Intimation, isolation
  • Economic manipulation
  • Deprivation such as medical

Looking back at the HIV/AIDS epidemic and although medical advance made it a manageable disease, it was through awareness that reduced the stigma in this community.

I have also written that these cultural celebrations should be a place to highlight domestic violence or even homophobia

No! You do not have to be member of the LBGQ community or a victim to speak up and support these groups.

The struggle: Scholars have noted that Caribbean masculinity is tied to Europe colonization from the 17th through the 19th centuries, and where slavery’s dark period cannot be ignored and dehumanization of black women who were relegated to the kitchen.

The challenge is that some perpetrators carry that 16th century mentality that still sees women role in society as property; and their roles are in the kitchen and bearer of their children.

These scars still that linger are a correlation between a societal view of some women that often leads to inequality and inequity as research has shown.

However, it is not an excuse how some women are being treated today.

Even their upward mobility to leadership roles, inspiring the next generation, sadly, it seems for some, admitting to being a victim could cut their power and status.

Gender-stereotype, masculinity and sexuality hinder self-observation; especially for women who pathologize their community by judging herself and, this mentality creates more victims in fear of seeking legal, medical, and even psychological help.

Victims can also themselves in similar relationships with little or no support after migration.

Coupled with xenophobia some face and social stratification, these complexities along socio-economic and cultural identifiers causes more isolation.

Many in academia have noted that, even when treatment programs are available, the dropout rates remain high and victims often use cultural reasons as an excuse.

The lack of resources, choked off by poverty, sometimes can be difficult to fit comprehensive family, or personal and victim service program throughout many Latin American and Caribbean communities.

Groups intervention tends to stay in the shadow, lacks proper staffing, often closed shortly afterwards, and offenders often need the cooperation of law enforcement to make sure they attend treatment programs.

Whether the US, Canada, or the UK; or a gay person who lives under a bridge in Caribbean, being victimized should not make a difference: It hurts anywhere.

Decades after the movements, new generation movements from these once alienated migrant communities have stepped up globally, speaking out and forming support groups

The other color: Domestic violence also takes place same-sex relationships.

Men are victims of nearly three million physical assaults in the USA alone each year

Violence and death inside the LGBTQ community has increased since 2010 and the Caribbean continues today from ignorance, and taboo; even by straight perpetrators who may have their own struggles with homosexual tendencies, as studies have shown.

In Jamaica, the “buggery law” dated back to colonial rule that prohibits same sex marriage and, with few advocates, today throughout Caribbean support for same sex intimate relationships is still a high tide.

Many of these laws throughout the Caribbean and other regions are outdated, and need to be more current to protect victims.

As some groups are becoming more accepting, and paving the way for support, hostility remains in some social, religious, and political groups that still see lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships as a sin and morally wrong.

This identity makes it rather difficult for a victim in this community to seek and get help in an abusive relationship.

Substantially, it is what I see as a condemnation where masculinity and femininity are defined and thus has reduced objectivity in the rule of law and, without basic rights, one becomes powerless.

No one is immune from violence.

These communities should move from only seeing the symptoms and not the cause. The church is important, but dear pastor alone cannot solve these issues

First responders are key to the survival of these victims: not acting due to the lack of a physical scar is problematic.

Few Data: According to the National Collation Against Domestic Violence, in America, one woman is killed by a spouse, ex-spouse, or some dating partner every 14 hours.

And every 20 minutes an intimate partner abuses someone.

Several academic international journals have noted that domestic violence accounted for about 19 percent of the total burden of healthcare for women age 15-44.

Youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old are 2.41 times as likely to experience physical violence

Victim continues to use the health care system more than others do, and for several years after, the violence has stopped.

More than three million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year. Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at a higher rate.

There is a strong link to domestic violence, and child exploitation trafficking and where some are forced into marriages and the UN further reported that about 15 million young girls are victims yearly.

This violence creates a pattern of psychological and overcoming this traumatic experience has long-term critical consequences.

Has this community enough specially to highlight this issue remains an open question?

Finally, see you at the next walk or run in purple, or even standing under a banner for victims’ rights, because searching for survival, and a balance their community.

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Commentary: Child abuse is an everyday occurrence

By Derrick Miller

sextrafficking1Before April: During the month of April, several communities, schools, health departments, including domestic violence centers will wear blue to show solidarity in honour of National Child Abuse and Awareness. April brings not only a new season, but a brighter spirit from the cold winter.

 

Perfect picI have always enjoyed the changing of the seasons, especially from winter to spring. It reminders us that there a few things around the home that need to be fixed. However, for some, these damages from the past season will be ignored because it looks good on the surface. This quickly formed mentality often parallels how child abuse gets overlooked until it become a major repair, got pushed aside hoping it can service another season.

Child abuse is not always visible, like a flood, rain, broken bridge or snow and a few news headlines where society assesses the damages and swiftly moves on.

Understanding and identifying even the presence of psychopathology of sexual deviancy by some perpetrators, or risk factor of becoming a sex worker, takes collaborative efforts by the entire community and it is everyone’s responsibility for prevention beyond April.

Your teacher, a family member, pastor, friend, political leader, and others in authority who are aware and fail to discuss or prevent perpetrators of this crime against humanity share the same responsibility.

“It takes a village to raise a child,” a famous argument made by many. However, reducing these incidents and promoting awareness in April despite its intention can be difficult where a village often does not exist.

trafficted-childrenSadly, especially in many poor and developing countries where they are struggling due to poor socio-economic conditions, polarization, inequalities coupled with ignorance, culture traits, and taboo and barbaric ideology, a victim’s story easily gets lost. Furthermore, negative portrayals of a victim simply by shame and even tolerance of this behaviour by pimps who lower these children, and combined with the lack resources for even an investigation to hold perpetrators accountable, or treatment, the child abuse cycle continues.

This assessment is a typology of an intake process, documentation, interview, or an evaluation in assigning the challenges or blame in its identification. Child abuse is an ocean that has taken everything in its path, while the appearance of a calm sea overshadowing this vicious behavioural psychopathic undercurrent.

Beyond April’s Numbers: According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nearly one in two women and one in five men have experienced some type of sexual violence, and victimization.

The International Labour Organization also reported that about 21 million people are victims of human trafficking, for sexual exploitation, especially women and children. This affects all communities, especially minorities.

Child abuse is defined as the non-accidental physical or emotional injury caused by an act.

• Neglect of basic needs

• Educational neglect

• Medical neglect

• Physical neglect

• Child sexual abuse

There are also different types of child abuse violence from incest to trafficking.

Global Action also noted that billions have been spent, regardless of race, sex, creed, colour, or sexual orientation, but many would still believe this is not their problem. This type of thing only happens over there.

As society’s disconnect grows, many are more connected far more than the devices tells us, so more can be done.

kidnapped GirlsAs I have argued before, Boko Haram is not just a Nigerian issue, and this terrorist group might have taken 250 young women at one time, but in many other regions even where many vacation and experience the beautiful beaches and sunset, a young child goes missing daily due to child abuse, and that number is still rising.

These communities need to see what is happening to their students and be able to respond in seconds, not days or weeks, or just saying what is politically correct.

Such as the delicate balance sometimes on perpetrators being arrested even by the United Nations that blasted major news headlines, that seem to coincide with the month of April awareness. Often the work that is going on to protect children gets pushed aside especially in places that are pre-occupied with an election campaign and others who have just completed where new leader is trying to create personal legacy or already campaigning for the next one. Soon, one hopes, child abuse topics should be part of all debates and even become a litmus test for a candidate who seeks higher office.

Sure, many will say the right thing, but their record must be scrutinized about funding, and programs to combat this issue.

I still remember that video tape of an uncle trying to sell his young niece for sex to make a few dollars. This story is just one we have on tape…

Society cannot continue to allow an abused child’s story to be silent because everyone knows the perpetrator especially due to one’s financial status, position held in the community or family support one provides.

Analyzing next April: Sexual exploitation, education, health are areas of society that will forever link with young people such as with media, politics, and professional concerns, as most scholars have argued. As a result, when society searches for answers to forge a better union, most events will provoke debates. Sometimes the experience one brings is simple from his or her own social mobilization process. Therefore, it can difficult to separate one from the environment that has been created.

student-1On March 6, 2016 Johns Hopkins and American University researchers published what they called “sweeping bias in non-black teachers’ expectation of black students”.

What this has to do with child abuse you might ask?

Everyone is entitled to their own belief, and not everything should be seen through the lens of black and white. However, the interpretation of information among influential people with decision making power that can have a lasting effect has to be free of biases.

Earth DayI believe the low expectation of non-white students is as dangerous as an uncle who believes in incest. Although I have not done a controlled study to draw a strong correlation and these teachers in the study have not been convicted of child abuse; however, social neglect tends to create more victims in the long run.

As many studies have shown, such as a sexual offender who holds a distorted belief of their victims, if one has low expectations regardless of race or socio-economic status or culture, if this person happens to be missing later in life and becomes a victim of psychopathic abusers, what do you believe the effort might be to protect this child.

Often, sadly, when one addresses child abuse, the physical scar tends to be the only focus. However, when these children become victims, it is not solely due to low expectation, but combination of the lack of resources, xenophobia, poor parenting and many other community issues that failed to invest in a child development. And therefore lessens the chance of succeeding.

Today some of these neglected and abused children now find comfort under a bridge from a passing business person who exploits them even more.

If a child’s development fails due to bias, it is no different from an educational system that allows criminals to pass and become teachers, volunteers in school or churches that prey on innocent children.

 

Rebuilding April’s Awareness: Given the recent studies, there are plenty interpretations, confirmation and some will seek immunity and give the impression that it is only over there. Although racism is still alive, as this confirms, many poor and developing countries especially in the Caribbean could use another April awareness.

Sadly, up the road, down the hill, at the local shops child abuse still can be a muted subject. It is not always due to low expectations, but where more victims are created due to classism and other economic stratification.

The plight of women in general, coupled with the collapse of society’s moral compass, whether in an urban city, rural area, or along the shores, child abuse is uncomfortable. However, how society corrects itself and builds for a brighter surrounding security, and prosperity despite April’s good intention is much deeper.

Managing these crimes of opportunity is simply becoming more reactive, and when these special days or months approach it has to be beyond a spring cleaning until another colour emerges.

What next? Domestic violence and so on.

Commentary: This museum should be a must visit for Africans, Afro-Caribbean and others

By Derrick Miller

nmaahc

nmaahc

Reason to visit: If Harriet Tubman got her face on US$20, would her image trigger any curiosity?

Let us imagine January 16, 1865, Union General William T. Sherman issued a Special Field Order No 15 according to historians called “40 acres and a mule.” It was the first form of reparation for families after the abolition of slavery to build their lives.

Since that promise, there are other key moments, and milestones: 

rosa-parksEmmett Till, an African-American teenager lynched in Mississippi at the age of 14, in 1955, and later Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger.

Ruby Nell Bridges Hall, the first black child to desegregate an all-white school in 1960.

August 28, 1963, Washington, DC, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and Bloody Sunday 1965 march for voting rights.

These few staples of black history events that offer a better understanding of race relations in the US, and what led to today’s civil rights laws; sadly, to some later arrivals to these shores with a boarding pass in business and first class, this history means nothing, and to be honest, many do not care.

Is it a failure of black leadership today? 

For me, the iconic photo of a five-year-old black boy who asked to touch President Obama’s hair to know if his hair was as his is a sign of hope.

ruby-nell-bridges

Ruby Nell Bridges Hall

For a while though, it seemed as if this history has been lost on a railroad track, buried in swamplands, overshadowed by black on black violence, driven by like an uninhabited house, or tucked away in the back of the libraries, missing a hashtag on social media, to be replaced with ignorance from generation to generation.

 

Fortunately, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC) exhumed that history on September 24, 2016.

Sitting on less than 40 acres in the nation’s capital, you will not find a mule, but an evolution track, celebration and accomplishments of the African-American experience.

Since opened, as reported, over 800,000 people have attended from all shades of life.

The sights and sounds on display are sacrifices I believe comparative literary analysis alone could not tell this story. Your skin shade, modernization, or colonization process whether Afro-Caribbean, African, Asians, Indians, or Europeans should not become a barrier to visit.

It honors, recognizes and connects descendants of a once shackled people delivered like barrels, where few were dropped-off along the US, Caribbean, and Latin America coastlines.

DM. Photo: Credit

Sure, there are inconveniences from parking to passes taken in minutes, or few who staying away due long lines or their own disconnect and struggles with acculturation.

Others found themselves too pre-occupied to continue measuring their accomplishments through educational advancement, job titles, even working two jobs as an excuse not to visit.

These disconnected vessels only abolish sacrifices fought for by social reformers, abolitionists and others who gave their lives for someone else’s American dream.

It took me an hour circling the area to find free parking in a comfortable vehicle. This does not compare to long hours many spent marching outside in worse weather to make this trip possible.

The disconnect vessel: The museum is beyond 28 days in February before hibernation like a polar bear in winter after the ceremonies, the cold cultural disconnect still blows through the air.

Especially Afro-Caribbean people, or Caribbean people as they like to be called, socially and economically have contributed in restructuring many industrialized nations.

This building is a personal, political, economic connection to this dark period and a brighter future.

img_20170205_152544-2017_02_05-22_23_43-utc

Four-star general in the United States Army. Powell was born in Harlem as the son of Jamaican …

Some of leaders being displayed are also descendants of the Caribbean slave ships, and their struggles are also woven in its walls.

Although Jamaican-born Marcus Garvey or Trinidad-born Stokely Carmichael might not be the main attraction, their fight was not only for Caribbean people, but civil rights for all.

Henry Louis ‘Skip’ Gates Jr., an American literary critic, teacher, historian and others have invested time and resources to preserve and connect this history.

However, cultural identity complexities, distrust, xenophobia still anchor many states, cities, towns and counties inside this shade.

m1pngConnecting history is more than quick DNA swabs of the mouth to be tested for connection, then wear African attire, but still refuse to engage.

Even the same cover-girl makeup being worn, or dancing to the same music beats from doo-wop to jazz, reggae, or calypso does not meant instant connection.

Often a cultural dress being worn or a thick foreign accent creates an instant prism of ethnic identity.

Pop singer superstar Rihanna’s domestic violence abuse case after she was assaulted by her boyfriend, Chris Brown, became a them vs. us mentality on social media.

She was called the girl from Barbados but a woman being punched in Barbados hurts just as one in Boston.

millerd-0841Cultural integration and inter-ethnic relationships and marriages have helped in understanding the cultures, but beneath these shades social stratification still exists and that has contributed to some seeing the museum as another building downtown.

Pre-determinism philosophy continues to separate people. Assumptions continue to be formed based on bad events and negative images portrayed before many arrived on these shores often creates a rough tide in these communities even when they have fled abuse, neglect, exploitation, discrimination, and poverty.

Self-inflicted wounds also create hesitation, and the lack of exposure equally undermines the African-American contribution and hidden economic strength.

Today polarization and barbaric ideology are creating more division, but people will continue to migrate.

A UN report noted that over 190 million people worldwide were living outside of their countries of births a decade ago, and that number has increased since.

Only engagement can change course: Maybe that migrant daycare provider who no longer cares to watch Sesame Street, a popular kid’s show, because they are now featuring episodes with hip hop.

The symposium call in Washington, DC, with Ethiopians and few African Americans to bridge social gaps and gain understanding. I believe a visit by all to the museum could be a great starting point.

What about Eritreans?

They too have ongoing internal conflicts with Ethiopians and they are considered one people?

A few Caribbean islands could use a symposium.

What if that woman who keeps your offices neat is asked if she and her family would like a ticket to the museum?

pallMaybe an image from Lima, Peru, can be changed, where the role of pallbearers seems only reserved for blacks, simply because of their skin color.

And can these drifting ships be anchored if an African American is surprised to that someone born in Africa worships the same god, and reads from the same bible?

The concerns over African American cities losing their chocolate flavor, and the new shades or generation arriving to these newly refurbished cities, and might still believe Frederick Douglas, who died in 1895, an abolitionist, and statesman after escaping slavery is on Twitter .

For some, Facebook likes are more important than that historic house that is now a coffee shop. Moreover, that sixth generation who once lived in that house can no longer afford a room on the same block

Is it gentrification?

img_20170205_153739-2017_02_05-22_23_43-utc

Author’s Photo Taken at the (NMAAHC)

The track ahead: How does society preserve history if some of today’s leaders need a listening tour every February during Black History Month to learn about their contributions despite a few birthplace and education developments were in the same towns and cities of a dark period.

The nation’s capital entertains people from all lifestyles that epitomize the “melting pot”.

When black history inside classrooms drifts, it is like depression, adolescent turmoil, or bullying. If overlooked, it only creates hypersensitive feelings not to engage later.

As a student of history, African-American art is not how expensive it looks, but what it represents and the connection beyond its current frames.

Those who sat, marched, beaten and died, made difficult choices, some uses sports and education to claim their importance today.

The funds donated from $20 to 30 million to revive this history are beyond black white, Hispanic, women, men, and those who donated their time.

The decision by former President George W. Bush who approved the building site, only laid one of the first tracks.

m1

Photo Credit: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

Google images alone cannot take you there to feel it.

Getting there is a start to make sure that this experience stays fresh for that mule to come.

So, please take your culture, values and customs there to continue the road ahead that will hopefully eventually connect everyone.

The brain drain of the Caribbean trained nurses:

By Derrick Miller

nurses-aOur quiet need: The role of a nurse is equally important as a good doctor, education, clean criminal record, and a productive safe community.

These caretakers and medicine givers are eyes and ears of doctors, from preparing a clean bed to escorting sick and helpless patients, even ones with mental health issues, AIDS to zika, while providing comfort to families during times of need.

During an emergency hospital stay at a medical center, their presence often allows families to head back to work, or simply get an extra night off from staying overnight on a hard chair.

Despite historians’ early account that they were taught Christian values to become good servants, they serve everyone regardless of religious, political, or social ideology or values.

Today they are one of society’s inseparable communities, hidden treasures from wars to human or natural disasters for centuries.

This function cannot be quantified, but certainly a nation’s health, medical system, trust and upward mobility will diminish when they migrate that talent.

nurse3Sadly, especially in the poor and developing countries, and some of the dominant Caribbean countries such as, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guyana, where prolonged economic symptoms have crippled major public medical facilities for decades.

Many reports have voiced concerns over the lack of funds, critical new technology, supplies, and other equipment to save lives.

These facilities jeopardize both nurses and patients’ lives by putting them at a higher risk of an infectious disease.

It also seems that the more nurses speak out they are becoming more powerless under strenuous employment conditions from what appears to be silence of accountability.

Over the next 25-50 years, the aging population will increase over 100 percent in both in hospitals and home based care according to health care professionals and scholars. This field will become more critical to meet the demands.

A troubled-ward: One in 25 patients is infected in a medical center according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Pneumonia is one of the common issues found in surgical sites, the studies have shown.

I have also lost few friends who have had other health issues and died shortly after they contracted pneumonia and other infectious bacteria while being hospitalized.

However, this migration is not about pneumonia.

As many scholars have noted, such as Harvard sociology professor Orlando Patterson, “Jamaica for decades has developed a good public health system that has been successful against malaria, tuberculosis and various gastrointestinal diseases.”

Later reports have shown that the death rate of children has fallen according to the World Bank in the region from birth to age two per 1000.

However, I believe the region still lacks critical data to systematically monitor home birthed babies, medical issues, and others who self-medicated from cultural beliefs, and other socio-economic and geographic factors that still affect access to health care.

Sure, the region has come a long way; however, it seems that the health system has taken a step back, especially in the publicly operated centers.

Recently, as reported in Jamaica, about 18 babies died from klebsiella and serratia, or pseudomonas that have been on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These bacteria and other poor health issues are not new. Today, countless family plots and cemeteries along these shores are still searching for an answer:

Many first line responders remain vulnerable and worried that inadequate supplies and lack of critical tools continue to place them at higher risk of becoming infected.

It seems that customer service continues to decline, and access to a doctor is dictated on one’s ability to pay upfront without a diagnosis.

Without the media, those babies would have been just another premature death.

This epidemic has forced health officials to admit publicly that something is wrong.

Government leadership seems to have a “pre-existing condition” that is defensive to address poor and unhealthy medical operations.

Telling people not to panic is not a solution.

Where is the independent oversight?

If these health ministers have the public’s interests, they must speak up for funding, and refrain from the politics and be on the side of supporting all, especially the disadvantaged.

What if these leaders’ own families were to be admitted to these poor facilities, or depending on some form of social welfare?

These medical clouds stretch beyond a broken window at a ward, but a broader issue on helping people find jobs, fighting crime and becoming part of a solution.

flight1The next flight: Nursing careers will command excellent salaries, such as one in math, finance, science, or a career in petroleum, especially one in home care, according to several business reports.

Today, these nurses are leaving not because of gender equality, crime or the lack of education; several have enormous student loans.

These flights are not an abandonment of their nationality; it is an incremental move for economic opportunities.

Countries such as Bermuda, Cayman, US, UK, Canada and many other developed nations are poised to gain from this flight.

Going back to school to become a nurse, one would hope their service would upgrade the local economy’s living standards, but now it seems like a one-way ticket out.

These well sought after visas serve rural areas in the US, Canada, and other places, even if the salaries are lower than the countries’ national average. However, it will be better than the local system they are leaving.

Additionally, the constant fear of losing their jobs, combined with helplessness of disproportionately seeing poor people waiting on benches for days after an emergency to be admitted, then to be told to return due to lack bed space, or because of the inability to pay upfront.

These nurses’ good intention and values sometimes collide with their moral compass, where life and death could be added off-the records payments to keep a patient alive in making sure that certain basic needs are met while hospitalized.

Medical insecurities seriously undermine ethics in medicine and the integration between the relations with their patients.

Others being over worked, and underpaid, with little support system to alleviate emotional scars.

Vacations are being missed from the fear of losing employment, and that could reset current salary after years of solid service.

“Also, I am not naïve of patients being passed through system to incur unnecessary bills because of one’s ability to pay.”

nurse2-e1These migrations also help consultants who reap benefits from the trade as if they are farm workers in the agricultural fields.

Decision-making seems to only satisfy the media’s concern while the ability to develop a road map for upward mobility and to stymie these migrations, and build trust in the health centers remains an uphill syndrome.

Beneath these outfits, there is a mom, daughter, sister, son, brother and a father.

Sure, some would love to stay and others have along these warm and beautiful shores and not bracing brutal winters?

Reducing the boarding pass: There are excellent doctors in the region, but most can only be found in private facilities.

Patriotism is not only the love of country when they shine, but making sure that needs are met off camera.

The region has to develop incentives for others to come back who have left to study medicine in countries like Germany, Cuba, the US, and other places.

I hope leaders will take some time to visit other medical centers globally and learn something such as in when they visit a major sporting events like the 2016 Olympics in Brazil as patriots.

Many of these leaders have access to the best healthcare. They often travel abroad to seek treatment, while avoiding the same centers being dominated by insects from the lack of resources.

The manipulation of the less informed by candidates for higher office, based on likes on Facebook, or because one stop by a local shop the night before an election, to play a few dominoes; others hand out a few dollars, sacrifice a pig or a goat, then sell a false sense of community only to be missing until the next election cycle has to stop.

 

Photo Caribbean 360 ST. JOHN'S, Antigua

Photo
Caribbean 360 ST. JOHN’S, Antigua

The less fortunate person has to become as important as the next election, carnival, or world sporting event.

Asking for accountability is not attacking the medical industry or its leaders. It is instrumental for a healthier society, but more needs to be done for nurses.

While millions are being spent into selling relaxation on beautiful beaches, when a local person who serves these visitors becomes sick, hopefully, they can return to work from a good healthcare without discrimination from being sick.

Maybe that disgruntled nurse on the ward is not irritated from an overnight long shift, or a patient’s vomit, but a cry for better working condition and wages.

Selling the argument of free health care at these public medical facilities should not be a place where one goes to die.

Commentary: I’ll be home for the holidays… maybe?

home-for-the-holidayBy Derrick Miller

“I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams,” sadly has become a reality for many.

Holiday trips are always important to reconnect with family and friends or taking a break from work.

For many immigrants who migrated to countries like England, US and Canada; from the Caribbean, Africa, and South America, heading back on holidays are cherished pilgrimages, but slowly becoming only a dream.

These breaks are also an escape from the brutal winter, an opportunity to show sometimes the opportunities migration has provided, and often to give hope and lift others out of poverty who were left.

However, for several years, it seems that only a telephone call (WhatsApp), Skype, and Facebook have become the only way to stay in touch.

These people are not staying away because of a cancelled flights due to severe weather, long passengers’ lines at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) check points from and fear of missed flights that remain a concern, or even losing few overlooked restricted items to almost undressing before boarding a flight.

However, I believe TSA agents have become an outlet where few travelers vent their frustrations from issues with the airlines.

Shortly after the 2008 global financial collapse, fuel costs went up tremendously, unemployment rose globally, and almost everything slowed that resulted in a recession.

The airlines passed on the added-fuel cost to customers by the way of a baggage fee.

This added fee saved several jobs, and that was a good for the overall economy.

Experts believed that it was temporary, but it has become permanent and no cap about how high it will grow from current rates.

Between 2009 and 2014, experts noted that the industry baggage fees have increased more than 60 percent and it has now become a billion-dollar fee industry.

Gas prices have since declined and the economy rebounded, but some travels experts argue that government policies or lack thereof have given airlines more access to the flying public’s pockets.

flying-home1Many low budget passengers looking for bargains have been choked out of the cabin as profit from fees has gotten more attention while service diminishes.

On American Airlines, Delta, United and others, the first checked bag is about $25 and second $35 and, if you have to get that Christmas gift to Uncle Rupert in the Caribbean and other places, that (third) checked bag fee could reach upwards of $150.

It is better sending a barrel, and that has added fees after landing with additional local frustration.

What next; standing option, extra fees to stretch out your legs, check your wallet and pocket books if it is over 5 lbs, or an extra fare for being pregnant if the average age for a full-price ticket is now age two.

I am not sure if some of these airlines understand the budget stricken customers.

Friends and family are cutting back on these holiday trips. They only plan to fly if an emergency forces them to book a flight.

To attract more customers, some airlines are offering credit cards that will cut baggage fee once approved.

I caution that this only could create further debt.

Sadly, one has to spend about $3,000 within three months to receive extra points from the promotions.

These cards carries high annual membership fees, and that can easily amount to few pieces of checked luggage fees. Only few financial institutions control these cards, and options are limited.

img_20141107_140004Decades ago, Caribbean and other poor and developing countries owned several local airlines with international routes.

Today, that once pride of the region is off the radar from poor management and privatization.

The only issues they have had were late arrival and departures, but if you were 5 lbs over in baggage weight, you were still greeted with a smile and you are on your way with that gift to a loved one.

It seems even local government in these places has lost the ability to negotiate with these airlines as long as tourist are coming, while ignoring the amount of money natives who return on holidays spend in the local communities.

Today, a two star hotel for a family of four vacation with kids under age ten in these islands easily costs over $5,000.

Even changing a booked flight due to an emergency, or any other personal reasons could cost an extra $200, plus any changes in the original fare.

The few cheap e-mail alerts are not often real savings and almost like fake sales:

You are being forced to fly on certain days, or an overnight stay, and before an online transaction can be completed, an alert often remain that 30 people have already booked; and now that price just went up 50 percent.

An average flyer today has to be technology savvy with the ability to use multiple search engines to find a decent priced-ticket.

The air has become polarized, as have many ground communities between the haves and the have-nots.

This is what I call the economics of elimination.

Even with some third-party travel insurance to guard against unscheduled events, one needs an attorney to file a claim or interpret the rules.

TSA screeners are not the only issue that has left your pocket lighter from rejected items.

baggage-feesRecently I had to pay $37 for an older carry-on luggage I have used for years, but now considered too big to fit in prescreen bin at check in and now over-weight at 18 pounds.

I reached out to customer service and was told, “I did not pre-check carry-on bag online.” It was up to the check in representative, which I now call a collection agent.

I have seen passengers complain of being charged on return flights for the same carry-on luggage that went through on the outbound now considered too big on the return.

The days of boarding a flight with a home cooked meal or getting a decent one from the airlines are gone.

Pretzels now rule the air, and baggage fees seem to be more important than their customers are.

Flying now is like an Amazon economy where only the online cart rules.

Today, the once local brick and mortar travel agencies have been diminished with technology and that is not a bad thing.

However, these were cherished agencies where a family could sit with an agent and plane a vacation for a good rate.

I am not totally against some fees and taxes, as they are important to keep travel safe, such as the government-imposed September 11 passenger security fee, and yes to support infrastructure, and other employment.

It is no different from tolls on the road to keep it in good and safe conditions.

In addition, airlines are contributing to the economy from millions of employees worldwide.

Flying is also safer than several other modes of transportation, as many studies have shown and the airline industry knows that these passengers will still find a way to get home.

CNN reported recently that the industry saw a 4% increase from last summer’s all-time high of 222 million.

Today, families are more connected globally and so far apart:

Too bad, we cannot drive to some of these places, and avoid some of the horrible juices being served on flights or a small bag of pretzel or mixed-fruits, which one needs a knife to open.

tsa-agentIt is not the TSA fault, as some would like us to believe.

I often remind friends or anyone else that the commitment to public safety by these TSA agents cannot be overlooked, as the terrorist networks’ mission is to inflict casualties and one has to stay vigilant because, despite these fees, we still like to land safely.

If she were to be elected, would the elephants leave the room? By D.R. Miller

hillary-clinton-1

Hillary-Clinton-

Breaking through the glass ceiling: On November 8, 2016, the world paused as it waited all night and watched one of the world’s most recognized woman’s quest to become president of the United States fall short in disbelief.

Several pundits and polls were wrong. The questions now are did she lose the election due to her political ideology; push back from the changing demographics of the country; disconnect with the working class, downtrodden, low voter participation, hidden racism, or a diminished journalism?

A few even blamed Oprah Winfrey, a media mogul and billionaire for what some saw a less than enthusiastic endorsement and even after she called for acceptance of the new president-elect.

However, it seems that elephant in the room still believes that it is not the role of women to lead a country, or even a bible school.

Hillary Clinton would have been the first woman president to hold the nation’s highest office in its 230-plus years of history.

Decades ago, she would not been permitted to vote and, if she was black, she would have been considered a property and three-fifths of a person. So there is some progress.

The result was painful for many, and communities were left divided. However, a few bright spots emerged after three more women became US senators and the Senate now has 21 out of 100.

It gives hope to young girls who were watching, especially women of color globally.

Kamala Harris was one of the new elected senators. She is the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica. She was first black attorney general of the state of California. She supports equal women’s rights, LGBQ, and equal pay. This is critical for continued mobility.

Although more women today have rights to vote, most are still seen as domestic helpers, whose role should be providing services to their families in the kitchen and other places in the home.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari recently said that his wife belongs in the kitchen and the other room after she questioned his leadership. And despite progress, some women still face danger in many countries and that only creates more barriers.

Fortunately, for few of us public safety servants the task continues, especially for victims of crimes where the centrality of women’s issues is woven into their safety and that will not change because of an election.

Why is this opinion appearing in the Caribbean news?

This election stretches beyond the US. It provides an avenue for a global reflection.

I thought about few Caribbean islands that should be proud as they were ahead for recognizing and have elected women leaders.

220px-eugenia_charles kamla_persad-bissesar_2013 portia-simpson

The late Eugenia Charles, first and only female prime minister of Dominica. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, former prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and Portia Simpson-Miller, former prime minister of Jamaica.

Other countries such as Australia, England, and Germany, Pakistan, and Liberia have already debunked a prevailing rotten domestic ideology about women’s capacity to lead.

The ongoing climb: Despite gains, and present barriers, leaders must mentor and promote new generations of women, and equally important know when to step aside to create a pathway for the next generation.

The never-ending quest for power can cause more division, disconnect and stymie new ideas and future leaders to drive policies for their advancement.

Living in political vacuum also has contributed to what appears to be decline in the representation of women in several local key government functions across these islands.

Many titles are now “former” for women, and that cannot become a comfort zone.

elephant-in-roomQuietly, I still believe that elephant in the room remain relentless in its opposition, and the local community suffers while they blame others.

Every election has consequences and, in these events, one side has to win. Nevertheless, losing an election does not mean that upward mobility for a woman is dead.

With more opportunities, security, preparation and collaboration, another woman will emerge.

After Mr Trump was elected, chatter emerged that people of Caribbean heritage should consider leaving the US. However, I believe that is not a good idea as the region still struggles on many socio-economic, and safety fronts.

A recent academic journal also noted that an absence of access to crucial career paths is critical especially for young women.  As a result, they are leaving to seek a better way of life elsewhere.

Additionally, during several conferences and workshops I have attended, a majority believes that, after an election cycle, the lack of congruity still roars, diversity, discrimination, gender bias, empowerment, depression, low representation in government, and business, and a constant vulnerability of becoming a victim of crime.

Domestic violence also remains an epidemic, especially Afro Caribbean woman. They have limited safeguards from being harassed, sexually stalked, raped, and other forms of exploitation.

These issues must be addressed to build a brighter future:

That image: I am not a scholar on women’s issues, but unapologetic and passionate on the hurdles they face in these poor communities from job discrimination, limited access to education, healthcare and other barriers.

The ongoing migration from the kitchen to the workplace by women globally; a few still find it hard to embrace an ever-changing world.

I have known several law enforcement female officers, who stay at a disadvantage to men. They are often overlooked for promotions and paid far less that their male colleagues for same work.

Studies have shown that significant gaps remain in how much they earn compared to men: another quest for equality.

Beyond the boardroom, grassroots social and economic growth strategies such as get-out-the-vote in an election is necessary to fight barriers.

Far too often, women’s leadership accomplishment and roles are seen more in a political cycle when it should have been an economic and academic platform that connects and advances their accomplishments to motivate other generations of women or an entire community.

Mrs Clinton’s failure to win a pivotal election should give women globally some psychological boost of what’s possible despite an underlying cognitive bias rooted in history.

Getting back to the fundamentals: In the mid 1840s, women’s movements staged marches in communities, churches and homes in the right to vote, and other civil rights movements for equality.

Today, connecting and mobilizing for equality sometimes takes more than likes on Facebook.

Social media has become a critical platform not only to collaborate, but also express oneself, connecting to the world, share ideas, and seek advice.

However, it is hard sometimes today to differentiate what is entertainment, or an important issue from the anything-goes reality social media platform. We have to get back to the community organizing.

It is also delicate balance between liberation and expression. Not everyone agrees on the same norms, virtue, or values.

In a divided society searching for a socio-economic and equality, often one can simply be judged by appearance even when all have the same ideology, moral compass, and academic qualities.

Society has to begin see these women’s issues as one and not those women over there because of cultural disconnect.

Unfortunately, some of the ghosts, despite modernization, coupled with an unwilling elephant who has decided to stay put, have shown that some changes are difficult.

The evolving woman remains critical for all society. This requires mobilization through common threads, education, acceptance and opportunities.

No one has to move to Canada, the Caribbean, or elsewhere: Regardless of location, start recognizing that socio-economic, cultural, and the justice elephant has to start seeing not only barriers, but also an inalienable right for all, because women and men are created equally.

 

Commentary: Haiti: Hallowed ground: Centuries of balancing natural and human disasters

haiti-quake

January 12, 2010-Haiti

Children are pictured in the flooded neighborhood of La Puya, in Santo Domingo on October 4, 2016 after the passage of Hurricane Matthew through Hispaniola -- the island that the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti. Matthew, a Category Four hurricane, slammed into the Dominican Republic and Haiti Tuesday, triggering major floods and forcing thousands to flee the path of the storm that has claimed at least three lives in each country. Erika Santelices, AFP/Getty Images

Children are pictured in the flooded neighborhood of La Puya, in Santo Domingo on October 4, 2016 after the passage of Hurricane . Erika Santelices, AFP/Getty Images

On January 12, 2010, several began to take a closer look at island of Haiti after a massive earthquake displaced and killed hundreds of thousands of people in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

The images that plastered our televisions projected the vulnerability of families; especially young women and children living in deplorable conditions under tents, shacks and rusty sheet metals homes and without access to drinkable water or electricity.

As reported, millions of dollar pleaded and donated worldwide to the nation, combined with strategies with the US and other international agencies formed to focus on investments, infrastructure, energy and other economic development.

However, investigations later found that some agreements fell short from mismanagement, corruption and underperformed promises according to RT online and other news outlets.

After category 4 hurricane Matthew landed with 145 mph winds between October 4, and 5, 2016, as one of the strongest to land in Haiti in over 50 years, again, this crisis became another image of only seeing the dark side of this nation.

Matthews destroyed many homes, divided towns, with nearly 1,000 people killed and others displaced.

These reports remind us that not much has changed since the previous disasters.

Despite adequate preparation and resources from the government, even the death toll in the US reported about 33 killed between North and South Carolina.

Several hundred Haitians shown still living under tents, cut off from the rest of the country from due to mudslides, and living without safe drinking water, malnourished children, and other vulnerability to other diseases such as cholera.

Port-au-Prince again became an 1-800 hotline number for donations.

Haiti’s has a rich history and many are wondering how much more can this island bear.

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Haiti’s-revolution: Photo Credit CBS News

I am not a scholar of Haiti’s politics, civil protection service, disaster preparedness, leadership, GDP, or religious philosophy.

Therefore, I will leave any deep attempt of its history, and culture to someone such as native opinion writer and columnist, Jean H Charles, and college friends from Haiti on its struggle and future.

I am an observer, and this is an opinion and not a scholarly paper on Haiti’s history, nor do I intend to make an argument for “reparation”, or how prior invasions may or may not have contributed to its struggles today.

Despite its democratic elected government, Haiti’s fate always is uncertain. And with ongoing protests, and people running out of patience, both human and natural disaster are inter connected.

Haiti has a history of dictatorship, and political infighting still roars like the storm as it struggles to find the right wave.

Historians argue that between 1791 to 1804 was what is called the Haiti Revolution against slavery, control over their destiny and other human rights. However, despite being the first colonized nation in the region to gain independence, Haiti it seems is always in search of its own economic identity.

Haiti has fought Napoleon’s attempt to reclaim France’s Saint Dominque as Haiti was known, as well as resisted the US occupation in 1915.

19thcenturyagriculture

19thcenturyagriculture

Although built on the back of slave labour, Haiti was the wealthiest French colony from the production of sugar, coffee, and other commodities according to historians.

Officials have argued that decades of asphyxiating policies from France to the US, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other agencies have contributed to its decades of stagnation and inability to meet some basic needs of its people.

Haiti’s history never seems to be a guide to its future, but more of a hindrance.

Maybe Haiti’s tenacity to be left alone has excluded key financial investments.

Sadly, leadership for the past three decades seems like they arrived from default, or by selecting provisional presidents because of their likability to a few dominant nations.

No, Haiti does not need Wyclef Jean, a popular singer who is a native of Haiti or any other based on global popularity.

Although his foundation has done good work for Haiti, there are still questions if it has met some core principle of accountability surrounding donations, to prove transparency to gain public trust.

hurricane-matthew-haitiAfter Matthew landed, the US military sent a navy ship to help at the request of the USAID, and the State Department:

Even Daniel Snyder, Washington DC Redskins football owner, flew his private plane with two of his team players descended from Haiti, Pierre Garcon, and Jean Francois, according to the Washington Post.

I am sure there are many others with close ties that have given back in some from.

What next, after zinc homes have been remounted in the same spot when the river dried up again, the planes, media have left, and it rains again?

Haiti’s disasters are too common, whether political, economic, or social, artificial or systemic.

Nevertheless, Haiti is not alone fighting poverty, and searching for an economic identity, few of its neighboring islands were spared.

How would they have managed had Mathew taken a different path?

haiti-location-on-the-caribbean-map

haiti-location-on-the-caribbean-map

Some argued that Haiti’s location places it at the mercy of nature, but leaders and preparedness have to be more effective, not only to minimize the death toll after these events, but an opportunity to rebuild, and move people out of poverty.

With limited shelters, or even fear of losing personal possessions from people looking to exploit these disasters if one becomes displaced. As a result, many stayed home hoping to ride out these storms, and that become detrimental.

October 11, 2016, the New York Times, reported that the US has halted deportation for Haitians in the US illegally.

Despite the welcome temporary policy by advocates, this move cannot change Haiti’s economy. A nation that continues to hope without a clear path will be always looking to an escape route to fulfill a dream.

Today many of us are products of that same hope as our parents and grandparent left these poor regions to realize elsewhere.

From the south to north migrations, east to west across states and continents, people continue to move in massive numbers; to escape poverty, political turmoil, inequality, barbaric ideology, violence and other criminal elements, and intolerance.

Many places could use some rebuilding from these storms, and everyone must work together, put self-interest on hold because when these hurricanes come they do not discriminate based on age, sex, creed, color, culture, or economic status and even location.

Jamaica’s troubled package from the UK

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Former UK P.M. David Cameron, and Portia Simpson-Miller: Photo Credit- JIS

The package: On September 25, 2015, the BBC News reported that ministry of justice in the United Kingdom announced a £25m deal to build a prison in Jamaica so that about 300 incarcerated Jamaicans now in the UK can be sent home to serve sentences on their native island.

Shortly afterwards, former British prime minister, David Cameron, followed up with a visit to Jamaica. This visit was more of an inquest to mark a building site before the courting and honeymoon period was over. It seemed that the pound sign euphoria blurred the real intent of this package.

Sadly, after many dates, big speeches, election cycles, and promises, too often accountability is left in the dark in isolation like a cellblock when the lights are out.

Although these offenders must be held accountable: Where they should serve the rest of their sentences remains a debate, and that needs not be driven by profit, but critical analysis for its long-term impact.

The proposed cellblocks appear like a new form of cultural gentrification in disguise being sold as outsourcing of criminals.

Importantly, how does the relocation of these prisoners benefit Jamaica’s poor economy?

What is certain, only few well-connected people will benefit tremendously while it can disproportionately burden Jamaica’s economy like a long sentence.

uk-1The unwrapping: Crime is always nation’s national security problem. And a nation has to balance public safety and its finances: the UK has the right to do what protects its people, and its economic future.

Since the late 2010, as reported, statistics of the ministry of justice showed that the prison population in England and Wales has increased rapidly and costs more than four billion a year to house the inmates. This figure has doubled in the past 20 years.

The UK has more privatized prisons than most of Europe combined, and it seems incapacitation has now replaced rehabilitation for many.

These blue waters prisoners will cut the UK’s recidivism rate and corrections cost, and that it is hard to debate.

Since accepting £25 million, this topic went silent. It is simply a financial reward for justice and long-term treatment of these offenders will fade like pain after the plane or ship vessel vacates.

Conceptually, I believe Jamaica indirectly or directly created some of the long pre-sentence reports that have contributed to these criminal packages.

The region has seen local manufactory industries and commodities being replaced with imports, charitable contributions, and an educational system in decline.

Poverty continues to cloud decision-making, economic crisis, political blunders and search for leadership remains critical to balance what seems to be organized anarchy on unilateral decisions.

Today, many are seeing decisions being made beyond economic rationality, and simply based on the currency conversion rate. This highlights the region’s complexity of justice, power, national security, corrections and even the attorney general’s role in these cases.

Opinion writer, Herbert Volney: “Silence of Trinidad and Tobago’s Judiciary.” He highlighted that all voices should be heard objectively, and balance of power in government from top down.

The packing tapes: Historians can even blame Jamaica’s decline since 1846 after Britain rescinded favourable terms of trade, 6 August 1962, independence that has created more dependents, increased in crime, and political discourse that has widened the gaps between the haves vs. have-nots.

Since the arrival of the British around 1655 and after Spain ceded Jamaica to England in 1670 by the Treaty of Madrid, these historic footprints never left.

To Britain’s credit, despite its negative colonial past, it has always given aid to Jamaica and other Caribbean islands, but seldom publicized. One example, New York Times reported that on May 8, 1907, it guaranteed a loan after a major earthquake in Jamaica.

The once open migration policy benefited families who left for Britain, and through remittances that lifted others from poverty.

However, should Jamaica continue to be a place for dumping, especially for families who were disconnected from migration?

Inside P5the box: Although these offenders must to be held accountable for their actions, often migration missed several key diagnosis issues such as drugs and alcohol, anti-social behaviour, mental health issues before they rejoin their families.

What would a psychological, psychosexual or substance abuse assessment have revealed before migration for some of these offenders?

Additionally, many immigrants face high employment and isolation, combined with low education skills and few struggle to adapt to a new way of life as studies have shown.

In addition, some are exposed to gangs, radicalized, join criminal enterprises, and disintegrate from their parent’s work ethic, pride and compliance to basic rules.

An alternative package: What about rehabilitation of few current Caribbean outdated and deplorable prisons, more funds for poor rural health clinics; schools, drug rehabilitation counselors, vocational training centres for job readiness or, even better, forensic team to solve current crimes.

Jamaica and other earlier British subjects in the region could use another form of payment:

“Reparation?”

When former Prime Minister Cameron was asked, he avoided the question like many before him.

For decades, writers, reformers and advocates believed that reparation would have championed more democracy, economic development, better civil society, and overall people’s health that would fundamental safeguard prosperity.

Quietly, not all Caribbean people support compensation to descendants of former enslaved people: some still see themselves as the ruling class, while others struggle to present a road map if and how reparation could lift the nation.

These in-fights and struggles further highlight that if reparation were to be awarded, who will benefit?

Few scholars still see corruption as a major part of poverty in the region, and a new prison is not an economic formula to lift Jamaica out of poverty.

Today, it seems that government success is not about cutting the unemployment rate, or raising gross domestic product, graduating more college students, but rather keeping the death rate under 1,000 as few reported.

More emphasis should be given in preparing the islands’ youths for a brighter future, thus lessens the appetite for migration to the UK and other places for survival.

ja-birth-cThe label: Many who left these islands were infants, and the only cultural connection is where one’s birth certificate is registered.

Individually these offenders might have different cases; nevertheless, deportees today lack proper assessments: Are these packages; robbers, rapist, child predators, murders, drug dealers and even victims or have psycho-emotional health issues.

Reintegration remains a struggle and critical medical treatment often associated with this population lacks proper funding.

It has been reported that most of the crimes being committed today in the Caribbean are by deportees, and even if committed by an offender who never left the island, they are blamed.

Few complained of being targeted and isolated.

With limited resources, law enforcement and the community are at a higher risk.

Conveniently, the UK can unload and lighten its cellblocks as recent reports noted; it is poised to become a minority-majority nation soon.

Will the same re-gift occur if other ethnic groups’ crime numbers increase?

prison-1The stamp: Who next will arrive on these shores: homeless, queer, unemployed, or few with different political ideology?

For Jamaica, and other poor nations balancing capitalism, race, culture, barbaric ideologies seem like a steel gate. Furthermore, public safety is like a deferred sentence where conformity is simple because they believe they are being watched until the light goes off.

Many will use what I call a sad occasion to compare that other nations still struggle with massive killings due to easy access to guns, drugs, and poverty. However, this fails to see the broader point that criminals, especially in a service economy that struggles to manage local crimes, could be more problematic.

Regardless of the political silence, where the prison will be built, who will supply beds, clothing, and food served; who is poised to gain should be made public.

Does Jamaica really have a voice, especially where key industries are owned and operated by multinationals investors from privatization?

With Brexit now a reality, and withdrawal from the European Union, there are plenty economic uncertainties that could complicate this package.

Commentary: Orlando Mass killings, a call for rebuilding our community:

Orlando VictimsTime to become one again: “Don’t Haffi Dread to be Rasta.” Those are the worlds of famous family band, Morgan Heritage. To a larger extent of the song, it’s not one’s physical appearance, but the affairs of the heart.

What happened in Orlando that left 49 people dead and more than 50 injured during the massive attack on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Club on June 12, 2016, has made those few words more profound today.

These attacks, including others such as September 11, 2001, over 3,000 died; Paris 2015, 130 dead; Charleston, North Carolina, June 17, 2015, nine families dead during a prayer meeting, and the recent killing of British Labour Party legislator, Jo Cox, on June 16, 2016. have become too normal, while communities are being divided into sub-groups, race, class, and economic status while quietly spinning on an unexplainable axis.

These barbaric actions are not just an American problem, but global. Although a few world leaders have sent their support for the victims, a few still support the anti-gay agenda that continues to divide communities despite a few tweets to give an impression that they are part of the equality movements.

At a time when people are more connected, communities are still further apart than before. His god, our god, their god, over there, those up the hill, down the road, dress certain way, and even socio-economic status, that has created them, those, others, and the isolation and salience has become the norm.

Indeed, this call for a new community gathering is to show that differences should not be a platform for more division, but to create better opportunities, and help others to reach their full potential collectively; including recognizing the need to intervene or interact to make a difference.

A strong community is public safety, tolerance, and economic prosperity. It can simply be an outlet for some troubled individuals looking for comfort, and who may even have difficulties trying fit in and could cut the appetite for joining a gang, or becoming radicalized.

Our humanity and safety: Recently US Vice President Joe Biden called for a change to the rape culture during a United States Women Summit. It was reported that it seemed like an overwhelming task for one man to discuss over 5,000 women.

I say so what?

I am not a gay man, but that should not stop one from using a platform, and other forums to highlight the importance of tolerance, not only in the LBGT community, fighting against domestic violence, exploitation, child abuse and other socio-economic ills that are inflicting pain especially among the less fortunate among us.

An attack the LBGT community is not new.

And yes!

Along these beautiful shores, many have been killed or outcast for simply being part of the LGBTQ community. It might not have been 49 in one night, but one a day adds up. Many are losing their lives along these beautiful shores daily.

There are laws in some regions that prohibit LGBT people from marrying, and could result in prison sentence, stoning or other forms of death.

In this community, reports have shown that, since 2010, youth between 18 to 30 years old were 2.41 times likely to experience violence. And today, the numbers could be higher.

BlameWhen these incidents occur there are unanswered questions after the leaders, cameras are gone, only to be replaced by blame games.

Should law enforcement have arrived earlier?

What is the correct political message?

How soon for new gun policies

How did this person come off a terrorist watch list?

What was the security level at the club?

Is it a mental health, terrorism or religious ideology?

Or could he have been gay, as some psychological studies have shown many of these perpetrators struggle with their own sexuality.

The Internal Assessment: Law enforcement cannot solve these problems alone. Often, the community knows the people, before law enforcement, but fails to speak up. From the parents, other family members to the teachers, and friends, they have to speak up when they see strange behaviour being displayed, radical ideas spreading hate, or even a mentally disturbed person before it is too late.

In addition, some of these churches that should have been an extended community have also become isolated. Few even praised the Orlando atrocity as a noble act by god’s prophets for the sins of this community from their own ideology:

Nevertheless, one does not have to be a member of the LGBT community to call this a terrorist act.

Equally important, those whose lives were lost came from several cultural and ethnic backgrounds, simply out having a good time.

Sure, as a society, some progress has been made on race relations. But hate has been a DNA code many would like to solve. According to a recent NY Times report, by Haeyoun Park and Iaryna Mykhyalyshyn, the LGBT community today is more likely to be targeted than any other group. Once it was Jews and blacks who were more likely.

Where does it stop?

Who will be next?

Looking Back: Many of these “location gay”, who have limited financial capital, especially in poor countries, remain in a struggle.

I have written about domestic violence and homophobia, and targeting of the powerless, and the poor. Few tweets, likes on Facebook, Instagram while being and isolated alone cannot build a community.

No one expects the more fortunate LGBT community to be the answer and protector for all. However, there is still stratification despite one umbrella, and more needs to be done because, if this is a civil rights movement, it should not exclude the poor.

Civil rights are not for the privileged, but for everyone who are victims in that protected group.

Sure, this was an act in the US, and it is an America issue. So, why it is showing up in the Caribbean news?

Time to become more aware: No one can tell when someone will use violence to send a message.

Few have mentioned, managing the devil you know is difficult, but the devil you don’t know is more dangerous:

Understanding the potential indicator from your own infrastructure, or suspicious people can be critical, as suggested by leading law enforcement agencies.

The community has to regroup, trust law enforcement to better protect, and cut any false alarm.

The community has to begin to maintain constant awareness, demand policies from leaders to protect them.

It is not much different from protecting your own property; societies have to become more vigilant and begin to speak up when they suspect something or a person who harbours radical thoughts against people, struggling to fit in or animosity against certain groups or even government and the basic rule of law.

The community can only be stronger if these fights can continue beyond the cameras.

DDiversity always wins: There are many victims that could use a community gathering, from poor medical treatment, better drinking water, sexual exploitation, trafficking, forced marriages, and even your local law enforcement could use a lead to solve a crime.

Not all events have to affect one personally to make a difference. Furthermore, demanding an answer for these sinless killings or a drug overdose should not be only because a family member becomes a victim.

Do not think these crimes cannot hit your community.

These atrocities are quietly becoming a matter of national security, and an economic liability, especially for these service economies.

Finally, this crime should be a paradigm shift for tolerance. Such as the civil rights movements, women rights and other social changes, some events will cause society to pause, regardless of what side you are on, and this one might just be the start of something new.

Whatever higher power you support, it is believed that all are created equal.

Commentary: If the curry is tainted with lead, what else?

curry-4If  curry is tainted with lead, what else? By D.R. Miller

Our Curry:  Curry spice has been a main part of several cuisines in India, China, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Caribbean Island such as Jamaica, Trinidad, and Martinique according to the Encyclopedia Britannica (International Foods).

This spice product not only use as a stimulation flavor, but also believed to be used for medicinal purposes.

Spices in general remain a global empire despite centuries ago when it was one of the main economic engine in several conquests.

The recent announcement that several companies; Jamaica Brand, Blue Mountain, Ocho Rios, Oriental, and Grace Kennedy have recalled  a blend products from mild to spicy across all brands, due to the presence of lead.

This has left many still asking questions.

The report noted that, the product was distributed in New York and Florida and was sold through internet sales and retail stores nationwide.

Among these companies, Grace Kennedy, one of the Caribbean Islands more recognized brand and leading manufacture of Caribbean products for decades.

Despite our parents migration to other countries, and have amalgamated, several home meals to have had  dash of a little Grace Ketchup, Jerk Sauce, or Curry.

curry-5A delicate balance: Although Oriental Packing Company has established an 1800 number to address the issue. Regardless where the curry products  manufactured, distributed or any subsidiaries in the U.S., Caribbean, and  other places, this  can have  a long-term negative impact.

However, this might have already had an aroma difficult to get out of the house, and can change a cultural history. This simply from current and potential, their customers now views of these products tucked away in a global food chain isle called international foods.

The tinted curry not only gives its customer base, a reason to pause, but now wondering what else in the section or  their pantries could be harmful from accumulation overtime and the potential long term health consequences.

Despite warning about batch numbers, it is very difficult to find those numbers on some of those products.

Brand locality sometimes makes customers overlook, problems in a brand. This is not to say that these Companies involved or any other subsidiaries have not adhered to the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) rules.

In addition, competition is always healthy. It sometimes lower prices for the consumer. These products are being viewed delicately and therefore often sold at a premium.

What is troubling, competitions seems have caused accountability and standards to be diminished.

Furthermore, few still hold the belief that despite these new brands, one production, but different labels and the recall only confirms that.

curry-7-1Our Contribution: As an official sales representative, on several occasions, I made sure even one of these products faced properly I walk down an aisle, or answer a question without hesitation from a curious customer who wanted to try a Caribbean product.

The days when some of us approached managers in small and major food chain stores, rural or city store, and asks for Caribbean products and soon afterwards, a small section of a lisle stacked with these seasons and added crackers, coconut juice, and other Caribbean products emerged perhaps has diminished.

This has also made a stroll along the isles

less certain, and that could result in a loss of jobs for employees connected throughout the islands and other places where the potential of losing sales could be tremendous until confidence can be restored.

curry-7Profit and the competition Dilemma:  Many believe that Grace Kennedy has more to lose.  It has been a household name for decades.

Grace has been around for over 90 years, and was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1922. It covers north, and Central America, the UK, and Africa.

Could Grace Integrity and others breaking in to the market has now become victims of success, competition and demands?

Grace in 2014 according to the reports purchased another powerhouse; the La Fe Foods, Inc. This brand had several distributions chains from to New Jersey to Miami.

In 2016, according to the Jamaican Observer, Grace Kennedy profit soared over 78 percent, and some can be attributed to its foreign base consumers.

Although Grace now has a curry problem, chances are it will survive. It is well balance with other ventures in insurance, banking and money services; however, its customers might only see them from what ended up in their kitchen.

Grace not only established itself as a powerhouse in the Caribbean, from giving back to the community, and sponsoring several cultural events, it has the financial stability to emerge from this setback.

Since the recall, I have made a few calls to older friends and family in making sure they were aware of this recall. Despite concerns, they stay loyal.

curry-2What Next:  I am not an expert on curry or its products: It is not a required daily intake like water despite few opinions of potential health benefits.

This recall has not reached the level of media attention as what occurred in the U.S., Flint Michigan in 2016. It was reported that a range of will-full neglect caused drinking water to become contaminated with lead. Many customers are still not aware of this issue.

This curry dilemma is not political, and will not cause the Caribbean government immediately introduce laws protected the local customer base, it is also less likely to be affected as an adult with lead, where children are more susceptible to poising.

This is a time to ask serious question about what else

Although this is a U.S. base recall, it should open the door for local Caribbean food oversight to make sure these food products are being monitored.

Many customers might not have the option like a lead in the water to demand compensation, change in leadership, and brought litigation for compensation, and blame the government or to research the long-term impact.

However, one cannot decrease the potential health problem because no one really knows how long these products have been contaminated.

curry-3The danger: Curry is not a required daily intake, but it only highlights what others been getting away with for decades.

This Curry is not a human tragedy and, myself is not a fan of curry, nor do I have any concerns that aim affected.

On the other hand, lead poising is dangerous for everyone.  It can cause anxiety, memory loss, depression, skin lesions, and hair and vision loss.

Most importantly, several research has shown that exposure can affect the development of a child IQ that can result in learning disabilities.

Who’s Fault: This is not a Grace Kennedy issue only, but an avenue to take a closer look at what else could be tainted in the kitchen.

Why stop at the curry, residence in the region should start by looking a local drinking water still passing through old lead pipes, and even the impact of the bauxite pollution.

Now I am wondering why a loaf of Caribbean bread in the U.S., expiration date is longer than the average bread.

Sadly, this could open the door for other goods, and the quiet imports trading that is being running beneath the surface now find has opening to dump even more on the island.

Now that the curry has been spilled these companies has to restore confidence, in the fewer people will want chicken curry and rice, even got, or lamb.

Consumers remain hopefully, but this global presence has now put these companies under the microscope, and that now requires responsibility.

curry-8Off to find jar of curry, but only if I can find the batch number to match the recall number.

Oh! I lost the receipt and I paid cash.