The elephant is still in the room: Women leaders in Caribbean and the silent struggle`

BY R.D. Miller

The foggy mirror that exposed the past:

The glass ceiling in the Caribbean may have had some fractures, but it is still undisturbed. This is a crucial moment when political communities are questioning who is best placed to take them out of violent crime, endemic poverty, and a new direction in the desperate hope of a better future.

These local political communities repeatedly are controlled by men, but women have been critical to their advancement, whether as an educator, nurse, police officer, or as a wife who keeps the family together.

Photo by Anete Lusina

In a recent report by Leta Hong Fincher for CNN, she noted that a “United Nations and Inter-Parliamentary Union report highlighted that 10 of 152 elected heads of state were women, and men made up 75 percent of parliamentarians, 73 percent of managerial decision-makers and 76 percent of the people in mainstream news media.”

Over the past few decades, a growing number of women have emerged from the shadows and sought higher positions, but many women have also failed. Despite these cracks in the ceiling, it has not favored an easy passage for others.

It is not their accomplishments that have been questioned or their commitment to public duty, but it may be “being a woman”.

From the archived of achievement:

Since the death of Eugenia Charles, the first woman to hold the post of Prime Minister of Dominica, on July 21, 1980–on June 14, 1995, there has been no other to date in Dominica. Today, the selection of leaders resembles a “beauty contest” and where their image is more important than skills or economic policies.

The Hon. Eugenia Charles: Prime minister of Dominica, July 21, 1980, – June 14, 1995,

The Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller: Prime minister of Jamaica; March 2006 – September 2007 and again January 2012 – March 2016

The Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar Prime Minister: Trinidad and Tobago, May 2010 – September 2015.

Except for the late Eugenia Charles, Portia Simpson, and Kamla Persad were defeated when they ran for re-election. It created more critical analyses of how they lost rather than their political accomplishments.

They were too tough, unable to connect to shifting demographics; something disconnected them from the working class, oppressed, but rarely spoke of hidden sexism, misogynist views, low voter turnout, and parliamentary control in which some representatives appeared not to recognize their power.

Prime Minister Mottley, twice-elected leader of the political opposition before his stunning victory in 2018, was one region’s brightest independent philosophers. She recently encouraged increased moral leadership and critical collaboration, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, to enhance the health systems across the region.

The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley: Prime Minister of Barbados

While not all women often agree on the same measures, particular political approach even values based on experience, the pressure for socio-economic equality, upward mobility, gender equity, many scholars noted that calls for creative collaboration to have a stronger representation in the Caribbean and elsewhere remains in the mirror.

The elephant in the room:

The incremental rise of populism never works in the Caribbean, especially today. It typically leads to what seems to be personal financial gains of the elected office. The legislative elections should undoubtedly focus on the next generation, rigorous debates in which the legitimate concerns and interests of voters are properly aligned with their economic future.

Recently, I studied a deliberation concerning Lisa Hanna, former World 1993 and MP (Jamaica) whose personal beauty attracts more recognition than her policies.

Reports have shown that Lisa Hanna has won her local elections regardless of the party power and several voters believe she may have a stronger chance to give Jamaican a simple distinction regarding the nation’s future.

Hon. Lisa Hanna: Member of Parliament-Jamaica

Will she ascend to lead the National People’s Party (PNP) of Dr. Peter Phillips, MP and Leader of the Opposition?

Will the Honorable Dr. Phillips, who holds the power, surrender to her or any other comrade after decades in government? This is still a crossroads as far as changing guards are concerned.

Mr. Phillip has been one of Jamaica’s finest legislators and experience contributed remarkably to the nation. However, some probable voters may consider it is time to cede power, as the demographics have shifted to a younger group.

But can he instantly remove the barriers that women often face in politics, from a decade of a stained mirror woven an old colonial and slavery mentality, where only a few get through, or can he use his skills and talents to capture the imagination of young voters to change course, or continue to steer this political ship into an iceberg?

The fact is, it seems, this party ship captain leadership will take if not everyone, a majority of the crew if it sinks based on the polls with them.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic, stagnated economic issues, and high employment, whoever is selected will need a strategy to reduce organized crime, violence attracts new investments that benefit all, and aggressively reduce the divide between the haves and have-nots.

Given the complexity of the global economy, the intellectual and physical capacity of a candidate to lead a country in pain is a genuine question. If Lisa Hanna became the commander of the party or elected the next prime minister, would the elephants leave the room for her administration?

Often policy in the Caribbean seems to operate as an apprentice in a local mechanic’s workshop. An opportunity to show his skills only when the supervisor has no choice, or can no longer steer, so we spread.

Unfortunately, holding on to power creates division, disconnect, and a stalemate of new ideas for advancement, and to create a pathway for the next women leaders.

Of course, some will push back with force to make it look like it’s a day in church, and I get it, they’re all politicians, and I’m not in the room. The parliamentary system throughout the region, for these potential women leaders to climb to the top, they must win the approval of the men in the system.

A delicate balance:

Leadership is again the skill to establish a feeling of steady and realize that being a passenger one can use the experience of a road traveled for years to offer better direction rather than trying to drive when one must make frequent stops to attend to personal needs.

Maybe term-limits should be considered where communities across the region must ask themselves; each election cycle with the same guards, are they feel safer regardless and have the new platform for economic prosperity on many fronts, jobs, education, access to good and affordable healthcare regardless of party affiliation, especially in poor and developing countries plagued with crime and economic stagnation.

Every vote has consequences, but losing an election does not mean ascending mobility for women in the Caribbean is lifeless. The appointment of more women to political office is essential; in particular, teenage girls to have a role model, better education, job opportunity, health, and security.

People genuinely believe, “democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people,” but it is an oligarchy system where elected leaders get to select who they figured out the community will recognize from an emotional connection on both sides to provide them with increased control on personal power disguised as working for the community.

To be more than just a number, it requires more mobilization through common threads, where more women support each other regardless of political sides because after the dust settles, its politics and action can be the key to student success or failure.

Photo by Christina Morillo

This is not a brutal censure from a political aim of view. Many elected representatives use appointed positions to state that they are inclusive. But purposeful exploitation also comes in all forms, even at the top, with political titles, because if they can only hear her opinion voice after the meeting.

The Mother’s Day tweets to your constituents are great, but an economic plan to lift these young women out of poverty and crime should support them, and others that may be trapped in a violent relationship.

Handing out few grocery bags is always good for the poor, but if followed by a camera for a 30-second video to tweet while asking the recipients to say thank you to the leaders, the exploitation of the borders. Of course, it offers a temporary solution and the following day, but the long-term viability remains murky.

Facing the reality head on.

The centrality of women’s issues will not change because of the elections. Access to crucial career pathways is critical, particularly for young women. To reduce these obstacles, leaders need to coach and encourage the next generation to lead. For young people in the region to emerge as the next leaders, they need to know there is hope.

This is not the time to go on an apology tour because if the official titles for many women in the region are “former,” because it cannot become a comfort zone. Very rear men apologize for their failure according to many studies.

According to Pew’s analysis, and an academic study noted that about 50 percent of women in the labor market today have an undergraduate degree matching the number of men educated at college. Sadly, these academic accomplishments still have barriers in developing leaders and business owners to design a model for the later generation.

The voice of young people in the region for them to emerge as the next leaders still need to know there is hope. This is not the time to go on an apology tour because if the official titles for many women in the region are “former,” because it cannot become a comfort zone. Very rear men apologize for their failure according to many studies.

I’m not an expert on women’s politics, and although more women have become politicians in the region, their male counterparts seem to remain in the shadows.

They must see the barriers or tenacious issues that women encounter as one of them and not as the women on the separate part of the house working together to change the barriers in poor communities.

I do not have an electoral vote, nor do I support anyone. A political candidate should not lose an election because he is a woman, and he should not lose because he is standing against a woman.

It is not a frantic call for men to resign from their elected positions. And just because you can’t see the elephant, or because one is charismatic, doesn’t mean he’s not there.

To reduce serious criminality, a COVID-19 strategy is needed in some Caribbean `islands.`

BY R.D. Miller

Part I- Finding the right balance

COVID-19 has triggered an economic crisis, with job losses, business closures, and restrictions. It also highlighted structural inequities in the medical system preparedness; access to affordable healthcare and the strength of many economies, especially in some poverty-stricken and developing countries.

Following the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spill onto the coast of the Caribbean Islands. It included similar waves of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety we have seen elsewhere. The news conferences and push for compliance by elected officials have reduced the risk of this communicable disease, including death rates to date based on local reports.

The pandemic also underscored the tension between political party leaders, local communities, the science to the best way to mitigate the potential spread and the safety of front-line staff.

Furthermore, what party was better prepared to handle the crisis without a vaccine on many socio-economic, and healthcare issues that cannot be washed away?

It equally served as the political basis for the next local election campaign. Each opposing side accused the other of the nation’s shortcomings from preparedness; economic loss, corruption, to bed space available, and other resources present to cope with the pandemic.

Fortunately, behind the cameras; the Personal Protective Equipment [PPE’s]; dedicated doctors, and nurses work faithfully to combat this lethal disease in these challenging conditions. And their approach seems to have made a huge impact in the initial stage with this virus.

Photo by Laura James on

But figuring out precisely how deadly the coronavirus will be, how many people are infected, and the exact number of deaths being reported remains a key question facing epidemiologists and local communities.

Like many other places, in which the tourist industry plays an essential role in the local economy, and a huge part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Managing this pandemic effectively is critical, and it has created a delicate balance between local business operations, job losses, tourism, curfew, public safety, and long-term economic sustainability.

Part II The other public health crisis off the ventilator

While the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, there is another epidemic. This is an extra strain on are the criminal violence virus. It kept coming back for decades that equally needed a national daily conference like COVID-19 strategies. Several reports have shown an increase in multiple shootings, robberies, thefts, assaults, and murders and an increase in gang activities.

Photo by Faruk Tokluou011flu

These issues may demonstrate external influence such as drug trafficking, and illegal firearms being imported, but handling crime requires more collaboration to curtail criminal enterprises; and what are some of the internal driving factors.

And while local law enforcement cannot attribute the uptick in violence where deaths may surpass the pandemic numbers, it serves as another public health crisis behind the mask, awareness, curfews, and lock-downs, or political deflection.

The answers many of these communities will seek for years are, they may understand that the Coronavirus crime wave threatens the economy, but between economic downturns from the pandemic and the increases in crime rates, which one do you hold accountable, the virus or the leaders?

Although violence is ubiquitous; unfortunately, some regional media outlets in these communities often compare to minimize, and that is not a solution. It creates a message of moral equivalence that is deviating from local crime reality and other systematic issues.

At some point, if all the apples under the tree are rotten, you may now have to look at the tree.

According to police statistics from January 1–March 2020, 306 people were killed across Jamaica. What these numbers told us, if that average weekly murder rate continues; sadly, Jamaica seems to be on track to reach over 1, 200 deaths this year.

Between January and February 2020, reports show that Trinidad and Tobago recorded over 73 murders. If this trend continues, it may surpass 2019, 536 murders–the second-highest in Trinidad’s history for one year.

If this trend continues, it assumes an honorific title no civilized nation should be proud of in the region as the highest murder rate per 100, 000 local inhabitants. The other number often hidden, the death rate is also edging up from an average of 35.8 to now over 40.1 based on several crime analysis reports.

Though identifying where the specific crime might happen can be difficult, what are the social disadvantages and, economic barriers that make joining a gang more attractive for many youths- to even break social distancing rules?

A nation can curtail a pandemic through travel restrictions and other government programs, but it must begin to analyze troubled spots that led to ongoing crime.

Realistically it is not an overnight solution to sufficiently address neglect, re-victimization, school fights that can escalate, weapons accessibility, school dropouts, Juvenile delinquency, use of drugs or alcohol. Leading experts argued that if these issues are not handled early can escalate into more problems.

Leaders must know the warning signs: low self-esteem, mental health issues like depression, lack of parental guidance, anger, economic inequality, and social disadvantage to address these subjects. 

While these debates continue with each changing guard of the people’s house, horrific crimes have not waned. Today, it seems nowhere, or no one is safe from the pulpit to schools. It looks like criminals; gangs abducting students, murdering intellectuals, sports icons, youths, entrepreneurs; business owners, and cases surrounding domestic violence which is on the rise, according to local reports.

Part III- Violent crime does not discriminate like COVID-19 regardless of the political side in power

Experts also noted that English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, like Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, and parts of Latin America such as Honduras, Venezuela have high rates per 100,000 inhabitants. These rates are six times higher than those of the United States and 15 to 30 times higher than those of most European countries, according to several data on crime.

Studies have shown that on average about 40 percent of the Caribbean population identifies crime and security-related issues more severe facing their countries, further so than poverty or inequality. And while leaders debate, the emotional and physical effects linger, and sadly, there will be more victims.

In contrast, Bermuda, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, and other countries maintain lower rates. Of course, they are less populous, and although some remain under colonial rule and well-managed government, there are also reported smuggling of illicit drugs, and firearms, organized crime, and criminal gangs, but these islands have a much better handle on crime. Bermuda recorded its first murder in two years: five in 2018 and zero (0) murders in 2019.

Reports also show that crime costs countries in Latin America and the Caribbean approximately three percent of GDP on average, representing over US$350 billion in policing, private spending, violent victimization, and capital investments.

The hidden victims

While following the COVID-19 rule, a 75-year-old grandmother held back tears after Ahkeem Lindsay, a 22-year-old man shot to death on March 26, 2020. She spoke of her frustration at the continuing violence, according to the Jamaican Gleaner.

Photo Credit: Jamaica Gleaner

Her story reverberates with other victims, and the data shows that a cycle of violence repeats itself. Often a quick media clip is published as empathy, but only gives the impression of concern, while victims in these communities have barely to no follow-up support. Besides, many of these crimes go on unsolved.

Today, more high-powered weapons are being displayed on social media only seen in war zones. And though the local authorities have seized few; there may be gloomier days if these criminals continue roaming these streets.

They are too many reports of innocent people embarking on their daily lives, hard-working business owners contributing to the local economy, but their success seems to place them at high risk for these criminals.

Society must get back to taking care of each other, and that is how a nation reduces the feeling like it is on trial after each crisis

Regrettably, when you have reports of weapons found in barrels and those containers that are normally used to import food and other supplies; it seems the nation is being prepared for a civil war, or gangs creating more mayhem on the already criminal enterprise.

Further, for everyone one barrel of weapons or illegal drugs found, how many already passed through these ports.

Maybe it is time to conduct a thorough background investigation on who are the employees in these critical public service jobs because they too play a pivotal role in the nation‘s safety and security.

Many experts cautioned that these trends support that you may have a failed state or edging closer.

Part IVThe judiciary role-separate but equal:

Today, it seems the court now must play a more active role. The American Bar Association said it best, The Role of Judges. “What does a judge do? Maybe it’s best to start with what he or she doesn’t do.”

A judge is not a law enforcement officer, and while they interpret the law, I believe to enact and enforce those laws better suited for the lawmaking body, other public servants, and the community in general.

Even though the court’s pivotal role continues as it always has been – to use sentencing policy to cut violence and enhance public safety. However, given today’s noticeable uptick in violence, the death penalty debate seems to emerge every few years.

Though it is ultimately cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment, many argued, some say it may deter these criminalities, that has diminished the tranquility of the nation.

Amnesty international opposed the death penalty and many countries have stopped such punishment for capital crimes.

If Jamaica and other high crime islands or any other regional areas still practice death by hanging, will it alter an offender’s behavior?

While debating Just Deserts, an Eye for an Eye, or Incapacitation. However, leaders must get to the root of the socio-economic decay because the tough penalty alone is not a solution. No modern nation can lock itself out of violence?

Even Though a term of confinement and sanctions may deter the offender and other individuals from committing acts of violence and increase general safety. Many of these poor and developing nations lack a Re-entry strategies.

The sequence of violence being reported, these islands have the data. Therefore, it is not total gloom or despair, but it needs a bold approach, and not we are going to because that is not a strategy nor minimization is a solution.

Throughout this essay, I’ve pointed to several key areas I believe are fundamental in addressing these issues. However, I have not shied away from the realism on the ground. Nevertheless, addressing criminality demands a forceful balanced approach.

The nature of a crime seems to capture more attention while the root of criminality diminished in these community debates. Sure, no nation cannot forecast criminal behavior for several reasons, but the reactionary application is not a long-term solution.

Furthermore, whether arming business owners or handing over more guns to citizens offers a solution. Most times, criminals target legal gun owners for their weapons, and some may be behind these new crimes.

If these communities feel that crime and other economic issues are being overlooked, or quick and rigid application serves as a public relations purpose, any strategies tend to have more questions than answers.

Walking a tight rope

Caught in the middle are those local dedicated law enforcement officers who must consistently wear multiple hats; key mediator, advisor, diversity coordinator, and youth advocate; group leaders; psychologists, and local volunteers.

They are overwhelmed, outgunned, and seem to lack the resources to minimize violence while consistently explaining the thin line between perceptions of the community and reality.

Officers must serve communities along a close political line. They are often exposed to imminent danger, overexerted hostility, and possibly underpaid.

The crucial role for officers of these communities is like discovering a COVID-19 vaccine as organized criminals who may suffer from mental illness, frustration, or feel untouchable due to political connections will not hesitate in inflect fear.

They will take anyone’s life in their path like the virus because they do not feel bound by the laws, and rules that have been established in a society.

Some are using this unprecedented period of unease, anxiety, uncertainty, and stress to unleash chaos on local communities. Unfortunately, a few will stand up for some of those accused of horrific criminal acts, camouflage, or refuse to provide valuable information to make local law enforcement more effective.

They cannot continue blaming law enforcement if they refuse to speak when they have critical information. These communities may have mass serial murderers on the local streets if they do not deal with these crimes with the support of the community.

Many are being told not to call the police believing that they will not show up to help. Some strains between law enforcement in these communities and what they are facing today are self-inflicted and others routed in a history of systematic distrust going back to colonial rule,

There are similar stores that are often under the radar, like Haiti. A CNN report mentioned a rising tension in February 2020; Armed Forces desolate country’s National Police headquarters, leaving one wounded, and a soldier dead in Port-au-Prince. Other published reports observed millions threatened by hunger in 2020 because of a spiraling economic and political crisis ten years after their terrible disaster that could cause more civil unrest.

Though we should hope for the best, this political turmoil and economic decay, the nation of Haiti may at boiling to tip over and inflame innocent people in its path

Photo Credit-Globe Post

Part VThe criminogenic risk and needs:

Social disadvantages not only in Jamaica but impoverished youths in poor and developing countries who feel abandoned from their economy with insufficient support to establish a solid ground to a positive direction, misconduct, and disorder become more attractive.

These ongoing barbaric headlines will not stop and require a holistic approach, like tackling this pandemic for a healthier future. It can no longer (us) compare to (them). The COVID-19 coverage, rules, and strategies have been good to date, but horrific crimes need more than “we’re aggressive on crime”, but do they ordinarily identify these criminals?

Often, these individuals have overlooked criminogenic risk factors that include anti-social cognition. They routinely exhibit risk factors like anti-social and personality behavior. They are angry, have inadequate education, and low job skills or training, employment, suffer from illegal substance abuse mental health issues. sadly, many are also victims of crime and need counseling.

Many spoke of the frustration with their leaders in the face of expectations, only to be stuck in a similar place after each election cycle. And though the economic and psychological implications of COVID-19 are still being assessed, there are more reports of domestic violence cases and robberies. Experts noted many people are now at home with little or no support and are unemployed, and may have had previous issues.

Today, it seems high powered weapons have replaced discussion to minimize minor conflicts. And with the lack of resources for resolution, disagreements degenerate into brutal personal aggression and killings. Many troubled individuals frequently have limited adaptive abilities and are quick to commit crimes against anyone, including family members in any conflict, through vigilante justice.

Crime reduction does not always achieve its goals form of imprisonment. Many incarcerated offenders struggle after the reintegration process with stigmatization, inhuman treatment, and the lack of resources to turn their lives. Using a general classification of all convicted offenders, whether inside or outside the prison walls, also creates tension and isolation.

Often many individuals who were deported lack resources to reintegrate, and yes, some are missed-classified and blamed for a crime even when innocent to deflect.

Studies have shown that modernized institutions and policies aimed at transforming offenders once they return to society have low rates of recidivism. Bordelais Correctional Institution in St. Lucia is an institution and others that I have visited and talked about minimizing community risk. They have an excellent re-entry program in a modernized facility.

The recruitment of good staff is as vital as the assessment and treatment of mental health, substance abuse, psycho-sexual evaluation, vocational training, and more investment in social workers. These interventions targeting criminal behavior towards community re-integration will create a fundamental change to address the causes of this problem.

Though it is not an easy task, fighting crime is more than an election talking point. To eradicate these pockets of criminals and build public trust, they need an all-hands-on-deck approach.

Public safety risk requires a multi-faceted approach ranging from rehabilitation, counselors, social workers, mentors, community advocates, and investment in these communities with the participation of law enforcement agencies to entertainers.

The correction institution, legislation, and judicial system including politicians where often the silence is deafening must speak beyond the elected or elite bubble; and address it as a public health issue.

Part VI-The social intelligence struggle

Every electoral cycle is like a revolving door in most of the region. Economic inequalities, rampant poverty, reported corruption that breeds hopelessness continues. Leaders on both sides blame each other, and this creates stagnation in critical crime-fighting and economic policies. At what point does good governance come into play once an election is over?

While many victims search for answers, rarely find both political sides call for the disruption of these criminal gangs in outlying parishes and counties. In achieving a common conviction, joint statements send a persuasive message to these criminals that the nation will not tolerate the chaos and mayhem.

Community and constituency leaders need to work together to condemn these barbaric ideas that target police; reduce robberies, murders, and kidnapping. They must accept the reality to eradicate these pockets of criminals and build back social trust regardless of socioeconomic status.

Many will claim patriotism from their gated community, locally or from abroad while they continue to influence the political system only to protect their profit margin while violence and systematic issues rage on.

The silent generation can no longer close their eyes hoping these atrocities will go away. Governance seems to have come down to a delicate balance between fear and holding on to the ballot box.

It appears that some leaders aren’t courageous and willing to tick off these criminals. They are walking a tight rope pushing back to peddle a delightful story while the systematic issues continue.

Personal responsibility can no longer be captured in a few tweets for likes, selective amnesia, and a false sense of empathy when one dies from a heinous crime. This conveys an impression as if politicians are the only shrewdest people in those communities who control the headlines to minimize the reality on the ground. And when responsible media call out the failures by leaders, they too are attacked.

Part VIICan the island pride still hold?

Despite these gloomy clouds, it is not a total tragedy on these banks; [Jamaica] and other islands’ economies will rebound, and the residents are still resilient. There are reports of modernization and recovery projects, like modern highways and technological upgrades.

Some government programs will help in the long run, but the widening gap between the rich and the poor has been stagnant for decades and maybe the cause of several issues that need to be addressed.

In many of these high-crime islands, pride is still an asset, but also a handicap when critical data present a fundamental problem that few divert elsewhere. Although COVID-19 has required several people to remain in their homes, many homes had already been mentally quarantined before the pandemic in gated communities, where security is a constant reminder from steel bars mounted on some homes.

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives

Today, there are still ex-pats and off-springs who are however looking to land safely. The advantage and disadvantages; many do not have a political side or agenda, left, right, conservative, or liberal but bound by heritage, roots, culture, or authentic love.

Many likewise are affected by COVID-19, but equality if criminals are creating a sense of unsafe feelings only when society beats this crime virus, people can gain back a sense of security like mitigating COVOD-19 with the vaccine and other safety measures.

You cannot give up because if these criminals win, there go these beautiful islands and other places.

Stay safe!

Did COVID-19 trigger a re-balancing of our society?

By R.D. Miller

Shortly after COVID-19 emerged out of China, other places like Spain locked down its nation of 46 million people; while other nations scramble to impose restrictions. The domino effect has also reached many Caribbean shores. Based on the report to date; the virus has infected more than 597,252 people worldwide and killed over 27,000 and still counting.

Before COVID-19 surfaced globally, conflicts seem everywhere; from racial, economic-divide over wages and the widen gap-between the haves and have-nots; environmental, housing price skyrocketing, political corruption, gentrification debate, gun-violence, violence against women, student loans, missing students, border crossings. These events seem to have become the daily norm, and some of us have become immune; or turned away.

In some parts of the world, geopolitical issues caused a massive exodus of people fleeing their land due to safety reasons, freedom from discrimination, poverty, and polarization. Subconsciously, many of us looking in are destitute, helpless and for some the only issue for that day maybe the length of the grass, late online delivery; the number of likes on social media, or how I look today.

To be clear many of us are products of our environment by birth or migration. This is not an indictment on success and freedom and despite the stability, it can change rapidly.

Since COVID-19 emerged, the price of oil has dropped and the global financial market crashed. Major airlines are cutting back as much as 40 percent of operations, stores have reduced hours and financial experts are predicting a global recession.

This new normal has affected everyone. I also find myself the last few days explaining to a few people along the shopping aisle that the only difference in some store brand, after being asked about an item in my cart; because items they are accustomed to buying were no longer on the shelves.

When society becomes more isolated from greed, violence, and social decay: it is inevitable that these things will occur. It seems that this is simply a re-balancing of our society, and while some impose their power on others, this virus only shows us how powerless we all are. Communities once overlooked or few never knew existed, not only are these cultural hubs carry daily supplies tucked inside a strip mall, they are vital to the community where many purchase familiar food items from their native land.

These markets are also a place that serves as a social connection hub. These global markets are like any major chain, but carries a wide range of Caribbean, African and Asian and Latin products.

Late Friday evening, I was getting prepared to stack up two-weeks of supplies as suggested by the experts. Shortly after I  pulled into an international store parking space; someone I have never seen  on this block in over 15 years of shopping at this location, pulled beside me.  He did  not look like the typical customers who navigates these  isles, or this expensive vehicle seen on this side of town.

“Maybe, this person owns the mall,” I thought. From the initial hello, that led to; “have you been here before?”

“Yes, “this is where I shop for many years,” I replied.

“I heard that the sore has lots of disinfection stuff here because it is nowhere else.”

“They have plenty of items, and a hidden treasure in the community, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetable,” I replied.

“Have a good one,” he said. “You too” I replied.

We went in together. I pointed him to the detergent area and disappeared into a separate aisle. This is one of many stories since the outbreak people have discoveries new shopping areas that were overlooked. Will it change the way we interact with each other, even over cleaning products, a roll of toilet paper? I remain hopeful.

As supplies became less, tempters escalated and reported fights some argued, stemming from greed over items such as toilet paper. Few fights made it to social media for a good laugh, but it also shows that regardless of social class, basic needs for survival is universal; but equally important, new bonds are formed in the shopping aisles over COVID-19.

While experts recommend social distance for our safety, it has brought people in a strange way across all strata in life. It has taken on a new psychological assessment, structured in baseline epidemiological analysis from identifying risk factors to how, and where we get the supplies we need for survival.

Yes, COVID-19 dynamics and intervention effectiveness remain unknown and have created confusion, concerns, minimization, blame such as during the height of the Aids-HIV epidemic and other outbreaks. It has exposed how prepared these nations were after selling a false sense of security, but when the reality strikes, it developed to – do what we say, but with little or no resources to implement these suggestions.

Curtailing a challenging widespread disease, society will examine politicians and organizations. Each attempt at the decision process to have better medical systems in place, to well-trained staff is pivotal to mitigate these issues.

Although this remains an un-explainable axis; expert analysis proved to be vital in reducing the spread of this disease. On the other hand, few attach their ideology to believe that it is their issue and not us.

Sadly, without deep analysis both qualitative and quantitative data on many fronts, places like the Caribbean islands, poor and developing countries, the dynamics on preparedness are suspicious, distrust woven from colonialism, inequality, racism, violence, and poverty where fear takes over fact, panic will set in as local governments try to put out the best to ease frustration.

Yes! In some countries, the sub-conscious political campaign has been over COVID-19. Even an idea of an opposition party can become a blame game; which some argued results in more press conferences than bed spaces to help victims are placed ahead of the political game.

Sure, there is fear because of what experts reported where it started in China. You find these establishments especially restaurants, suffered from the lack of customers, as some believed that these people just arrived at their location from China.

I have also seen many new social media accounts created. It has helped people to stay connected and educated across race, culture, and socio-economic status.

In previous epidemics, one group was identified and immediately isolated, now COVID-19 rips; it is no longer them over there, that group, color,  class, race, or location. Today, it may be the person who owns the mall where you buy your groceries, or the one sitting in the board room on a policy meeting.

As COVID-19 trudges on like the once colonial quest taking everything in its path and forced society to adapt, such as; the Galápagos turtles, where one has a longer neck because its survival depends on eating from trees, and the other has a shorter neck as its survival depends on the grass it grazes.

In the end, medical experts will have the data to determine both innate and adaptive immunity, but for now; we are all turtles, and at some point, we must come out for survival because everyone needs to live in a society free from disease; violence, intolerance and with the possibility for prosperity. Leaders should be ready to serve their people to meet these changes.