Commentary: Goodbye, going once, twice, sold

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aqThe New Coast: Recently a solemn promise was broken. A few of us halted all travel plans until we were convinced that the government had
the chikungunya virus under control. However, breast cancer took a dear family officer after 30-plus years in public service.  Despite
the earlier concerns, many of us went. Traveling the coastline, with the ocean dangerously few feet from the vehicle, while staring at beautiful homes tucked in hillsides, the temptation to pullover for a quick
swim, or capture the sunset, and walk barefoot from the cold left behind emerged.

However, a once simple pastime and custom for natives from a hot sunny day or a weekend with families to prime free beach areas to relax, is apparently becoming very difficult and just an idea. The high criminal elements that are sometimes a deterrent has now been taken over by: segregation, isolation and the fight equality now seems more dangerous.

Even vacant lotsJA 2014 Homes that should have been designated as historic land and preserved are either leased or bought by foreign private investors. Home prices are extremely high and few older structures that could use an upgrade, owned by the less fortunate people passed on from their ancestors, and dating back to British rule, many found themselves restricted to move freely. As the mega-building rises, green land and trees are diminishing, thus contributing to the record high temperatures, while ignoring the environmental impact.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown - Jamaica

Where will be the new location?

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Just need a piece of yam, when the plane lands

The gentrification in disguise is a global trend, creating social stratification sold as transformation. Sure, a few job are created by new stores, and hotels.  However, some working conditions often look like a previous century, working in hazardous conditions forAnthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown - Jamaica extremely low wages, unable to buy a small home in the communities they are serving.What is the trade-off, and where are the unions to balance labor and human rights? The region is now dominated with massive imports. Locally grown products have dwindled to small corners like news racks covered with international news clips while local customs and identity get lost.

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Credit: Mento Quintet by Richard Blackford: Maintaining tradition is important.

Analyzing the region’s plight from the outside is difficult. Who are the investment banks in disguise, as famous faces who claim they are in love with the region while commercialization threatens native culture. Obviously an incredible lack of knowledge or accountability about who are the human piñata lining their pockets. What is troubling, it seems an iPhone, Facebook, and YouTube seem to be more important to some, while the sand is being swept from under their feet.

Keci Fennell

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Kaci’s supporters gathered in Kingstion:, Jamaica

When Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell was not selected as the 2015 Miss Universe, many mobilized in the street, online and voiced their displeasure. The same emphasis on these issues as to the plight of their nation — access to where one can live or swim free — is needed. As many questioned Kaci’s skin colour to represent Jamaica, it only underscored the argument that a few are still stuck in an identity crisis to see even more dire issues.

How long will these marriages last?

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The Chinese delegation at a meeting with the president of Dominica

Portia 1 in China

Source: Pool/Getty Images AsiaPac)

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Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago

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Robert Gabriel Mugabe Zimbabwe

A few months ago, I wrote about China’s penetration into the Caribbean markets for anyone who has access to a red carpet. The modernization of technology and infrastructures brought to the region should not be an economic long-term sentence for some.

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Source: Pool/Getty Images AsiaPac)

This new colonization with local hidden alliances has not lifted the poor from poverty. Many still depend on handouts for survival while the middle class struggles.  The lack of transparency, accountability and ignorance continue to slow growth.

 

One report noted that China uses its financial influence and CARICOM as its umpire to expand. Several projects, from medical centers to stadiums in St Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, and Jamaica, and others with cheap loans has some positive effects, but who are the real long-term beneficiaries?

McKinley & Company, a global consultant firm that operated in more than 40 countries, once noted that several companies have failed, especially in the energy industry, due to cheap imports from China over the past ten years. To the Chinese credit, education is mandatory.

They have tremendous control over the value of their currency in spite of questionable human rights issues. While the priceless seaports and other infrastructures are being sold, leaders should at least learn some of their business strategies, and even negotiate an energy efficiency deal to cut the dependence on fossil fuel, especially in Jamaica where an average customer pays about 42 cents per kilowatt-hour. Many factories should be mandated to clean up the air, but that will hit the élite who run the country.

MARCUS GARVEY

MARCUS GARVEY

Selling Our Souls: While many Africans sold slaves, they did not invent slavery. Today, the selling of native land is a rebirth of such dark period. The Europeans and others turn the plight of others into major businesses. Having few natives at the table today does not make it more acceptable.

In November 1927, Marcus Garvey was deported from the US. He fought for self-governance and despite pushback even from black leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois, who once described Garvey as “a little, fat black man; ugly, but with intelligent eyes and a big head.” The region could use him today as an ambassador. Patriotism cannot only be in the music that comes out of the region.

This paradigm shift along these blue waters is troubling. Sunday, November 17, 2014, opened the world to an issue kept off air when CNN aired Anthony Bourdain’s Part Unknown. To some, it was uncomfortable, but viewers saw that Jamaica is not all about reported violence, marijuana, and a relaxed attitude.

The culture is going through a silent erosion where few rich people and companies are building resorts that not even the locals can afford to visit. “Imagine prohibiting an American from a public park,” as one vendor’s legal struggle put it to keep one of the last free beach from development. Where is the local tourist board?

Furthermore, few are willing to sell their souls and local government leaders seem muted. When personal financial gains ruin an entire community, conflict is inevitable. With high unemployment and poverty, and division, the criminal enterprise thrives and hopeless youths become radicalized, not necessarily from religious ideology, but stemming from polarization, isolation and the lack of opportunity.

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Jeff Levitetz, president of The Levitetz Family Foundation, proudly stands… (Food for the Poor / Sun-Sentinel )

New Charity Economy: Today, it seems the region has more charity organizations than small businesses to help the youths. However, not all charities are bad. In the US, one in six receives some type of food support and many school students go hungry each day. Philanthropist Jeff Levitetz recently funded several schools in Jamaica’s rural outpost “In Honor of his 96 year old Grandpa Charlie”, working with Coconut Creek’s nonprofit Food for the Poor. The charity aims to build or upgrade 50 schools on the island. Jeff’s grandfather has a personal love and affection for the Jamaican culture.

In addition, US$166 million is pledged to Jamaica to addresses climate change. The irony is that the coastlines are being ripped apart by development, causing severe climate issue. Furthermore, despite millions donated, some charities do not serve the desired purpose, and the lack proper oversight leads to actions where donations are used to further personal needs.

When politics becomes more important than higher education that only a few can afford, it only creates a new generation of ignorance. Throughout local districts, several primary and high schools still lack a good library and other educational resources to properly educate the next generation. Yes! You can continue to blame slavery, and the lack of reparations. The arguments remain valid, and add several economic down slopes since independence to the debate.

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Early education attempt after slavery

Even 200 years ago, education was a necessity. Between 1835-1842, the region had a slave fund shortly after emancipation. While many in the US were denied access to education in that same period, the British government voted 30,000 pounds per annum towards the education of former slaves.

The fund ended around 1845, as studies have shown for many of the British West Indies colonies. It played a pivotal part in training teachers, and building schoolhouses. It was called the Negro Educational Fund. As 200 years ago, very little funds came from the West Indian governments.

The once colonial power seemed to have more interest in educating former slaves than many leaders today. The disappearance of good governance to educate its people could learn something from 200 years ago. It seems handouts have become the normal way for survival for some, while the communities need a sustainable long-term foundation. New charities and awards checks are not capitalism.

New Approach: Few economies have rebounded since the 2008 financial economic collapse. The Caribbean still has an economic virus. The unemployment rate, inflation currency devaluation, and crime remain a problem. Despite these issues, the people remain welcoming, but they must not be fooled in a misguided perception that the few millionaires who own these shores are totally in love with the island’s relaxed vibes, food, and people.

Love does not hurt others.

When Ian Fleming (and James Bond) fell in love with Jamaica in the late 1950s, conflicts were not about access to one’s own land. The few who have the media are skilled at making noticeable linguistic shifts, while masking an urgent need to resolve the dangerous ideological faults even within their party. While it looks like capitalism on the coasts and inland; however, if it is one-sided, it defeats capitalism as a driving force to end poverty and inequality.

Today, we are left wondering how young police officers will be able to afford a home in area they will patrol to protect mega properties and address the untold stories, where hard drugs and young girls who struggle to find employment become nightclub dancers for a few dollars, controlled by pimps who force them into prostitution, sexually abused and exploited. They are not beach beauties that stroll the sand, they are victims that are often overlooked throughout the region.

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Burning Spear

Modernization is important; however, it should not take a nation back centuries, where only the rich and famous get to rewrite.

As Burning Spear once said in a song, “My island don’t sell out.”

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Commentary: Our image, responsibility and missing chair

The Image: October 13 marked another Columbus Day in the US and some countries in the Caribbean. For many, especially in the Caribbean, Columbus remains an imaginary shadow such as the Santa Maria ship the Encyclopedia Britannica claimed ran aground and, has been missing since October 1492. Many still hope for a lighthouse that leads to a pot of economic gold and spice that was Columbus voyage. In his discovery in places such as Hispaniola in 1492 that is now divided between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Later, Jamaica in 1494 that already had Arawak Indian links to Guyana or Tainos people. Even that part of history remains a shadow as reported by the Gleaner.Fewer than 250 miles  from these shores, the black American experience continues to struggle to upgrade some old images. Dr Henry Gates’ documentary “Many Rivers to Cross” highlighted the African American experience from the transatlantic slave trade up to Obama’s presidency in 2008. Such as in the Caribbean, it was a dark, shameful, and barbaric treatment of blacks where many died.

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Sea 1Centuries later, it seems an engine-less boat is still docked in deep waters in search of a navigation system to re-archive black identity on their terms. However, that too has been a difficult task, as many hills and valleys are left to be crossed.Despite the contributions and achievements, both economically and socially, from technology, clothing and social issues like same-sex marriage, tolerance, and even political victories, one has to constantly debunk the monolithic shadow as if, 400 years later, everyone is still chained on the same ship. Even the underwater unknown shadow seems more important than the ones above struggling for formation, as reported when UNESCO urged Haiti to protect its underwater heritage where the Santa Maria allegedly sank.  

 Although many have begun successfully to emerge from the deep-sea chains, September 8, 2014, led many to believe perhaps a ship is still docked, and ready to be filled, after Ray Rice, a National Football League (NFL) player, violently attacking his fiancée on video came out. His behavior not only reminded us that the domestic violence shadow still lies off the ocean edges, it created a feeling that several outstanding warrants needed to be executed in some communities even without probable cause. In spite of this serious issue, what seems to become the norm is that television ratings, and new careers of pundits flourish as society becomes more divided while victims got lost in the channels, like the 1995 O.J. Simpson case.

These last few months we saw money, victims, race, and culture collide where structural covariates by the media, which suggested that only certain groups of people commit violence against women. Even SantaPicture 013-1 Maria, Nina and Pinta seem to have more credibility, as it seems a single criminal act is a reason to cast a wide net and group an entire community in what I call “canoe media.” This mentality creates a concurrent log that places one poor behavior as everyone’s charge.Instantaneously and sometimes prematurely, floodgates are opened that swiftly forecast cloudy downstream when a mug shot of a professional black athlete emerges. Although violations occur separately, it seems all must take a plea deal on the same docket.

Today, maintaining one’s relevance is more critical, especially for black fathers, who now must create the history they deserve. With limited opportunities and the burden of structural conditions, many cannot wait for Iyanla Vanzant to fix their lives in a 30-minute counseling session. The social isolation that is evolving, of which some is self-inflected cannot be ignored because one is different. Simply looking to leading NFL players’ statistics to pick role models and a reason to join every fantasy game with the latest gadgets to raise our youths has to be re-balanced. Responsibility nurtures curiosity and that will decide if such a simple word like “color” becomes an abstract like many of the diverse age 6-10 year-old boys who take over my front steps a few weekends on their skate boards.

Having more technical shrewdness is great, but too many are still educationally, and financially deficient and adding life’s complexities makes fatherhood a daunting task. As we lift our heads from the smart phone screens for a pause, many communities are still spinning on an unexplainable axis along criminal, racial, cultural, and other socio-economic issues that need an alertness beyond simple imagination.

When our society confronts its own spinning shadow, and not opening an archive to protect what is beneath the surface, the “selective history” that often emerges creates polarization, intolerance, and hate between different races. Strategically, or subconsciously negative vignettes work. When certain media consistently morph groups despite a variability, especially for young black men, who are pinned between their own  confusions, and begin to develop an ideology that only black men are abusers. Furthermore, only when rich and famous people are abused, arrested, or killed then society stops and takes notice, and that is troubling.

Our Responsibility: Acknowledging criminal behavior can be very uncomfortable. Moreover, to change these tides and the river from overflowing, the community has to change course. Blacks and crime is not a new piece of software that requires certain level of knowledge to interpret a hypothesis and correlation. During the first weekend in October 2014, in Washington, DC, over nine reported gun-related violent incidents occurred. It ranged from warrant executions, to the shooting of a child. Beneath these criminal acts, it reinforces a theory that emphasizes “It only affect them.” These occurrences are difficult to paddle through for the victims and the communities that are affected. However, how many have gone back upstream to help others?

Football_origShortly after Ray’s video posted, I attended a little league football game. As I watched, three co-captains aged 6-7 walked on to the field, including my son. As they greeted their opponent for the coin toss, I asked, “Who is responsible for his behavior on and off the field?” Brit Hume, a Fox Television host I seldom agree with, said it best. “The NFL is not responsible for the players’ behavior.” After many final whistles have blown, from little leagues to professional, I doubt those referees will remember all the players’ names. Whose responsibility it is to make sure self-inflected wounds, and strategically placed dark shadows are rejected?

Victims and advocates for many years have been missing  from the economical vessels. However, today with technology, cameras are bringing victims and perpetrators of domestic violence from behind closed doors off deck. Broadcasting what appears to be a one-sided coverage, and the lack of diversity in reporting these crimes, one would believe the meaning of domestic violence should be re-written to insert [Black men].

O.J.One of the legal definitions of domestic violence is: acts committed by [black men] in the context of an adult intimate relationship. It is a continuance of [black men] aggressive andScott P controlling behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, that one intimate partner does to another [in black men and poor communities]. This is not minimization. Anyone who victimized women must be held accountable. However, many Ray Rices are in our schools, mosques, synagogues and churches in disguise. I have mentioned this earlier in an opinion piece:  In order even the score each time a women is abused,  should pundits pull up another race, such as Scott Peterson, who also killed his seven and a half months pregnant wife with her only child when O.J.’s name is mentioned, to bring back emotions and divide to balance the media’s portrayal of a certain group?

What should be done to US female soccer star, Hope Solo, who remains on the active roster, and sponsors are still on board despite her domestic violence charge, while they fled Adrian Peterson? Is this a double standard, or just memory verse in some community? Selective media can be just as dangerous as the high tides on the sea. Within the past six months, about three members of our law enforcement community have been accused of rape. In Purvis, Mississippi, reported by AP in July 2014, Officer Burnett was accused of forcible rape and two counts of attempted capital murder. In Charlottesville, VA, a family still seeking  answers for their missing child who found later dead. This story of students missing is not a local issue, but many hearts have been broken in several regions.

thschIn addition, a recent report by Amy Cohen, Deborah Azrael, and Matthew Miller  for  Mother Jones  magazine discussed the rate of Mass school shooting  and that has  from a Harvard study since 2011. This contradicts the media reporting that mass shooting aren’t increasing.

Although blacks sold slaves during the transatlantic slave period, should all blacks still be in slavery? Alternatively, from Aruba to Trinidad, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, many gained independence from colonial rule, but despite the beautiful beaches, dependence roars like the oceans, while sixth and seventh generations of former slave owners are still reaping gold and spice. This is not a call 400 years later for locals to run to the hills and throw rocks as they once did for freedom. Moreover, reactivating colonial images of abuse only develops hate today.

Missing Chair: Many sports franchise globally like the NFL have a multi-billion dollar chair. They control where one sits and that comes with tremendous responsibility. Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner has become America’s new target. However, despite the poor handling of the Ray Rice incident, it seems he has also magnified the negative portrayal and more missing chairs when he initially appointed three Caucasian women to develop a domestic violence program to help the NFL change its reputation.

For victims, an assault is simply that. It is not them vs. us. This is not a push of the racial replay button, but we hope he does not believe qualified black women are still unconscious. Who is best to develop a policy and a treatment modality for black victims? Over 90 percent of these crimes, especially murders, are black on black crimes, but that should not cut one from the chair. Floyd Mayweather recently pulled for a Washington, DC, council ceremonial resolution as his archive files for 2010 domestic violence emerged. For society and possibly to safeguard the community at large, reintegration is also important. October is victim awareness month, and not all violations should immediately be just desserts, isolation or incapacitation.

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DM. Photo

Filling these empty chairs will send a strong message, especially in poor and developing communities, and one cannot be healed if he or she is not present and takes full responsibility. Where is Adrian Peterson’s chair for using a switch on his 4-year-old? Ben Roethlisberger’s alleged three charges. Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito, former Miami Dolphins players, to address harassment, and bullying. Michael Sam, an openly gay player, to address homophobia, and add Barney Franks, a former openly gay congressman perhaps to create a tolerance policy. We can now add Michael Phelps for recent driving under the influence of alcohol because this can also lead to violence.

Violence affects white, black, rich, poor, gay, straight, Muslims, Jews, Christians or non-believers, and not always simply a cultural and socialization process. All violence should become a community health problem with a sense of urgency as dismantling ISIS, poverty, and Ebola and not a reason to give one segment of the community the feeling as if a ship has been docked somewhere on the coastline waiting to make another delivery elsewhere, and only now, it is much harder to reload.  Finally, I commend Russell Grant, quarterback from the Seattle Seahawks, who has taken on the responsibility and added a domestic violence chair. However, I hope his chair stands when the music stops. Regardless, we are talking and one less punch will be thrown.

Commentary: A new look at violence against women

Commentary: A new look at violence against women
Published on September 18, 2014 : Derrick Miller

There are several definitions of domestic violence. Here is the simplest one: “If it feels wrong, it is.”

Abuse can be covered over, but it still hurts.

Abuse can be covered over, but it still hurts.

One legal definition of domestic violence: It consists of acts committed in the context of an adult intimate relationship. It is a continuance of aggressive and controlling behaviors, including physical, sexual, emotional and psychological attacks, that one intimate partner does to another. Since the 1980, many policies have been amended and have given women constitutional rights to safety and equally protection, but the struggle continues. One of the problems is that it is often seen and described as the tolerant cultural traits and a taboo, where guilt and shame makes it difficult for victims to come forward.

What is the color of domestic violence? Often the media only cover domestic violence when a rich and famous person is abused, arrested or killed. What has happened to poor individuals’ cases? Domestic violence seems to be green. Today, thanks to cameras, tapes are bringing all faces of victims and perpetrators of domestic violence from behind closed doors.

September 8, 2014, reminded us that domestic violence is still a cancer when the Ray Rice, a National Football League (NFL) player, video came out. We saw his fiancée knocked out unconscious in an elevator and being dragged out like a piece of luggage.

Within hours, the OJ Simpson 1995 double murder case in which he was acquitted emerged on almost every news lead-in. This was not co-incidental; OJ’s name generates ratings and a platform that often divides. Most importantly, his case has created more awareness calls to domestic violence centers since.

Despite the media’s recent highlight on almost every black NFL player, there are other Ray Rices still in many games, in schools, mosques, synagogues, churches, and co-workers in disguise. I am not minimizing his behavior. He should be punished both in the court of law and in his career.

Violence should not be broadcast to further polarize a society. Should we now keep scorecards of offenders to balance the portrayal of certain groups? Should we go to the archives and pull up Scott Peterson, who also killed his seven-and-a-half months pregnant wife with her only child when OJ’s name is mentioned?

Four years earlier, Pittsburgh Stealers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was accused of three rape charges. The district attorney later dropped the charges. It was reported that alcohol played a role. Ray Rice also stated that he was intoxicated. Furthermore, can society add South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, the disabled track star who killed his girlfriend? For victims, an assault is simply that. It is not them vs us. This divide does not give hope and needs to be debunked.

dv4The Reality: Violence against women is not a new paradigm shift. I am afraid many experts and pundits will move-on soon, and so does domestic violence as it returns behind closed doors until another funeral.

We all know someone and or saw an abuse and asked ourselves why? “He was a nice person and she seemed fine.” This is simple another subconscious minimization process. In these relationships the “power and control wheel have been active: (1) male privilege; (2) economic abuse; (3) emotional; (4) isolation; and (5) minimization.”

Today, tackling domestic violence is troubling, as stratification has created a polarized and intolerant society where socio-economic inequality, haves vs have-nots forced domestic violence into political debates. Soon it will be polled for a comprehensive policy to pass Congress and other legislative bodies to protect women.

In addition, giving few people airtime as the good ones does not tell the full story. Many studies have shown that the homicide and victimization rates for black men and women are higher than the national average. These pundits only offer a temporarily feel-good segment because one mug-shot is not plastered on the screen.

Directly or indirectly, violence is a community problem such as Boko Haram’s  ideology when some believe it is only a Nigerian problem. This ideology is in the Caribbean, the USA, and other countries in disguise.

Domestic violence must taken with a sense of urgency worldwide such as dismantling ISIS, Ebola or any terrorist organization. Although one cannot order a drone strike on an abusive husband, law enforcement, policies and support have to be able to track and dismantle these abusers and give help as needed.

In the 1980s, the US Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) organization played a pivotal role in a grass-roots movement that rewrote laws and battled cultural resignation about alcohol-related traffic deaths. The same has also taken place with gun-advocates. More groups needs to be formed world wide

before-and-afterWho are the faces of violence?

Domestic violence affects young, old, blacks, whites, rich, poor, gay, straight, Christians or non-believers. Furthermore, not having black eye should not discount one as a victim. Many of these women stayed in these abusive relationships for economic survival and their children’s safety. Men also get abused but statistics shows more men abuse women.

The Data: According to the Washington Coalition Against Violence, including other studies, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. These abusers are members of her own family. One in six women and one in 33 men experienced an attempted rape

The amount of children witnessing violence is over 80 million and nearly one in five teenage girls have been in a relationship where a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup. It is one of the leading causes of injury to women — more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined

In the US alone, a husband or boyfriend murders more than three women each day and every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten. This is not only a psychological nightmare for families and friends; the economic toll is extremely high. An estimated $4.1 to $5.8 billion resulted from victims who lose days of work alone, which is about 32,000 full-time jobs.

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Scars of an abused Woman

In 70-80% of these cases, the men psychically abused the woman before the murder. Domestic violence cases comprise of more than half of police response calls, more than robbery, motor vehicle theft, burglary as reported. The long-term medical impact for treatment combined with the stigma is harmful.

In most cases, domestic and sexual violence are not closely occurring at the same time.

Need for universal policies coast to coast: If all crimes become a community health problem, and the no drop clause is implanted, where a victim has no control over the prosecution and it is seen as it is — a criminal act — more can be done immediately.

Why: It was late one Sunday night; I’d just gotten back from a long flight after visiting the region. The telephone rang and a sad voice emerged. The first thought was to say, “How did you gain access to my telephone number?” I later learned a friend of a friend or a friend provided my telephone number.

According to the victim, a criminal complaint had already been filed against her abusive husband. There was minimal sign that physical abuse had taken place, and about her third call for help. This time a doctor’s report was needed to make an arrest and she had to head back home to wait. The local doctor had to be paid in advance by the victim before such medical exam could be completed for a recommendation for an arrest to take place.

Few years later, I still wonder what if the police department was led by a woman with the resources and a responsive system, how different her life would be today? How many died waiting? Imagine being abused and an arrest hung on a medical assessment where the fees are more important.

Treatment Modality: The law does not have to be mandatory prosecution on all cases, but an immediate intervention. Furthermore, simple relying on only physical evidence makes it less likely one more will be killed, and continue to be victimized. A swift adjudication process is key, and treat all incidents as a criminal act, and make sure victims are empowered.

dvip02Domestic violence is not just a few of weeks of treatment sessions where the offender minimizes and refuses to take responsibility and only shows up because he has been caught. Especially in the poor regions, offenders must be held accountable. Outdated laws needs to be amended to send a clear message from the high school to the work place that this kind of behavior must be met with stiff penalties.

Change an old  male chauvinist ideology where women are defined by how high her heels are and not by their work. Both sides should work together and call out violence before it becomes another Rest in Peace obituary. Developing and promoting more women into key leadership roles will not cut violence against women overnight, but decisions that affect women will have a seat at the table.

Laws are the first line of defense, and priority must be given to victims. The outdated ideology, “She deserved it”, has to stop, especially in poor communities where the rich and powerful often muzzle the outcome of prosecutions. If this cycle continues, it only creates a new generation that will marry someone who is either abusive or becomes an abuser themselves.

dv04Refocus: Leaders must invest in young women who are consistently overlooked and treated as second-class citizens. Even when one is qualified, the glass ceiling remains active. As a society, all must move from this first view on the surface.

This mentality is one of a laundry detergent, or a waterfall dripping over rocks as it dissipates to support a synchronized balance or beautiful formation flow or a clean outfit, but has structural weakness and residues. Sadly, domestic violence is a dark secret.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Right Reserved:

Commentary: To serve and protect with a virus

Commentary: To serve and protect with a virus
Published on August 28, 2014
By Derrick Miller:Serve and PThe Outbreak: Since the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, on August 9, 2014,  Ferguson, Missouri, and despite a few editorials that describe the scope of the problem as if was an isolated incident, it has recalibrated several nerve cells.Why are we here again? August 9, was not a rare occurrence. It was the fourth killing of an unarmed black person by a white officer in five weeks. Many believed this was just another virus outbreak in another region. This is an ongoing question surrounding many police departments’ treatment of poor people, especially in black communities. Like the Ebola virus, many have sought to reverse a DNA code to cure an over 200-year affliction since slavery. Michael Brown’s death has revisited a hazardous dark chapter that consistently tests our invariability.

These toxic cells are racism, prejudice, economic deprivation, education inequality, polarization, among many other things that often unexpectedly surface. I hope, when the streets are cleared, these issues do not become dormant and life goes on as normal while many continue to struggle with: (1) protection vs. freedom; (2) correctional system; (3) police brutality; (4) tactics; (5) race; (6) culture; (7) abuse of authority; (8) demographics vs. representation; and (9) priority and government role.The lack of uniformity in several uneven communities only shows us the struggle between pluralism and elitism. One, police should help the people, and the people should help themselves and, two, the perception that they protect the rich, and suppress the poor create doubts.

The demonstrations that followed were not all infected by thugs or gangsters and only black people.Other races voiced their concerns of what appearedto be a public department with a closed system. Few people arrived with infected tissues in trying to disrupt good organs.However, the focus was to decide which lives are more valuable between blacks and whites, and stopping undiagnosed quarantine that has killed healthy cells.As the world watched, Ferguson law enforcement struggled to keep up order, handling of the protesters made front pages globally on tactics used — rubber bullets, tear gas and multiple arrests, including journalists.Sadly, the US is not alone facing scrutiny of police brutality and excessive use force that have devastated many lives.

In the Caribbean, across from the  white sand and blue waters, many of us visitors are struggling. However, racism tend to be muted as it is often between the haves vs. have-nots and concerns of limited accountability by government officials for the have-nots.Russia and Iran appeared concerned despite their poor records on dissenting views by its citizens. However, I am not implying one should use one’s own issues to call out others.Police Ebola: For decades, several poor communities are injected with a frustration virus.

Although few people might have been exposed and already processed, navigation such as a simple drive, or walk to one’s favourite candy store can be a reason to be quarantined. Even when an individual has not been exposed or engaged in any toxicity, consistently restrictive masks are issued. Furthermore, sometimes an meet in an unmarked quarantined space with law enforcement and any negative gesture out of frustration can dictate if one lives or dies simply refusing to accept a surgical mask.

police5One writer argued just do what you are told.  It is extremely important to comply with an officer’s order. However, for many young black men and other minorities in their reality, accepting a command often only reduces the amount of bullies from perhaps from ten to six, as a decision had already been made.

Even when authority has solid evidence, gaining compliance requires good tactics. For example, despite much-needed treatment to halt the spread of the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, the recent government approach after the world has taken notice only created more problems as reported.

Several predominantly black poor communities have been plagued with crime, cultural and socioeconomic issues and in need of an antibiotic. According to Rebecca Klein, Huffington Post, only 50 percent graduation rate in 2013 compared to 86 percent of the state and at least 60 percent had at least one suspension in Michael Brown’s high school. If these symptoms were found in predominately white schools, a vaccine would have been developed and or an operation with new blood transfusions. This issue requires investments and interactions.

Most of these officers do not live in the communities they serve, unable to relate and recognize a single black healthy cell. It seems only when an epidemic erupts doctors who sit in isolated gated communities tasked with decisions only took notice while the problem has been known for decades. These labs are only treating symptoms, and not the cause of the problems.

The lack of medicine or limited interjected ones often creates more delusions and long-term side effects. Although traces of cells need to be isolated and incapacitated, an entire community should not be treated as if all are infected.

S and PIt is problematic being viewed as the only affected people while knowing that more affluent towns have also been exposed but overlooked. These communities need an economic medication to prevent outbreaks, but priority seems to be invested equipment in anticipation of divide and turmoil.

The broken window theory that is based on zero tolerance and swift action solutions seems to have switched to everyone in the community and not the criminal elements. Not all medicine work for the Ebola virus and these community labs must seek new medicines.

Traces: Modern policing is not a new concept in our society. It has been around since the early 1800s, created in Great Britain. As a few scholars noted that it was used to keep slaves in check from running away from their masters. Maybe that mindset still exists in some departments today.

George Kelling and Mark More analysed the US evolution for a Department of Justice studies. The Political Era (1840s – 1930s). This was period where close ties between the police and politicians, and emphasis was on making politician happy. The Reform Era (1930s – 1970s) focused on arrest, and professional fighting crimes. Community Policing Era (1970 to present). This is where partnerships with the community and police agencies work together.

According to several studies, community policing has been successful when it is implemented correctly. However, in some areas this theory seems only to be on paper. Furthermore, it seems most of today’s operations are stuck in the two eras, like an apartheid system where one is free to move, but mentally trapped.

In a recent CNN panel, a Florida police chief stated that not all officers believe in community policing. This is not to say these officers do not uphold the law and should not be part of the institution. However, forcing officers inside communities to work with different racial and socio-economic background could be a call for more hands-up-don’t-shoot cases, as one easily defaulted back to training like muscle memory as to where he carries his or her weapon.

Police StandoffPerception vs. Reality: It is not an easy task being a police officer. Law enforcement wears multiple hats; they need as much support as we can afford them. Sometimes it seems they have more issues than policies to meet society’s demands in fighting crimes while balancing human rights. Even in cases where an officer is being out-gunned, the expectation society places on the officer often, puts law enforcement in a tight spot, balancing perceptions and reality.

Many of today’s police officers are extremely educated and become a social worker dealing with a domestic violence, child abuse issue, plotting a crime scene on computer models, to predicting trouble spots, while some cannot diffuse an incident without pulling a weapon.

Bureaucratization can create a set of norms that often lead to social problems. A system can be well organized, but hard to adjust to current and changing reality. How can several decades of them vs. us change in a few hours?

Ferguson prosecutor, Robert McCulloch came under fire for how he handled earlier criminal cases and perceived favouritism of law enforcement that led to mistrust in the community. He was elected several times and has a close ties to the police unit. Often when community policing fails, there are repeated called for tolerance, inclusion, resignation or be fired.

The department seems to have an operation stuck in the two previous political and reform eras. Many officers were making arrests, restricting media traffic during the protest were part of a few systematic issues.

However, not all white officers involved in killing of a black man are racist. Nevertheless, we cannot use disciplinary records as the only guide because behind closed-door people often grouped by their ideology. One can be anti-gay, blacks, white, Jews, women, immigrants, and still function on the job. Institutional racism is just as dangerous. Moreover, we cannot ignore few bad apples in disguise. For example, two officers tied to the Klux Klux Klan recently in Florida.

It seems our society have become immune to these shootings. What is more troubling if an individual confirmed as mentally disturbed is not able to comprehend the danger of approaching an officer with a deadly weapon, it can easily be justified. Society must make sure when it eliminates a virus it must be only when it threatens the life of an entire community and not because of its label.

During a CNN interview, a young man wrote two poems, one for the good police officers, and one for the bad ones. This is a sign of hope despite some bad viruses, there are still good cells  that still believes in public service, and just want to make it home to their families after each shift just like any average person.

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AP Photo/Johnny Huu Nguyen In this Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014 photo provided by Johnny Nguyen, Portland police Sgt. Bret Barnum, left, and Devonte Hart, 12, hug at a rally in Portland, Ore., where people had gathered in support of the protests…

peace Updated 11-29-2014:   Despite  decades of frustrations; destroying your  own community is never a solution to any social problems, because often the fundamental  core issues  often  burned in the created flames.

Commentary: Black is the new green

GEJ-at-US-Africa-summitOur Disconnect: Who could imagine the US making a tremendous pivot into Africa’s continent, expanding its economic reach?

Often when we conceptualize any US moves into the African region, poverty, AIDS, hunger, refugees, genocide and political turmoil, and recently Ebola, or Ancestor.com, an online database where numbers of people turn to DNA as a tool to trace their roots.

Other times were during history classes on the migration during the transatlantic slave period from the mid 1600 to late 1800 between the US and the Caribbean to build their wealth.

When the US elected Barack Obama, the first African American president, in November 2008, many thought this historic event would have created a new model with unlimited collaboration both home and abroad, and prescriptions for equality, social and economic justice, and even racial harmony. Today, the world has gone Bokish.

Since 2009, the US economy has rebounded: US GDP Growth Rate.  However, the nation is more polarized by race, religion belief, ideology, and value woven into social and economic inequality as studies have shown. We have come a long way, but we are still far apart. This has also made it difficult for the president’s policies.

Unemployment rate among blacks in the US remains higher than whites, income disparity, and even incarceration rates. Furthermore, there are only limited bipartisan agreements in Congress on policies on reducing turmoil and economic stagnation.

Election really does matter,” as many political analysts have argued.

The Economic Arrival: Between August 3-6, 2014, President Obama gathered over 45 African leaders and other heads of state to Washington, DC, for what was called an unprecedented US-Africa Summit.

Many leaders had only seen the White House on television or from print media. Finally, they walked the well-kept lawn that was built by their own ancestors. In addition, the summit was not a payback gathering for slavery or a policy push for reparation.

They did not bring animal skins, lions, tigers, and other exotic tribal customs as some would believe when we talk about Africa. It was simply because business leaders from the US realized that “black is the new green”.

The Sub-Saharan African countries that were once occupied by wild animals, nomads, peasants, slaves, tribal groups in jungles and on hard clay dirt roads have become an economic power, not only in Africa, but an economic source for others in the region, and the US community has taken notice.

In a recent Harvard Business review by Jonathan Berman, Africa’s economy is growing faster than the economies of all other continents, and half of the countries are seeing an annual GDP growth of more than 6%. The work force by 2035 will reach about 135 million, and bigger than China, and about 25% of the world workforce by 2050. Today more than $40 billion has been invested. This region will hold about 60% of the world’s farmland, and it could become an agricultural powerhouse. In addition, Africa’s middle class in the next decade will be higher than India’s, including the amount of people who will be living in cities by 2030.

The Obama administration also announced a $14 billion in commitment from US businesses to invest in Africa during the August 2014 summit. It was noted that the West has barely scratched the economic powerhouse that is building there. The Administration also reported that GE, by 2018, will have $200 million in investments across Africa. Marriott also has made a $66 million commitment and IBM is to give technology services in the region.

Strategically, some US companies should be rebalancing their portfolios due to other region’s socio-economic turmoil. Today, many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa seem more stable while other regions seek rockets, war equipment, territories, committing genocide and ethnic cleansing, while this once troubled region is seeing a tremendous economic boom.

This pivot is not because the president is black, or when black people gather we believe it is for a candlelight vigil from some violence. However, Africa’s plants have sprouted with green and tremendous power.

President Obama’s poll numbers might have been low; however, strategically for the business community, for once, his Kenyan roots might be paying off despite a lukewarm relationship.

On the other hand, given Africa’s history, I wonder if this new-found respect is another exploitation of cheap labor disguised with modernized expensive business models, and planned dumping through one-sided trades to come. Nevertheless, despite doubts, failure to tap in to this market could be far worse than the Ebola virus for companies who fail to be ready for piece of this economic medicine.

Missed Opportunity: The US has to remove its borders, as Tom Freidman wrote in the “The World is Flat”, to stay competitive.

Recently Li Yang reported that China-Africa trade will tick up by 50 percent by 2015, and will head up to US$1.7 trillion in 2030.

Richard Cooper of Harvard University noted that the population of China would reach about of 1.4 billion people. Additionally, the Pacific region, including India and Japan, will also see such growth; and an estimated GDP over $2.75 trillion by the year 2025. Given its enormous potential growth, China and others in the region will have to find places to dump some their goods to support this projected growth. The Chinese are forging long-term alliances with decades-long contracts that will outlive all of us today.

China is one-step ahead of the US in Africa and many scholars have noticed their inroads. The global crisis did not seem to dent China’s appetite for investing in Africa in early 2009, Paulin Houanye and Sibao Shen noted. They are capitalizing on the logistics issues that are still a major hurdle in the region, and using every opportunity to build roads and power supplies.

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Fewer than 300 miles from the US coastline, China has also been on a modern colonial conquest in the Caribbean. The Caribbean Basin is the last and most complex of our ancestral components, with African, Europeans, Latin Americans, and Native Americans, Indians and Asians. Many studies have also shown that, over the next 40 years, this region will be part of over 80% of the world’s global growth.

Countries such as Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and Jamaica, and others have received community-based stadiums, roads, schools and hospitals and other monetary contributions from China. China’s quest is both economic and political. The flood of cheap cash flooding the region has seen significant devaluation of several currencies.

Portia 1 in ChinaThe ongoing economic struggles have forced some Caribbean leaders to lay out the red carpets like the white sand that glazes the beaches for an arranged marriage. However, we will have to see how this marriage evolves after the honeymoon period is over, when China’s real motive is revealed.

Many other races in US support ancestral links. Even in controversial geo-political issues, despite never having visited, lived in or could survive in their parents’ homelands, they have undivided support.

I thought about African American and Caribbean communities that are forever linked by the slave ships, but it seems we are forgotten in Africa’s new paradigm shift with an “ancestral gap.” I am also aware our transportation ride to the US shores was not first class. I am not implying that we all should pack our bags and leave. Most of us could not survive living in the region. There are also recent debates if African Americans should just be called blacks such as in Britain, Canada, and the Caribbean. In some parts of Africa it can be refreshing not be reminded of one’s skin color.

Moreover, who would like to revisit a painful past that we are reminded of daily by polarization, intolerance, hate, isolation through economic deprivation in some of our communities? Our own gap is often simply a subconscious glimpse of what had been part of our history. As a result, we stay detached because of the known, and the unknowns.

Refocusing: This new African paradigm shift is not only derived from commerce, investment, share interests, trade. Equally importantly, our leaders have to recognize that geo-political turmoil is erupting in several other places. These issues cannot be solved with drones, but investing in the next generation.

It is reported that half of the world’s youth population in the next two decades will be living on the African continent. This is a Mecca that cannot be ignored and especially for global safety. Many of today youths are holding other nations accountable for own prosperity.

Today, we are seeing more strategic alliances, not only for the best talents to build the next energy system to reduce fossil fuels consumptions, or the next Microsoft, but in ideologies rooted in violence based on religious beliefs, exploitation, violence, race, color grouping, place and the fight for economic mobility.

This stratification is not good for businesses because, to sustain growth, an economy needs everyone. The idea of calling one group an ethnic minority soon has to be eliminated, like the “N” word in public.

Today it seems some too are pre-occupied with priorities that change instantaneously like Twitter posts and fail to recognize opportunities.

Our leaders seem concerned about their polls numbers and not economic governance; others are worried if Jay-Z and Beyoncé are splitting up; or if reversing a 400-year-old colonial law that prohibits homosexuality in the Caribbean region is bad for humanity.

Neither the US nor the Caribbean can wait until an Ebola virus hits, and then elevate the status to an epidemic because certain groups are affected while the economic cancer has killed for decades. Socio-economic needs cannot be tested on a few in disguise; it has to be collaborated in advance.

I hope these beautiful highways and bridges being built will not be used by wild animals after the minerals and other products have been extracted from the soil.

MARCUS GARVEYMarcus Garvey’s Pan-Africanism, decades later, seems to be on the horizon. He believed that unification of Africans would be vital for long-term economic prosperity. Had he lived today, despite his controversies, he could be an ambassador to the region.

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