This Women’s History Month, let’s honor Portia Simpson-Miller, former PM of Jamaica`

By R.D. Miller

A Brief History: When we celebrate Women’s History Month, that should remind society of how far women have come since New Zealand in 1893, the first nation to give women the right to vote, and later Saudi Arabia, in 2015, as the most recent nation. Barriers will continue to exist in today’s polarized society, socio-economic inequality, gender equity, race and cultural divide.

The Politics:

Though few will remain silent because of political ideology, the Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller has defied the odds and contributed to the rise of women in the Jamaican government, and the Caribbean region today. Furthermore, her historical achievement cannot be summarized as a result of an electoral loss. She gave young girls and women a window to dream big, and challenge the odds regardless of political sides.

The Hon. Prime Minister-Jamaica Portia Simpson-Miller 3-2005–2007 and 1-2012-3-2016

Even though many of us are not qualified to speak on women’s issues, we are lucky to live in an era where the leadership evolution is multi-faceted – regardless of whether the leader is a man or a woman, but still, recognize the tough road ahead for women’s equal opportunity. So sometimes we have to take a step back, even if nobody asks, look at the barriers, analyze the mistakes, and give recognition to those who have overcome the obstacles in their journey for a better society.

The complexity of what is not being said

The nation acknowledged the historic rise of the former Prime Minister, but the opposition party took advantage of the frustration of young people who had a huge agenda that reached the majority of the electorate. They were calling for greater accountability, a better road map for their future, and it was a delicate time to change the guards from two decades of her party rule. Will they be better off between now and the next electoral cycle, only history will judge.

The 2016 election assumed greater importance than expected and there were plenty of finger pointing like any other elections. Some have argued that the party did not recognize the socioeconomic gap and the direction of the nation, which required more responsibility and transparency. Others noted internal struggles, and that she gave up the re-election to continue her leadership as the first woman Prime Minister of Jamaica, and head of the People’s National Party [PNP].

We do not know for sure what was given up, but it was a generational shift, led by a new leader who used technology, and promises to galvanize the younger voters. The once local street politics- door-to door moved to social media, and that generation was much older and more difficult to reach, but it does not take away from the centrality of women in the region future.

Sadly, when powerful women rule, pundits seem to have more questions about their leadership, and down-play their lack of collaboration only waiting for power. Though democracy thrives on open dissenting views. However, when political discourse becomes vitriolic, abusive, hateful, It only reconfirms the challenges surrounding their vision, and the deep reality of misogynistic views that creates more barriers.

The bloggers and pundits were swift on social media. She was too soft, too demanding, and no longer focused and emotionally detached from the community and so on, but few talked about the fact that political parties often interfere with women’s ability to run as candidates. They are confronted with stereotypes that impedes their upward mobility, thereby, contributing to the ongoing fight for gender equality.

Naturally, some people were irritated by their economic conditions, crime, and the lack of opportunity for the youths who graduated from universities with massive students loans, high inflation, unemployment and a widening gap between the haves vs. the have-nots.

Portia was no stranger to the ridiculousness and the intensity of the press. In 2004, newspapers, according to Christopher Charles, pointed out when she was a member of Parliament and asked if she had acted inappropriately by abstaining on a resolution that was critical of the lack of funding for local fire services. Maybe this question never got asked about a man.

Her time in power has highlighted a deep current of the disadvantages of being a woman on these battlegrounds, the fight for inclusion, shared priorities, leadership, rights, and security. But out of her loss created a new beginning that left a mark for a new light in the region for the next generation of women leaders.

The scorecard

Gradually, like many individuals who have suffered a ballot defeat, the policies that have been achieved often take time to gain ground, and the next leader will realize the benefits. Likewise, they may reverse policies that may not align with their side’s political philosophy. Of course, some will say that any downward trend in the economy, or increased crime, usually blames past leaders, but current leaders take credit for satisfactory results.

This homage is not about the nation’s expanding social disadvantage, or positive results on several fronts, and what party is responsible because there is enough blame to move around. Economic policy historians in the region will have the data to analyze GDP, debt ratio, wages, investments, healthcare spending, education, crime, infrastructure, construction, imports, exports during her term in office.

The administration represented a truck moving up a steep hillside, with few flats tires, and potholes on this journey heading to a smoother road until the next driver takes over. The rough ride was the aftermath from decades of deficiencies on both parties to produce a comprehensive strategy to navigate a systematic problem surrounding crime and poverty, and shrinking middle class.

Recognizing the former prime minister’s triumph is not a simple call to revisit or make an excuse for the provocative political nature that dominated that election cycle, or point out \what some called an inability to recognize the new voter’s concerns or a one-sided economic policy that only benefit the rich and foreign investors. This essay shines a light on the critical role of women’s leadership, and her contribution to the region, and for others to conceive of the possibilities regardless of political sides.

Every election has consequences

Though her defeat again echoed an undertone that women, whether a candidate winning an election, or served or serving in a chauvinistic environment, often when they lay the groundwork for opportunity on those battlefields for inclusion, shared priorities, women’s rights, gay rights and security, protecting the environment and without disguise, often experienced strong resistance.

Even today, women are underrepresented and make up about 20% of the world’s parliaments and even less in ministerial positions, as most studies show according to the experts. And I don’t need to do a thorough analysis or review feminist literature as a man to see that decision-making by several women remains a delicate balance often faced with more resistance than their male colleagues.

Sure, the region’s historians and scholars will have the task to resolve these questions.

Did her leadership differ from the other leaders?
Does her policy represent women’s interests?
Are there still echos of the same concerns today?

The quest for equality is not luck, as some in the media believe. Even if one is promoted, or by default, success depends on the preparation that met opportunity through hard work and dedication. Portia Simpson-Miller and other women who have made this planet a better place cannot only be judged on a few economic quantitative analyses.

Sure, one has to understand geopolitical, social, and economic issues and be able to link them to the corner shop even without electricity or running water. It is an incumbent mandate to work together to reduce high unemployment, corruption, crime, balance spending, investment more in education, health care and protecting the environment while managing expectations with respect to the realities of the local communities to educate that an election is not about now, but for the future generation.

The cultural stigma that lingers:

Sadly, the political pride that developed out of colonialism has led some to believe a leader has to graduate from an elite university, hold a law degree, or a Ph.D. studies to lead, and that mentality has pushed certain ideology from outdated laws in government into a class system. However, her triumph proves that one can be less privileged and become a leader from humble beginnings.

The elephant in the room

She took part at the top, and many to come will have the legislative power that will benefit the country, and only if they have the independence to think freely like her, speak loudly, and without being caged, they too can represent the nation not only in numbers to say, we are here, then the systemic issues can be addressed. The shortcoming in her political leadership does not lessen her political tenacity, decades of public service, and other accomplishments.

She found a balance between hope and subjugation and has been saying, “yes she could” before U.S. President Obama, “Yes we can.” She committed herself to the public for decades and has shown that women with power and full participation in decision-making establish a better society.

The Region’s Prime Ministers club to-date.

Eugenia Charles, 1980 – 1995 Dominica
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, 2010 – 2015 Trinidad and Tobago

Woman Coalition Remains Key to breaking the glass ceiling:

As studies have shown when women work together and identify issues that create positive relationships between women, society benefits. I have no vote, no political affiliation, no preference on who should run the country. The only hope this part of our heritage has “good governance” to move people up.

Women meeting in my family home

Despite the challenges, constraints, political calculations and even disagreements, each Women’s Month she should be recognized, including her birthday, because the achievements can’t be summed up by an election, but the mark left behind– for young women to dream and get that coat.

Thank you: The Honorable Simpson-Miller was a pioneer, despite the missed parades she inspired a generations to take on more leadership roles within government. Even lessons learned were fundamental to better understand the upcoming challenges.

If I may, you look great at 70, and the island of Jamaica should hope that you will stick around to provide more checks and balances, speak up- now that you have some time to look inside.

I recorded this on assignment: Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller and Condoleezza Rice, 66th United States Secretary of State- dancing and yes, reggae can create diplomacy.

The rabbi is gay, what’s next your shores?

BY R.D.MILLER

The Location

Gay: Recently, GilSteinlauf, a senior rabbi of Adas Israel in Washington, DC, one of the largest conservative movement-affiliated synagogues came out as gay.

Soon after Apple, CEO, Tim Cook, announced he was gay. One blogger wrote, “You don’t just leave your wife to”go be gay any more than you would resign her to go be straight.” Another wrote, “Apple has lost its pioneering skills and sought more businesses.”

Fortunately, Rabbi Gil Steinlauf and Tim Cook both have financial anchors, bridges, a solid foundation, and retractable vessels that can weather the storms and bypass rough tides, and maybe unlike Michael Sam, an openly gay player who was cut by two National Football League (NFL) teams for being gay, but some will argue with others differently.

Does one need a prerequisite to come out as gay? I asked. The gay community stories are bigger than these two men, despite the media attention. Fortunately, for many wealthy and prominent people, publicly announcing their sexuality often increases wealth and power. However, this story is not about the rabbi or Tim Cook.

The other seldomly told stories:

Many less fortunate gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender; do not have speedboats to escape tides or community captains and pirates ready to throw them over the board.

Today, many are trapped by their location under an ancient colonial doctrine, an ongoing fight for acceptance seeking an anchor or shield from a rough tide. These are beautiful places many visit for a vacation break or check in with family members and reconnect with one’s heritage.

These luscious greenery, breathtaking sunsets, and blue water symbolize a liberated vacation for many visitors, but outside their villas and hotel rooms, victims are routinely teased, bullied, and even killed from ignorance – even by ‘straight’ perpetrators who may have their struggles with homosexual tendencies, as studies have shown.

Photo by Fabian Wiktor

Despite the beauty and the warmth of the local people where the sunshine as if it never sets, it remains a delicate dance for inclusion. For some, homophobia roars like the ocean, damaging any objects in its path without an anchor. These unchecked anti-waves have eroded several impoverished and developing regions.

Inside the LGBT community, there are several reports of an increase in murders since 2010. Youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old were 2.41 times as likely to experience physical violence.

Many parents also experience discrimination for giving birth to gay children and are more worried today about social stigma and hostility than their future. The hostility has created safety concerns, a sense of feeling guilty and hopeless, and often result in abuse, homelessness and death. The lack of resources, and access to medical care, support also has forced expulsion from their community.

Gay 16, teenager was dead -Dwayne Jones beaten, stabbed, shot and ran over  (AP Photo/Jay, J-FLAG)
human_rights_watch: Photo

The only visual representation of a voice mail or iTunes maybe the sound from the broken sewer pipes dripping and hovering over their heads from living under decayed bridges. Being gay is not a sin or learned behavior, but bigotry, intolerance, and atrocities against them are.

“All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence regardless of their gender and sexual orientation” – an excerpt from a proclamation by President Obama on May 29, 2015, at an LGBT pride event.

Anti-Homophobia day celebration at the Fondation Serovie in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by Katie Orlinsky

The Human Rights Watch has noted an increase in violence simply for being perceived as a gay person,a nd if these communities do not provide the support, and laws to protect, their future for being gay remains grim.

(One) — Rupert. Shortly after he had come out, his church memberships and choir receded. He seldom goes to the beach anymore. Few friends’ lives cut short as a barbaric treatment against them appeared now acceptable. Repeatedly denied entry to community activities, employment, and forced to move for their safety. Few burned alive, stoned, and scorned.

(Two) — Sonia dressed like a man, with brittle hair, cargo pants, and boots, although she has found comfort in maintaining the small town floral garden. While some visitors marveled at her floral garden designs, others abused her appearance and hurled rocks at her. Being gay did not limit her imagination.

I wonder if a few had taken the time to know her, perhaps one would learn that friends of own dad repeatedly raped her as a child at a local bar from men he trusted. With nowhere to turn for support, her trust in men eroded, and she became isolated. Even in her death, after she had lost her battle with breast cancer, they treated her remains as if her gayness had Ebola disease. Her ashes now resting in the garden she designed.

(Three) —Burma, exquisite, and has an excellent job. She blends in well with her peers, lives in a pleasant home, and is well educated. However, she is also terrified of coming out. Despite rumors, after they identified her holding hands with her partner on the other side of town, she constantly shrugged off the argument of why she does not have a child at her age.

An umbrella still looking for the right shades:

Despite US Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement: “I am pleased to announce the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages”, combined with new laws passed in over 20 states, polarization, intolerance, and political ideology threatens this fundamental change.

Though the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community ships and planes have ultimately reached many shores, others are still searching for that elusive lighthouse for guidance off these shores. Today’s violence along the shores is not simply because of poverty alone, but decades of unresolved social issues, where even if some offender has been a victim, they are scarce resources for treatment and accountability. Reporting crime should not put victims at more significant risk.

A blinded history

According to a study conducted by Trevor Bernard, based on data are taken from St Andrews Jamaica, marriage patterns between 1666 and 1750 taken from the parish register were analyzed.

The results showed that the average length of marriage was extremely limited and declined. It resulted in a reduction of children produced by marriage and did not sustain slavery and population growth. During that period, influxes of women slaves from and Africa arrived in the region.

It seems valid if people stayed married four centuries ago, and produced more children; it would have supported the demands for labor. Centuries later, independence has caused more social and economic struggles, as residual footprints in customs, laws, beliefs until now encounter the ghosts of the past.

Recently, the Jamaica Gleaner reported on an anti-gay march in St Thomas in response to a proposed bill that would recognize marriage as an official union between two people and not the traditional man and woman.

Some 150 years later, several Jamaicans opposed amending, the Buggery Act that was created during colonial rule around 1861.

Today, many leaders in the region remain silent on amendments or new human rights laws. The anti-gay protesters believe that homosexuals and their agenda are bad for strong and healthy families, righteousness, and justice.

What if those colonial rulers saw homosexuality as a threat to their business model and created those laws?

The economics

The gay, lesbian, and transgender community spend an estimated $830 billion according to Curve Magazine each year. Given its influence, especially along blue water and white sand, promoting more education, and other grassroots support is vital.

Some of these exclusive vacation spots globally cannot afford to avoid potential revenue, despite their position on the gay community.

The Advocate also noted that ‘with over 1.4 million LGBT business owners (and growing) the LGBT community earn its place at the table of economic opportunity with an input to the economy over $1.7 trillion, and an estimated 33,000 jobs.

Today, many people could have lived to their full potential thereby becoming famous stars, teachers, and police officers, but they were not welcome for being gay. Many left their communities to find comfort elsewhere living in the shadow.

The community strategically should not have to plan gay vacation routes based only on gay-friendly destinations in the Caribbean, Africa, or any other regions as if it is an election strategy targeting only your registered voters.

An elusive tide for change as the fight continues:

History also has shown the quest for equality does not sit comfortably with few on ideological grounds.
A recent report on YouTube by an Arizona pastor claiming that “we can have an AIDS-free world by Christmas if gays were executed.“If the god they all worship is love for all, who determines he does not love which one?

In 2010, the Cayman Islands rejected an Atlantis gay cruise. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the “decriminalization of homosexuality” in Trinidad, and Tobago is not something her administration will seek to do because “it would not be prudent for the government to go ahead in that direction”, according to the Trinidad Express.

This I believe represents a culture of homophobia woven in decades of social-political and stigma to vanish sexuality and gender identity.

An intolerance system passed down from several decades is hard to change course instantly. Subconsciously, the Anglicization of families under British colonial rule centuries ago stays active today. However, some islands have taken steps, like Bermuda, Jamaica despite it un-anchored vessel to date, few other Caribbean and African nations have introduced measures for more tolerance, but advocate needs to keep the pressure on and hold elected leaders accountable beyond political promises.

Collaboration regardless of location, race culture and economic stratus.

Despite the statistical signs for more tolerance, this issue continues being a monumental task and these regions and it cannot achieve acceptance this alone.  Only when societies become more educated and tolerant, then we can dance together and reverse a monster that was created. Pushing the legalization of marijuana, despite its potential long-term addictive effect, gay rights should take on the same effort.

Like fighting other racial issues, the gay community has to continue to fight for equality because while they dance to fun rhythms on the beach in these regions, many lyrics are strategically placed to demonize the community, like racial epithets, and codes used to polarize, create intolerance and hate.

The next time you power up your iPhone to spread hate, just recognize the new design you waited 24 hours in 10-degree weather to purchase. A gay man approved the designs.

And no! I am not gay, but should that matter to support their cause?

Changes take time and often resisted. Those communities must choose candidates who share their values

Rest in Peace • Leslie Feinberg- for fighting for equality for all.

Commentary: High on Ebola, low on chikungunya

by D.R. Miller

Since the recent outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean, four people with close connections who arrived back to into the US from the Caribbean region were hospitalized immediately and diagnosed with the virus. In addition, a few medical center employees communicated that they have seen an increase of patients from the region admitted to their medical facilities.

I am not a medical doctor, nor I do I play one on the television; however, based on the recent reports chikungunya has seen a significant up-tick. On the other hand, an impression is being portrayed that it is under control on these shores. What  long term-effect it has on people  is not  known at this time.

The leaders must address this issue openly and develop a solid plan before this potential storm, where soon US and other well-traveled countries by the Caribbean people will begin to put the medical drone in the region.

The drone concept is geared to destroy anything in its path when launched. However, could you blame the US if they cut travel, and begin to set a high alert and other screening of passengers from the region?

The recent death of Thomas Duncan from Ebola at age 42, who arrived in the US, has created an intensive focus on foreign travelers from many poor and developing countries.

Although many believed Thomas Duncan’s death while in US care would inevitably send a statement to others to not come, many people are now wondering what the color of medicine is after two dedicated Caucasian doctors who worked in Liberia contracted the virus and recovered.

One of the silent tones in the Caribbean addressing chikungunya, I believe, is not the politics of the virus, which is often seen elsewhere, for the region it is all economics.

Here is why: Most of the region’s economic engine is tourism, and if any indication like what has been taken place in Liberia, it could be worse than the economic collapse in 2008 that left many still sneezing

I begin to wonder if this is a reason reports of this increasing tide seem a bit hushed up to protect the tourism industry while many locals are suffering silently. Any business model during a turbulent time is not only to ready, but willing to tell about structural problems. This approach not only builds credibility, but also shows a level of leadership that is lacking today on several fronts.

This is not a call for a reduction of travel to and from the region, or high-level screening at airports — that would be premature at this point. On the other hand, when the local government is slow to educate people, this could be a tornado building. Therefore, questions must be asked. Along these blue waters there lies an undercurrent overflowing its banks at any time, and the long-term impact could cripple many lives, both medically and economically.

Managing these issues takes compassion and resources. Recently I saw a Facebook picture post of what appeared to be a sick person from the region who became more victimized as he was scorned from an appearance of what is believed to be the symptoms of the Ebola virus. Furthermore, when it is reported that few local doctors are contemplating refusing to report to work in the event of an outbreak due to the lack of medical supplies and other resources that is troubling.

In today’s society, where billions are being spent on wars and politicians re-election, it is hard to fathom that lack of resource and awareness, combined with scorn, can leave many more suffering. I hope elective officials, medical staff, and CARICOM step up its mandate to educate people and seek help through awareness, because the potential problems such as what is occurring in Liberia and other West African countries, where perception is more dangerous that an actual virus.

These islands are unique and sometimes that can be their own downfall because the uniqueness creates a form of isolation. It further limits collaboration, as all seem to be competing for piece of the visitors pie. Therefore, competition mutes concerns, while marketing becomes“them and not us mentality.”

This virus is not just an island thing, or in Third World countries as one of my less informed friends stated, he is going to stop eat chicken, and stop going to places where lots of chicken are found.

Education is key: No, you cannot get it from eating chicken, or visiting places where chicken are in abundance. The name chikungunya derives from a word in Makonde language roughly meaning that which bends up reflecting the physique of a person disabled by the disease. Many reports have noted that it was first identified in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1952

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the first known autochthonous chikungunya cases in the Western Hemisphere occurred in October 2013 on the island of Saint Martin. By March 2014, travelers to other Caribbean islands carried it to: Dominica; the British territories Anguilla and British Virgin Islands; overseas departments of France — Guadeloupe, Martinique; and the constituent countries of the Netherlands Antilles, as well as other areas such as St Kitts and Nevis; the Dominican Republic; and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

An estimated 3.6 billion persons in 124 countries are at risk worldwide, such as the many who are exposed to dengue fever. Large outbreaks have also been seen Indian Ocean islands, India and South-East Asia, according to the Infection, Genetic, and Evolution Journal. It has also reached Asia and Europe, and North America has seen a few cases recently in Florida.

The National Institute of Health, World Health Organization, Public Health Department, and Infectious Disease, noted that chikungunya is a viral disease that is rarely fatal. It is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes.

The symptoms include high fever and headache with debilitating joint pains, swelling and stiffness of joints, muscular pain, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and rash that can last for several weeks. Normally within four to seven days as reported after been bitten, the symptoms appear.

The mosquitoes become infected when they feed on an infected person during the viraemic period. Today, there are no specific antiviral treatments or vaccines available. However, it also has been reported that commonly used medications include ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, paracetamol, and aspirin.

Although there have been reported deaths, the number of related deaths are extremely low compared to Ebola; however, one should not discount it as a storm that will pass soon.

These regions have to debunk that only certain medicine can cure this outbreak, while many studies have reported there are no known cures at this time for the symptoms. It is extremely important that people take serious preventive measures such as bite-proof long sleeves and trousers. 

Purchasing  untested drugs in desperation from local street vendors might not be the best approach, especially for people with limited or no access to healthcare.  More information can be found published by many health organizations.

It can be extremely difficult to track down all mosquitoes and apply chemical spray on an entire region to cut concerns and especially in poor  and, rural areas with pool of slow-flowing water that is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the lack of access to good health care only add to the problem.

Today many travelers are still waiting on a concrete government plan on how they are handling the issue in a coördinated effort. If there is one, please post.

Although some awareness has been posted, and the governments seem now to be taking steps to mitigate the potential problem, more needs to be done. Nevertheless, can we all be stratified?

This is not to reduce  any attempts, as the lack of resources can make this a difficult task. Moreover, the chance of being robbed, shot or killed in some of these areas, is more than likely than contracting the virus.

As the region continues to attract visitors, it is also important that these visitors receive a disclaimer of this undercurrent taking place.

The leaders must make sure that all proactive measures are taken, and seek help and resources as needed, and stop putting on a good face on this issues with a relaxed attitude.

I am still optimistic that all can come together and weather the storm. Moms and I have a ticket ready to land soon to take a break from the upcoming winter.

2014 World Cup Soccer, more than a game in (Brazil)

BY R.D. MILLER

The Global Colors.

Every four years, millions of fans gather in person at watch parties in public parks and bars to see the best of the best players face off for bragging rights until another four years.

This remarkable event never seems to be far from controversy wherever it is being played. These controversies range from soccer or football, corruption, and the socio-economic responsibility it should take on in our society.

Despite the logistics, since the 2014 games begun, the Amazon colors have taken over our television, iPhones, smartphones, and iPads like a rainbow.

However, beneath it all, residents are crying for a new economic canvas to modernize and move poor people to a better standard of living.

Football is a global game that originated in England but later called soccer in the US. The game unites people. Relatively, it is not expensive to start a game. However, the gap between the rich and the poor is further than the locations where these games are being played, while poverty is closer than the two goalposts.

They are the ones being left out of the prints. After the final whistle has blown, they too will be still asking economic referees for a penalty that was not given on a foul play.

The poor socio-economic issues surrounding these games often erupt in protests. The games go on, but the turmoil lingers, blocks from where the games are being played. These issues never left, as they will re-emerge like the sea rushing back to the shores to recreate the sand paths rich footprints eroded that left the day before.

Photo Credit: Reuters

“They have overlooked the Brazilian local economy problems,” several protesters argued. It appears this color is seldom beamed to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, Brazilians are now under the microscope. The carefully orchestrated images that emerge from the sideline will have a lasting effect.

The Socioeconomic Impact

The World Cup is bigger than its location, despite heartaches, especially from the premature departure by England, Italy, and Australia. However, the stage is still where players and supporters use the event to highlight their countries, send statements, and reconnect with compatriots who are still clubbing rivals.

This is like a family reunion before they head back to business and where lifelong friendships are formed, even between countries without diplomatic ties and where cultural divides are rooted in political turmoil.

The game represents a much wider reach far beyond 90 minutes on the field. It extends the communities, economics, discipline, teamwork, acceptance, talent , and diplomacy, even between nations with political tensions.

Many now are aware that the Iranians play soccer and not everything is about nuclear weapons and tension with the Israelis. Even the Israelis have a solid team.

Yes, this is the real “World Champion Series,” and they crown the true world champions after eight weeks.

The Economics: These games are being led under the International Association Federation of Football (FIFA). It is a billion-dollar industry, and throughout this region, the games are ubiquitous.

To prepare for the 2014 World Cup, they spent an estimated cost of up to US$11 billion — while the Brazilian economy remains stagnant. However, the government has predicted that it will be a net positive for the overall economy, stemming from event-related services among several industries.

Forbes magazine has reported that (FIFA) will generate about $4 billion in revenue. However, more needs to be done to promote social programs to cut poverty and not the appearance of forcing local economies to stretch their budgets to accommodate their demands.

Wherever FIFA places its goalposts, it is always under the microscope. Recently published in a British magazine, the organization is being investigated on corruption and bribes related to the Qatar 2022 bid.

FIFA’s operation is not much different from the American National Football League (NFL). Inside these games, recruitment is alive.

This is where wealthy club managers scope every play, searching for the next star and the face of new marketing global campaigns.

But beneath these targeted players, there are several communities of improvised youths looking for education, access to decent affordable medicines and safety.

Often these public investments are unsuccessful on a much bigger scale because when fans are gone and the multi-million stadiums are empty, the local people are stuck with the debt burden.

The socio-economic argument that surrounds the World Cup is nothing new. In 2010, South Africa went through the same issues on how much its government spent that could have been used to move people out of poverty.

Soccer, or football, has generated several global stars and has moved families out of poverty. Some of their stories are like some players of the NFL, National Basketball Association (NBA), baseball, and many other professional sports. In some areas, the millions generated from players who left slums (ghettos) seldom trickle down to communities where it all started.

Such as gentrification, our society has been increasingly shifting as it is becoming more diverse, and that sometimes causes tension and even more isolation.

The other Brazil off the pitch.

Many reports show that if black Brazilians could get on a boat and leave, and maybe on a soccer pitch is the safest place because they kill more blacks at an alarming rate besides the economic stagnation. Even when crime overall dropped, the number of violent deaths recorded, in comparison, the murder rate of black people has not decreased.

Maybe it is time for an economic package both socially and economically in these poor communities. After the goals are scored, and the pageantry is over for poor people of color, it is like a soccer ball with air.

FIFA always executes successful events. The game between the US and Portugal had one of the highest ratings, upward of 21 million. Imagine if these fans force FIFA to make sure some economic balance where it places the next goal posts.

With success should come responsibility, and despite the Beautiful Game that has broken down barriers, some players still face discrimination. They call some niggers, monkeys, and bananas a symbol of games by some fans.

Recently, Italian star Mario Balotelli spoke up after he faced racial slurs from a few fans, and more players must do the same.

FIFA should know how to help combat these issues. It has been around since 1904 and now has over 300,000 clubs and over 240 million players around the world.

For many youths a soccer/football field and now “pitch” as some calls, it was critical to stay off the streets after school. Although not all young players became stars, the friendships gained, and lessons learned lasted a lifetime.

Social Responsibility

FIFA is excellent at managing global operations. However, as our society becomes more diverse, isolated by ideology and personal interests, it will need more than building stadiums. Equality, discrimination, and a platform for players to speak when issues threaten to reduce the next generation of players.

Often, I join a few new fans at the local sports bars who seem intrigued with long pauses when they realize a few teams starting 11 such as the French, Germans; the Italians have black players, and some are Muslims. It is more than a game, and awareness is key.

This 2014 World Cup has been a homecoming for many South American teams, and celebrations have been tremendous. However, there is a dark side that is lurking in some countries just north of these games off the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of children who have fled their countries where a few dominating stars call home.

Most of these children without their parents are under age 10 and now in detention camps at the US border. Up to 90,000 came from Honduras, Colombia, and Guatemala as reported.

These young people fled to escape sexual violence and other inhumane treatment stemming from crime. No one will know the long-term physiological impact but it can devastate, as studies have shown.

The football organizations and their players cannot be the world police, but with success and global appeal comes the responsibility to speak in a humanitarian crisis. Billions are being spent to create perfect pictures while others seek the next Latin star to fill their stadiums from ticket sales.

Sadly, some are outside the gated walls looking to take the dangerous trip north, while they fill other pitches with toxins and the goalposts are two empty containers with lead. They can use maybe revenue generated to at least give awareness to this problem.

Extra Minutes:

These extra minutes added to games can generate more revenue for FIFA. However, in a few weeks, the cameras will be gone; and well-dressed immigrant men and women from the television networks with few selected feel-good stories, while surrounded with security as if they are in a war zone, will leave town.

Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

There will be more games to come, many players are of African descent, with similarities to an NFL player, and they too are extremely rich and more famous. Some I had to navigate drug and crime-infested areas to reach a local field.

The next referee

Today, I wonder if our socio-economic polarization, inequality disparities have reduced some of our imagination. Perhaps our major league should do more because such as Brazil, they lead us to believe that someone is watching. But has anyone notice to make a more systematic change for a better game.

When the final whistle is blown, some players will have to pass through their poor towns and cities plagued with violence. Before FIFA canvasses the next venue, it should not only seek ways on how to increase its balance sheet. It must make sure the community’s economic impact benefits all, regardless of color, class, race, and socio-economic status, because the next 100 years can only be beautiful if it remains more than a game.