Commentary: This Women’s History Month, let’s honour Portia Simpson-Miller, former PM of Jamaica

PM-Simpson Miller

Former-P.M. Jamaica- Portia Simpson-Miller

By D. Miller

Women in Politics: Though I am not qualified to speak on women issues, I am fortunate that I grew up in an era that admired, and still strives to develop respect for women and their accomplishments where their gender tends always to be in negotiation.

Portia Simpson-Miller’s historic achievement cannot be summarized from an election loss, although many believe she squandered her last run as the head of her party in the 2016 re-election bid to continue her rule as the first woman prime minister of Jamaica.

The bloggers were swift on Facebook, Twitter, radio and other social media.

She is fool, a liar, uneducated, lucky, ridiculous, and old, a cook for asking for a re-count,” were some of the dispiriting post-election comments.

Sure, disagreements are good for any democracy to thrive but, when political discourse becomes vitriolic, abusive and hateful, it sets the nation back and only reconfirms the challenges from an historical and cultural environmental impediment surrounding women and their vision and the hidden reality of harassment and discrimination.

Naturally, some people were frustrated by their own economic conditions and others were committed to one candidate or the other. However, it does not change her tenacity in a long tradition where many believe men are superior to women, and only through representation can their voice be heard, as studies have shown.

Women in general are under-represented in the region, and leaders should debunk these negative comments beyond party affiliation because one cannot wait until she lies in repose, and the county can look back, and wonder how she did it.

Recognizing the former prime minister’s triumph is not a simple call to rachet down the inflammatory political tone, or diminish her inability to bridge the new form of networking from the old street politics, failed economic policies, challenging issues that were inadequately addressed, or the lost emotional connection to the community when she was first elected that seemed lost.

The quest for equality, social and political accomplishments is not luck as some in the media believe. It is preparation that met opportunity through hard work and dedication. Portia Simpson-Miller and women in general who have made this planet a better place cannot only be judged on few economic quantitative analyses.

This election was bigger than she was. It is the centrality of women, and where women in the region go from here, the disadvantages of being a woman, inclusion, shared priorities, leadership, rights, and security.

A Brief History: March is Women’s History Month, which is celebrated in a few countries. It should remind society of how far they have come and the work that still lies ahead. Despite the missing parades on the islands and other places, women are inspiring generations to strive at becoming better regardless of one’s race, sex, orientation, or social-economic background.

NefertitiPortia Simpson-Miller is not the only first woman who has risen to power. For example, history tells us that Nefertiti ruled Egypt in 2570 BC. In 1920 – with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution – American women were granted the right to vote. In 1966, the National organization for Women (NOW) was formed.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-Libera-Africa,

Benazir Bhutto -Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto -Pakistan

Angela Merkel, Federal

Angela Merkel, Federal Republic of Germany

Kamla Persad-Bissessar-

Kamla Persad-Bissessar-Trinidad and Tobago

Eugenia Charles,

Eugenia Charles, Dominica

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher-British prime minister

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As society evolved, other women in politics made significant contribution. For example, Benazir Bhutto 1988–90 and then 1993–96 in Pakistan was the first woman to lead the government of any Muslin nation. Margaret Thatcher, 1979 to 1990, British prime minister; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 the first elected head of state in Africa, Angela Merkel, first female chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany since 2005, Eugenia Charles, 1980 – 1995 Dominica, and Kamla Persad-Bissessar, 2010 – 2015 Trinidad and Tobago.

Women’s Salient Score Card: Portia is no stranger to ridicule and intense media. In 2004, the major papers, according to Christopher Charles, highlighted when she was a Member of Parliament and asked if she acted inappropriately by abstaining on a resolution that criticized the shortage of funds to the local fire service.

When women rule, pundits seems to have more questions than collaboration:

Do they manage politics differently than men?

Do they represent women’s interest?

Why are so few in leadership today?

What is her role in politics?

What was the country’s GDP, public indebtedness, wages that have been in decline since she began, and other expenditure on health, education during her time in office, and what is it now?

This distinction has to be taken up by the region’s historians in what I believed has been a protracted economy, and the consequence of failure to develop a strategy to cut the long problematic syndrome surrounding crime and poverty, and declining middle class.

The Cultural Stigma: Today it still discourages women from entering politics in Jamaica, and other parts of the region. I do not have to do a comparative analysis or draw on any feminist literature as a male to see that the structure of decision-making by women will diminish if the region’s stereotyping becomes an ongoing norm.

Women Balance

Photo Credit: Glass352

This region still has a social ideology that roars like the ocean taking anything its path (women). Her defeat again echoed an undertone that women, whether a candidate winning an election, or served or serving in a chauvinistic environment and championing equality, such as gay rights, marriage equality, poverty, women power, still have significant resistance.

Women make up about 20 percent of the world’s parliaments and even less in cabinet positions as most studies have shown.

To her credit, as scholars have noted, when women enter politics it changes how men view them.

Her accomplishments were not luck.

Sadly, political discourse has created an impression as if a crime was committed. The political pride that developed out of colonialism has led some to believe that a leader has to graduate from a top university, hold a law degree, or a PhD in government studies to lead, and underscore that one can be less privileged and become a leader from humble beginnings.

Sure, one has to understand geo-political, social, and economic issues, and be able to link it to the corner shop even without electricity or running water. Furthermore, take responsibility as a leader in the context of employment, government spending, investment in education, management, expectation vs reality, corruption, crime, and other mishandled social policies.

Portia’s failure does not lessen her. This mentality only creates barriers for upward mobility, apprehensions, and even exploitation of future qualified women. The participation of women in the legislative process benefits the country in general, and they are often better of solving issues.

When few use selective amnesia and belittle women in politics, it can have a lasting effect on the next young women who believe that women in politics can be a platform for strengthening democracy, but now seeing barriers to social mobility.

Today women are still under-represented in this region, and although a few beams of hope, subjugation in the region and its complex problems woven in structural exclusion are quick to label chaos as a pretrial of a feminist failure.

Many women today have limited but important roles in their society: Portia was saying yes she could before US President Obama stated his favourite line, “Yes we can.”

She committed herself to the public for decades, and has shown that women with power and full participation in decision-making create a better society.

WomenLooking in for a Women Coalition: I do not have a vote, party affiliation, or preference about who should have been victorious in the 2016 election. The only hope from one’s heritage connection is “good governance” in order to move the people forward for upward mobility.

Given today’s society that is polarized on economic status, race, class, and gender, Portia Simpson has beaten the odds, and has contributed to women in Jamaica and beyond.

Anyone can find statistical analysis that supports failures while minimizing the roadblocks on proposed policies. Disagreeing on policies is legitimate; however, quick negative sound bites should not define her. In fact, more push should be directed to recruit more women in politics and not counting “likes” on Facebook.

Thank you: Despite your challenges, constraints, political calculations and even disagreements, as we celebrate women in government, and Women’s Month, your dedication is more than one seat lost.

You are a trailblazer, trendsetter, and even lessons learned was a paradigm shift from the region’s historical and cultural challenges. If I may, I would like to foster some type of feminine socialist bias that you look darn good at age 70.

 

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Commentary: What is the colour of good governance after an election, Jamaica?

jamaica votes gleaner

Photo Credit: Jamaica Gleaner:

Every election has consequences, and regardless of what colour one identifies with, after the paint job has been completed, the nation has to deal with it until the rust emerges again. The people will always be the body shop to select the right paint and hope the dents are fixed from years of neglects, and bumps. Sometimes these new or recycled paints blend and other times it fades and does not shine as expected.

On February 25, 2016, the island votes in its parliamentary election amid an ongoing troubled economy. However, despite plenty of blame to go around, Jamaica has made significant strides in its election process. Several international and local observers have responded to its positive signs.

Over the past few decades, political violence seems to be on the decline. During the 1980s, over 800 people were killed in election related crime. People are still being killed, but the numbers have reduced, and more work needs to be done given the recent news on a few new election related deaths.

One cannot run or benefit from a 21st century election with barbaric ideology.

JA-votes1Elections in the Caribbean, despite its beautiful colour, can be extremely dangerous when it is simply an interest for good governance and democracy that should be colourless as people try to find the best canvas to represent them.

With speculation, increased pressure, poll numbers and questions of leadership, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Simpson-Miller called early elections. The population of about three million people will put to rest for a few hours the ongoing issues of organized crime, drugs, trade, low growth and high debt or even a positive sporting event, from the coastal areas to the interior to select the right colour with even a simple hope that the average life expectancy remains at 73 as reported in Jamaica.

Although the margin of victory, whether for the Peoples National Party (PNP) or the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP), will be close, the psychology from political identity will still have discourse. Election settles debates, but that does not stop a few from seeing their party as the only good, and seeing the other side negatively.

Photo Credit: towson.edu

What is uplifting is that the constitutional parliamentary democracy will remain intact this time around. Sure, you still have pockets of bad colours that have resulted in roadblocks, and other criminal elements and that can be related to political tribalism, as many scholars have noted.

However, since its independence from British rule in 1962, politics, crime, management, economic stagnation, poverty and power has always been a struggle from the ballot box to Main Street in Jamaica and other Caribbean Islands. Despite smooth transitions of power, Jamaica still struggles under the multitude of colours to find the right mixture.

This election and its bountiful colours are beyond party identity and boisterous claims of accomplishments, or the lack thereof. Quietly, it is more of a personality contest where, on one hand, current Prime Minister Simpson-Miller perhaps seems more aware of the latest dancehall moves, and opposition leader, Andrew Holness, who rose to the top after former Prime Minister Bruce Golding stepped down.

Holness, who won the delegates from Shaw, a longtime member of parliament and finance minister, has  to constantly convince the public that he has put in his time, and has the right in-depth knowledge of what it takes and that he should benefit from his leadership victory.

Some are still unable to unlink him from Golding and still believe that his sudden departure was due to an internal fight, but others saw it to save himself and the party in the process from embarrassment.

Political power is seldom based on accomplishments, but time served in the Cabinet. However, one hopes the Jamaican people will look for sustainability on many fronts as it searches for the right colour to offer the highest quality of living where both the people and the currency have lost value in governance.

Jamaica Election Crowd 2016

As this election cycle grows in Jamaica, supporters will usually show up to political rallies ether in red, green or orange, as if it is carnival season, having a good time listening to speeches, dancing for their particular party.

Sadly, these parties operate like primary colours: you cannot mix them after an election cycle, or even bring others to the canvas; thus making it difficult to govern and paint a picture for a brighter future. These election colours should be by definition where other colours derive from.

Hopefully, after this cycle, there will room for mixing to move the nation forward.

This is not an opinion on election monitoring and difficulties faced stemming from influence on of the electoral process. It is a hybrid of finding a revolution that will uplift not only the poor, but also the middle class to continue to paint a better colour after the last ballot has been counted, the street are clear, and the markets are open again with fruits still looking for buyers.

As pundits hit the airwaves to argue about the failing economy and use ignorance as growth, there is plenty of blame to go around for people not to vote.

JA-Votes6The question you should be asking, what will be different this time around?
Can many continue to live only on remittances from Jamaicans living abroad, which seem to be a rise?
What next will be cut from public programs, and what other fees will increase?
I hope this election will be one where people vote their own self-interest, even on a single issue. One should not be fooled by selective amnesia, and change of language to cover diminished credibility and, in the end, the ultra-rich, plutocrats get richer, and everybody else get poorer.

The question you should be asking, what will be different this time around?

This election should not be only a high visibility of colours that will fade shortly afterwards but, like others, it should be won on the right mixture for the future. Jamaica will not escape from the dark colour of current governance, and even if the paintbrush has been changed, often it too carries the stains from the past. Therefore, it becomes difficult to paint a much needed new canvas and here many still hope for the best outcome.

 

This election is both internal and external aftershock as poverty lingers. As these aggressive campaigns continue to seal their platforms, it will not change most recent reports that have seen a deterioration in Jamaica’s trade deficit combined with growing imports, and spending

Fundamentally, this election will come down to what party can project itself as the best choice. As the paint dries, the quest for good governance should bring out the best in elected officials to get things done, and stop promising ideas that they knew in advance cannot be fulfilled due to other economic reasons.

Several promises have been made, from who is best to handle crime, to free education and medical care, and yet some medical centres could use an election to replace some their own leaders. This is not an indictment on one party, but put forth a solid plan that has a sharp difference from the other.

Being angry at each other does not solve anything.

Jamaica must find a way to make sure these movements and organizations involve a prosperity platform build tolerance, justice and equality for as the island continues to look for the best sunshine.

Commentary: The MVP from Obama’s Jamaica trip: By D.R. Miller

The Starting Team: April 8, 2015, President Barack Obama’s trip to Jamaica, the anticipation seemed like a World Cup football game where Jamaica made the play-off. The 24-hours ticket created a nostalgic vibe across all strata of fans. Some even took credit for his visit.

Some of what was highlighted suggested that the Jamaican government bought a new set of brooms and swept up several unappealing spots that had been overlooked for decades.The facelift gave an impression of a well-kept yard when it was simply a temporary cosmetic:

Many asked, when the mascara fades, now the last whistle has been blown, what next. Despite the joy, social media quietly erupted, where pundits, politicians, and bleachers seized the opportunity and aired what is called their dirty laundry. Few debated the new asphalt concrete pavements, and what happen after it fades.

One suggested only criminals benefit, as people are scared to venture out on these new roads after dark. Additionally, temporary relocation of mentally ill and homeless people in disguising images of poverty. Given the president’s compassion for the poor and youth in general, leaving these images intact could have resulted in more aid. Under his administration, the US budget for the homeless to help affordable housing programs increased and the homeless rate has been reduced, according Housing and Urban Development.

The irony is that some have been part of the team for decades and refused to quit, retire, or accept the penalties for their foul play. Many players who arrived at the airport and the town hall meeting wore hidden bandages, hurting in disguise. The region’s stagnated socio-economic problems have been a cancer for decades and this one-day match has not solved corruption, poverty, high unemployment, crime, and social stratification. Update: Only Obama can take full credit as to where he visits. Obama’s trip was more than a popularity contest.

Paradigm Shift: Even women in power, when women negotiate, it looks like they continue to suffer a social cost: the unintentional bias still lingers: Before the MVP is selected: First, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller must be commended for a successful visit. Despite the struggles and obstacles, Obama called Marley’s house “one of the most fun meetings I’ve had since I’ve been president”. The reggae legend Bob Marley lived there until his death in 1981.

Even Jamaica’s relaxed and warm attitude brushed off on him (no comment about what might have been the cause). He even signed the Jamaica House visitors’ log one day in advance: April 10, 2015, and not April 9, 2015. What was this trip or game about? Despite the chatter, the Caribbean needs a new broom. Few local outlets believed that Jamaica’s new economic power in the region plays a role. Local pondering and political ploy is always an option. According to Reuters, Obama wants to reassert US leadership in the Caribbean that has been overlooked. Many analysts say a key reason Washington is suddenly paying attention to the Caribbean Basin is that it wants to wean the islands off Venezuelan oil and influence.

Recently, the United States declared Venezuela a national security threat. When a country is so declared, it is the first step in starting sanctions. However, CNN’s Joe Johns in a recent interview with Jamaica’s Police Commissioner Carl Williams discussed the potential of sleeper cells in the region.

This issue appears moot, but he noted that Jamaica has formed a new intelligence unit to collect data in collaboration. Stay with me here, the game is still playing. I will get to the MVP. Concerning potential sleeper cells as reported, the region has not seen Al Qaeda, as in the Arabian Peninsula, capitalizing on the region’s poverty or a homemade bomb to date, or locals travelling to join ISIS.

However, these concerns should not be taken lightly. Even smart people can be confused to believe that only Islamic countries and religion can create terrorists. One cannot discount the ideologies that it can strike anywhere. However, with the lack resources to solve a wave of recent local crimes, one wonders? Several victims have lost trust in the government and are still searching for answers and justice.

The Pick: Many outsiders do not claim to be experts on the Caribbean region’s politics, crime, economic, or social justice. In fact, legally, several of us cannot play or even cast a vote, but the migration roots continue to connect these ocean shores. So, technically one never leaves the ballot box and checking-in is mandatory even to simply make sure a future visit or mom’s return can be fun without an overwhelming security apparatus. Although it seems society is picking MVPs before a season ends, Commissioner Carl William is the MVP. You might not agree because your crime and safety concerns, even corruption, remain active.

Dealing with crime variables is certainly a challenge: all economic correlations, including changing criminogenic needs, the security team has to stay the tallest person in the room. Commissioner Williams will always have difficult task ahead, especially to decide potential sleeper cells, track and measure criminal history and people engaged in crime, and prediction requires synergy. Sadly, today it appears social media can get more evidence than a local investigator. Jamaica, Trinidad, Guatemala, Haiti and others cannot be successful with pockets of outlaws who continue to cause mayhem, and residents remain silent (no snitch). These communities must become vigilant and be protected. Mr Williams and others holding top cop positions cannot solve crime alone.

If Obama’s trip was built on security concerns, the nation needs to realize, despite their frustrations with local criminal elements, solving crime requires critical data and analysis with methodological commitment from the team. The Road Ahead: Since high-profile games are played in nation’s capital, often rural communities are overlooked when they need a new social and justice stadium. Recently, a lifeless body stood still for hours from a machete chop. (What happened to a trained forensic expert?) Speaking on condition of anonymity, an officer noted you cannot solve a crime arriving several hours later, at times intoxicated, the entire community has possession of the deceased. The crime scene compromised and the officer fears for his/her own safety in investigating the incident to decide the direction.

There are many parents still searching for justice. Fourteen-year-old Kayalicia Simpson’s family now wonders how the system missed the warning signs, while other mothers are living in fear of their young child being kidnapped and raped to and from schools. The idea that some local communities now have turf wars like the Sunnis, Shiites, and ISIS is problematic. These conflicts cannot be allowed to be manifested into more issues.

Eliminating potential threats and cutting recidivism requires community trust and resources. The politics that often surrounds community policing has to be balanced with accountability. It is less likely for a young man or woman to join a gang when he or she has opportunities, equal protection, and respect for the rule of law enforcement. Dangerous ideologies are often formed from exclusion. What if the society had continued to isolate the Rastafarian movement, the question posed to President Obama on the legalization of marijuana would not have been possible. Inclusion only makes a society stronger even when we disagree

The crime rates have declined as reported. However, several are not resolved while victims search for follow-up and support. The sense of hopelessness cannot be measured. Strengthening local police departments with modern equipment and training is more critical, even sensitivity to a rape victim. “To serve and protect” is not simply the power of one badge received after an academy.

The recent reported killing of a police officer shot dead by another officer after allegedly trying commit a robbery on a bar only further deteriorate trust in the system. The ending of police violence is equally important, and an independent review is paramount.

Our Hope: As Obama said, “Wah gwan, Jamaica?” Being critical of public safety only makes the system better. It is not a good feeling having to spend one’s vacation in another part of town simple because of a fear being killed, and frustration in seeing others suffering from barbaric atrocities. For Prime Minister Simpson-Miller, despite difficulties, she has tried and needs more collaboration. This is not an endorsement. Winning this bid to host Obama comes with enormous responsibility.

Obama leaves Jamaica, what next? The region has to get back its moral compass. Leadership can no longer ignore rural areas until an election season, while continuing to depend on its fruits and vegetables. As an outsider, how do you choose this MVP? One simple watches the young people basking in hope and change through education.

After the last whistle has blown, and parade is over, the confetti is off the street, and planting of new trees to meet the next leader, the commissioner will be the fence around their safety to grow. If this MVP has already begun to stretch this physical and mental fence, great. If not, we cannot see how he can build confidence. I still believe the community is where his best players are.

Finally, the critical value attributed to the cosmetics cost generated for Obama’s visit only confirms that if the region focuses its resources on solving systematic problems, the temporary beautification can have a lasting effect, and residents will have less ammunition during high profile visits to vent their frustrations.

Commentary: The elephant is still in the room

The elephant is still in the room

Often when one looks at the Caribbean region from outside, only a few things come to mind: (1) the warmth of the people; (2) the blue waters; and (3) most of those who visit from other industrial countries have no idea that the region still has social and cultural issues hidden under the warm welcome.

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P.M. Portia Simpson-Miller

Despite upward mobility and economic growth women have made since the late Eugenia Charles became the first and only female prime minister of Dominica from 1980 to 1995, today, women are still under-represented in this region. There are now a couple of top positions held by women: Kamla Persad-Bissessar, prime minster of Trinidad and Tobago, and Portia Simpson-Miller, prime minister of Jamaica. More needs to be done, and if your name not listed, you know who you are.

To some of these male leaders who are stuck in past: let us face it. The generation gap often creates tensions.

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P.M. Eugenia Charles

While more women hold advanced degrees, they earn less for same work performed by men. Although some progress has been made where a few higher offices held are women, they constantly face tremendous resistance. Often the only reason(s) their economic policies are blocked or not taken seriously both by some government leaders and by the community are simple: that they are women.

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P.M. Kamla Persad-Bissessar

The male chauvinism mindset instilled from birth continues to be passed on for generations in the region. The expectation is that she should be at home cooking and ensuring kids are clean and well fed is now by choice, and that can be hard to fathom in a male dominated circle. Yielding this treasured power to women even when it is for the greater good of the society is very difficult despite modernization for several decades.

Additionally, about 57 percent of all college degrees awarded were to women in recent years. It represents about six in every ten college degrees earned today are by women. Furthermore, since January 2013, women lead some of US largest weapon makers: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and BAE Systems.

Equally important, despite those significant upward-mobility and accomplishments in areas such as government, research and development, media, medicine, sports, and academia, recent studies have shown there is an increase in the women prison population. It is my hope, as more women leaders take offices, and these issues can be addressed going forward, to reverse the negative side of the statistics.

A few weeks ago, Senator Ruel Reid of the Jamaican Parliament delivered what I believe was an excellent speech with a broad appeal beyond the beach of Jamaica. He called for “Rebuilding Jamaica,” across several sectors. However, the senator also argued that families should consider only two children as a part of an economic growth plan.

no women

Jeddah Marriott no women sign

The concept of a repressive system of government lurking in one’s bedroom to dictate how many children one should have plays into a structured ideology, and does not quantify a sound economic plan to move forward. Furthermore, this system of government is not China, who recently eased its 34-year restriction on population growth from one to two children. According to the Population Research Institute, about 25 million men in China cannot find brides because there is a shortage of women.

The region’s population numbers and the size of the countries are not the only real barriers to growth, but also an intangible that has to change. It is important not to ignore the colourless statue still lurking in these regions: “Stratification.” A few leaders who graze the stages in front of the cameras are not always the perfect picture they paint when the lights go off in moving the region ahead as one body.

Whitenicious-handMany writers have talked about one’s colour and its importance in the region for decades. The stratification and the willingness to be accepted saw an explosion in bleaching cream. This product, as noted, should give the appearance of lighter skin tone than one’s actual skin pigmentation. However, this is a topic where a dermatologist will better to explain the downside to this trend.

Professor Oliver Mills talked about “liberation of our minds from mental slavery.” As noted, often these traits can be traced back to the old colonial ideology, slavery, and oppression where only a few rule the greatest. Several locals are being priced-out of affording basic food supplies, this trend cuts across all colours, and when these barriers continue to divide it creates a sociological stagnation and hinders economic mobility.

As society evolves, most new generations have a total different outlook on these social barriers, and are willing to move forward, but past ideology still woven into the political system makes it more difficult to form alliances. Sure, society often can learn from older leaders, however, sometime one has to yield power or simply give it up.

It is not helpful to sit on the cyber crime committee, but cannot save a document in Microsoft Word. Maybe term limits in Parliament could help change some of these perceptions, as it will welcome new ideas if such law can become a reality.

Solidarity is always important to one’s country. Moreover, it gives one sense of belonging, but when it promotes separation, it can be very difficult to move all forward. Each island is unique in its own way. The Caribbean is not alone in wanting to be different despite similar history. For example, in the US, northern and southern states tend to have different views on several socio-economic agendas, and it often dictates who gets elected into office, or what political agenda is important.

1thThe history of seeking separation too has played a role in the American Civil War, fought between states in 1861. Some still argue that it was to free the stronghold on slavery in the South while others believed that it was a separation between the North and South. However, the tension sometimes between each other will not amount to civil wars in the Caribbean, but limits cross-border travel, investments that could expand tourism, imports, and exports that could give to a better social agenda, crime control.

The mindset that its population size and notoriety are reasons to isolate and continue to classify some as small islands can be problematic and, therefore, cut its importance in the long-run to connect. Every island has a graph on the economic scale.

Too often, one sees themselves as different and, yes, nothing is wrong with that. Every person has a certain amount of biases. However, when one fails to accept and address biases, and uses them as a determinant factor, they can become a roadblock in moving forward.

The word “independence” tells us that one has to do what is best for their growth engine. However, when they compete where it is not necessary and ignore the bigger picture through collaboration to move the next generation send, the only outcome is that someone loses. However, to reach a reduction in high unemployment rates, this region has to grow more than what has been forecast to lift the lower class out of poverty.

Moving   forward is critical and to make sure equality for all to cut gaps between haves vs. the have-nots should be a universal mission. These regions were once the envy of colonial powers. The English, Dutch and French, and the US were once colonial rivals in this region. St Lucia, Barbados, and Jamaica, as well as Bermuda in the Atlantic were all economically important Caribbean islands. Caribbean sea-lanes as it was called were of strategic significance as early as the 17th century before the slaves arrived. They should get back to that essence of belonging.

What will change you might ask in this year? Answer: not much: There will be another election in this region in several months and leader’s re-election signs will be posted to map their next re-election path. If you are not careful and lose track, every four to five years, another proposal will emerge. The values we place on governance, whether we agree or disagree, at some point we are responsible to create a better future for the next generation. This is why it is important to work together.

The region must ask itself: “What happened to an economic inequality agenda; victim’s rights, women rights, gay rights, comprehensive educational policy to lower the cost of education, the offender population, homelessness and the prison system reform. In addition, what resources are there to help others with less hope stemming from long periods of incarceration, conflicts, and resources for rehabilitation?

Although government is not the solution to some of the social problems the islands face today, it has a responsibility to make sure that basic safety is paramount, including policies that are fundamentally geared to moving people forward and especially young people who have more student loan debts than opportunities.

Homeless2Far too often, segments of that society who fall on hard times are left out. Some are labeled “lunatics” because recently he or she has been seen in the same clothing for a few days. It appears this often ignores what happened. Did this person witness a crime, and needed an outlet to cope? Alternatively, were she and her family just being physically, sexually, verbally abused and have no one to talk to so she ended up in the street, and later raped by the same [lunatic] the system has ignored. If these people are woven back into society, the economic growth will continue. A country cannot sell only the white sand, and ignore the ones that washed away.

These issues go beyond pure numbers in any class. Nothing will immediately stop the rate of teen pregnancy, the level of care that only financial status dictates, automobile accidents, and other crimes from being committed each day on the streets. One in four women will become a victim of some sexual violence, and the prison sizes will not drastically be reduced.

The region has to move from the mindset where some are often measured by race, culture, and economic status. Not everyone will be a senator, or member of parliament, a doctor, and attorney, or the chief of police. The trash needs to be picked up, and the farmer to make sure you have the supplies for a good meal. However, structural ideology often divides us by race, culture, sex, and socioeconomic status. Far too often, these labels have dictated one’s outcome in the criminal justice system or the education they receive.

It is more critical that my [Generation X] balances the appetite for the latest gadgets searching and the next best thing and miss what has taken place next door. We do not talk as much as we once did; we rather stay wired to the next headlines a million miles away. Most of the local media seem to be more on entertainment than what is actually going on in the local region. I am not implying that some are not responsible; however, we should not isolate ourselves but we need a balance and to stay informed.

One of the biggest threats to this region is not its location that has a hurricane hovering over it or an outbreak of disease on local crops. It is simple the lack of sound economic policies, and collaboration, and moving from that they vs. us mentality as several writers have discussed before.

Although economic development is critical to sustain the quality of life, however, all aspects of the community from the media to the local police department, schoolteachers, religious leaders, Rastafarian community, to the minimum wage workers and investment bankers should all have a voice at the table because too often the barriers to success in the region far outweigh the opportunities.