Is it time for a Rastafarian prime minister for Jamaica, or the region?

The unintentional award.

“First, they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” Mahatma Gandhi.

Monday, April 5, 2021, the Jamaica Observer noted that “Minister of Security Dr. Horace Chang claims if more individuals replicate the respect that “true” Rastafarian men show to females, it would reduce recent reported heinous acts of violence against women

The acknowledgment stopped shy of advocating that any Rastafarians (Rasta) seize on a more active community or an appointed role on a task force to focus on violence.

Having been publicly recognized for peace; safety, self-dependence, and humanity. Is it time for a Rasta to seek Jamaica’s highest office; including other parts of the Caribbean, maybe CARICOM, and offer a pure path for socio-economic improvement and to reduce crime?

Should these islands hope soon to say, “Welcome First Lady Queen, someone like “Ifrica” to the Nyabinghi Mansion that serves all communities?

Photo by Lucxama Sylvain

Many locals argued that the government ran out of ideas to address an uptick in crime in this delightful and vibrant nation. Others suggested it was about time their lifestyle be recognized as a model.

Though this public declaration is viewed through the political lens; any domestic violence awareness or public safety is positive news regardless of the messenger. However, recognizing Rastafarianism cannot be captured in a tweet, plug, or sound bites.

It is a fact that despite Rastafarian’s popularity, many individuals who wear natural hair on these shores beyond Jamaica still face discrimination.

Photo by Anna Shvets

The fine print:

Violence only can be pursued if reported, so it does not mean that domestic violence appears not to occur in a certain culture, but you must give credit when it is applicable 

The Rastafarian community has a wide range of skills and qualifications, dispositions, and competencies. Their skills could play even more of a broader role in mentoring the next politician, doctor, police officer, teacher, counselor, or investment banker should the government invest more in this community.

Another way to give credit is simply to analyze the amount of Rastafarians with criminal records or incarcerated compared to their population. Reports have also shown that even when some Rastas are incarcerated, they have a lower recidivism rate. 

For over a decade, reports have shown that Jamaica ranked in the top 10 countries of most violent places with an average of over 30 deaths per 100, 000 thousand citizens, but this opinion is not about the murder rate or lack of resources.

Photo by Kat Wilcox

Though violence is ubiquitous, and the region is no stranger, which is a public health issue. Addressing crime and other social-economic problems on these shores is often woven in complexity surrounding politics, law, culture, and economic status.

Many Rastafarians’ skills can collaborate their approach to life by promoting peace and love and have a broader impact on these communities riddled with socio-economic anguish, political dogma, and violence.

The resistance and struggle with an ongoing foot on their necks.

I am not a philosopher, nor is this opinion an undertaking to explain its origin, but pick up your R**s) hand out of my hairstyle, and foot off the man’s neck. 

British royal insignia 

Since the mid-1930s, shortly after the inauguration of Ras Tafari as the Negus of Ethiopia, meaning “King of Kings. Jamaica’s Rastafarian began promoting the teachings’ authority of Selassie over King George V (Jamaica was formerly a colony of England, but it has faced enormous resistance, according to scholars. 

Rasta made the anguish of many black people a pedestal of their consciousness to free themselves from slavery and neocolonialist chains and return to Africa research has shown. 

From 1940 and 50s, many branches opened, led by Leonard Howell, a former member of Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association who was incarcerated for preaching its culture.

During this period, reports have shown that the Jamaican Government considered Rastafarian’s ideology dangerous and subversive and a menace to social norms.

Sadly, many were marginalized rather than being accepted as determined, valuable citizens linked to the same slave ship. This resulted in greater isolation from education, employment, land, and housing.

Photo by Maria Orlova

Rastafarians were made to be seen as deviant and should be rounded up like slaves from an alien world. The cultural isolation created an oppressive mentality that created tension mistrust in authority until now.

It was like from the 1880s into the 1960s, many American states enforced segregation through “Jim Crow” laws and other places still operate like a depiction of George Orwell’s best-known novels–1984- Animal Farm: “All are equal, but some are more.”

Fortunately, despite being discriminated against, they did not resort to disturbances or violence like Paul Bogle; one of the nation’s heroes fought with law enforcement under a colonial government in the Morant Bay Uprising on October 11, 1865.

Paul Bogle (1820 – 24 October 1865

Total independence need more than published paper, but also a mental shift:

John Robert Lewis is one of my heroes, and an American statesman and civil rights activist who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until he died in 2020. He was a proponent of good trouble, and maybe this 1865 uprising, was ahead of its time.

Despite an apology in 2019, when the government of Antigua apologized for the nation’s treatment of Rastafarians at a meeting of the Organization of America States (OAS), it will not change overnight from these delicate quiet decades of social distancing.

The splinters of history have given the colonial state of Jamaica and others in its system along these shores, and elsewhere globally, a free ride on how they have been ridiculed and treated.

Unfortunately, the architectural class system requires a psychological shift going back to the classroom for absolute acceptance. Today, some even maintain there is rationale to sustain them as an outcast.

In July 2020, the Supreme Court of Jamaica said a student could not attend classes if she did not cut her dreadlocks according to reports. This rule further erodes the distrust in government, and I believe to maintain a class system.

Dale and Sherine Virgo with their two children, including 7-year-old ZV. Photo Credit: WP

According to several reports, the minister of education, Karl Samuda, declined to comment on the ruling, which came on the eve of Emancipation Day, celebrated in Jamaica and elsewhere to mark the end of slavery in the British Empire.

Stepping back and feeling the Rasta vibes:

Rastafarians have been the cornerstone even it was an idea of social equality, peace, brotherhood, environmental preservation, liberty, resistance, independence, and universal love. They have been a critical voice of poor, black, oppressed people of Jamaica and beyond.

Though local cultural struggles persist, it is apparent that Rastafarianism is not a clearly defined area, but many people can identify with their passionate vibes that have gravitated to their values and peaceful lifestyle across all races.

Rastafarianism has come a long way since the 18th century when Ethiopians emphasized an idealized Africa. It gained international attention, and thanks to the music of devoted Rastafarian Bob Marley and others.

Bob Marley

The Jamaican government or any other place does not require a crisis to recognize that where the Rasta lives, make ends meet, there will consistently be peace (one love).

As (Jah Crew) a reggae superstar said in one of his songs, “Rasta is passing through.”

Though some of us invested in razors, or at the barbershops, do not wear the dreads living in a world where some rules are defined for us, we accepted with a signature for our economic stability, but quietly we are Rastas in our approach to life where internally, peace, love, humility remains

The reggae band, Morgan Heritage said in one of his songs, “you don’t hiffi dread to be Rasta”.

Once you arrive in the Rasta’s place, he or she greets you. No need to look around because it is quite a level of respect, hospitality, and calm that comes over you. There are countless stories of the comfortable place they often offer for an extended or temporary stay on these shores.

Regrettably, it took violent headlines to recognize them despite their plight; they remain a delightfully peaceful culture.

Far too often, it seems, Rasta must speak to show he is intelligent and frequently seen by their dread-locks before exploring their brains.

Rastafarian movement culture and its context run deeper than grow your political dreads or smoking marijuana. Today, their peace-making practices may be the best thing to calm these rough oceans.

The Honorable Prime Minister (Ras)

What would Rasta’s first 100 days in the office look like?

The debris from colonialism, poverty, social disadvantage, and oppression, I do not believe The Honorable Prime Minister (Ras) will solve it immediately, but how would you know if you do not give them a chance.

Photo Credit: Fenkel Production

Today, predominantly capitalistic means and foreign investments have created jobs, but self-reliance has diminished. It has created a wide gap between the haves vs. the have-nots.

The Rasta administration may have an answer from a bottom-up approach, promoting local production and getting back to more self-reliance.

The balance eliminates bias; corruption, promotes diversity, and national security will be key and a diverse board that will represent everyone at the table; and a chief priority that matches their message, to change course on many fronts.

Sure, they may debates on lighting marijuana in the house of parliament. I doubt there will be a black image of God or Haile Selassie’s divinity in the local churches to replace some of what is there now, but more sociopolitical consciousness.

While the “Reparation” debate continues through the monetary lens by many leaders. Prime Minister Ras’s approach maybe not be the size of an account, but a mental shift from hopelessness, crime, abuse of women and upward mobility for the nest generation.

This will promote economic growth even if you do not have dreads, where peace and prosperity, honesty, stability, and calm for all.

Yes, the movements are more than of August 20, 2012, when Rapper Snoop Dog has transformed his name to Snoop Lion, following his interest in Rastafarianism.  

Child abuse is Beyond April’s Awareness, and an Everyday Occurrence

By R.D. Miller

More than April

During April, several communities, schools, health departments, including domestic violence centers will wear the color blue to show solidarity in honor of National Child Abuse and Awareness. April brings not only a new season but a more radiant spirit, fresh flowers, and birds, and a break from the cold winter for many.

Photo by Max Vakhtbovych

I have always enjoyed the changing of the seasons, especially from winter to spring. It reminders me that there are a few things around the home that need to be fixed. It can be absolutely ruined from the previous season that may be ignored because it looks excellent on the surface.

This hastily formed mentality often parallels how child abuse gets overlooked until it becomes a major repair, got pushed aside hoping it can last another season.

Many of us have questioned behaviors we encountered and never bother to inquire for whatever reason. Sometimes, it is too personal, revisited old wound, it is an over there issue or we are simply helpless because of resources, or too busy.

I however remember a videotape of an uncle trying to sell his young niece for sex to generate a few dollars. This story is just one and I am sure many of you are aware of an incident and it is not on tape, but does that mean it never happens?

So, what do you do?

Awareness is speaking up, and if you are a victim, seek specialized help. Make sure you trust the person who will hear your story and have a backup plan if you do feel uncomfortable and not to be re-victimized.

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

Child welfare professionals can play a critical role in helping identify possible substance use disorders (SUDs) and supporting families in overcoming safety barriers.

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

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

Sadly, especially in many impoverished and developing countries where they are struggling due to socio-economic and high criminal elements issues, polarization, inequalities coupled with ignorance, cultural traits, and taboo and barbaric ideology, a victim’s story easily gets lost.

Furthermore, negative portrayals of a victim simply by shaming, and minimization promote tolerance for the negative behavior. It can hinder even an investigation to hold perpetrators accountable, or treatment to reduce the child abuse cycle.

Beyond April’s Numbers:

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

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

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

• Educational neglect

• Neglect of basic needs

• Medical neglect

• Psychological neglect

• Child sexual abuse

There are also different types of child abuse violence from incest to trafficking, and in statutory rape relationships where adults engaging in sexual contact with minors.

Key victim assessment is a typology of an intake process, documentation, interview, or evaluation in assigning the challenges, confidentiality of the victim to ensure correct support beyond an interview.

One of the most effective strategies is supporting families before they reach a crisis.

Global Action also noted despite billions invested, to combat this issue, many people nonetheless believe this is not their problem. This type of thing only happens over there. As society’s disconnect grows, we are more connected far more than the devices inform us, and whatever happens over there often will have an impact over here or the other way.

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

These communities need to undertake a more comprehensive step to address as reports have shown an uptick in child abuse even death, and not only photo-ups just to send out an image of selected empathy or saying what is politically correct.

If leaders want to establish a lasting legacy, these issues must be at the forefront of the community agenda.  Child abuse topics should be part of all political debates for a candidate who seeks higher office.

Society cannot continue allowing an at-risk child’s story to be silent because everyone identifies the perpetrator especially due to one’s financial status, position held in the community, or family support one provides.

Analyzing next April:

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

Photo by Nesrin Danan

What does this have to do with child abuse you might ask?

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

I believe the low expectation of non-white students as the sty shown by some white teachers is as dangerous as some who target a youthful person because he sees no hope.

Social neglect tends to cause more victims in the long run.

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

As many studies have shown, such as a sexual offender who holds a distorted belief of their victims, if one has low expectations regardless of race or socio-economic status or culture; if a student person happens to be missing or becomes a victim of psychopathic abusers, it is less likely to put in the to find and protect this child.

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

Photo by Luis Dalvan

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

Many in wealthy home also being disguise on an electronic platform because the emotion is between the victims and the abuser on the screen.

Some designate it as bullying, but it frequently led to physical and sexual abuse by a perpetrator who uses vulnerability to their advantage.

Rebuilding April’s Awareness:

Sexual exploitation education are areas of society that will forever link with young people such as with media, politics. As a result, when society searches for answers to forge a better union, most events will provoke debates, resources and awareness.

Sometimes the experience one brings is simple from his or her social mobilization process. Therefore, it can be challenging to separate one from the environment that has been created, and this is why listening is key to the victim’s story to develop trust and prevent abuse.

Photo by RODNAE Productions

It also stretches to the offender, to develop an analysis of why one may believe it is normal behavior.

Poverty and inequality make it a daunting task, but April’s awareness cannot disappear when the season changes. 

Sadly, up the road, down the hill, at the local shops, child abuse up until now can be a muted subject.

It is not always due to low expectations, but where more victims are caused due to classism and other economic stratification.

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

What next? Domestic violence and so on.

This crime against humanity;  coupled with the collapse of society’s moral compass, whether in an urban city, rural area, or along the shores, child abuse is uncomfortable to discuss. However, how society corrects itself and builds for brighter surroundings, security and prosperity will make beyond April worth noting.


We~ Are~ All~ in ~It ~Together~ Podcast`

Sadly, too many in our community are being deprived of their rights to a fruitful, peaceful life, and the pursuit of happiness.

Calling Grandma 25 years ago