October is designated as domestic violence awareness month, did you know?

By R.D.

Beyond October: It was conceived out of a day of unity led by the National Collation Against Domestic Violence in October 1981 with purple as the official color.

This issue will not stop throughout the world as many domestic panthers will continue to abuse beyond this October as many of us focus this month will be on raking falling leaves or checking windows and roofs in anticipation of winter.

For several years, I have participated in three miles walk, and other community events in support of victims of domestic violence with members of the law enforcement community, advocates, treatment providers, and other support groups..

During my annual walk, I usually think about the victims in poor and developing countries and especially the migrant communities globally.

There are plenty of definitions of domestic violence regardless of the type of relationship.

It is not about a single fight. If it feels wrong, it is…

It is never the victim’s fault, it is also forced sexual activities; intimidation, isolation, economic manipulation, deprivation such as blocking access to medical treatment.

Simply put, it comes in the form of physical, mental, social, and economic abuse.

The Data: Young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old are 2.41 times as likely to experience physical violence. More than three million children witness domestic brutality in their homes every year. Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence equally suffer abuse or neglect at a more elevated rate as studies have shown.


The National Collation Against Domestic Violence noticed; one woman is killed by a partner, ex-spouse, or some dating partner every 14 hours. And every 20 minutes an intimate partner abuses someone. In 70-80% of cases, men psychically abused the woman before the murder. Domestic violence cases comprise more than half of police response calls, more than robbery, motor vehicle theft, burglary as reported

Several academic international journals further states that domestic violence accounted for about 19 percent of the total burden of healthcare for women age 15-44. An estimated $4.1 to $5.8 billion resulted from victims who lose days of work alone, which is about 32,000 full-time jobs.

Domestic violence is beyond a primary victim, it can transcend into child trafficking from the run-away child to escape a violent home. They have experienced exploitation and forced into marriages. The UN also reported that about 15 million young girls are victims.

The month of October is more than a walk. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused anxiety, and perhaps frustration from the unknown; and though the economic and physiological impact is still be assessed, experts also noted that more domestic violence cases are being reported from individuals who are unemployed from closed businesses with little support..

Regrettably, in some of these communities that share part of our roots, culture, and heritage, domestic violence remains a taboo. Despite the breathtaking backdrop and wide-open fields, beautiful shorelines, and white sand, often not all victims recognize a secure place to go for help including perpetrators of domestic violence..

Domestic violence abuse tends to mask in silence in many of these communities. A beautiful sun-glass may hide the scars from a violent relationship that may be seen as a day heading to the beach, a corner shop, or church, but taking this walk with me for awareness could deliver a positive and lasting impact.

Experts observed despite a few groups’ interventions; classes tend to stay in the shadow. They lack proper staffing, often closed abruptly afterward, and offenders frequently require the cooperation of law enforcement to make sure they attend treatment programs.

When treatment programs are available, the dropout rates stay high and victims will use cultural reasons as an excuse. The lack of resources choked off by poverty sometimes can be difficult to connect family or victims to programs throughout many Latin American, Caribbean communities; including other poor and developing areas according to the experts.

Numerous victims still struggle to receive help and especially those who immigrated. A victim’s immigration status plays a crucial role in searching for help. The fear of losing purely financial support, being deported coupled with racial intolerance and social stratification; many victims stay silent navigating the cultural and legal complexities that cause more isolation.

The historic struggle: The challenge society faces in some regions; wrongdoers who carry that 16th-century mentality that perceive women’s role in society as property, and bearer of their children have equally contributed to the cycle of violence.

The masculinity that tied to colonialism where slavery’s tragic period cannot be ignored the dehumanization of black females who were relegated to the kitchen as scholars have noted. Today, despite more rights and an evolving shift towards gender equity, equality, those scars still linger for countless women.

Sadly, especially for victims who lack resources coupled with hopelessness, it can lead to pathologize reality where victims may refuse to escape a toxic environment from fear, seek appropriate intervention or medical help.

Furthermore, even upward mobility into leadership roles for women, it does not always result in more awareness. Simply admitting to being a victim could cut their power and status. As a result, some remain in the shadow.

A deeper Look: This October has provided another chance to look deeper beyond gender-stereotype, masculinity, and sexuality that can hinder self-observation. Even if one chose the colonial tragic past for today’s terrible behavior, it must be debunked and it is merely a minimization

Before COVID-19, many cultural colors would have emerged in the summer for celebrations, dancing to the latest Soca, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Reggae, and Latin rhythms; but beneath many of these costumes, and one love vibes beats; someone is hurting from irrational decisions by the perpetrator of violence.

Looking back at the HIV/AIDS epidemic and although medical advances made it a manageable disease, it was through awareness that reduced the stigma in this community.

No, you do not have to be a member of the LGBTQ community or a victim to speak up and support these groups.

No one is immune from violence: Domestic violence also takes place in same-sex relationships. Men are victims of nearly three million physical assaults each year according to experts.

Violence and death inside the LGBTQ community have increased since 2010 and continues today from ignorance and taboo; even by straight offenders who may have their own struggles with homosexual tendencies, as studies have shown.

Today our society is becoming more accepting, and notwithstanding countless advocates pushing for equality, it has been an up until run and a high tide. Hostility remains in some social, religious, and political groups that see lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships as a sin and morally wrong. This identity makes it rather difficult for a victim in these communities to look for and get help in an abusive relationship.

Though the church is important, a dear pastor sermon alone cannot resolve this issue. Many outdated laws throughout these regions; some dated back to a colonial period; especially in poor and developing countries need to represent a current approach. This will support victims to come forward if being abused. These communities must move from seeing only the symptoms, also the cause.

Domestic violence creates a pattern of a psychological barrier in overcoming traumatic experience that suffers long-term critical consequences.

The nonintervention mentality must stop simply because a victim may not have a visible scar. Many reports have shown that victims continue to use the health care system more than others do after the violence has stopped.

Whether the US, Canada, or the UK; or a gay person who lives under a bridge in the Caribbean, being victimized should not make a difference: It hurts anywhere.

Has your community done enough especially to highlight this issue? Or maybe political leaders should begin to wear victims of domestic violence on a campaign button.

I hope to see you at the next walk or run in purple, or even standing under a banner for victims’ rights. Searching for survival, creating awareness to change course, it starts with you and your community.

The color of governance in Jamaica: Choosing between a rock and a hard place:

BY R.D. MILLER

The election bag:

Economic pressure, unanswered promises, growing or shrinking economy, high or low unemployment, climate change, economic mobility, stagnation, who is less or more corrupted- high, low crime, how many murdered under what party, prosperity, poverty, a widening gap between the have vs. have-nots, high or reduced taxes, COVID-19 Pandemic, accountability of funds, old-new manifesto, but who is accurately counting depending on one’s political side. These issues will be perceived through the political glass either half-full or empty.

Because of concern amid COVID-19, voters and party officials questioned the timing, but prime minister Andrew Holness of the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) seized the moment observing favorable poll numbers called for an election hoping for another 4 years to extend and tackle what has been inside these communities’ socio-economic paint shop.

Once the election whistle blows, both leaders, players activated immediately on a non-stop color media bliss taunting progress or lack thereof. It seems COVID-19 social distancing took a back seat for national politics. Sadly, whatever circumstances, justification, rationalization, or excuses, bad things invariably follow if a nation’s life put in danger for personal gains

Whether Dr. Peter Phillips, the opposition leader of the (People National Party (PNP) agrees with the election call. It is a delicate balance asking locals who have been neglected to purchase another ticket. The reality is that both vessels with an upgraded soundtrack arguing better days are ahead while accusing the other are in the same murky water.

On September 3, 2020, the island of about three million people will decide to replace the locks or give back the keys and what party color will be draped for at least four more years as voters contemplate countless economic issues.

Is there a perfect color for Jamaica’s governance? 

Peoples National Party (PNP)
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)

This election debates for changing the economic tires, refueling these communities, repairing broken parts to get one of these two drivers the winning flag may simply come down to what side telling the truth or to a greater degree better at covering up the truth as the island battle for its soul consistency looking good governance.

Jamaica local politics typically operates like a contact sport where only the fittest survive. After the political colorful game is over the economic strain will continue with injured community players sidelined from lost jobs to navigating students who may face distance learning in rural areas without resources.

The leader that will emerge, rebuilding will continue to be a challenge. COVID-19, economic stagnation, crime, poverty, and yes, COVID-19 Blame Game Is Going to Get Uglier as this pandemic in an election will ruthlessly be exploited at the cost of people’s lives.

Chinese coronavirus 2019-nCov under the microscope. 3d illustration

The pandemic also provides a cushion to deflect the direct economic decline that has seen several local businesses closed, massive layoff as the service industry took a direct hit from reduced vacations which is a vital portion of the island GDP. But in all fairness, it has caused a global shutdown of the global economies, but it also exposed how fragile these shores were.

Today, likely voters are stuck between a rock and complex place. It may be from COVID_19 fear, easy access to polling stations for seniors, or from abandoned hope and trust may stay home. Jamaica will rise and can do better, but whose less tainted, or carries a permanent stain to continue navigating these ostentatious waters, roads, and hills.

An earlier Nationwide radio poll noted that about 64% believe that the Holness-administration is corrupted, but maybe better to manage corruption. This election continues to be about had they should have, could have, maybe, and perhaps, future and the past. However, this fight should be about the nation’s actual trade deficit, balance sheet, investments, and other key economic indicators for Jamaica’s actual values.

Will everyone enjoy the finished piece?

Bob Marley

The reality is as it seems; one side blemished, other imperfect while the downtrodden constantly being squeezed from decades of promises, distrust, and inadequate management, lack of up upward mobility as many argued that only political leaders seem to be the exclusive ones getting ahead.

An incumbent tends to have an upper hand, and people may stick to the putrefaction because weeding through political tribalism is difficult and where governmental power is seldom based on real accomplishments, but personal time served in the cabinet and popularity.

This showdown may not come down to who won the debates; or command of what the nation’s needs are. The sole question communities should be asking during this political showdown, are they better off today, or foresee a future for the next generation. However, this election may come down to one issue, “safety,” which is a public health problem.

The missing color:

It seems, “Out of Many One People” get cast aside when voters are whipped into a desperate frenzy, pitting communities against each other for temporary feel-good while the youths, downtrodden, teachers, law enforcement, public safety in general, victims of crime, small businesses, and a vanished more educated middle class inside the body shop hoping someone fixes their dents from years of neglect and bumps.

After all colorful battles, these political parties should operate like primary colors where leaders can combine both sides to produce an excellent portrait. Continuous political fighting only makes it difficult to properly govern and paint a picture for a more promising future.

 Jamaica’s prosperity is not the best beat on the street though it has its cultural significance; it is a single unemployed mother, dad, sons, daughters, cousins, grandparents, uncle on the hill debating if they should dance because after the music stops, what next??

“It seems that rhythms being played may change, but on same vinyl”, one argued. However, but not every dancer will have a new and better canvas for all to dance.


Notwithstanding the island has made some strides in maintaining the pandemic during the first few months, it ha to be honest with itself and open a genuine debate from managing COVID-19, Tests, Treatment, and Trace (TTT) will be critical from the reported uptick

Voting should be for the future, and not for temporary jobs or an overnight financial hand-out. In the long run, what about tuition, school supplies for your child’s education because you can’t announce an election to be compensated.

Hoping for a new blend: 

One glowing new color is that based on local reports, more than a few women have entered this election on both sides and whoever is successful must demand a seat at the prime minister decision table.

JLP & PNP. This pictures is not a reflection of all the female candidates.

Women, in general, are underrepresented, as well as in leading positions, whether, in elected offices, civil services, the private sector, or academia as scholars have noticed.

Fundamentally, this political election will not severely reduce COVID-19 the next day, reduce crime; create affordable education, better medical care, or new necessary equipment to save lives.

I hope after these colorful events, all people can find a combination of colors to positively renovate the nation as the region continues navigating the rough tides. It will take more than party devotion because this beautiful island to begin to see hope over fear, fact over fiction.

Jamaica is not perfect and remains a vibrant place with hope and possibilities, but people must seek change from the bottom up and not the other way around. Regardless of what color wins, the nation must deal with several ignored rusts that yarns for a new upward mobility pain for sustainable development; thereby, transforming the nation

An election is like art; it should create good memories. As this shore tries to pick an image for brighter days between this rock and hard place regardless of who has the next paintbrush, they must stay hopeful until everyone can genuinely enjoy these recycled portraits, add their own color for both the country and personal prosperity.


Is there a me-too moment for racial, economic- equity and justice in the Caribbean region?

BY.R.D. MILLER

The unexpected call: Soon after George Floyd, an African American was killed during an encounter with members of the Minneapolis, Minnesota, police department; a global social consciousness emerged with immense demonstration some of which turned violent calling for broad reversal of laws and practices that many deemed socially and economically devastated local communities of colour for decades.

Protesters gather Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Minneapolis

This global reckoning on race relations and deep nationalized discriminatory business practices have seen sea changes despite previous resistance. Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s Rice and Mrs Butterworth brand decided to change its logo from 130 years that many argued were a racial stereotype of blacks. The domino effect has also seen other businesses once benefited from discriminatory practices dated back to the slave ships have accepted symbolic gestures to confront its past.

A troubled History: Though the Caribbean islands received its hints from the international media and struck courage, it was a step in the precise direction. However, it is more complex than good feeling to eradicate 400-years of the colonial chain, laws and mental debris for equity that has been hitting these disadvantaged communities like a destructive hurricane recklessly causing administrative, economic, and social barriers to upward mobility.

Based on historians; the Caribbean islands fell under the ruling of a European nation; British, Dutch, and French. Additionally, Denmark, Portugal, and Sweden formerly occupied territories in the Caribbean.

An intricate dance for equity: The Caribbean tragic colonial history that has apprised us today, cannot be eradicated with a rope, stones, or fire as seen elsewhere pulling down historic generals or former slave owners statues; or call for the resignation of local managers who typically operate businesses in the region once benefited from these ships with tweets, high anger, and low action.

Economic and social transformation and as it sits now, me too moment is an uphill to climb for the region. Sadly, some leaders cannot even decide if or where to hold a protest, whom, what structure to move to steer this vessel for critical change.

Me-too is not resettlement, re-distribution of land to the poor owned by elected officials, or the top one percent of the rich, removal of colonial images from a local church window, lower interest rates on predatory loans, reduction in violent crimes or political alliance. Simply put, any reconciliation is not going to be based on skin colour, it is how much pie one can keep for his social class.

Furthermore, if many of today’s buildings, contracts, ports, and manufacturing have long been sold to foreign investors, which will sit at the table me-too may not represent the downtrodden.

Though these islands remain a place to forget your overdue bills and any other issues merely temporarily, the reality is that; some share the identical point of origin, bear a resemblance to you, but until now have the bourgeoisie conscious colonial mentality. And conveniently will yield power, overlook poverty once able to slightly move their necks economically, and considered a success.

Essentially, several wealthy islanders who have obtained an academic opportunity can now pay their way into that upper crowd will feast, dance, have business dealings still struggles to address an institutionalized class and racial system.

Subsequently, where does the Caribbean start for social and economic justice for Afro-Caribbean and ethnic minorities? The lack of a protest does not mean that there is not one brewing internal each day.

The region’s shorelines forever roar with a dark cloud after Europeans decided that they wanted to establish their economy and Africa was the place they went and eagerly snatched people of colour, filled several ships without reservation.

And since innocent people of colour did not have a personal reservation, stringent rules and penal laws were created that transcends into systematic institutional racism today.

Today’s global racial equity call is not like recent women’s me-too when they came forward and spoke up about their experience of improper and inappropriate widespread sexual advances, harassment, and rape by powerful men and action was quick.

Colonial occupation has established a legacy where only a new economic reconciliation path for all will establish the first step. Some argued perhaps eliminating several debts for may Caribbean islands, but a mental rehabilitation from slavery despite independence remains a drain.

The re-balancing question: The debt burden undoubtedly remains a national debate to develop a new economic road map, but can they all afford to protest earnestly for fundamental change; and how do you bite off the nervous hands that are merely sustaining you?

If the Caribbean me too solution is “possible reparation” or a unilateral economic package for better schools, education, adequate healthcare, infrastructure, and new manufacturing is an excellent approach.

But if local reports still highlighting ongoing corruption even mismanagement of COVID-19 funds, where not everyone can agree on if it is going to rain, or less corrupted in leading these islands; generates more questions on how to manage any potential reparation. I scarcely believe that this delicate topic will amount a self-governing gesture on paper like the independence doctrine.

And how does one support the casting of a new fishing net, when you have a judiciary system with holes on basic democracy and cultural tolerance for all? One must step back and rigorously evaluate that, “Out of Many One People.”

Recently the Jamaican Supreme Court ruled that a student could not attend classes if she didn’t cut her dreadlocks and the school did not infringe on the child’s constitutional rights. This ruling confirms that Rastafarianism, typically remains a social outcast based old colonial ideal, and this culture should only be practiced behind closed doors.

Bob Marley: From R.D. Library

Soul searching waves: Undoubtedly, the Caribbean continues to anxiously search for its soul, and if one’s hair was no longer acceptable in the local school, what next, Rasta only bathroom, bus, dining area, etc. The styling of one’s culture may explain the abundance of bleaching cream being bought in the region for acceptance by many.

The ruling describes a considerably complex broader story emerged recently of British insignia, a medal that is worn by the heads of state, the governor-general of Jamaica that depicted a Caucasian person on the neck of a black person. Though dehumanizing, how do you draw a balance if laws carries similar weight on its people.

History has gently told us, between 1788 and 1838 workhouses in Jamaica the most significant British West Indian colony was marginalized in conditions encountered by most of its population that impacted local industries, like finance and manufacturing.

The Caribbean may have passed its hostility tone since those cultural prohibitions of black settlement in some areas to interracial sex, part of the racial discrimination known as the “colour bar” that has severely constrained its unique culture and economic growth, but it still reverberates today globally.

Today, many dark-skinned experience steeper mobility, subsequently carries forward even in more recent free migration elsewhere.

The lasting impact: Slavery divided the region on different plantations that established a protectionist and competitive system subconsciously or not. Today, islanders (are) not from (the) sugar canes and coffee fields (and free) to travel between islands, but by all accounts, some continue to traditionally see other islands as you over there, and if some could erect a wall they would.

A notable example: since COVID-19 and its impact on sustainable tourism, it only exposes the Caribbean lack of collaboration as these island stances regarding which one has a firmer grip on the pandemic for the next terrorist dollar. Quite frankly, in my humble option, it will come down to who tells the truth on the number infected, fatality and actual cause, rather than who, essentially delivered it there.

Most importantly; an economic and collaborative me-too even for the ability to travel to other islands for accurate diagnosis and critical medical care rather than waiting eagerly for weeks for urgent surgery or test results will save numerous lives.

And if the arid region conveniently overlooks this pivotal moment for upward mobility and though I maybe sometimes critical of violent crime and local leadership, I am genuinely terrified they all are naturally wearing the official insignia, and me-too represent just a thought.

The Order of St. Michael and St. George

The elephant is still in the room: Women leaders in the Caribbean

BY R.D. Miller

A foggy history:

The glass ceiling in the Caribbean may have had a few cracks, but it is still unbroken. This is critical time when political communities are undergoing soul searching regarding who is best to lead them out of violent crime, rampant poverty and a new direction desperately hoping for a brighter future.

These local political communities are repeatedly dominated by men, but women have been essential to their rise; whether as an educator, nurse, police officers, or as a wife who holds the family together.

In the past decades, more women have emerged from the shadow and ran for higher offices, but numerous have also failed. It is not their qualifications that were in question, nor dedication to public service, but it is perhaps, “being a woman.”

From the archived of hope:

Since the late Eugenia Charles, the first female prime minister of Dominica, July 21, 1980, – June 14, 1995, no other to date in Dominica. Today, it seems to select women leaders is like a ‘beauty pageant contest.’ Their appearance is more important than experience or economic policies.

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

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

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

Other than the late Eugenia Charles, Portia Simpson and Kamla Persad were defeated in their re-election bid. It created more critical examinations of how they lost and not their political accomplishments. They were too opinionated, failed to connect with a changing demographic; disconnect with the working class, downtrodden, but seldom people talk about hidden sexism, misogynistic views, low voters’ participation, and parliamentary grip where some members not accepting their leadership.

It is not time to go on an apology tour because if official titles are now “former” for women leadership in the region, and that cannot become a comfort zone. Despite these cracks in the ceiling, it has not promoted an easy passage for others. I believe that the region needs more women leaders to convey even a day of empathy.

Furthermore, not every woman frequently agrees on the same norms, personal virtue, or values from personal experience, but socio-economic equality, upward mobility , gender equity though subjective, requires creative collaboration.

However, there is hope. Prime minister Mottley, twice the elected leader of the political opposition before her landslide victory in 2018, is considered one of the regions’ brightest independent thinkers. She recently encouraged more moral leadership, and critical collaboration, especially since COVID-19 for better medical systems and care across the region.

The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley: Prime Minister of Barbados

The elephant in the room:

Recently, I began to analyze a debate regarding Lisa Hanna, former Ms. World 1993, and member of parliament (Jamaica) whose physical beauty gets more attention than her policies.

Will she ascend to the top of the Peoples National Party (PNP) from Dr. Peter Phillips, member of parliament and opposition leader? This remains a crossroad, as to the changing of the guards. The honorable Dr.  Phillips, who holds the power, will he yield to her or another male comrade after decades in government?

Hon. Lisa Hanna: Member of Parliament-Jamaica

The Honorable Dr. Phillip has been one of the best legislators in Jamaica and has made an excellent contribution to the nation. However, some likely voters may believe his time has come to yield power, as the demographic shifted to a younger group.

But can he instantly change the barriers women often face in politics; support her to effectively utilize her skills and talents to capture the imagination of younger voters or steer this ship into an iceberg?

Based on local reports, she has won her local elections regardless of the party power and several voters believe she may have a better chance to give Jamaican a clear choice regarding the nation’s future, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, stagnated economic issues and high employment, whoever is selected will need a plan to reduce organized crime, attract investments and aggressively reduce the gaps between the haves and have-nots.

Unquestionable, given this complex global economy, a candidate mental and physical fitness to lead a struggling nation forward is a fair question. If Lisa Hanna were to become the leader of the party or elected the next prime minister, would the elephants leave the room for her to lead?

Often, politics in the Caribbean appears to operate as an apprentice at a local mechanical shop. An opportunity to show one’s skills only come when the manager has no choice, or can no longer navigate, then one gets a chance to grow.

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

Clearly, this is not a harsh indictment on one political side. Numerous elected leaders will typically use appointed positions to declare earnestly that they are inclusive. But other than political titles, her voice only can be heard after the meeting, as deliberate exploitation equally comes in all forms even at the top.

Sure, some will push back forcefully to give the impression as it is a day at church, and I get it, they are all politicians, and I am not in the room. The parliamentary system throughout the region, it seems for these potential women leaders to rise to the top, she has to gain the approval of the males in the structure.

A delicate balance:

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

Leadership is also the ability to create a sense of calm, and recognize that being a passenger one can use the experience of a road traveled for years to offer better direction rather than trying to drive when one must make frequent stops to attend personal needs.

Every vote has consequences, but losing an election does not mean upward mobility for Caribbean women is lifeless. Appointing more women in political power is critical; especially for adolescent girls to have a role model, create better education, healthcare and safety.

This requires mobilization through common threads, where more women overwhelmingly supporting each regardless of political sides because after the dust settles, her policy and action may be key to a student success or failure.

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

Given what has been reported, maybe term-limits should be considered where communities across the region must ask themselves; are, they better off years later, feel safer regardless of party affiliation, especially in poor and developing countries plagued with crime and economic stagnation.

General elections should undoubtedly be about the next generation, rigorous debates where voters’ legitimate concerns and interests properly align with their economic future. The gradual rise of populism leadership never works for Caribbean people. It typically leads to what seems to be personal financial gains from elected office; and where faithful messengers are despised, even if the political message enthusiastically promotes a better quality standard of living.

Distributing a-few grocery bags is always good for the poor, but if followed by a camera for a 30-second video to tweet while asking beneficiaries to say thank-you to leaders, borders exploitation. Sure, it offers a temporary fix, what about the next day.  Happy Mothers’ Day to your constituents tweets is great to connect, but should be backed with an economic plan to move these young women out of poverty and crime, and other who may be stuck in an abusive relationship.

Time for a new paradigm shift:

These political doctrines frequently produce bubbles where some with influence, is mentally quarantined in social status-selected groups. If they are aware of the reality and fail to speak up to maintain an alliance, how can she rise? 

The centrality of women’s issues will not change because of an election. A recent academic journal also noted that access to crucial career paths is critical especially for young women. In order to reduce these barriers; leaders must mentor and encourage the new generation to lead.

An election may only come down to, “preserve it the way it is,” silent or deflect from systematic failures whether government corruption, violent crime, and failed policies. Moreover, if local youths’ voices are disconnected from the process that may also hinder potential young women leaders from emerging.

They are coming: According to pew research, about 50 percent of women in the labor force today have a bachelor’s degree, effectively matching the number of college-educated men. Sadly, it does not frequently develop leaders, increased businesses, or a chance to become a role model for the next generation.

I am not a political scholar on women’s political issues, and though more females have become politicians in the region, it seems their masculine counterparts stay in the shadow. They must begin to see women’s challenging issues as one and not those women over there unapologetic to change hurdles in impoverished communities.

I don’t have a electoral vote or endorsing anyone. A political candidate should not lose an election in that she is a woman, nor should he loose because he is running against a lady.

This is not a frantic call that they should quit their elected positions. They are visionary male leaders, past and present, but when she at the political table, it balances critical discussion and decision. And not because you cannot see the elephant, or one is charismatic, does not mean he is not there.

Could COVID-19 trigger a bigger ‘Brain Drain’ of Caribbean nurses?

BY. R.D. Miller

After this unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis, what will be the job satisfaction rate of these facilities, healthcare systems, and nurses scorecards across the Caribbean?

Each year, hundreds of young people receive nurses’ degrees and critical medical assistant training throughout the Caribbean. Health services studies have shown that between 21 and 33 percent of medical systems have foreign-educated nurses, and that number has been increasing each year.

This new potential wave of “Brain Drain’ from COVID-19 is not for the lack of political gratitude, or photo-ops, or alliance with one party, but values medical experts contend critical in keeping them on the sand.

It is an intrinsic value that surrounding one’s opportunity to grow within an organization and the extrinsic value; pay and job security according to experts.

Furthermore, it seems a few of these islands could use an updated Occupation Health and Safety laws. The lack of such regulation I believe undermines protection; ethics in medicine and the integration between the relations with their patients.

The role of a nurse is equally important as a good doctor, a police officer, a teacher, or a safe community. Their presence often allows families to head back to work, or simply get time off from staying overnight on a hard chair waiting for an answer from a doctor.

These first responders are not there to evaluate politics, they are eyes and ears of doctors, the ventilator power source, from preparing a clean bed to escorting a sick person, even ones with mental health issues while providing comfort to families during times of need.

Well-sought-after working visas have become a one-way ticket out that can lead to permanent residency as demand will increase from countries like US, Canada, the UK; and other nations impacted by COVID-19. These nurses will be like stockpiles gowns, masks and ventilators should there be another pandemic.

But keeping nurses prepared is bigger than an economic package from trillions of stimulus dollars passed by government globally. It cannot replace these professionals and thousands of lives lost on the front line.

What COVID-19 discovered is simply how unprepared even wealthy industrialized nations with highest-ranked medical facilities were, and imagine economically struggling islands. The stories reverberate from the lack of supplies, long hours, burn out, the emotional labor watching people dying, and helpless when all their professional training taught them how to keep people alive.

Today, a new analysis of caregiving widely observed in hospitals; the difficulties balancing work and family responsibilities and emotions during this pandemic, now under the microscope.

Sure, government policies provided monetary relief, supplies, helped the financial markets, create economic activities from business closures, and unemployment, but experts noted that imported nurses have had a major impact on patients’ health, care systems economic and social development.

After COVID-19 began to take over the Caribbean shores; most leaders have held off the potential high tide through awareness, thus keeping their numbers low to-date, but that remains an open question.

Collaboration as experts noted, promised by the Caribbean Single Market and Economy remains emblematic as the global hunt for talent continues. It looks more of a competition for equipment; fighting like modern-day pirates as supply and demand became a political sport.

The Caribbean Cooperation in healthcare will be critical in ensuring that not only members of the CARICOM States have better medical attention, but ensuring especially poor areas receive adequate treatment.

Traveling to some of the islands and especially rural areas, reaching a medical facility can take a long period unlike better-managed islands with and more access, but pay at the time of service will become more difficult for poor patients.

Haiti

Protecting vital medical workers going forward will not be about competency, or how many press conferences held, but ensuring that nurses have a better standard to keep potential turnover low. There must be a relationship between job satisfaction and organizational commitment among these region health care systems..

Before COVID-19, concerns regarding upgraded technology, supplies and other equipment to save lives even newborn vibrates through these wards. Some facilities the claim jeopardize both nurses’ and patients’ lives by putting them at a higher risk of an infectious disease. Several health care professionals argued that COVID-19 gaps and facilities operating like an experimental drug with little accountability, while pundits’ praise leaders for their interest overlooking the systematic failures on many fronts to create changes.

Furthermore, individuals who speak out especially about COVID-19 experience under strenuous and poor employment conditions, are silenced and that diminishes accountability, more susceptible to errors, reduce best practices, and more risks. The next flight out by these nurses is not a result of leadership style, gender equality, abandonment of their nationality or the lack of education; several have enormous student loans, safety concerns from high crimes, reports of underpaid with a little support system to alleviate emotional scars..

One nurse talked about vacations are being missed from the fear of losing employment, and that could reset the current salary after years of solid service. Her plans are an economic opportunity for a better work-life balance, (spouses, parents, children) hoping prepared system and organizational management as her role remains the same.

Although global movements may be restricted, a country like Cuban has supplied doctors and nurses with many other diseases and pandemic areas. Regardless of their political system or who received payment for their services. Simply put, wherever they land, lives are being saved, as caregivers are becoming of great importance globally. Over the next decades, the aging population will increase both hospitals and home-based care, according to healthcare professionals and scholars, and nurses will become more critical to meet the demands.

Certainly, these nations will have to plug these gaps, and their medical system upward-mobility will diminish with migrated talents. Studies have shown that some nurses make good salaries, but this profession should command excellent salaries, such as one in math, finance, science, or a career in petroleum, according to business reports.

Developing countries and some dominant Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana, Belize, and other Latin Caribbean nations, where prolonged economic symptoms have crippled major public medical facilities for decades have much to lose.

Although there are excellent doctors in the region in private facilities, there were reports that several practices closed because they too lack the proper resource, collaboration to conduct tests locally, and further educate their patients.

Numerous nurses will remain along these warm and beautiful shores avoiding brutal winters, but the region must also develop incentives for others to come back who have left to study medicine in countries like Germany, Cuba, the US, and other places.

There are reports of few modernization throughout the region, but cannot have trust in the system if some leaders seem to have a “pre-existing condition” that is a defensive and basic question asked about numbers of people tested for COVID-19 muted, but stimulus check being handed out are published, while dissenting views seen as antagonistic.

Caregivers’ experience imported or local should not be politized or exploited. They are beyond a quick stop by a local shop, pave a road a week before an election; hand out a few dollars, then sell a false sense of community only to be missing until the next election cycle must stop.

As some of these Caribbean nurses evaluate their next passage, you may see one on a bus or subway heading to the next shift; as the economic strength of a nation is dependent on how healthy that society is.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Did you Know?

Today’s recap; my latest Podcast. Everyone deserves a life free from the threat of physical and psychological harm. Sadly, too many in our communities are deprived of their rights to peaceful life by perpetrators of domestic violence.

October is designated as domestic violence awareness month, did you know?

By R.D. Beyond October: It was conceived out of a day of unity led by the National Collation Against Domestic Violence in October 1981 with purple as the official color. This issue will not stop throughout the world as many domestic panthers will continue to abuse beyond this October as many of us focus this […]


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Reducing high crimes need a COVID-19 approach on some Caribbean shores

BY R.D. Miller

The balancing act

After the coronavirus (COVID-19) washed onto the Caribbean island and unusual infections increased; followed-up with emotional press conferences and social media by government officials provided crucial awareness, doctors and nurses work tirelessly to combat desperately the lethal disease in challenging conditions.

The social media explosion exposed the tension between political leaders, their local communities, the science, while experts called for more critical resources, protections of staff, and tests to properly understanding the disease impact. There were anxious queries to which businesses should remain open and whose fault for personal shortcomings.

The reality rope:

Sadly, few in the medical fields with dissenting views on carrying out strategies, missing from press briefings and town halls meetings, including several residents with questions. But beneath these fierce debates, deceased bodies are piling up from murders that outnumbered COVID-19 cases and could use a few more open briefings


Crime costs Latin American and the Caribbean countries about three percent of GDP on average, which is over US$ 350 billion in police services, private spending, violent victimization, and the social cost for overseas visitors and capital investments that may sojourn base on studies.

According to police statistics from January 1 – March 2020, 306 people were tragically killed across Jamaica. Between January and February 2020, reports show that Trinidad and Tobago recorded over 73 murders. If this trend continues, it may surpass 2019, 536 brutal murders – the second highest in this country’s history.

COVID-19 in other islands like The Bahamas, Belize, El Salvador, Colombia, Guatemala, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, and US Virgin Island, local leaders cannot afford to lose sight of what experts assess as a troubling homicide rate per 100,000.

Under the active radar, Haiti’s CNN report, tension rises February 2020; Armed Forces conflict with the desolate country’s National Police after a violent attack on its headquarters, leaving one wounded soldier dead, two wounded in Port au Prince.

Photo Credit-Globe Post

There are furthermore published reports that millions threatened by hunger in 2020 due to a spiraling economic and political crisis ten years after their terrible disaster could lead to more civil unrest.

In contrast, Bermuda recorded its first murder in two years: five in 2018 and zero (0) murders in 2019. Since March 27, 2020, the ministry of health also has confirmed no cases of COVID-19.

Yes, Bermuda, Barbados, Cayman Island, Curacao, and others have lower rates, less populated, and while some remain under colonial rule and better-managed government. Despite reported illegal drugs and gun trafficking, organized crime, and criminal gangs along the ocean, these islands are managing crime much better.

The attention deficit

Unquestionable, horrific crime is ubiquitous but since COVID-19 emerged, violent criminals have not wavered. They are kidnapping students, killing women, local intellectuals, sports icons, youths, elders, business leaders; and school counselors based on critical reports.

The sensitive handling of COVID- 19 seems like a miss-congeniality personal contest where favorable comments are liked, concerns; or critical questions by the public remain mute on crimes, and their silence is deafening.

Personal accountability now down to a few tweets as vague statements populated the media. It is as if elected officials awful are the most educated people in these underdeveloped countries. Few experienced journalists as it appears merely, possibly from personal or business connections, inner-circle social status, and upsetting political leaders may severely threaten one’s precarious livelihood. Even with political isolation and a terrible fear of these brazen criminals, few conspicuously fail to call out contemporaries..

Seldom are constituency leaders balancing justice and economic prosperity in frantically calling for the total disruption of these criminal gangs in all parishes and outlying counties. Polarized politics merely remain a balancing act between genuine fear, social savviness, and political manipulation. They seek out aggressive targets in pushing back to peddle a feel-good story beneath the decay. And while political elections should be about the next generation, it seems merely personal status and financial gain are more important.

Though it is not total unhappiness on these shores; there is modernization, and revitalization of ports, roads and technology, but habitually seen along party lines of loyalty, that make others feel shut out of the economy. 

However, at what point good-governance kicks in when an election is over?

The parliamentary system of government tends to create stagnation. Opposition leaders who may have just lost an election often become what it could, should, have been; with their social supporters blaming each other for past and current socio-economic, and crime problems.

A tight rope

Wedged in the middle, local law enforcement officers who must consistently wear multiple hats; key mediator, counselor, diversity coordinator, and youth advocate; bandleader; and local volunteers. Their pivotal role is like finding a cure today for COVID-19 as organized criminals are elusive killing anyone in their path.

Fighting crime from Latin America to the Caribbean shores remains a crossroads between an old political policing era to modern community policing. Officers must walk a tight community and political line, while emotional stress, exposure to imminent danger, hostility overworked, and maybe under-paid.

Ordinarily, a pandemic creates a window of coming together in this re balancing of society globally, but violent criminals use this unprecedented time of anxiety, nervousness, anxious uncertainty, and stress to riff mayhem on local communities.

The hidden victims

Unable to leave because of the COVID-19, a 75-year-old grandmother of Ahkeem Lindsay, a 22-year-old, male shot killed on March 26, 2020, talked about her frustration of the ongoing violence, according to the Jamaican Gleaner. Her story echoes elsewhere.

Photo Credit; Jamaica Gleaner

Even cases of domestic violence, quick media clips emerged provided an impression of concerns, but victims are left in that environment without follow-up support.

Agreed, COVID-19 has excellent coverage, but horrendous offenses need more than, “we are tough on crime,” but do they typically know these criminals?

These local criminals consistently display criminogenic risk factors of anti-social behavior and personality. While unemployed with inadequate education, low job skills, substance abusers, mental health issues, apparent lack of moral discipline, and on top of that potential victim of crimes.

Several talked about frustration with their leaders from expectation and hopelessness seeing the same recycled politics. Managing risk requires a multidimensional approach from rehabilitation, vocational and career development.

Numerous incarcerated people struggle after re-entry process with stigma. Additionally, practitioners must expurgate inhumane treatment of offenders; and not one blanket classification on all convicted; both inside and outside of the prison walls.

Studies have shown that modernized institutions and policies to move the offender forward once they return to society have seen low recidivism. The Bordelias Correctional Facility in Saint Lucia is one I’ve visited that has a good modernized system.

Today, guns replaced an individual coming down the hill with a stick after any minor conflict. And with the lack of resources for resolution, any disagreement tends to escalate into serious personal assaults and murder.

Time for a better rope

Island Pride remains an asset, but also a liability when critical data presents a fundamental problem few abates, deflect elsewhere. Communities where violence produced exodus; some defend violent criminals, alleged cover-up or refuse to come forward with valuable information for local law enforcement to be more effective, to call for the release of an accused when the sufficient evidence points to guilt.

Today more high-powered weapons are being shown on social media only seen in war zones, and though few have been seized by authorities; there could be darker days ahead.

Radically reducing crimes does not always lie with incarceration. Recruiting the proper policies, to target-based strategies, to modernize branches of law enforcement is equally important to create a paradigm shift to get to the root causes.

High crime set back any nation and attracting investments to generate employment. While desperate searches continue for the soul of these islands, stick beating like seen in other places like India when citizens refused to stay inside, maybe a nauseating idea, in reducing, COVID-19, on these shores.

But silently many homes have already mentally quarantined from outfitted homes secured with steel bars from becoming helpless victims of crime, where socializing only takes place in pre-selected status groups, up at sunrise and grilled inside by sunset.

Certainly, COVID-19 economical and psychological impact is still being assessed. Experts also noticed that subconsciously, emotional tension can incite domestic violence as individuals are unemployed, layoff, and secured local businesses with little support.

Still looking to land safely

Politics is everywhere, expatriates are gauging these murders, missing students, rape, and robberies that demand a holistic COVID-19 approach for a healthier future or likely return to their roots..

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

By R.D. Miller

The game changer

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

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

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

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

Sadly, numerous poor populations face a higher risk of pandemics. However, when some in our society have developed a mentality that anytime these things occur, they must look to the world’s poorest countries with economic challenge and immediately isolate them. But COVOD-19 provided a temporary mental shift while some eagerly and passively await these nations’ infection numbers.

The re-balancing

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

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

When society becomes more isolated from greed, violence, and social decay: it is inevitable these things will occur. It seems that this is completely a re-balancing of our society, and while some impose their power on others, this virus only shows us how powerless we all are.

Several stores many affluent communities once overlooked or few never knew existed,  and where these cultural hubs carry daily supplies tucked inside a strip mall, vital to the local community and a place where many purchase familiar food items from their native land.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As supplies became less, tempers escalated and reported fights stemming from greed over items like toilet paper. Few fights made it to social media for a good laugh, but it also shows that regardless of social class, basic needs for survival are universal. But equally essential, new bonds are established in the shopping aisles over COVID-19.

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

The Politics:

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

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

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

Today we need further deep analysis both qualitative and quantitative data on many fronts, where places like the Caribbean islands, poor and developing countries, where the dynamics on preparedness are suspicious or source from distrust woven from colonialism, inequality, rampant violence, and economic poverty where fear takes over fact, panic will set in as local governments try to put out the best to ease frustration.

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

No longer over there

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

What if they had mentioned that it came from the Africa Continent?

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

But now COVID-19 rips; it is no longer them over there, that group, color, class, race, or location. Today, it may be the private person who owns the mall where you buy your local groceries or the one sitting in the board room at an economic policy meeting.

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

Ultimately, medical experts will utilize the data to determine both innate and adaptive immunity, but for now; we represent all turtles, and at some point, we must come out for survival because everyone needs living in a society free from disease; brutal violence, intolerance and with the dire possibility for personal prosperity. Leaders should be inadequately prepared to serve their people to account for these changes.

Regardless of race sex, creed, color, location or economic status, I sat here today hoping for the best because we may not know each other, but even for once; we are carefully looking before forming an opinion because you do not recognize my COVID-19 status.

Stay Safe!

The effect of students’ loan debt on the Caribbean shores

BY R.D. MILLER

The announcement

Several countries around the world sometimes introduce rules and regulations that can be linked to another nation. Some may not fit all backgrounds of various cultures and traditions. Nevertheless, many developed countries share basic principles on commonly agreed-upon approaches to similar problems. For instance, the fight against drugs, crime, and environmental issues.

Although some variation may not have worked as intended, a recent proposal on February 8, 2020, according to reports, Robert Nesta Morgan, parliamentary secretary in the office of the Jamaica prime minister, announced that an incentive plan was in place or being developed to provide students an opportunity to have their debts forgiven for public service work. It is one of the best imported seen in a while to arrive on these shores.

Potential impact

In a previous opinion “The Brain Drain of the Caribbean Nurses,” highlighted concerns in the medical field, surrounding lack of resources, patients’ lives, staff safety, job protection, wages, and failure by leaders. Consequently, many of these issues have led experienced-well-trained nurses to abandon the region once they received their nursing degree to work elsewhere, but overall student loan debt was one of the major driving forces.

A few times my telephone rang from friends I have encountered while in the region which informed me that they have migrated with their family. And when I asked, “why that side of town?” the response, “my wife is working as a nurse. It is remote, one major department store that carries everything, I miss home, but it will obtain relief from her financial burden.”

Their story is one of many across the Caribbean region of residence leaving to Canada, England, the US, and even other Caribbean islands. This student loan proposal should be implemented and be adopted by other poverty-stricken and developing countries who may not at present provide this incentive.

Maybe it is beyond politics

Regardless of the political party, student loans support many people to attend college, graduate and attain a degree for a more promising overall future.

Though the proposal marks a step in the right direction and; it is not clear on the final details how it will be funded, and that cannot be captured in a few tweets. But like other nations who participate in this program, there are requirements and commitment for individuals to be involved.

The expectation in the long-run is that it benefits all, and simply not an election talking point, seen elsewhere to generate votes-based on this platform. There were prior reports of free healthcare leading up to the past elections whereas it seems many are still waiting on bed space, and the result of the free test, but this program may provide a firm ground. After the announcement, social media responded in high numbers.

Many students on these shores will benefit from loan burdens and may change an appetite just waiting to leave if an opportunity presents itself to migrate.

Student loan debt burden reality

Evidence shows that student debt jeopardizes the financial wealth of many households and the economy in the long-run not only in the Caribbean but in other countries.

This debt burden has also contributed to the Black-White wealth gap across the wealth distribution. Other studies have shown that about two in five households now owe student debts loans and that number is increasing.

A person with about $45,000-53,000 in educational debt can lead to a lifetime wealth loss of around $215,000. This also affects one’s retirement, long term saving, and lower home equity according to academic experts.

Student debt has surpassed $1 trillion in the US and the delinquency rate increased to over 50 percent. These studies also showed the suicide rate in the United States rose to the highest levels in more than a decade. I do not know if most of these suicides are 100 percent related, but others noted the negative for individuals between ages 20 and 31.

Crunching the numbers before you apply

Understanding student loans is extremely important like financial literacy in general. It informs individuals to avoid the predatory lending trap, unsolicited credit cards to investment strategies. Additionally, tracking re-payments to ensure it is forgiven on time as other programs elsewhere have been sued for denial after eligibility. But I will leave that to the local experts to continue more awareness.

Going forward school officials should be responsible and encourage students to maximize all options from scholarships, grants, and aids before taking out loans; and career counseling suitable to gain employment after graduation.

These loans can be influenced by household size, marital status, income levels, and work status; therefore, differentiating traditional loan repayments, to those that will be driven by income base will be important. Students should recognize how the symmetry will work between traditional banks and government loans, but for now, it is a key step forward if created for the correct reason.

Balancing the potential fine prints

If the private sector and local non-profit organizations later participate in collaboration with the government, it could deliver a broader beneficial impact. However, with any new important policy, it may need to make future changes and tweaks. And judging from a few social media responses, there are questions that remain to be answered.

Example: Minister of foreign affairs and foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, tweeted,“I think this is a great idea worth exploring! 50 percent or 100 percent, 5 years or 10 years; Police with forensic and cyber capacities, Nurses critical care, Teachers (esp STEM) – is this something that would be part of the bi-national commission to discuss? Or examined separately.”

I believe her conversation was extremely significant and does not alter the fact that these loans were used for tuition, books and supplies, and ongoing expenses. One hope that this new loan forgiveness is undefined as to one’s degree, but an incentive to attract the best and the brightest and retain them. It is like a private corporation giving you a bonus stock option upfront or a reward for your work.

This application should not create other social stratification as to what jobs are more important to be considered. Attracting and retaining the right workforce will be an economic win-win for the nation. The common denominator should be civic service.

Tyrone, who make certain that your water is clean and that trash is picked up or Susie, who processes your property tax daily; and Nadine, who attended school to study agriculture; and still paying off those loans, but became unemployed when her factory closed, but she always liked cooking, and currently prepare your child school lunch at the primary school, they are in addition government workers.

The final impact

These loan incentives were first developed by officials to compete with the private sector to attract and retain the brightest. It is more than likely that your civil service career will not make one extremely wealthy, as these public service positions often like being a law enforcement officer that is put in a position of authority.

One must be dedicated, physical and mentally fit where pride and sense of duty dictate success or failure. It is a career that helps to maintain a quality standard of living, and in the end, have a smooth retirement package (hopefully).

Finally, before you pick that academic institution to build your dream career, this is a candid conversation potential student should discuss with their families because far too often, retired parents are left to carry the burden just simply wanting to perceive their children get a chance at being successful, and one should not eliminate a good idea even if you have ideological difference with the messenger.

Protecting the future of Caribbean women from domestic violence: Chinese community policing-maybe?

By R.D.Miller

Early January, I signed up with several Caribbean island’s online news, and within days according to the reports six women were murdered across the region. From Trinidad and Tobago; Jezelle Phillips, Gabriella Dunbarry, and Pollyan Chunlesingh.

From Jamaica,  Neville Sinclair’s after she tried to escape a toxic relationship, Shantel in McMaster in a Supermarket by her lover,  Suzanne Easy, killed by defense force corporal Doran McKenzie. He later took his life. Sadly, before you complete reading this article, there will be other victims elsewhere in the region.

Given these killings, and previous ones, I began to ask myself; are Caribbean women at an extinction not by shark attacks, a boat accident, or aging; but by the hands of their domestic partners.

Each challenging year, millions of women are emotionally, physically, sexually, or economically abused or killed by someone they identify and love; a husband or partner. Their stories are more than politicians arriving at a gruesome crime scene, capturing a few pictures with a victim, positioning it on social media with little or no resources to follow.

It does not stop broken bones, third-degree burns, lacerations, disfiguring scar and ultimately death. These issues should be a galvanizing moment to change course.

This trend seems to be on a trajectory like some ethnic, cultural, and religious cleansing from geopolitical conflicts where perpetrators normally target the vulnerability of women that include rape and exploitation, and murder if they do not comply with orders.

Throughout many Caribbean islands, domestic violence remains in isolation a taboo. It possesses an extensive history of woven intolerable male chauvinistic (macho) status. From street harassment and how these battered women are seen, unwanted advances; few will admit that there is a critical problem. Unfortunate victims frequently remain in the shadow from being revictimized, humiliated, feeling guilty, and little support even for the perpetrators.

Acknowledging this problem is important, such as the perpetrators taking responsibility, to be rehabilitated. The victim story sometimes is politicized, deflected or simply little condemnation to not disturb the tourist ships from docking, and keeping hotels at capacity.

Promptly accusing the victim remains minimization; those men kill from mistrust, terrible judgment, and she should stop talking back, and how much they spent on her is failing to recognize that this is a raging epidemic intertwined in a philosophy adopted from countless generations who have witnessed these violent behaviors.

Furthermore, she should run, but where is she going to hide with a system that has holes, and a light saying come get me. It is always what she must have done, and not what should have happened.

More than three million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year. Some grew up falsely believing that it is permitted because concerned moms stayed; lack of effective responses; more democratic accountability by local law enforcement and judiciary; coupled with poor training by responders to severely handle these criminal cases and critical resources for helpless victims.s.

This uptick in violence against women’s critical examination as to the root cause supported by policies to offer more protection for women.  Despite laws and women’s rights dated back to the 1950’s in places such as The Bahamas, and other islands out of the women’s suffrage movements led by Dr Doris Johnson. However, these laws seem only on paper.

More dialog is important and not just when one is murdered. The idea of what happened at home stays at home cannot be solved with a call to dear pastor, or few likes on social media while perpetrators seldom held accountable.

Poverty, inequality, and polarization make critical resources difficult to suitable comprehensive family counseling, or personal and victim services like shelters, throughout many Latin American and Caribbean communities according to the experts. Group intervention tends to stay in the shadow, lacks proper staffing, closed shortly afterward, and convicted offenders often require the cooperation of law enforcement to make sure they attend treatment programs.

Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at a higher rate. This violence creates a pattern of psychological and overcoming this traumatic experience has long-term critical consequences.

One woman is killed by a spouse, ex-spouse, or some dating partner every 14 hours. And every 20 minutes an intimate partner abuse someone. Domestic violence accounted for about 19 percent of the total burden of healthcare for women age 15-44 according to experts on domestic violence.

Victims continue to use the health care system more than others do, and for several years after. On average; less than ten percent of men are killed by their female partners, while over 80 percent of females are killed by males.

Numerous leaders seem to have selective amnesia to this issue and criminal violence from robberies to ongoing missing children caught up in the complexity between policing, politics, and the community; a revolving door that seems to be doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Consequently, I reluctantly began hypothesizing given the Chinese influence on these shores, should the Chinese take-over, high crime islands to prevent women from domestic violence killings, and other criminal cases?

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, China stabilized over 60 million in one weakened to quarantine this infectious virus according to published reports. What if local law enforcement pursued a similar approach to adequately secure local women against violence and other risk factors that often escalated into violence?

Each year from reggae fests, Soca and Carnivals took over these nations, but beneath the costumes, and rhythms; one love vibes, someone is hurting from irrational decisions by perpetrators, and maybe these events should be placed on hold to highlight this epidemic.

This approach is delicate surrounding these nations’ politics and the constitution is considered. China dutifully has its own human rights issues as scholars have noted, but perhaps importing attitude and values as it seems everything else has already been imported may work fine.

These island does not have significant barriers interwove to cultural tradition, so forcing the island to learn Mandarin as it has done the Uyghurs, an ethnic minority, should not be a problem.

The social impact will be enormous where a communist totalitarian system may have to divide these concerned communities into half to justify penalization. This controversial practice according to scholars “who are their friends and all the enemies.”If this were to happen, violent criminals would face harsh restrictions of movements, and that alone is what many victims face in these toxic relationships.

There is a struggle especially in the higher crime islands to differentiate ideology from policies to combat this malevolent that is getting worse. Maybe, this intrusion may upgrade technology and training. Even if it decreases the number of children who have gone missing and later found dead as it rises each day on these shores.

Most importantly, develop better assessments and interventions on psychosexual behavior, mental health, and substance abuse. Often social media only focus on dense areas of crimes while rural area went unnoticed.

Notwithstanding my far-fetch idea, violence against women continues to mask in the shadows in these communities. These victims need your support, and an action plan, after she finds the courage to come forward.

Each year from reggae fests, Soca and Carnivals took over these nations, but beneath the costumes, and rhythms; one love vibes, someone is hurting from irrational decisions by perpetrators, and maybe these events should be placed on hold to highlight this epidemic.

The ongoing up-ward socio-economic mobility of women seems to have become a threat to some males because, she is now independent, confident, more educated, and that severely threatens traditional thinking where gender role is defined that she was better suited or relegated to the kitchen.

Speaking about domestic violence, build confidence for the next generation awareness. It can no longer be blamed on culture, where the objectification of women remains normal.

I anxiously hope more helpless victims will receive critically extra support from other women and Organizations when they come-forward without fear of the economic impact. Violence against women must stay a critical priority because this issue will not stop through the world as many domestic partners will continue to brutally abuse regardless of the calendar day.

Killing the living for the dead

BY R.D. MILLER

It takes an extraordinary person to become a funeral director. Whether it be the preparation of the deceased, supporting friends and families to express their last respect, at a church, a funeral parlor, community center, or school during these trying times, this responsibility rests in their hands.

Thirty-nine-year-old Funeral Director Wayne Nash, a local businessman was gunned down, his weapon stolen in December 2019, in a quiet community in Manchester, Jamaica; leaving his community questioning, why people who devoted their lives to caring for the dead is being targeted.

He was gunned down for his licensed firearm, according to local reports, but irrespective of his weapon being taken, his business vehicle was scorched. They were reports of another funeral home burned down in the area while start-ups remain on high alert.

Unfortunately, there will be more cases like this to come from this barbaric mentality where people need to mobilize and demand answers, but like several other issues on these shores, silence from fear and protection of personal interest while its moral compass continues to deteriorate.

Measures to control this crime epidemic have forced leaders to an uncomfortable space issuing licensed weapons to citizens as a deterrence at an alarming rate, in which some argue that individual safety is important, but what may work for other countries might not be suitable for this region.

Decades ago, few people own a firearm on these shores. Usually, a local business owner, security, and law enforcement officers. Today, a grocery worker, taxi driver, and food stand vendors are armed. Carrying a weapon has become the norm more than job security, economic development, career plan, or youth deterrence programs.

Recently a local grocery store manager gunned down his lover in a domestic relationship that went bad inside the store he managed. Accountability is also key to getting the community to become more engaged. Social media alone cannot replace good governance. Furthermore, authorities habitually lack the resources, especially in rural areas, where technical skills to solve challenging crimes could use an upgrade

24-year-old Shantel Whyte (Domestic Violence-Victim)

The major concern still hangs over a history of unresolved cases, from missing children, rape, robberies, and killings, these communities have already seen many cases moved to the ‘cold file’, or the “we are working on it until it is forgotten.”

The conjugated history of misgiving between the police and its people often led to apprehension from coming forward and speaking up. But the community ought not to blame law enforcement alone if they have information and remain silent.

There is a criminogenic risk that must be addressed rather than looking for an opportunity to blame it all on illegal imports of weapons. Changing a psychological deficit where community youth programs, interlace with a comprehensive crime control strategy is critical. Despite a few community initiatives making a difference in some high crime areas, leaders talked about the lack of funding. Others are competing where titles appear to be important than delivering much-needed change.

After Nash’s premature death, few maintained it is not random. But quietly, it is believed that fighting over drugs, scamming, and gang affiliation where criminal activities typically fight over turf has now expanded to the funeral home business.

Violence is not a result of who is in power as several expatriates’ concerns are justified; “if even the man who handles the dead is not safe, why come? And if the only people returning are the dead why invest?”

Jane expressed that she is going back to the UK to enjoy her retirement because people’s lives have been reduced to numbers. She felt like she is living in a jungle, kill or be killed.

Delroy Walker, 63, who was stabbed to death in Rio Nuevo Resort in May 2018, and Charlie and Gayle Anderson, 74 and 71, who were killed on June 22, 2018, in Hope Bay according to the Sun news. They were all returning residence. There have been more than 1,600 murders since 2017 in Jamaica.

Dejectedly, some local news outlets tried to compare places like New York City and Chicago death toll for that year. This creates a moral equivalence message that is diminutive to deflect from local delinquencies. In fact, English-speaking Caribbean countries are at or above 30 per 100,000 people. These rates are 6 times US levels and 15-30 times those of most European countries.

The World Bank and the UN have consistently ranked Jamaica and other countries such as Trinidad and Tobago in the top ten nations having the world’s highest homicide rate. This past decade, in Jamaica 2010 to 2019, has seen a reduction in murders to 12,698 from 13,418 in the 2000’s according to Jamaica Information Service. And when it is being celebrated that no one has died in 24 hours during the New Year, 2020, it shows liberation from simply mental anguish, where it affects the psychological and physical well-being of individuals often seen in an active war zone from hopelessness.

Regardless of these numbers, it is still a socio democratic and capitalistic society, and these entrepreneurs capitalized on an opportunity from the death rates with modern medical science that made it easier to revamp an old business model.

History told us that about 4000BC the first embalming of the deaths occurred in Egypt. Funeral business came along the way for centuries from cost to preservation. The medical specialty advancement has made the preservation of the deceased much easier. The funeral business is lucrative where an average package could cost anywhere from USD$2,000.00 to $5,000 on these shores.

Once a monopoly where only the middle and upper class could afford a decent funeral package, they must now compete with a no-name brand that can deliver the same service for much less. The older establishment is now competing with a taxi driver or a policeman who has entered this lucrative business as a side hustle where a corpse can be kept in one’s anywhere.

Today a body can be housed in one of the major funeral homes, but there is a sub-group that is responsible for preparation at another location and burial.

Even using taxis to carry the dead today is not frown upon where the tradition was a hoarse draped with flowers playing sad songs.

Even well-established churches with dedicated burial grounds where if you were baptized there and have attended once in your 75 years you may able to get a free burial spot.

Those no longer exist. Even active members now must pay for internment, but in their defense, historically church membership has declined, as the youth who should have carried on the tradition are far less into religion as most studies have shown. Furthermore, the few structures are left standing in need of considerable repairs, and the funeral has now become a business to fill those gaps.

These new undertakers operate like Amazon, as one location maybe next door to your new condominium, while a startup can deliver a casket in 24 hours, the pallbearers, mourners, live band and pastor in one package. These uncertainties setting up a death contract in these overcast businesses to honor one’s wish after death today seems unwise.

Sadly, a dream home in a prime multi-million residential community can be converted into a funeral home, and some without recourse, must leave, start yours or merged into that business. It reaches a theme where you now have two funeral homes adjacent to each other. Possibly some argue that kickbacks and corruptions by officials ignore zoning laws that resulted in funeral homes popping up like cafes.

All being well, the educational system is more critical today to teach respect for the rule of law, psychological shift and, empowerment, especially for women that will shape the future, reintroduce integrity, security and invigorate these communities plagued by violence.

Conceivably the generation will take on the mantle of the next morticians without fear of being killed, and even provide a free funeral for the one who may have been left by the roadside with a good sendoff.

OP-ED-Link

Are cultural destinations becoming more difficult to reach?

by R.D. Miller

A good reason to travel: Each new year some potential travelers will receive a pre-selected vacation destination whether unsolicited or subscribed.

These global destinations are more than just great beaches, food and music. For many expatriates who have migrated from these places, some may not even be aware that their native land has these global attractions, or some could not afford to visit before migrating for better economic opportunities.

Besides the lure, travelling offers the best opportunity into different cultures that can change misconceptions from the outside. More importantly, a vacation has incredible benefits that enable people to relax, revisit one’s heritage, and re-connect with families.

Undeniable, despite the marketing temptation into these breath-taking places, the appetite to travel are sometimes lessened by means of smart electronic devices that have become a window into these destinations without leaving the comfort of one’s homes.

Although technology has brought us closer to these getaways, society still seems further apart.

The late Anthony Bourdain “Parts Unknown,” a popular television show on CNN has made a significant contribution to his viewers on different food, cultures and sometimes political structures.

Before his travel series, numerous travel-related magazines, or agencies were an avenue into the global world, but these publications and offices have diminished or moved online.

Few copies can be found at one of today’s remaining book stores, or a coffee shop located in a central station stuck between a lifestyle magazine.

Countless times, I have tabbed a travel magazines page on a highlighted destination and drifted on to a beach, mountainside, or danced in a street, but quickly realized that I was only stuck in traffic on public transportation with my head down in a story.

But those most of my tabbed pages next to-go destination list have also become more difficult to reach. It is like a first-class seat that is just a walk by concept to the cabin.

Finally, you have gotten over some fear from few media footages of some geopolitical events, you surrendered and decided on a place and ready to go after finding a reasonable lower budget deal, but suddenly one realizes that the best suitable option especially if it is an international trip is to sit in an airport that can reach upwards of 10-16 hours if you cannot afford an upgrade to a more suitable flight time slot that they suggested is more suitable.

Occasionally one must stay an extra day, get back a few days earlier, and make sure you check carefully because inbound flight may not be returning to the airport where you departed.

Now the fine prints: Sometimes if you found a good deal, you can become dejected having to navigate limited options and restrictions.

Now; let us navigate some of the lowest fare restrictions.

  • There is not enough time between the connecting flights;
  • Pay more to extend your leg for a seat that may not recline limiting the ability to stretch;
  • Seats assigned at check-in;
  • Not eligible for upgrades;
  • No flight changes or refunds;
  • Board in the last group;
  • No, carry on allowed, and one small personal must fit under the seat;
  • Baggage fee’s increase if not checked in from home;
  • Talking to someone at the ticket counter may result in an extra fee;
  • Pay an extra fee per ticket if you would like to change your ticket within 24 hours, and that may result in a (higher ticket price);
  • Price has just increased because 20 other people were watching;
  • You must now convince yourself despite a connecting flight with 1-2 hours, it is a non-stop flight.

A Disconnect: What next? standing option, check your wallet and pocketbooks if it is over five lbs, or an extra fare for being pregnant if the average age for a full-price ticket is now age two.

These destinations can fade immediately from what seems to be a disconnect by some carriers in understanding the budget-stricken customers.

For local tourist boards, it seems they have a small table to negotiate better air and hotel rates to attract more visitors in places like the Caribbean, and other poor and developing countries whose economic viability depends on tourism?

Shareholders’ wealth is important because I own a few airline stocks, but an appearance has emerged that next best-published destinations a must read-only for the wealthy.

Even a treasured trip on some railway destinations as an escape into a scenic view, booking and boarding some of today’s trips have become worse than an airport with similar prices and restrictions.

Today’s algorithm dictates all the rules surrounding one’s travel.

“What happens to grandma?” I thought. Many like her do not have a smart telephone, and still, have her old landline without a caller (Id), but likes to travel.

Ok! Let us Go: After a period of having several travel websites opened, maneuvering online, I visited Morocco from a prior featured destination.

I had a travel magazine tucked at my side making sure what the writer wrote was about to become a reality as my busy life back home was forgotten for those hours. After I landed in Casablanca, I was on a train for about 5.5 hours to Tangier simply to see the country on my blank schedule.

The train stopped in several towns and rural communities, and the people who boarded greeted me with a smile, and curiosity despite the language barrier.

Although my train car could use an upgrade, after an occasionally 30 minutes nap to be awoken by the sound from the train tracks that sounded like a tap dance, the scenery was priceless for the duration of my trip.

Seeing this landscape, and culture upfront could not have been captured on my overpriced smart telephone. After this trip was wrapping up, I realized that flying is like an Amazon economy where only the prime customer rules.

I am not against some reasonable airline fees or taxes, check bag policies. It is important to keep travelers safe, such as the government-imposed September 11 passenger security fee, that supports infrastructure, and other employment that is contributing to the economy.

And this industry is not a charity program, and should be able to make a profit.

USA Today online published 2-7-2019: Southwest Airlines takes in $642 million in other fees and up 13 percent from 2017. This is not a surprise because other reports noted that more people are flying today.

The reality: Few airlines will try to minimize the damage from customers’ feedback and will urge travelers to read all the rules in advance and that is important, but it often comes back to generate more revenues.

People are still looking forward to holiday breaks, or even from a long brutal winter, but gradually putting those images captured into reality has become only a dream for the average vacationers.

Social media platforms cannot replace the human touch. To be sure, this is my experience because what you may have seen from likes or thumb down on social media may not be the true picture.

There are legitimate public safety concerns that remain high in some of these places, but essentially only in person one can feel its true impact like a contact sport of a country’s culture.

For your trip, you must evaluate the risk and diplomatic relations, and other geopolitical issues. After you arrive at your chosen destination, equally important, those local leaders and businesses should continue to make public safety a top priority for everyone.

There are reports of sexual assaults and other violence in some gated resorts. Furthermore, make sure that the local roads are safe getting people to excursions to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities, or simply getting tourists back to their destination on time.

And occasionally; if visitors opt for a local taxi to enjoy a local meal outside these protected zones, charging a significant amount over the average price is not welcoming because these trips are tactically planned to maximize a low budget.

From your next cultural pick, do not worry about travel experts’ airline’s rating because some of the high-ranking carriers do not fly to your low budget destinations.

Simply, put, be safe, keep your mind open, explore and know the local deals in advance and keep traveling.

What Dorian has taught us about The Bahamas and the Caribbean

BY R.D. MILLER

After hurricane Dorian landed on Abaco Island on September 1, 2019, and a day later in Grand Bahamas as a category five hurricane with winds of up to 215 miles per hour; the damages amounted to about 3.4 billion, at least 70 deaths, and about 14,000 families displaced according to weather experts. Millions watch helplessly, but the tenacity of its people and with the help of other nations, The Bahamas is now rebuilding.

Credit: Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. PHOTO: Christy Delafield/Mercy Corps

After a catastrophic event, there will be questions. However, it leaves an opportunity to learn from mistakes encompassing poor planning to better management of the environment. But irrespective of how this paradise will be rebuilt; some intangibles cannot be fixed with donations, better wall or relocation to higher grounds.

The hidden debris that washed up with hurricane Dorian’s has brought a dark side to surface on this paradise and exposed unresolved issues in the Caribbean. The complexity of classism, racism and the social-stratification still roars like high ties reaching its banks.

Despite the proximity of these islands shared music, customs, skin tone, culture, and food. However, often if migrants arrive from a homemade boat seeking a better life, they are less likely to be welcomed such as others who arriving on a cruise ship.

Recently, a few of us with deep Caribbean roots were baffled from seeing the aftermath and have contributed through established organizations in support. However, a conversation grew on what is the best way to help the already downtrodden. Simply put, after the camera leaves, and the photo-ops are no longer staged, the real work and the reality sets in.

This discussion surrounding migrants, especially Haitians who live on the island, is an undercurrent seldom discussed. They make up about 20 percent of the population in some areas according to reports.

After Dorian, some believed that they were treated less than humans, not worthy of being counted for aid or basic support like food, water or shelter. Numerous Haitians who came ashore in The Bahamas have had their share of catastrophes, from poor governance to crime and natural disasters.

hoto Credit: Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Exodus for a better standard of living carried the risk on the ocean. Some often never make it to The Bahamas, and other Caribbean islands.

Stories like these seldom receive media attention of an unwelcome mat on the white sands for many neighbors who made it to shore. These stories are like migrants fleeing parts of North Africa to the coast of France, Italy, and Germany,

Often as it appears leaders are struggling as to who is responsible, therefore any potential immigration violation laws enforcement remains an open question.

Beneath the sunshine, broad smiles, and an inviting ocean, if you planned to stay beyond spending your tourist dollars; or not able to fill a financial void locally, it is time to go. In fact, most of these Caribbean islands’ immigration laws; even getting a work permit sometimes are more difficult than in many industrial countries.

Furthermore, being part of the CARICOM community that was built on integration and cooperation among each other, like the European Union where its members can travel, work, and live and study with access to health care. In the Caribbean, this policy appears to only be on paper.

Some migrants’ when they arrive in The Bahamas, and other places in the Caribbean, immediate exclusions have created tension and distrust. They are often relegated, marginalized; coupled with social isolation woven from cynicism and perfectionisms as leaders and many locals are still searching for the right balance.

Amalgamation can be slow where some found themselves in areas known today, as the hood; but in the Caribbean, better known as the shanty towns. This hierarchy of class systems can be just as cruel as racial segregation seen elsewhere.

Indisputable though, the rule of law must be maintained as some argued that when they arrive, there is an uptick of crime. Sure, local leaders have the responsibility to protect his or her country from additional financial burden, and overcrowding for the smaller islands.

The past colonial slave ships once docked on these waters where their ancestors were exploited, whether to produce sugar, coffee, spices, and other agricultural crops, centuries later that connection should have created more acceptance, but the struggle to see themselves as one lingers.

Before Dorian, most of the region from history, came to accept that the ongoing fog of Christopher Columbus since 1492, and later British rule in 1717, to independence in 1973. However, struggles remain to emancipate mentally from that period despite today’s diversity which makes this island and others unique.

I am not a historian on The Bahamas open economy to business investments, robust tourism, strong financial management, politics, immigration policies, competitive ranking, foreign investments, travel, crime rate, corruption index, taxation, or status of women mobility, but these social nets must be addressed.

And today with over 80 percent of blacks who made up The Bahamas island population, there is still a wide gap in the lack of business ownership as if it is the old colonial period. This is not a history paper, and like many other wealthy countries, they have challenges in drug trafficking and illegal immigration according to experts.

These islands after a century of being told what to do, are still going through modernization to find a good balance to reduce the gap between the have’s vs the have-nots. Sure, for those who sit on the sidelines looking in will get push back that it is all good here and you have your own issues.

Yes. I am aware. The Bahamas is still one of the safest places to live, invest and visit in the region, and its leaders are equipped to handle its affairs, but it can only get better when you move all its debris.

Dorian debris is beyond The Bahamas. Various experts have also seen similar patterns of marginalization in parts of Latin America even Brazil.

In Lima, Peru there is a tradition where pallbearers are black and native; some argue that it is simply employment, but others see it as racism, and only those job opportunities are for blacks.

Experts noted that since slavery was abolished in 1854, “Blacks are all but absent from Peru’s business and political elite. They are relegated to sugar cane plantations along the nation’s Pacific coast.” Less than four percent of Peru’s blacks go to college.

Photo Credit: Associated Pres

Sexism and classism is the elephant in the room when it comes to upward mobility for women in the Caribbean; because of centuries of these social issues, it is hard for people to even realize that it is happening.

During my travels further in the regions and elsewhere, I have seen marginalization against other groups, but sometimes disaster is an opportunity to change course.

What’s next: Haitians and other migrants will continue to search for stability in The Bahamas and in another place. The argument that migrants taking native jobs, husbands, wives and even contributing to the uptick in crimes.

How many husbands and wives were taken when natives hire migrants as domestic aides? Economists argued that even in industrial countries, migrants do not take away native jobs. They work jobs where natives will not, and these service jobs are vital to the local economy.

Dorian has uncovered a systematic problem throughout the region born out of social stratification that will not end with donations. Millions have been donated to rebuild The Bahamas. And while few will move to a better location and higher grounds; hate, polarization, and self-interest will remain.

Public safety is vital, and if migrants commit crimes, they ought to be held accountable swiftly.  Socioeconomic divide and isolation as studies have shown may result in a struggle to solve some crimes, if migrants only see public safety officials as part of their problems.

The next hurricane will not consider what group should be counted, but will all be prepared, and have a chance to survive since its wind will not dictate who lives where.

Despite the task ahead, The Bahamas will rise again. More tourists will arrive, but I hope that The Bahamas will use this opportunity to be more inclusive while remaining one of the safest and more attractive places in the region where people want to live and retire

It still needs your backing and “how may I help you will be back, rather than go back to your country. Tolerance will be the key to success in this new world economy. We all cannot be the same because life would be boring. Let us kill ignorance, narrow-mindedness ubiquitously and embrace each other to grow.”

Commentary: 14-year-old raped, killed and burnt – a troubling new normal in Jamaica

By D.R. Miller

Photo Credit: Latoya Riley, the mother of 14 year-old Yetanya Francis

How do you comfort the mother of young Yetanya Francis, who was raped, murdered and her lifeless body found on August 24, 2018, after simply being out on an errand for her mother?

Her gruesome headline story is not unique to Jamaica; especially untimely deaths of young girls where other parents still search for answers.

What is different today is that social media has taken these victims’ stories globally.

In response to these barbaric atrocities, vigilante justice, which often kills innocent people, does not help, nor does the prime minister’s hug, despite good intention for comfort, or other leaders’ feel-good speeches, which cannot reverse this criminal trend.

Additionally, elected leaders who are in denial are only positioning themselves for the revolving election door in which they once failed while in power, which has only contributed to this normalcy.

What these neighbourhoods need is value, hope and tangible results. Several scholars have noted that fighting crime requires a broad range of technology, leadership, the community and management skills.

Who will be next on these sexual predators’ and mentally sick individuals’ lists?

Students must now deal with the psychological trauma of losing their classmate, while parents are scared to send their daughters to school or a local store.

Sure, some will disagree and point to other places globally. But 13-year-old Aliesha Brown, who went missing and was later found dead on October 2, 2014, is another reminder, along with several heinous crimes since her death.

Being vigilant is now part of the tour guide package as the new normal after reported warnings.

DR Photo-Flying over Jamaica

Jamaica’s ‘cool runnings’ vibes and local smiles have not washed out to the ocean despite the negative headlines. The local corner shops where you can repair a flat tire, to a restaurant pinned up against the mountain selling local authentic Jamaica dishes still welcome everyone.

Even the white sand and turquoise water, as the sun beams through trees, with a cool breeze hitting your face that can make you feel as if you are shedding your skin like a snake to take on a new identity and temporarily forgetting your troubles as if you were at a spa remain intact.

But, these natural occurrences and postcard moments can create fallacies because the danger remains in that snake’s venom despite its new beautiful skin. And psychologists have noted that what seems normal is sometimes not healthy.

How did Jamaica get to this point?

It is a struggle to separate the perception from reality.

Several murders cases are left unsolved I believe from the lack of technical skills and resources or a police force that is stretched too thin to cover these dense areas.

Headlines of murders, rapes, assaults, thefts and robberies cannot be solved by a pledge alone, and/or a few operations when criminals are tipped in advance, leave the area only to return to strike again.

An education system, which is critical to prepare the next generation of leaders and to rebuild the middle-class, has diminished.

Few argue that poverty, corruption, the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, high unemployment and crime rates have created an emotional desensitization and lack of responsiveness after repeated exposure to violence from the constant news.

Furthermore, if, as reported, some who are sworn to serve and protect now find themselves with case numbers from their own criminal activities further erodes trust.

Concern and outrage often seem to be short-lived in a few news cycles.

Even those who are empathetic and would like much-needed change are now convinced that these crime symptoms do not need a doctor because, emotionally, they have become detached.

This is a far cry from Jamaica’s relax-no-problem vibe that often-greeted visitors and returning residents.

The Jamaica Observer reported that, in 2017 alone, over 1,600 people lost their lives. Other reports noted that, since early 2000, over 200 British, American and Canadian expats were murdered, and since the start of 2018 over 500 have lost their lives.

Many believe that violent gangs and the ongoing lottery scam in major cities as reported is still a problem, where expatriates are seen by criminals as soft targets.

What is troubling is what seems to be a disturbing pattern of acceptance of crime, dishonesty and a lack of a moral compass, while several leaders remain silent.

Sure, crime control models have been implemented to eradicate this criminal cancer, but, with these criminal trends, some believe that they have done little to deter easy access to high powered weapons, gangs and other criminal activities.

Dispute are now being settled by whoever has the better weapon, and the normalcy out of fear puts good law enforcement officers at a disadvantage.

I began to wonder if religious institutions, often the beacon to inspire and calm residents in these troubled times, have now aligned themselves with politicians and criminals, and chosen sides for their own survival.

Jamaica has never lost its boisterous attitude, values, pride, vigour, and tenacity, where communities look forward to the weekend simply to get out to have a good time.

Sadly, many hangout places have become more isolated and indoors due to safety concerns, like the threat of a hurricane.

Yes! I get it; crime, poverty, inequality, and poor socio-economic issues are ubiquitous.

Even recently in The Bahamas, Carlis Blatch, an aide to the governor general, was gunned down while waiting on his son from school according to the Nassau Guardian.

Photo credit: Steve Walker, whose brother Delroy Walker was murdered in Jamaica

Delroy Walker’s death in May 2018 is another remainder of the danger few admit. He was stabbed and killed upon his return to Jamaica to enjoy his retirement from the UK.

He was a champion for the youth, giving back to the community, utilizing his skills and resources through his charitable organization.

This untimely death robbed the youth of a shot of success, those who yearn for a sunbeam that is getting cloudier on these shores.

When youth have no hope, or even lack the resources to chart a vision, crime become more attractive.

Although his killers may have been caught, the criminal enterprises silently devastating these once safe communities are a major threat to a normal life.

Delroy’s death further stymies many charitable barrels of goods slated for the island to help others now under reconsideration by eBay and Amazon, held in a basement or storage centre because of safety concerns.

When honest hard-working and successful people, those who want to help, are now seen as a threat, the region loses and remittances alone cannot solve these systemic issues.

One close friend talked about her container of goods sent home after years of hard work abroad and upon arrival half its contents went missing, with no accountability.

Public service is a noble position where honesty is key. It makes one wonder who is hiring these people, but that too has become normal.

Often it is fear, and connection to those involved, so communities refuses to come forward.

Maybe the pride Jamaica developed from the old colonial rule continues to use minimization, and deflection to balance the lack of accountability and even for survival; therefore, this behaviour has contributed to its normalcy.

Desensitization surrounding these crimes may be a way to disguise the pain.

Today, Jamaica’s main economic driver is tourism, but the youths I have met and on social media do not bet their future on visitors alone. They are tired of photo-ops and want tangible options, and educated leadership that has a vested interest in their future and knowledge of a changing world to lead.

They remain hopeful that the sun will rise again, but these communities must restore their pride, confidence and safety. Because only an individual alone can decide what is normal, or change and fix what is not.

The Chinese are coming, corals reefs are dying. What next, the mountains?

BY R.D. Miller

A delicate marriage: Modernization is important; but should it reiterate a nation of its once colonial rule where only the ruling class and famous get to write the rules?.

Several Caribbean islands and African nations have witnessed a cultural explosion of Chinese businesses over the past decade. These private investments may offer a path to better economic growth, but some communities are now skeptical that these inroads are platforms for the dumping of their cheap goods and services to maintain their economy for over a billion people.

Some of these developments offered by investors are like a hanging Pinata. They are attractive to many political leaders in these poor and developing countries. And it inevitably seems some are eagerly waiting to take a whack.

However, a piñata often leaves trash for someone else to clean up. Furthermore, when poor governance struggles to balance their financial books and move people out of poverty, this frequently leads to forced marriages.

Sadly, when the honeymoon is over, what it will take to maintain this economic marriage to keep the family together?

Not long ago, Jamaica reported about a $180 million grant from the Chinese for border security and airport operations. Any necessary investments that make the best use of more protected communities and positively enhance travel security should be welcomed. But I naturally wonder when did Jamaica, and China has border issue concerns? Moreover, the region does not experience political turmoil from local people fleeing their neighboring islands or parishes.

I am not against investments for upward mobility and do understand that economic agreement and technical corporation should benefit all. In established fact, new technology and local infrastructure have undoubtedly made the continuous flow of valuable goods and services more efficient. But who specific benefits when the region is now dominated with massive imports?

Is this a “debt trap” diplomacy like others have noted in different places?

The over look family members: This seems like a recent conquest of colonization that has not lifted the poor from economic poverty since it started. Even locally grown products have dwindled to small corners like news racks covered with international news clips while local customs and cultural identity-driven to the back.

Few reports noted that China has equally exercised its financial influence throughout the Caribbean Community through [CARICOM] to aggressively expand its pervasive influence. Several projects from medical centers to stadiums have been built in Saint Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, and Jamaica with cheap loans.

Unquestionable, these developments have some positive effects, but who are the long-term beneficiaries? This is not a new pattern; especially in Jamaica since more people are talking freely.

Reports have shown China started its diplomatic engagements in the early 1970s, or what can be called their blueprint. For Jamaica, the historic voyage started under the former prime minister, P.J. Patterson on a high-level visit in 1998, when Jamaica opened an embassy in Beijing. Later, the Caribbean Economic Trade Cooperation was forged.

Is this economic investment or exploitation?

In 2005, Jamaica hosted the first China-Caribbean trade fair and this pattern remains, while the people who elected these decision-makers have no say in what is next.

Photo Credit: 2012-12-1: Reception Celebrating Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between China and Jamaica

Is this a one person marriage? The lack of transparency, accountability, even corruption, and ignorance often reported has caused frustration for numerous locals. You can’t have an expansion of trade agreement, and only to find your international competitiveness reduced, and no long-term economic gains for the local people to improve their standard of living.

Some argued that when they arrived, they brought their staff, and locals are not employed in any leadership positions to earn a good salary. They may have contributed to today’s lower employment rates as reported, but poverty remains high due to underemployment, low skills job, less employee protection from low wages being offered.

Other concerns are that land areas that should have been designated as historic sites and preserved are either leased or bought by foreign investors.

Soon Mandarin will become the official language of these places. There are also reports that leaders are granting the exploration to mine famous un-touched mountains that play a pivotal role in the environment. Some argued that these new deals amount to personal financial gains, even after they leave office. But the local people must hold them accountable, demand real answers, and not a quick political response in a tweet.

If the coral reef continues to vanish, so does the island. Tropical coral reefs play an important part on our ecosystem on this planet, it contributes to not only clean air but provides a local fisherman the ability to fish and support his family to attracting tourists.

Anyone watching this relationship? Few businesses on the sea line now must move further inland, due to rising seawater. After it was reported that a few years ago; Jamaica received US $166 million to begin addressing climate change. Who are tracking these projects and few solar systems alone is not the answer?

Today, these coastlines are being torn apart by development causing severe climate issues. And it seems that the failure of leadership to use economic leverage has made it easier for the public land to be sold off. If local people do not hold elected official, rich and powerful even the environmental agencies accountable to protect them where does it stop.

It seems someone has put out a fire under the ocean. Has anyone analyzed the impact of non-operational mining plants to see what contaminants have washed out to sea from a poor drainage system?

There are also reports of warmer temperatures on these islands. On a recent trip with a few friends and family, we took a glass-bottom boat on a brief tour. Our tour guide tried to convince us that this is the best coral in the area.

We left wondering if he has been to other parts of the Caribbean where it seems more environmentally friendly, and what a healthy coral reef should look like. Many of the coral reefs look like dying plants on land that could use some fresh water. For the 20 minutes ride, only a few small fishes emerged looking as they too want to escape.

Driving on the undeveloped coastlines can be breathtaking from new developments, but for many longtime locals on a hot day, without entry fees to prime shorelines to cool off, they now must drive for miles too much fewer desirable areas. This once treasured past-time when longtime friends and typical family looked forward to the typical weekends to instantly relax on the nearby beaches, several local areas have presently become an idea for various longtime locals.

The personal impact: One person I spoke with said, “some of these now gated shorelines are local self-inflicted wounds.” He noted, “when it was free, they littered the area with trash and other questionable activities, and no one bothers to clear it”.

The delicate balance is a new development that can offer an opportunity for a local artist to support his family, thereby selling hand-crafted souvenirs. While tucked away at a small stand making sales, the culture fades and severely weakens through excessive erosion and gentrifications. “Imagine prohibiting citizens from a public park,” as one vendor’s legal struggle to keep one of the last free beaches from excessive development.

While social media likes may spread awareness, it takes community collaboration to stop the local sand from being gently swept from under their feet. Jamaica is not all about reported reggae music, high crime rate per-capita, marijuana use, and a relaxed attitude.

Several viewers became aware of the hidden stratification quandary on Sunday, November 17, 2014, after CNN aired the late Anthony Bourdain’s Part Unknown.

This memorable episode illustrated a deep tide that has been uprooting the soul of these coastlines, and that this small land with a global image, few are willing to sell its soul. With high unemployment and economic poverty, low production, the criminal enterprise often thrives as several youths become hopeless.

Time for an environmental counseling: Economic stagnations that typically confine up-ward mobility often breed social tension and potential violence as they fought fiercely for social equality and economic survival. Alone the multimillion-dollar coastline, I left wondering how a young police officer will be qualified to comfortably afford a modest home in some areas they will patrol to secure mega properties.

Analyzing the region’s plight from the outside can be difficult, but who represents the investment bankers in disguise? Does it seem few use the one-love vibes while quietly threatens the native culture and their critical environment?

Economic and environmental policies geared to enhance the standard of living should not only benefit few but move people in general forward while protecting their environment. As Burning Spear, one of Jamaica’s favorite reggae superstars once said in a song, “My island don’t sell out.”

Photo credit: Council on Hemispheric Affairs