The ‘Race’ to the finish

The Race, as they say, is in the homestretch. Its no longer weeks, or days, but hours and nobody can be absolutely sure of anything, and if they say they are, they’re just guessing. Barack Obama leads and to many, it appears as if he will win by a big margin of electoral votes.

But unlike many opinionators, I refuse to downplay the factors of stupidity and racism. Commentators, in order to show how great a nation America is, how far it has come, claim that race is not much of a factor. Whitewash, hogwash, bullwash, wash, wash. In truth on any given lonely street, many of these commentators cross the street to avoid a black man, even if he’s dressed in suit and tie and carrying a briefcase. What! Hey, he could be a lawyer.

Racially, this country is still in the backwoods and there’s a many good ol boys in them backwoods. America is still highly influenced by race. Whites are racists, blacks are racists, browns are racists, Asians are racists, Arabs are racists… and the list races on.

One can however confront one’s racist attitudes and essentially deal effectively with it. But there is always going to be one subject where the line is drawn, where race becomes the defining factor. So live with the inevitability of one’s racial sensitivity and the truth of America’s outright racist attitudes.

Whether race will decide this election will only be known next week. If Obama loses, then there will be little doubt in the world’s collective mind about race as an issue in America.

An Obama win doesn’t mean that racism has been washed away (sweet jesus) and a new kumbaya future has been born. It will take some time to eradicate 90% of America’s racism, but on Tuesday, we might be able to witness a start.
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It has just been revealed that Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, 56, from Kenya, has been living illegally in Boston, in public housing. Her request for asylum was rejected 4 years ago. We are likely to hear a public hue and cry about that in these last days as if Obama personally brought her in and hid her under his bed.

Interestingly, immigration, like minimum wage workers and the homeless, have not been a factor in this election. In fact, for different reasons of course, both McCain and Obama are liberal on immigration. No question has been asked of them and no policy positions have been revealed.

Obama’s aunt will be put into play, but how much of an effect it will have, hmmm.
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Crime remains the topic of first choice in Jamaica and currently, there is debate about a crime bill, of which one measure is the controversial proposition of a 60-day detention for person charged with serious offences.

Government minister Pearnel Charles, arguing on behalf of the measure states that despite all that has been done, crime remains unconquerable. Of course, I would disagree with Mr Charles. No systematic changes in the policies of both parties in regards to the education system and the upgrading of the Jamaica’s poorer communities, have been done.

Half-hearted investments in these communities have had less than half-hearted results. And so the population of the poor continue to grow and resentment and crime follow.

The hopes for that nation has always been placed at the hands of the middle and upper class, instead of the majority of the people, whose talents and ability for hard work have been taken for granted.

Charles also made this ridiculous statement, “It is safer to make a mistake and arrest an innocent man than to make a mistake and make an innocent woman be raped, murdered and go to the grave”. Well, it certainly won’t feel that way to the innocent man when he is detained and thrown amongst hardened criminals… for 60 days.

But this attitude underscores the paucity of ideas by people in power. Charles, who at one time was declared as the people’s champion is no more than a “charles-atan”. He like many others, should have taken a look at recent US history of Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, extreme rendition, the eavesdropping on US citizens and the erosion of citizen’s rights by the Bush administration. Those have not necessarily made the country any safer.

When you continue to take oppressive measure to fight crime, then without a great deal of oversight, the police get sloppy, and citizens report ‘wha nuh go so’ just to get someone thrown in jail. By the time the truth is found out, that person might be dead. Will Charles then feel that is acceptable? Of course he will.

When the wrong person is jailed, and its always gonna be a poor man, then there will be a loss of faith in the justice system (who am I fooling, that has happened a long tine ago), which will create no trust amongst the people whose help is needed most in fighting crime.

Of course, I could support such a measure, if the police officers who carried out the arrest, the superintendent, and the judge who signed off on the detention would be going to jail if the detained turned out to be innocent. Any system without consequences, will be abused. Let’s not abuse our people anymore, and instead start thinking creatively to make Jamaica a safer place.
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I’ve always abhorred the Americanisation of Jamaica, especially when it comes to the media. The American media is nothing to be really proud of. While there are quite a few really fine journalists and journalistic efforts, much of the American news media, particular radio and television is pure trash.

And while I’m not a stickling defender of the English language, and often enjoy how Americans creatively use language, there are many things that I find appalling.

One cannot turn on television without seeing abominable mistakes in the captions and crawls. Then hearing the reporters and talking heads mangle the language does more than grate the ear.

Years ago, I requested that both major papers in Jamaicato be careful of their use of the word ‘terrorism’, a loaded, highly subjective word which is often used to distort one side as against another. One man’s terrorist is another man’s liberator. Yet the Jamaica media continue to use the word in the same context as the American media. The American media have their reasons, amongst them being the indoctrination of their own people.

One would never hear them call illegal and immoral Israeli or American military action ‘terrorism’. Yet, they are quick to pull the trigger on Palestinians, Afghans and Iraqis fighting against an occupying force. Fine for them, but why is Jamaica doing so. As Muhammad Ali said, “No Palestinian ever called me ‘Nigger’”.

But my recent angst relates to the use of closing quotations. With no logical reasoning, America, who adopted but didn’t create the English language, has decided to change it, not to suit them but simply for ego, by misplacing closing quote marks.

In ENGLISH, “The man is fat”. In this new bastardization that Jamaica is forcing unto its children, “The man is fat.” The closing quote goes outside the full stop.

In several recent articles in both Jamaica’s dailies, the quote marks seem to bear more relationship to the new sentence than to the old, as I have it upstairs.

Americans, through their own insecurities, feel the need to tamper with their adopted language, but there is no reason why Jamaica has to follow suit.

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