If you were looking for a new voice to add to “allow the Jamaicans in diaspora to vote” in the Jamaican elections then you should stop reading. Yes, the Jamaican diaspora is the 1st or 2nd source of foreign exchange source for the Jamaican economy. Yes the Jamaican diaspora are the first overseas responders to a disaster. Yes the Jamaican diaspora promotes Jamaica. I could go on with numerous others accolades but right now I am not “warm” to this issue of us voting. Why you ask?
There are just a few people who are passionate about serious issues affecting Jamaica. The rest is just talk. Why do I say this? Well let me use Hurricane Dean as an example.
There was a Hurricane Dean relief community meeting held in Miramar, Florida which is home to the second largest Jamaican population in South Florida (Lauderhill is number 1). The meeting was held in a church that is know as the “Jamaican Church”. Three of the 5 commissioners in the city of Miramar have Jamaican connections. Two are Jamaican-born and one is married to a Jamaican. None were present as far as I could see. They may have showed up very late as I left during Q & A at the end of the meeting.
In a church that could hold about 800-1000 people I believe I counted 20 people at the meeting. Now here is the shocker…80% of those people were individuals affiliated with the either the meeting coordinator, consulate office, media or direct relief effort. Yes, I know the meeting notice went out on very short notice (3 days I believe). But the word went out on the radio and other media outlets. I could probably walk into the supermarket a 1/2 mile from the church and find more Jamaicans there than was present at this meeting.
Another example…A month ago I participated in a forum with representatives from the PNP & JLP. This event was well publicized by all forms of media for over a month. It was to be help at the Miramar city hall auditorium. My estimate is this location could hold approximately 600 people. Only about 150-170 showed up.
Now you may say this happens in South Florida only. I communicate with people in the other cities that have a large Jamaican population. When I talk to people in New York they face the same low turn out for “serious issues” affecting Jamaica. In fact I was in NY two years ago and attended a forum where the head of a Jamaican political party was present. The venue was 20% filled. It was a lecture hall that could probably hold 150.
I hear the same thing in Atlanta and London. Many of us love to “call in” to the radio shows to have the heated political discussions but when it comes to put our “foot forward”…Mi soon come. As one of the Jamaican activist in the Atlanta community said to me recently “We love the hype of Sean Paul, Veronica Campbell and anything Jamaican that is hot but when it comes to serious issues we are missing”
Very few are really passionate about Jamaica to put their “talking” into action. Based on our current record with putting words to action for serious Jamaican issues I do not see the reason to invest time and money to allow the Jamaicans in the diaspora to vote. I can see them putting the system in place and the diaspora saying…mi soon come