The black vote ain't free and the Jamaican vote shouldn't be

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The black vote ain't free and the Jamaican vote shouldn't be

Jessica Wilson

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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Late last week US presidential hopeful Joe Biden made a major campaign blunder. In response to further questioning from a black interviewer he said, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or [Donald] Trump, then you ain't black.”

Biden is a nice guy. He has a strong record of supporting and lobbying on behalf of the black community. While this statement may have been made in jest, I suspect it came from a place of entitlement.

The United States' Democratic Party has benefited from decades of support in the black community because the Republican counterpart is usually a less viable option. So, must we always vote for the 'lesser of two evils'?

Ahead of the November 2020 presidential elections in the US many African Americans have been bellowing messages like “The black vote is not free,” or “I want something for my community.”

Now, turn to the Jamaican context and ask yourself: What do I want for my community? Why must the Jamaican vote be free?

For far too long we have simply accepted things the way they are. Please remind yourself that we can do better and we deserve better.

How many hospitals are in Jamaica? When was the last time a new hospital was built? If you live outside of Kingston, how long does it take you to commute to the nearest hospital or emergency centre?

The public was recently hard hit by the news of Jodian Fearon's untimely passing at a Kingston hospital. The city of Kingston is home to more hospitals than any other parish. Unfortunately, I know a few people from my community in rural Clarendon who have died on their way to Spanish Town Hospital. I'm not sure if you've been my way, but it's a long commute through hills and valleys, pass Worthy Park Estate, bypassing Bog Walk, and trekking across Flat Bridge to get to the old capital. If you have extra cash you can try the new highway, but the commute will still not be under an hour… I digress.

If you are like me, then once you arrive at a public facility anywhere in Jamaica you prepare mentally to lose up to four productive hours. Is this acceptable?

Marred by a deep and complex political history, Jamaica has struggled since becoming independent. Jamaica's economy has been jogging on the spot for the past 40 years, but is economic growth attainable or feasible? I'd like to think so. The fact that our rich keep getting richer may be an indicator. But we need to have a Jamaica that works for all.

The concept of vote-buying must be killed. When a politician is shameless enough to give a constituent money to make a mark on a ballot this payment should merely be considered a transfer tax. The only reasonable barters for electoral support are:

1) a living wage

2) safer communities

3) water in your pipes

4) proper housing solutions

5) access to proper health care

6) a park to walk or play in safely

7) a hospital close enough to your neighbourhood

8) how about a proper address for your home?

The next time a politician asks for your vote, name your price. Any of the above should be a good pick.

The Jamaican vote should not be free.

Jessica Wilson is a social transformation advocate, educator, business analyst and founder of The Initiative Projects. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or jessicawilson.ja@gmail.com.


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