We don't stop here!

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We don't stop here!

Lance Neita

Sunday, January 17, 2021

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If you thought 2020 was a bad year, what about 2021's first week of January.

In the first seven days we ran out of space on Facebook and other social media. During the week, the pandemic continued its remorseless march across Jamaica and the continents of the world. America captured the headlines and seized the moment with that January 6 cataclysmic invasion of the US Capitol building in Washington. And Jamaicans woke up on Tuesday morning, January 5, to the news of Gordon “Butch” Stewart's passing on Monday evening.

Today, as we enter week number 3, we are still in January, and gunshots are rapid-firing around the country taking as many lives as the hated COVID-19. Up to January 9, 2021 some 29 murders had been committed.

“What kind of world are we living in,” sang the Cables in 2009. “Is it a world without love?” Do we deserve this, after what we have been through in 2020? “Why can't we love one another? Why can't we help each other?” chorused these young men as they questioned, “It is a fact; we want to do better in life, But that doesn't say to hurt our brother.”

Those “Happy New Year” messages are fading fast, with headlines like the recent 'Marked for Death' in the Jamaica Observer of Wednesday, January 13, 2021, capturing the fear and dread of mothers in Trench Town who are fleeing from the reprisal wars between rival gangs in their communities.

The new year is looking dimmer and dimmer as we realise that the COVID-19 vaccine is still reserved for the rich countries who have already booked out the vaccines yet to be manufactured by Western pharmaceutical companies, leaving us to wait, like Oliver Twist, until mid-year for our share.

Happy new year, yes, but the West Indies cricket team seems poised for another defeat — this time at the hands of lowly placed Bangladesh — while calls for volunteers for the next tour appear likely to be the selectors' last resort.

The 'Happy New Year' wish list is definitely heading for the garbage pan; unless this time, for the first time at last, we can hear that someone is charged for a high-powered gun shipment into Jamaica.

But, hold the horses, good news is around the corner, as the third week is looking up with a changing of the guard at the White House, promising a reprieve for America from out of its terrible tailspin into a better new year.

President Donald Trump has been impeached a second time by the US House of Representatives. His legacy has been scarred forever, and he will be replaced by Joe Biden, who has pledged to return America from a rime of national crises to a period of calm and truth.

“There will not be blue states and red states,” says President-elect Joe Biden, just the United States of America.

Unfortunately, the going-ons in America will not end with this round of impeachment; nor, for that matter, with the inauguration. Next week Wednesday the Secret Service will take command of security preparations and some 20,000 troops will be on guard in Washington at the US Capitol and other federal buildings, backed by thousands of police and tactical officers, and layers of eight-foot steel fencing.

For a long time to come America, and the world, will be kept on their toes in fearful anticipation of any further insurrection. Large crowds have gathered before at the National Mall in Washington to witness ceremonial events. The largest such was in 2009 when 1.8 million people attended President Barack Obama's swearing-in.

However, the last time we witnessed such a scene of intense security precautions was the civil rights march by 250,000 people on Washington led by Martin Luther King Jr, which prompted President John F Kennedy to order a massive security contingent to keep watch on that largely black crowd that was expected in the city that day. Precautions were also taken throughout the city in preparation for possible riots or acts of looting. Kennedy and military leaders put 4,000 troops on alert and were ready to call in 15,000 paratroopers to stop any rioting. The city hospitals were also placed on alert, and city judges prepared for the possibility of mass arrests. Even liquor stores banned the sale of alcohol for the day.

To ensure that the march would go smoothly the civil rights leaders had already organised their own security force of 2,000 volunteer unarmed marshals to control the crowd.

Of great importance and relevance to the debacle that took place in Washington on January 6 this year, note that the civil rights leaders had also decided to end the March at the Lincoln Memorial, rather than at the Capitol as previously planned, so as not to make members of Congress feel that they were under siege.

It has been widely opined that if the January 6 riot had been a Black Lives Matter demonstration the demonstrators would have been put to the sword by the Washington and national security.

In contrast, however, the civil rights march was conducted with dignity and remarkable restraint, with only three arrests made that day, none involving the marchers.

At the end, a relieved Kennedy, who watched the proceedings on TV from the White House, invited the civil rights leaders to his office immediately after the close, and met King at the door with a smile, a congratulatory handshake, and a jaunty “I have a dream”. This in direct contrast to the reaction of you-know-who to the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

The protesters of January 6 who gathered at the National Mall claimed they were defending their rights. the civil rights marchers of 1963 had shown them how. They chose to forget.

In the meantime, Joe Biden assumes office on January 20. The world will be watching this important event. According to President Obama, “When he walks into the White House in January he'll face a series of extraordinary challenges no incoming president ever has — a raging pandemic, an unequal economy and justice system, a democracy at risk, and a climate in peril.

“I know he'll do the job with the best interests of every American at heart, whether or not he had their vote.”

Naturally, Jamaica has to be right up there 'fassing' in America's business. Biden's vice-president will be of Jamaican roots, and no matter any odd silence, so far, regarding her Jamaican background, the truth is that Kamala Harris is one of us, looks like one of us, and her beauty, intellect, and that charming smile identifies her indelibly as a daughter of this soil. Since stepping towards high office there have been few detractors, but America obviously has confidence in her ability.

It's a strong possibility that Harris can and will make a bid for the Office of President in 2024. If so, Jamaica is behind her 100 per cent. Best wishes to the next vice-president of the United States of America.

Marcus Garvey must be smiling proudly at this turn of events. After all, Kamala, his parishioner, is black, and it was Garvey, more than any other person, who 'did fly the gate' for black people to resolve to unite and make a stand as they discover their ability to gain full and equal recognition of their being and their worth.

This is not the first time we have been to this place. Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell's name is invariably put forward as a presidential candidate. He was touted as a possible opponent of Bill Clinton in the 1996 US presidential election, but he declined, citing a lack of passion for politics. Powell defeated Clinton 50–38 in a hypothetical match-up proposed to voters in the exit polls conducted on election day.

One of the most respected black men in the United States, he is popular with both parties, and won the Republican New Hampshire vice-president nomination on write-in votes in 1996, without ever offering himself as a candidate.

He is Jamaican to the core, and is a son of Jamaican immigrants from south St Elizabeth and Westmoreland.

As Louise Bennett, who is right now itching to write a poem about our darlin' Kamala Harris, would say, “We don't stop here.”

Lance Neita is a public relations consultant and author. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or lanceneita@hotmail.com.


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