Caribbean Image: ‘Less Than’?

Go Lean Commentary

Picture this: The year is 1954, America is faced with a decision:

“Do we tear down the status quo and liberate 20 million African-Americans from a “Less Than” life or do we leave ‘well enough alone’?

If this question was a referendum, how do you think the American people would have voted … in 1954?

No doubt, the decision would have overwhelmingly aligned with words and expressions like “No!”, “Leave us alone”, “It has always been that way“, “this  is our country“, “Go home Niggers“, etc.

This is not just a “what if” scenario. This really happened! But not as a proposition to the whole country of the United States to contest; no, only for 9 men to consider – the Justices of the US Supreme Court. The end result: Unanimous … in favor of change.

- Photo 1

- Photo 2

This commentary is a discussion on image, the facts and fiction of being a minority in a majority world or being an immigrant to a foreign country. This anecdote is related in the book Go Lean…Caribbean, in its Epilogue entitled “The Greater Good”. The book details this experience:

Future Focus – Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
This was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which allowed state-sponsored segregation, insofar as it applied to public education. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court’s (between 1953 and 1969, when Earl Warren served as Chief Justice) unanimous decision (9–0) stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal”. As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution (Fourteenth Amendment). This ruling paved the way for integration and was a major victory of the civil rights movement.

This landmark ruling created chaos for nearly 60 years; the animosity created was real and every aspect of American society was affected. (Most legislative assemblies in the southern states passed resolutions and sanctions condemning the Supreme Court decision, though the federal law superseded all state legislations). Cities and urban areas suffered from white flight, where white Americans fled the cities to move out to the suburbs to avoid the integration of urban schools; with their flight went their capital and tax base. Many American cities have still not recovered, for example Detroit filed for Bankruptcy in July 2013 after suffering the pangs of distress from this white flight for 60 years.

So why would the learned men on the Supreme Court make this unanimous ruling and caused so much havoc on American life. Were they not wise, could they not “read the writing on the wall”? The answer is an emphatic No! They knew the real beneficiary of their judgment would come later. Their wisdom was strewn from the experience of modern society waging two world wars, the last of which was just concluded 9 years earlier. They saw the rampage, saw of devastation of 60 million deaths around the world and appreciated the wisdom that a downtrodden people would not stay down, that they would rise and revolt, that they would risk their lives and that of their children to pursue freedom. The Warren Court knew that the status quo of race inequality could not continue, but in order to effectuate that change would take writing-off an entire generation (or two). That time had come, the generation was now (1954); but the hope was with the next generation, and so the curative measures started with the children of that day, so that inevitably, future generations would inhabit an America that would not judge its people by the color of their skins, but rather the content of their character.

The issues pronounced here in the Go Lean book highlights an important factoid: de jure versus de facto

  • de jure = according to law
  • de facto = in reality

As a result of the 1954 Supreme Court’s decision, the de jure policy of the US was that of racial equality. But in reality, that decision didn’t manifest on the streets for the everyday man. The facts did not change the fiction, racism continued to dominate the American eco-system, even today. The aft-mentioned 20 million African-Americans in the US were viewed, treated and labeled as “Less Than“.

Don’t agree; think this is all fiction, speculation or propaganda?! Consider this VIDEO:

VIDEO – Would you want to be treated like blacks?

Published on Jan 19, 2016 – Every white person who wants to be treated how blacks are in this society stand up. [For this white audience, no one did.]

This is a relevant discussion for a Caribbean consideration, as 29 of the 30 member-states have a majority Black population; (St. Barthélemy is the only exception). So the Caribbean Diaspora and their legacies residing in the US – the Migration Policy Institute reported in 2012 that the numbers may be as high as 22 million – fits into the Black-and-Brown demographic. Unfortunately, every year that transpires, more and more Caribbean residents flee to foreign shores, like the US. The same report continues:

… the Caribbean population in the U.S. has surged more than 17-fold over the past half-century. But three-quarters of “Caribbeans” in the country arrived during the last two decades of the 20th century.

Why would they leave their beloved homelands? And what is their experience when they do leave and immigrate to the US?

The Go Lean book delves into the reasons for emigration. It identified them as an equation of “push and pull” factors. These factors highlight reasons that people want to get-away from “home” and seek “refuge” in these foreign countries. “Refuge” is a good word; because of societal defects, many from the Caribbean must leave – think LGBT, Disability, Domestic-abuse, Medically-challenged – for their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. In addition, the lure of a more prosperous life in the US (and other destinations) drive the “pull” side of the equation. This aligns with the facts: there is always some doing better, and always some doing worse.

But what truly is the experience when these ones arrive in America?

Answer: Less Than!

The experience of new Caribbean Diaspora members is that their work ethic is appreciated by employers; they are welcomed for the mass of blue-collar or menial jobs. White-collar ones, not so much. Then there is the language challenges. Many Caribbean islands speak Creole-derivatives of European languages of Spanish (Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico), French (Haiti and the French Caribbean islands), Dutch (Suriname and 6 islands – ABC and SSSIslands). These ones must come to the US and be classified as “English Speakers of Other Languages” (ESOL) for education and employment purposes. As for the English-speaking Caribbean, the consistent experience is one of a foreign accent; broken English spoken with a Caribbean “sing-song”. All in all, language fluency may be challenging.

NYC News - Sept. 1, 2014This is the reality for the Caribbean Diaspora; they may find themselves invisible in the socio-economic relevance of American life; this is more fact than it is fiction. Is it surprising that this “Less Than” experience is preferred to enduring life at home in the Caribbean? This conveys the extent of the Caribbean defects.

An example of Caribbean “Less Than” is evident in the experience of dreadlock hairstyles. Those sporting this hairstyle are just immediately under-valued; treated as “Less Than“.

This is real talk about “Less Than“. This is not a reference to the de jure of American life, but rather the de facto. (Similar experiences are reported from the Diaspora communities in other countries, like in Toronto, Canada and London, England). The purpose of this commentary is to draw attention to the Go Lean book. It serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). One goal of the roadmap is to lower the “push and pull” factors that lead many residents in the region to abandon their Caribbean homeland for American (or Canadian or European) shores. Another goal is to improve the image of Caribbean people, at home and abroad. We must target the societal defects and fix them. The Go Lean/CU quest is to reform and transform our region so that we may prosper where we are planted in our Caribbean homelands, so that our people do not have to leave to become aliens in a foreign land, to be ridiculed for their skin color, accents, and hairstyles (dreadlocks). This goal is detailed in the Go Lean book, presented as the prime directives, as follows:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The Go Lean roadmap calls for many changes and empowerments. There is so much we learn from the American experience, past and present. One paramount lesson: basic rights should not be subject to a public referendum. One group (minorities) should not have to seek the permission of another group (majority) to be happy. There should be a recognition of fundamental rights, above and beyond any national opinion polls.

Another important lesson we learn from the American experience is that the image associated with a minority group can be reformed and transformed. Look at the African-Americans populations; now it is considered politically incorrect to hold racist views or to engage in racist activities. The President of the US is actually an African-American. Image or brand management works, if there is someone (or something) working “it”.

The CU is not slated to be a national government, but rather a confederation of national governments (and overseas territories); so the CU does not feature sovereignty; it features the functionality of a Trade Union, capable of promotional activities and peer-pressure on domestic and international stakeholders. The CU/Go Lean effort is to cajole, prod and incentivize these individual member-states to embrace the protocols of international human rights mandates. The CU/Go Lean roadmap calls for fundamental human rights to be codified in regional treaties. These mandates would correspond to the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, which declare that:

… civil, economic and social rights should be asserted as part of the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. – Go Lean book Page 220

There would be no place for any sub-group within the Caribbean population to feel as “Less Than” while at home.

The CU/Go Lean roadmap does not seek to reform America (or Canada or Europe); that is out-of-scope for our movement. Our quest is to reform and transform the Caribbean only. But we do try to manage impressions and images that these regions consume of Caribbean people, life and culture; we must accentuate the positive (promotion) and dissuade the negative (anti-defamation).

Domestically, there are many defects of Caribbean life that the Go Lean movement seeks to address. Right now internationally, these more advanced democracies, (US, Canada and Europe) may only consider us as parasites, but we would rather be recognized as protégés. This is a matter of image. This point is pronounced early in the book with the Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 & 13) with many statements that demonstrate the need to remediate Caribbean communities and enhance the Caribbean world-wide image:

xix. Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores. This repatriation should be effected with the appropriate guards so as not to imperil the lives and securities of the repatriated citizens or the communities they inhabit. The right of repatriation is to be extended to any natural born citizens despite any previous naturalization to foreign sovereignties.

xx. Whereas the results of our decades of migration created a vibrant Diaspora in foreign lands, the Federation must organize interactions with this population into structured markets. Thus allowing foreign consumption of domestic products, services and media, which is a positive trade impact. These economic activities must not be exploited by others’ profiteering but rather harnessed by Federation resources for efficient repatriations.

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxiv. Whereas the Caribbean region must have new jobs to empower the engines of the economy and create the income sources for prosperity, and encourage the next generation to forge their dreams right at home, the Federation must therefore foster the development of new industries, like that of ship-building, automobile manufacturing, pre-fabricated housing, frozen foods, pipelines, call centers, and the prison industrial complex. In addition, the Federation must invigorate the enterprises related to existing industries like tourism, fisheries and lotteries – impacting the region with more jobs.

It goes without saying that every Caribbean member-state would prefer to keep their people – especially their educated work force – at “home” to prosper in the homeland. But this is not the de facto reality. It is no small task to assuage this crisis. The Go Lean book describes it as heavy-lifting; the book provides real solutions, detailing a series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to impact the region, member-states, cities and communities economic prospects. See this sample here:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principle – Economic Systems Influence Choices & Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principle – Voluntary Trade Creates Wealth Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Help Entrepreneurship Page 28
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact Research & Development Page 30
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Mission – Facilitate Job-Creating Industries Page 46
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Tactics to Forge an $800 Billion Economy – High Multiplier Industries Page 70
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Self-Governing Entities Page 80
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Steps to Implement Self-Governing Entities Page 105
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Reasons to Repatriate to the Caribbean Page 118
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning – Ways to Better Manage Caribbean Image Page 133
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Communications Page 186
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Technology Page 197
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Hollywood Page 203
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Diaspora Page 217
Advocacy – Ways to Improve the Arts Page 230
Advocacy – Ways to Promote Music Page 231
Advocacy – Ways to Impact US Territories Page 244
Advocacy – Ways to Impact British Territories Page 245
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Dutch Territories Page 246
Advocacy – Ways to Impact French Territories Page 247

It is the quest of every Caribbean leader to minimize the size of the Diaspora. They wish …

… but wishing alone will not accomplish this goal – there must be real solutions to the “push and pull” realities. One member-state alone may not have the leverage and/or economies-of-scale to effect the needed reform. This is why the regional scale is different … and better.  This is the purpose of the Go Lean…Caribbean roadmap: to compose, communicate and compel regional solutions back in the Caribbean homeland to lower the “push and pull” factors.

This subject – “push and pull” – was examined further in other related Go Lean commentaries, as sampled here: Switching Allegiances: Athletes move on to represent other countries Role Model Frederick Douglass: Single Cause – Death or Diaspora The Caribbean is Looking for Heroes … ‘to Return’ Bad example of Greece – Crisis leading to abandonment of Doctors Better than America? Yes, We Can! Repenting, Forgiving and Reconciling the Past Immigrants account for 1 in 11 Blacks in USA The ‘Luck of the Irish’ – Past, Present and Future of the Diaspora Miami’s Success versus Caribbean Failure The Reality of Names of Caribbean people Image of the Caribbean Diaspora – Butt of the Joke Caribbean loses more than 70 percent of tertiary educated to brain drain 10 Things We Don’t Want from the US – Discrimination of Immigrations

Fact and Fiction

So is an 8-ounce glass with 4-ounces of water half-full or half-empty?

This is the reality of fact and fiction on image.

Mathematically, 4 is half of 8. But the “full” or “empty” label is the perception, impression and image to the beholder; as in:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The Caribbean has a lot to work with. But our “glass is not empty”! We have been recognized as “best in the world” in certain circles. We feature the best …

winter vacations, best cruises, best foods, best music, best festivals, best cigars and best rums. In the dimension of humans as opposed to destinations, we have some of the greatest athletes in the world. In these respects, we are not “Less Than“. We can argue to be the best address on the planet. But we cannot ignore our dire societal defects and deficiencies.

With some measure of success with the solutions at home, and communicating the facts and fictions of Diasporic life, we should be able to reduce the size of our Caribbean Diaspora, repatriating many to return to the homeland. Even more so, we should reduce the “push and pull” factors that lead many to abandon the region in the first place.  The Caribbean entertains 80 million visitors every year; we are associated with the image of a great place to ‘play’. We now need to complete that visual: a great place to live, work and play.

Yes, we can!

So are we “Less Than” ?

Not here … at home. Our Caribbean region is actually comprised of a diverse array of cultures, races, religions and languages.

So “say it loud” …

We are Black  … and proud.
We are White … and proud.
We are Indo-Caribbean … and proud.
We are Chino-Caribbean … and proud.
We are mixed races … and proud.
We are Caribbean … and proud!

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

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