No Surprise that Jamaica Abstained on UN Jerusalem Vote

There seems to be some disbelief that Jamaica abstained on the recent UN resolution – that rejected Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.

For Jamaica’s opposition People National Party to express surprise shows a lack of awareness on their part on the developing relationship between the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government and Israel.

In January this year, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness made an official visit to Israel. Where both Holness and Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu cemented their diplomatic relationship. So much so that Netanyahu accepted Holness’ invitation to visit Jamaica.

At a press conference (in Jerusalem) Netanyahu said to Holness  “Our relations are always friendly. We appreciate the fact that you didn’t join the recent vote against Israel, the absurd vote in UNESCO,”

That 2016 UNESCO vote was said to ignore Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. Of the 21 votes to be casted Jamaica was the only member nation absent from the vote.

So last week’s abstention will no doubt seal the Jamaican government’s friendship with Israel even further.

Was the Jamaican government promised tangible perks by the US and Israel governments? I hope so.

Jamaica could do with significant aid in modern technology and vehicles to combat the violent crime surge. So it would have been wise – as a bargaining chip -for the Jamaican government to demand tangible support from the US and Israelis in return for abstaining.

Deals is the nature of international politics. Every nation has a price. Today, International pride and solidarity works only up to a symbolic point in theory.

  • Just ask Obama’s administration who turned a blind to Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering activities in order to clinch the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Successive UK governments of all stripes have ignored human rights violations and bribery issues committed by Saudi Arabia in order to secure major arms sales for UK companies.

The outrage in the Arab world over Trump’s decision was predictable. Egypt and Jordan raised strong objections. But does anyone really think that Jordan and Egypt would – as a protest – refuse to continue receiving the billions in aid they get from the US?

Will Jamaica pay a heavy price in the Arab world for the vote abstention? It could.  As many highly skilled Jamaicans are based there; especially in the aviation industry.

[So while there is constant focus by the UN on the Palestine/Israel impasse; the international community has quietly ignored China’s occupation of Tibet. Chinese government has – through slick lobbying and bargaining – managed to end any discussion at the UN on their occupation of Tibet. UN has not be discussed Tibet for over 2 decades.]

The Jamaican media and opposition PNP have simply been asleep in not cross checking the government’s new found stronger ties with Israel since 2016.

Now is an appropriate time for the PNP and Jamaican media to demand answers from the Jamaican government.

  • What deals have been made with Israel since Holiness’ visit?
  • Ahead of the vote did Israel’s UN officials discuss the resolution with their Jamaican counterparts?
  • Was there personal pressure from the US and Israeli governments ahead of the vote?
  • Was the Jamaican government promised substantial tangible perks or aid in return for abstaining?
  • Did the Jamaican government demand aid and other deals for abstaining?
  • Given the 2016 Temple Mount UNESCO no vote; did the Palestinian Authority and other Arab states consult the Jamaican government ahead of the Jerusalem vote?
  • Has Israel or any Arab state spoken with the Jamaican government since last week’s vote?

Nikki Haley – US Ambassador to the UN – will host a function in January to thank those nations who did not support the UN resolution to condemn Trump’s Jerusalem decision.

Let’s hope the Jamaican delegation that attends the function will walk with a shopping list. They also should remind the US not to take any Jamaican vote (or no vote) at the UN for granted.

 

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Netanyahu & Holness in Jerusalem, Israel January 2017

 

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Ian Boyne – Raised the Profile of Many Jamaicans

The news of Ian Boyne’s death on Monday sent shockwaves across Jamaica. Boyne died following a short illness. Boyne had such a big impact on many Jamaicans through his vast body of media work.

Boyne was one of the most influential journalists in Jamaica’s history. His weekly TV show ‘Profile’ spanned 30 years and featured half hour interviews with successful Jamaicans from all walks of life and also international guests: all with an inspirational rags-to-riches story to share.

Guest have included Prince Buster, Usain Bolt, Renato Adams, Shaggy, Taye Diggs, Dawn Butler, Dr Henry Lowe, Leonie Forbes, Madge Sinclair, Marcia Griffiths and  the late Lowell Hawthorne (Golden Krust).

Boyne’s other TV show ‘Religious Hardtalk’ featured passionate debates with guests from any religion (and I mean any) or spiritual beliefs. ‘Religious Hardtalk’ was a unique talk show.  It was thought frank, thought provoking, controversial, good humoured and entertaining.

Guest have included former hardcore gangsters, dancehall entertainers, who transformed their lives due to a religious awakening.

Sometimes you had to wonder “Where does Ian Boyne find these guests?”

I will never forget the interviews Boyne did with former dancehall entertainer and now renowned preacher Goddy Goddy and some of his church members. It was just wild.

Boybe’s interview with Jamaican playwright Hugh King was also memorable to me. King – a former near neighbour – came out from decades of a self imposed hermit lifestyle to do the interview.

Having a hit TV show is never easy. So for Boyne to have 2 successful TV discussion shows on during the same period was a testament to his ability to keep both shows fresh and entertaining. Especially as both ‘ ‘Profile’ and ‘Religious Hardtalk’ were polar opposites.

All this terrific success while Boyne was still working as a senior executive at the government run Jamaica Information Service and a columnist for the Sunday Gleaner. Not to mention his ministerial duties in the church.

Boyne’s column in the Sunday Gleaner was always detailed, well researched and forthright.

But I loved ‘Profile’. Anytime I was away from Jamaica for lengthy periods, my family would video tape episodes for me to watch whenever I returned.

I have never met Mr Boyne but between 2004 and 2006 we did exchange emails regarding ‘Profile’. I admired him for taking the time to respond in the respectable manner that he always did.

In the UK, educational and social commentators lamented the perceived lack of positive black role models for young people of Afro Caribbean descent to look up to. Some didn’t like it when I challenged their lazy stereotypical perception. One of my suggestions was that they should request copies of ‘Profile’ to show and discuss in the classroom. As some of Boyne’s guests on ‘Profile’ where indeed successful Jamaicans living in the UK.

Watching this week’s pre-recorded episode of ‘Religious Hardtalk’ was humbling. It was the season finale and Boyne’s guest was gospel artiste Glacia Robinson.

Glacia described to Boyne her near death experiences due to years of ill health and explained how the strength of her Christian faith helped pulled her through some very tough times. They discussed the meaning of death in some detail.  The interview was deep, warm and engaging. The chemistry between Glacia and Boyne was real.

At the end the show Boyne turned to Glacia and simply said how for years he had been looking forward to this particular interview. It was Ian Boyne at his very best.

[Glacial has since said that her interview with Boyne was initially scheduled for the day he died. But Boyne called her and requested bringing the interview forward as he felt need to conduct it immediately. 3 days after the interview was recorded Boyne was rushed to hospital]

Here’s a short clip from this week’s ‘Religious Hardtalk’.

Jamaica is the worse for Ian Boyne no longer being a key part if its nation building. But his role in Jamaica’s development will live on through his collection of work and the people he showcased and inspired.

Let’s hope ‘Profile’ and ‘Religious Hardtalk’ will continue.

Rest in Peace.

 

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Ian Boyne 1957-2017

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The Trump Presidency so far – Winners and Losers

It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both – Niccolo Machiavelli

It certainly feels like 3 years since Donald J. Trump won the US Presidential election, even though he defeated Hillary Clinton just over 12 months ago.

A very strange reality for Americans and those of us observing from a safe distance overseas.

Trump has become the most covered, scrutinised, over analysed, despised and discussed person in modern political history: and he loves the attention.

Many of his doubters and enemies had hoped Trump would gradually mellow his usual braggadocio style when he became President. We knew from his inauguration speech – that was not going to happen.

But so far, who are some of the winners and losers during the Trump presidency?

Losers

  1. Donald J Trump – Petty. Stubborn. Juvenile in his personal attacks. Gaffe guzzler. Likes to compare himself to former President Andrew Jackson but acts more like Lincoln’s successor Andrew Johnson.
  2. Republicans in Congress – Hold the majority in both the House and the Senate but no clue on how to govern effectively.
  3. Bipartisan politics – Not happening for most Democrat and Republican elected officials under this president. Sad.
  4. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General – Seems overwhelmed by his role.
  5. Mainstream Political Journalism–  Objective and balanced political journalism is over in the US. Even the BBC has abandoned its usual neutral stance to go 100% anti-Trump. The relentless fake news reporting is embarrassing. Glenn Greenwald sums up how sensational fake news is destroying political journalism in this article.
  6. Black and Hispanic senior appointments – Trump administration’s forgotten man and woman? Yes there’s Alex Acosta, Ajit Pai, Ben Carson, Jerome Adams. But any black judges nominated by Trump? Any black or Hispanic Ambassadors? As soon-to-be departed WH staffer, Omarosa Manigault Newman, said this week “It has been very, very challenging being the only African-American woman in the senior staff,….There was a lack of diversity that I will acknowledge.”
  7. Central America and Caribbean-  Near neighbours  but yet so far off the Trump radar – a. US no longer contributing to the Inter American Development Bank. b. Reversal of closer ties with Cuba. c. 50,000 Haitians affected by natural disasters to be deported from the US. d. Puerto Rico hurricane recovery debacle.
  8. Sub-Sahara Africa – Took the recent death of 4 US servicemen in Niger for any discussion on what is Trump’s US foriegn policy approach towards Africa. Whatever that is.
  9. Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort – key Trump campaign senior staff who have been Muellered!
  10. Lawyers – With countless political scandals, investigations, rulings and controversial policies sweeping Washington, the legal profession is having a profitable 2017.
  11. Steve Bannon, Briebart – His Lt Colombo act in influencing average Republicans is fading after the Roy Moore blunder.

Winners

  1. Donald J Trump –  “President of the United States” – each morning he wakes up with that job title means he is still winning. Tough, direct and sets the news agenda most days. Still underestimated by many of his enemies.
  2. US economy – Has strengthened sharply under Trump’s watch. (Does Obama take some of the credit?)
  3. Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN –  Her hawkish stance makes her a clear favourite to be the next Secretary of State and thereafter a prime candidate for next Secretary of State and eventually president. Her growing popularity must make Trump envious.
  4. Mainstream News Media – Their anti-Trump mantra and reporting is still doing wonders for ratings and readership. Are they and Trump in collusion ? E.g.  Trump gives the impression he hates CNN. But who is the White House’s favourite political reporter? CNN’s Jim Acosta. The media knows covering just Trump is good for business.
  5. Heather Nauert, State Department Spokeswoman – Conducts her briefings with control, succinctness and modesty. Rarely makes any controversy which is the benchmark of an effective govt spokesperson.
  6. Robert Mueller, Special Counsel – The Trump administration’s kryptonite. Although stacking his team with Hillary donors has caste a shadow over the ‘independent’ approach to Russia collusion investigations.
  7. Hillary Clinton – There are US folks serving life sentences for cumulative minor offences such as stealing a candy bar. But Hillary the untouchable – when it comes to political corruption – is just simply above US law and she knows we know it.
  8. Far right groups– Such US and European groups are emboldened by what Trump says and tweets. Also these groups feel encouraged by his silence on certain issues. (Trump’s recent retweet of a UK right wing party’s anti Muslim postings made him look like a right berk.)
  9. Women in the Trump Administration–  Little scandal, ego-free have been the likes Haley, Nauert, Kirstjen Nielsen, Elaine Chao and Linda MacMahon.
  10. The Anti-Trump Female Movement – The likes of Maxine Waters, April Ryan, Ana Navarro, Susan Collins, etc are now household names due their sustained anti-Trump leanings.  Some whose bank balances has been enriched thanks to Trump.
  11. US Politics– Never before has US politics and politicians been so well known and covered across the globe. Folks in other countries know far more of what’s happening (or not)  politically in the US than in their own state.
  12. Israel and Saudi Arabia – Trump’s anti-Iran stance has come as relief to both countries following the Iran deal. Both nations are flexing more muscle in region and even forming their own unusual alliance.
  13. China – While Trump champions an America first policy, China continues to consolidate their economic strength globally.
  14. US Late Night TV talkshows  – Not since the days of George W Bush has a president being lambasted and ridiculed on late night tv. Another TV ratings bonanza.
  15. George W Bush – Thanks to Trump the George W Bush brand has had a positive upgrade in some liberal circles.

Trump’s mantra is “Make America Great Again” but what he’s achieved so far was to “Make America’s Politics Popular” across the entire globe.

Oh well, 3 more years of this to go. Could it really be 7?

“I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.” Machiavelli

Trump

Endless Turbulence @ Ground Level

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Lewis Hamilton, a Winning Formula for 3 Decades

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Young Lewis with mentor Ron Dennis (left) and David Coulthard (right)

Congrats to Lewis Hamilton for winning his 4th World Formula One drivers championship. A superb achievement. Yet given Lewis’ unique talent what took him so long?

Fair to say Lewis should have been 6 times Formula One champion by now but for a few run-ins with former teammates such as Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.

The success of Lewis has been a truly major achievement for him, his family and supporting staff.

The first time I came across Lewis Hamilton’s name was in the mid 1990s when he was featured in the weekly British black newspaper The Voice.  In that article the young Lewis and his father Anthony Hamilton shared their dreams of success and following in the footsteps of the late Ayrton Senna.

In those days seeing an article featuring  a British black kid racing driver was different and unusual.

The Voice carried further articles on the young Lewis and that made me (and my late brother) develop a keen interest in his career. Lewis’ time in Formula Three racing was just astonishing.

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Anthony and Lewis Hamilton

I have been Formula One fan for a long time. My two favourite drivers were Ayrton Senna and Ronnie Peterson. When I worked at Heathrow Airport during the late 1990s I made a discreet point of seeing some of the drivers whenever they came through Terminal 4.

In 2007 Lewis got his big break with Formula One with the Mclaren team. I was as excited as if it was my own son who won the drive.

Pundits expected Lewis – in his first year of Formula One -to play 2nd fiddle to his more illustrious team mate and 2-time world champion Fernando Alonso. But knowing Lewis’ career up to then I suspected he was never going to be anyone’s number 2.

The head of the Mclaren team was Ron Dennis and he was also Lewis’ mentor from his junior days. Dennis gave Lewis the freedom to race Alonso fairly.

Hamilton had an incredible first season with Mclaren which infuriated Alonso. I was convinced Hamilton was good enough to win the world title as a rookie.

Irritatingly, Lewis missed out winning the title by just 1 point (same points as Alonso) to eventual champion Kimi Räikkönen. Alonso decided to leave Mclaren after just one season with the team.

Whenever Lewis won Formula One races I was ecstatic. If he crashed out off went the TV.

Lewis has had many controversial moments throughout his career. His aggressive racing style was not appreciated by some. There were times Lewis felt the world was conspiring against him after a few untimely engine failures, pit stop blunders and run-ins with the race stewards.

When Lewis and his dad had a major falling out I was disappointed knowing how hard and long both had worked to get to the top of motor racing.

Some British fans lost respect for Lewis when he moved to Switzerland for tax purposes. Last week’s news (via the Paradise Papers) on Lewis’ more recent tax avoidance maneuvers added fuel to their anger. Those fans have a point. Given the exorbitant ticket prices for the British Grand Prix.

But in Lewis’ defence most current and previous Formula One drivers play by the same tax avoidance rules. Such as British drivers Jenson Button (Jersey), David Coulthard (Monaco) and Nigel Mansell (Isle of Man) and they were hardly criticised.

Whatever we say about Lewis he brings excitement and thrills both on and off the track. Even the fashion police take a keen interest in Lewis’ off the track attire.

Formula One fans either hate or love Lewis. Spanish fans usually gave him a rough time due to their affinity with compatriot Alonso.

So to see Lewis crowned four time champion and the main attraction for the sport reminds me of those early Voice articles and the Hamilton family’s early dreams of Formula One success and stardom.

Well done all.

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Jamaican Dies in Immigration Removal Centre? Who Cares?

Five weeks ago a Jamaican man detained at the UK’s Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre in Lincoln died. How do we know this? Thanks to a single Guardian article (see below) published on 4 October.

“…Investigation has been launched into the death of a 38-year-old immigration detainee after the Home office confirmed that a Jamaican man died on Tuesday while he was being held at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincoln. It is the third such death in less than a month and human rights campaigners have expressed alarm at the incident. The prisons and probation ombudsman has begun an investigation.

The charity Medical Justice, which works to improve the health of immigration detainees, has documented deaths since 2000. With this latest case the death toll of those who have died in immigration detention or shortly after release since that time stands at 43…….”

Since then there’s been little information in the public domain on this death apart from a letter written by detainees at Morton Hall sent to The Unity Centre in Scotland. Excerpts from detainees’ letter below …..

Mr Carlinton Spencer was a detainee here at Morton Hall. Unfortunately Mr Spencer aka (Rasta) died in hospital on the 2nd of October 2017.

This whole ordeal started on Thursday the 28th of September 2017 when two of Mr Spencer’s friends turned at his room in Fry Unity 3/06. They noticed that the door was unlocked and the room was dark, however they heard some sort of distress voice coming from inside. They both came in and switched the lights on. They found Mr Spencer lying in floor in agony and unable to get back in bed. They assisted him and put him on his bed. One of them went to the office in Fry unit and informed the officers. Two female officers arrived an started speculating that Mr Spencer’s condition was induced by drugs consumption. Few minutes later a nurse came in and failed to assess Mr Spencer’s conditions properly. The nurse put a tissue on Mr Spencer’s hand, asked him to wipe his own nose when she could clearly see this was not possible. According to these two detainee’s testimony the nurse assisted Mr Spencer’s hands to wipe his own nose but his hand kept pulling back down. The officers and the nurse asked Rasta’s two friends to leave the room but one of them insisted to stay.

On Friday the 29th of September 2017 about midday, another detainee went to Mr Spencer’s room to check on him. But this point Mr Spencer was shaking in his bed and looking in a very bad state. This detainee informed the officers in Fry unit while another detainee went to the health care and dragged the medical professional to come to check on Mr Spencer’s conditions. Few detainees were standing outside Mr Spencer’s door when the nurse and doctor arrived. The officers asked the detained to go away but they decided they would not leave until Mr Spencer is taking to a hospital. An ambulance arrived at about 2pm and Mr Spencer was then taken to hospital.

It has now been said that Mr. Spencer suffered another stroke while in the back of the ambulance on his way to hospital and in fact he was in a (non induced) coma in hospital and died on Monday 2nd of October 2017. We were not told by IRC Morton Hall staff of this until Wednesday 4th of October 2017.

I know one detainee Mr T put a written complaint on Saturday because he directly witnessed what happen to Mr Spencer and how he was neglected. Mr T was moved to the CCU on Monday 2nd of October 2017 in the afternoon and now has been moved out of this centre but no one can get a hold of him.”

  • Why has the UK & Jamaican media paid little attention to this tragedy?
  • Why the silence in the UK black community?
  •  Has the Jamaican govt – through its UK Ambassador – issued a public statement or update?
  • Has an autopsy been conducted and details published?

The death of detainees based at UK immigration removal centres is nothing new. The mental and physical abuse of detainees is common and well documented. Even the UN has raised concerns in the past.

Those detainees who know the rules and try to fight back legally are threatened by UK authorities with immediate deportation.

Yarl Wood Immigration Revmoval Centre has had a poor record of abuse against detainees. Just recently officials at a removal centre near Gatwick were suspended following abuse and assault claims.

The silence in the coverage and interests in Carlinton Spencer’s death is sad but not surprising.

 

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NFL vs Trump: False Start

On 24 and 25 September 2017, NFL players, management and owners protested seemingly in response to Trump’s “son of a bitch” comments; made days earlier about players who protest during the playing of the US national anthem.

I found the whole protests against Trump’s “divisive” comments very bizarre and confusing.

  • Were the NFL teams protesting in solidarity for quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s fight for social justice, which led to him being barred from playing? Hardly 
  • Were they protesting about free speech and the right to protest? 
  • Were players standing up to Trump in a cowardly fashion knowing management had their backs?
  • Or did Trump just piss off the NFL owners so much that they had no option but to do something in response?

Suddenly some on the left and Democrats are supporting the stance taken last weekend by the teams. Some Democratic politicians such as Sheila Jackson Lee were seen taking the knee in Congress in support of the NFL teams.

This is political opportunism of the worse form. Where were they last year when Kaepernick made his protest – during Obama’s administration?

Now the Republicans are using the anthem row as a route to raise campaign funds.

There were some current and former players protesting last weekend who for months have publicly slammed Kaepernick’s protest actions. Chief among them Ray Lewis.

The irony is that Kaepernick did state that for this NFL season he would not sit or take the knee during the playing of the US national anthem. His stance and message was clear and simple. Kap’s moved on.

Since Trump hit Pennsylvania Avenue some Americans are getting into a tizzy over free speech and the right to protest.

The left is applying threats and violence to shut down controversial Conservatives from speaking at colleges and the right are up in arms over protest stances during the playing of national anthem.

You have to hand it to Donald J Trump.

In a week when the GOP Obamacare Repeal 3.911 got buried once again by his arch enemy Senator John McCain, Trump manage to deflect attention with this NFL anthem angle. The NFL and mainstream media (for the umpteenth time) fell for his deflecting stunt.

Instead the media should have hammered Trump’s initial reaction to the 2 hurricanes that struck Puerto Rico.

Trump has every right to the use the flag & national anthem to talk up the US military. But remember in 2015, what Trump said about McCain?

He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

To which Republican Senator Lindsey Graham then responded:

“If there was ever any doubt that @realDonaldTrump should not be our commander in chief, this stupid statement should end all doubt.” “At the heart of @realDonaldTrump statement is a lack of respect for those who have served – a disqualifying characteristic to be president.”

If the NFL teams really wanted to stick it right up Trump’s jacksie, they could have carried out one simple act. Sign Colin Kaepernick.

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Trump threw a fake pass….

Denver Broncos versus the Buffalo Bills

… & the NFL teams fell for it

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1968 – Tommie Smith, 2017 – Colin Kaepernick. What’s Changed?

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” – Benjamin Franklin

As the new NFL season kicks off, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been denied a chance of playing by team owners and management.

In taking the knee last season during playing of the national anthem Kaepernick has paid a heavy price. Yet all he did was protest against the injustices of the criminal justice system. Especially police brutality and racial profiling against blacks.

Contrary to what some of his critics and detractors have said Kaepernick (known to his teammates as “Kap”)  is still a decent NFL quarterback worthy of a starting position. At times in Kap’s career he was superlative, especially from 2012-2014 under coach Jim Harbaugh for the San Francisco 49ers.

Yes, Kap’s form had dipped (following surgery) and he started last season as a reserve quarterback for the same San Francisco 49ers. But by the end of the season Kap had won back his starting place. He played well despite working under head coach Chip Kelly who was fired due to poor results.

I admire Kap for taking such a brave and unpopular stance. In an era when sport stars and other high profile figures have been criticised for their lack of genuine political and social activism Kap has stood up courageously. Kap’s protest was non-violent.

Do I agree with all of Kap’s comments? No. But it is so refreshing to see a young man like Kap speaking up.

In the UK you hardly ever witness British sporting stars taking the lead on any activist stances. When there is ample need for such figures to front up and set an example. In Jamaica such stars stay far away from the activist platform. Sad.

If there was one criticism I had of Usain Bolt was, despite declaring his love for all things British, he said nothing on the harsh immigration controls stacked against Jamaicans hoping to visit the UK. The only time Bolt spoke out on an UK based issue was on his taxes!

I admire Kap for protesting during the Obama presidency in particular. The mainstream media and liberal activists kept their coverage/outrage over racial profiling issues to a dignified minimum, so as not to upset the Obama administration.

What I find strange is the lack of genuine support from high profile black figures who usually love to join a political bandwagon. They all seem scared to support Kap for fear of harming their own financial interests and lucrative sponsorship deals.

However, I feel that some on the left were angry when Kap called out Hillary Clinton (as he did Trump) during the presidential campaign.

Both are proven liars and it almost seems like they’re trying to debate who’s less racist.”

Some in Conservative circles were ecstatic when former sports stars Jim Brown and George Foreman publicly slammed Kap for his actions. Brown accused Kap over defaming the US flag (which Kap never did).

Brown also added that Kap needed to decide whether to be an activist or an NFL player. Is Brown implying an activist cannot have a job? 

Brown shows a high degree of hypocrisy given during the 1960s he too was a respected civil rights activist whilst being an NFL player and subsequently a Hollywood actor.

But former baseball legend Hank Aaron has come out in support for Kap. So too Tommie Smith. Aaron said he will boycott watching any NFL games this season.

The stance taken by Kap has similarities to the black power salute by US sprinters  John Carlos and  Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympic Games.

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l-r Peter Norman, Tommie Smith and John Carlos @ 1968 Olympics Games

Back then Smith and Carlos were banned from athletics for life for their stance by Olympics chief Avery Bundage an admire of Adolf Hilter.

In his auto bio “Silent Gesture, Tommie Smith explained how he felt let down at the time of his stance in 1968 by a number of black athletes including Jim Brown and George Foreman. Smith stated other black athletes such as former 100m world record holder Jim Hines blamed him for loss of earnings.

Even NFL team LA Rams withdrew from drafting Smith to play for them.

Today, Tommie Smith and John Carlos are now revered as icons and are feted all over the globe. I attended such an event in Smith’s honour in London 2011.

Will Kap endure the same fate as Smith and Carlos? Call it what you like but Kap is being banned dressed up as “poor form”, “unpatriotic” & “distraction”.

There are 32 clubs in the NFL. Each team has up to 3 quarterbacks on the roster meaning there are roughly 96 in the league. Yet no place can be found for Kap who is one of the top 20 quarterbacks of the last 5 years.

New York Jets is one NFL team with a consistent record of recruiting and developing  third-rate quarterbacks. Some NFL experts do not expect the Jets to win a single game this season due to the club’s current quarterback deficiencies.

But there is no chance of the Jets hiring Kap as their quarterback or even as a reserve given the owner – Woody Johnson – is a Trump supporter and current US ambassador to the UK. Trump came out earlier this year and predicted with confidence that no NFL team would hire Kap.

Kap’s charity efforts has been noble and well documented. .He recently donated $800k to a number causes relating to young people. Last week Kap donated $33k to assist former incarcerated men and women prepare for employment.

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Jim Brown Slams Kap

The hypocrisy of the NFL is stark. There have been numerous NFL players who have committed serious criminal offences such as drinking driving & killing a pedestrian (Donté Stallworth), child abuse (Adrian Peterson), animal abuse (Michael Vick) and domestic abuse (Greg Hardy); yet all were given contracts after serving suspensions and/or convictions.

Greg Hardy was hired by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who felt the player deserved a second chance following his domestic abuse issues. Yet this week Jones warned his players that they will be fired if they make any Kap-like protest.

Then there is quarterback Brock Osweiler, who in 2016 moved from the Denver Broncos to the Houston Texans in a $72million deal in 2016.

Brock was so awful that the Texans gave up on him last season and off went Brock to the Cleveland Browns this summer. But before Brock could even play a single game Cleveland quickly moved him on –  back to the Denver Broncos. Brock will be paid  $775,000 by the Broncos and $15.2 million by the Browns.

 

IMG_2048Hank Aaron Supports Kap

One NFL player who has consistently supported Kap’s activist stance is Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks. After the recent events in Charlottesville Bennett said he will not stand for the National Anthem at NFL games. On 26 August Bennett had his own frightening experience with the police in Las Vegas which he described in an emotional tweet.

for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time” and the police threatening to “blow his fucking head off”.

Police brutality is still real for black people in the US and UK. Black Canadians have amplified similar concerns.

Racial profiling against black people by the police, the wider society in the US and UK is just the norm. It is so common in the UK as you are prejudged before you can say boo.

Yet there are times when you have stand up and speak out. If others are upset by your (non-violent) stance, then tough.

Many Republican and Conservative supporters would have us believe that some black people are over reacting to the issue of racial profiling.

But in the US Congress itself, Republican Senator Tim Scott spoke earlier this year of the numerous racial profiling encounters he has faced; even on Capitol Hill.

“”The (police) officer looked at me, a little attitude, and said, ‘The pin I know — you I don’t. Show me your ID,'” Scott said. “Later that evening I received a phone call from his supervisor apologizing.” Scott went on to add…

“I do not know many African-American men who do not have a very similar story to tell, no matter the profession, no matter the income, no matter their disposition in life”

Kap’s stance received worldwide attention and generated discussions that any well meaning government or think tank report could not have achieved.

Just last week in the UK, Labour MP David Lammy produced a report on the “discrimination against black and ethnic minority people (BAME) in the criminal justice system”. In the report Lammy stated that in England and Wales blacks make up 3% of the population and 12% of the prisons.

  • Beyond the media, political and legal circles is anyone aware of Lammy’s report?
  • Has the tabloid press covered the story with passion and thrust?
  • Are discussions going on in the media today?
  • Is the African American community discussing the report?

Hardly.

Kap’s simple stance gained more traction, more awareness and more outrage in the UK than Lammy’s report.

  • Can you imagine the publicity (+ FIFA outrage) if a black English footballer like say Rio Ferdinand had made such a protest similar to that of Kap in the UK?

Just as with Tommie Smith and John Carlos will the noble actions of Colin Kaepernick be acknowledged 50 years too late?

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Colin Kaepernick deserves to play

 

This is America. Anyone is free to protest about anything they want.” – Nikki Haley US Ambassador to the UN

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