BY JELANI GRANT
People Living In This Year Demanding Better Answers.
If sometime this year you thought to yourself, “What a world we’ve made”, you are probably not alone. 2016 has seen a number of changes to accept. To summarize, it was a year of deeper understanding; a significant number of people searching for answers to issues that weren’t clarified enough before. A new American President (arguably the most controversial election in American history), an unexpected division in Europe United, another world Olympics set into the history books, economical changes across the globe, the split-up of “Bradegelina”, the Knowles sisters both delling out empowering albums and the continuous struggles in the Middle East. These incidents and changes beg the question; have we as a society, learned enough this year to do better for the next.
The damage done by Hurricane Matthew
The predictions of damage Hurricane Matthew was to have on the Caribbean Islands was hard to prepare for, as it usually is when dealing with tropical storms. Something everyone could have predicted to come along with the storm is displacement and comedic spoofs, to make light of a very serious situation. Hurricane Matthew was the first Category 5 hurricane since 2004 and was also recorded as being the longest-lived Category 4-5 hurricane in the Eastern Caribbean, reaching wind speeds of up to 235km per hour. Despite some areas not being hit as hard as anticipated, islands, such as Haiti were devastated. More than 1,000 people were reported killed during the storm. The Rare Category 4 hurricane made landfall in Haiti, then travelled to eastern Cuba. The storm reached some southern states like Florida and the Carolinas, but Haiti is continuing to recover from the estimated $1 billion in damage costs.
The 45th POTUS
Millennials were a common predicting factor to how the latest Presidential election would turn out due to the 66% of voters under the age of 29 who voted for President Barack Obama. This year however, statistics showed that the majority of Caucasian women who voted, were the determining factor to placing the republican candidate into the winner’s circle with 53% for Trump. Despite the numerous controversial issues that surrounded Trump throughout his campaign, the numerous sexual assault accusations, his misogynistic behaviour, racist quotes and prejudice campaign promises, America’s Electoral College favoured Trump with 306 votes for Trump and 232 votes for democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Although Clinton won the popular vote, the results from the Electoral College vote was and has always been, the determining factor.
Though Trump’s campaign was filled with circumstantial promises, ranging from walling off Mexico from the American border, deporting residents who practice the Muslim religion or reversing everything President Obama has accomplished during his eight-year term, there is still a possibility that the policy and moral standards of America could drastically change. Some of the things president-elect Trump promised supporters included getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans rejected from the beginning and now may get their wish with a majority senate and congress. Trump declared the threat of climate change as a hoax and vowed to stop including America in any meetings or agreements that would manage greenhouse gas emissions. The creation of religious freedom laws, which restricted the rights of the LGBT community in various ways, have been created by various republicans across the nation and could continue to grow with a majority Republican Supreme Court.
Trump nominated Senator Jeff Sessions, who is known as amnesty’s worst enemy by the Conservative National Review board, to be the next U.S. Attorney General. During his campaign, Trump made a promise of a complete shutdown of Muslims entering into the U.S. as a necessity for this country’s safety, and following his election said he would be in support of the implementing of a Muslim-based registry. Trump suggested there should be systems beyond databases that will track Muslims in America. As well, Trump has chosen Mike Pence as his Vice President, which disturbed many women and the LGBT community because of his cut of Planned Parenthood funding as Indiana Governor and support of conversion therapies, which have been scientifically proven to be useless and harmful.
While none of these changes are guaranteed to happen, as most politicians aren’t known for keeping all of their promises, the possibility is very real and even scary for some Americans.
Bolt immortalized as undefeated Olympian
Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive. No better way to describe someone who managed to make history, by breezing through each of the 100m finals, and winning three gold medals for the same event in three Olympic games in a row. Bolt won the 100m and 200m races in Brazil and is the only man to win all three sprint events at three consecutive Olympic Games.
He holds the current men’s 100m world record of 9.58 seconds and the 200m world record of 19.19s. Both were set in 2009.
Bolt was also a part of the team that set the fastest-ever time for the 4x100m relay, at the London 2012 Games. Bolt is currently building a casual diner and sports bar franchise called Tracks & Records in Ocho Rios. In honour of everything Bolt has achieved, his statue will be built at the National Stadium Statue Park along with Asafa Powell, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown. The statues are meant to be completed by the Independence celebration of Jamaica for 2017. Fraser-Pryce hoped to make a similar mark, winning three consecutive 100m finals but, due to a toe injury, came in third behind American Torie Bowie and fellow countrywoman Elaine Thompson, who won gold. Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse made a splash of his own, trailing behind Bolt’s effortless 9.81 seconds with 9.91 seconds in his first Olympic appearance. Trinidadian Akeem Stewart also broke a Paralympic record this year in the javelin competition with 57.32 meters.
Bees are becoming extinct
For the first time in history, seven species of bees have been placed on the American endangered species list, which means they’re now the first US bee species to earn federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. The seven species, which live in many different habitats on the Hawaiian Islands, are named Hylaeus anthracinus, Hylaeus longiceps, Hylaeus assimulans, Hylaeus facilis, Hylaeus hilaris, Hylaeus kuakea, and Hylaeus mana. The loss of more bees will negatively impact ecosystems, such as the pollination of almond plants which could lead to a declining production of livestock or coffee beans. The bees are threatened mostly by human development and invasive species, which are both causing a loss of their vital habitat, causing bee populations to become sparse according to the Xerces Society.
The United Kingdom divided from Europe United
Of the many shocking events, changing the world ever slightly, Brexit was one which most people wouldn’t have imagined was possible. A vote across the United Kingdom, eligible to most citizens of age, to remove the UK from the list of countries within the European Union was passed. With a majority vote of only 52%, most UK citizens decided to depart from the Europe United agreement that essentially created a single market for all countries involved, following World War II, allowing goods and people to move around as if the member states were one country. The countries share their own currency, the euro, its own parliament and set rules in a wide range of areas, including the environment, transport, consumer rights. 3% of the United Kingdom’s population is of Caribbean or African decent, and this vote has the potential to impact immigration laws since the UK will be using their own currency, consumer rights and environmental laws. Nothing has been officially declared in regards to immigrant policy changes but they are possible and no doubt will migration more complicated.
Remembering their excellence
2016 streamed the losses of a number of legendary greats, as recently as December with the loss of Guyanese-born British-American novelist E.R. Braitwaithe, best known for his novel To Sir, With Love. Some of the tragic loses, included black pioneers who made history and potentially paved the way for younger generations to achieve greatness. For instance, the soul and funk singer Sharon Jones, who died at the age of 60 after battling with pancreatic cancer. She was best known for her debut album with the Dap-Kings band, Dap Dipping With the Dap-Kings, release in 2002. After beginning her music career in the 1970s, Jones struggled to build her name in the music industry and began working as a correctional officer for a few years before returning as a backup singer for Desco Records in the 90s, proving that any dream can be achieved with persistence. Other icons who passed included Earth, Wind & Fire co-founder Maurice White, 74, television psychic Ms. Cleo, 53, and former Black Panther Afeni Shakur, 69. Shakur created Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, an arts program for young people funded by the estate of her late son.
This year, fans across the globe mourned and celebrated the life of the iconic music artist Prince, 57, best known for his hits Purple Rain and Little Red Corvette. One of the reasons Prince will forever be highly regarded is his indifference to gender norms, because of his colourful, flourishing outfits and soft voice and stern demeanour.
Also, to be remembered is renowned actor Bill Nunn, 62, known for his role as Radio Raheem in Do The Right Thing and Tommy Ford, 52, known best for his role in the 90s sitcom Martin. Soul music legend Otis Clay, 76 and Legendary hip-hop musician Phife Dawg, 45, passed away this year. Clay’s passing was tragic as he died of a heart attack, but Phife’s death shook the hip-hop community as he was a co-founder of A Tribe Called Quest, one of the most influential hip-hop groups of its entire history. Inventor George Nauflett, 84, who is renowned for the number of patents he created, one including the nitration of organics in carbon dioxide, died this year in a house fire.
Infamous communist leader Fidel Castro, 90, who was beloved by his people for pushing the advancement and quality of Cuba’s medical community while being hated by the United States for oppressing the human rights of his citizens not backing down during the Cold War, passed away. Leading Cuba for almost fifty years, Castro is known for a plethora of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ activities, depending on who is asked. Castro had once allowed the Soviet Union to build nuclear missile on Cuban land. He was also vocal about his anti-gay beliefs, which only became an issue for most in recent years but has also granted asylum to a number of civil rights activists who were placed on America’s Most Wanted list, such as Shakur.
Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, 74, who fought alongside civil rights leaders like Malcolm X while demolishing any competitors who challenged him in the ring, also died this year of septic shock.
The cliché phrase, “out with the old, in with the new”, is a concept which is so relevant this year because of policy and government changes. Regardless of how 2016 has turned out, the fact that more people are actively searching for deeper explanations, to issues that affect them, is a progressive step towards a better tomorrow. Traditional beliefs, that may oppress or exclude certain groups, are becoming a growing taboo thanks to documentary television channels, such as VICE, or scientific researchers like WHO (World Health Organization) and this could lead to less oppression or at the very least, stronger demands for equality.