In the News this week
Doreen Lawrence for Britain’s House of Lords
– Doreen Lawrence, the Jamaican mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, has been made a baroness by Britain’s opposition Labour party.
She was one of 24 new appointments to the House of Lords, announced on 1 August, all chosen by UK political parties with parliamentary representation in the lower house, the House of Commons.
Doreen Lawrence, who has pursued justice for her son since his murder by white youths in 1993, is also the chair of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, which works with young black Britons.
Two decades on, she has been confronted by revelations of attempts by the police to smear her family, which came to light this year.
Stephen’s father, Neville, has returned to live in Jamaica.
Feelings were summed up by Labour’s shadow minister for London and shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, who said: “Very few people have had as profound an effect on society as Doreen Lawrence has had on Britain over the 20 years since Stephen Lawrence’s death.
“Her thoughtful and tireless campaigning is largely responsible for a transformation of attitudes towards racism and policing that has radically changed our country for the better.”
But congratulations did not just come from urban areas in Britain.
The Conservative Association in the archetypal English town of Melton Mowbray tweeted soon after the news had broken: “Doreen Lawrence has been a true inspiration for many. Stood up for herself, justice and family. We hope she takes that strength forward.”
Mrs Lawrence said of her nomination to the House of Lords that she planned to “speak up and challenge any issues affecting ordinary people.”
Grenada invasion papers –
The tension between UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan over the US intervention of Grenada has been fully unveiled in accordance with Britain’s 30-year secrecy rule.
Files released on 1 August from Britain’s National Archives indicate that President Reagan notified Mrs Thatcher late on the evening before 1,900 US marines arrived in Grenada, where the Queen is head of state.
Mr Reagan said that an airstrip had been built in Grenada that “looked suspiciously suitable for military aircraft”.
After the murder of Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop on 19 October 1983, Mrs Thatcher and her ministers had said there was no likelihood of military invasion.
Before Mrs Thatcher could state her position in writing to President Reagan, he let her know that the troops had already arrived. Mrs Thatcher had also dined with the US ambassador to London that very evening.
Her response to the US leader, after being kept in the dark until after the event, is clear from the just-released notes and memos: “The decision which you describe causes us great concern. I cannot conceal that I am deeply disturbed by your latest communication.”
The British files now made public indicate that Ronald Reagan “very much regretted the embarrassment that had been caused” but said his military had to move quickly.
According to a 30-year-old memo, Mrs Thatcher subsequently met the US Deputy Secretary of State, Kenneth Dam, who also expressed regret at the move.
“The subsequent fracas has left bruises on both sides,” the memo of that meeting said.
Black university challenge
– Although British newspapers have recently highlighted the rising numbers of black 18-year-olds obtaining university places in the UK, one group says it’s still not good enough.
The Caribbean Diaspora for Science Technology and Innovation (Cadsti) said that, while the overall increase was a “cause for celebration”, Britain’s top graduate employers recruited from the country’s top 24 universities, known as the “Russell Group”.
“Blacks are still entering these universities at very low rates (5%) - lower than any other ethnic group,” Cadsti said.
“Another reason is that whilst science, technology, engineering and math open doors to a range of good career opportunities and well paid jobs, only 9% of Caribbean young people do one or more A-levels in these subjects (according to Warwick University) compared with 39% of Chinese, 37% of Indian, 28% of African and 19% of Whites.”
Cadsti recommends “quality guidance and support” to put black youngsters on track for well-paid jobs.
Cadsti and Future Think say they’re looking at a guidance programme for the Caribbean Diaspora to “empower” adults and young people to “turn things around”.
Bolt loves a challenge
– You have to hand it to the world’s fastest man – he just loves a challenge.
After winning the 100m race at the London Anniversary Games on 26 July, Usain Bolt accepted a challenge from Team GB star Mo Farah for a race. They seem to have settled on a distance between their specialities – 600m.
Meanwhile, if a sponsorship ad is to be believed, Bolt is tackling the Russian language ahead of the World Championships in Moscow.
Phrases on the tape are “My name is Usain Bolt”, “I am from Jamaica” and “Have the others crossed the line yet?”
Caribbean Intelligence says Удача (Good luck) Usain!
Carnival in the Diaspora
– It’s officially Diaspora Carnival season.
On 4 August, Handsworth Carnival is due to take place on the streets of the city of Birmingham and in Handsworth Park.
So, for soca, calypso and reggae alone, people will be heading to Handsworth Park this Sunday.
Started in 1967, the Toronto Carnival expects one million visitors this year.
Junior Carnival has already taken place and the main parade of the bands is scheduled for 3 August at Exhibition Place and Lakeshore Boulevard.
Caribbean celeb appearances in Toronto have included Alison Hinds and JW & Blaze.
Jack Warner has not only regained his Chaguanas West constituency after leaving Trinidad and Tobago’s main governing party, but he has also continued his social media campaign.
He has urged people to continue “liking” postings to his Facebook page, which currently has 85k+ “likes”.
How does this compare to other high-profile politicians in T&T’s never-dull political scene?
Checks by Caribbean Intelligence© indicate that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has 88k likes; Suruj Rambachan, who took over the Works Ministry after Jack Warner stood down, has 800+ likes; and Khadijah Ameen, the ruling party candidate whom Jack Warner beat two-to-one to win back his old seat, has 457 likes.
Because of his former Fifa profile as vice-president, Jack Warner’s 29 July victory also managed to command more column inches than most Caribbean politicians can expect.
Stories about the election result could be found, according to Caribbean Intelligence© checks, in newspapers from Australia and New Zealand to the US and Canada.
Quote of the week:
“She will be a role model, not just for African Caribbean women in a House of Lords that still isn’t representative of the country, but for all women, ethnic minorities and parents.”
British shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan on Doreen (soon to be Baroness) Lawrence.