DAVID I. MUIR/FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
The island of Jamaica had not been visited by a sitting US president since a 1982 trip by Ronald Reagan. You can imagine the uproar throughout the country and the diaspora when it was announced that President Obama would be popping in. Most were excited for the first black president’s arrival. We love how much he loves to fist bump (an activity which was popular in Jamaica for years before it caught on in the US), and although we have no physical evidence, I think we can all agree that he’s probably a huge fan of jerk chicken.
Local pundits wanted the Jamaican Prime Minister to address topics with the president including interest rates on the island’s loans, international trade, immigration issues, and even expunging the criminal record of Marcus Garvey. Human rights activists wanted him to address the nation’s intolerance toward the LGBT community. One opinion writer actually believed he should even take responsibility for the role that America has played in pushing the anti-gay agenda in Jamaica.
There is of course, the set of Jamaicans who don’t know what all the fuss is about and why President Obama should be treated like royalty. Others complain about why roads that have been riddled with potholes for years have only been fixed now that the fancy US President is coming to town.
As I read the news articles and Facebook comments praising him or blaming him for issues he really has nothing to do with, I wonder how often he’s able to have a conversation without being beleaguered with ulterior motives or condemnation. What a burden we expect this one man to carry. And while some of these issues are of dire importance, I think about the minutiae we bicker about in the midst of it all and why we believe that the leader of the free world should play into it or apologize for our bad behavior.
Our island is a melting pot and I believe there is more love and respect there than any negative element. I just hope we all make a good impression when the president comes to town.
Calibe Thompson is a personality, author and the Executive Producer of “Taste the Islands”, premiering on South Florida’s WPBT2 on April 27th at 7:30PM. For your free preview of her 2015 collection of writings, Things I Probably Shouldn’t Say, visit www.calibe.net.