The year 2017 will be recalled as one of the most politically memorable, due to the transiency of White House employees, the most disheartening for men in high places, revolutionary for feminists and — some may contend — the most tragic of this millennium.
The 31st day of December marked a week-end, month-end and year-end gripped by arctic temperatures and heated divisions fueled by a U.S. President who, despite his plummeting popular rating throughout the nation, has maintained the same likeability among his base supporters.
A majority of Americans realized in 2017 they would much prefer to be represented by a Harvard law school graduate than a celebrity apprentice.
Since the January 2017 transfer of presidential authority from Barack Obama to Donald Trump, protest demonstrations, riots, the banning of Muslim and Venezuelan immigrants, denunciations of women, scandals and firings of White House administrators, enumerable vacations, ridiculous and often incomprehensible tweets on social media (covfefe etc), embarrassing state visits overseas, a preponderance of meaningless executive orders — some blocked by judges from Hawaii, San Francisco, California, Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, New York and Maryland — climate change denials etc, the year has been perceived to be one of the most politically tumultuous.
Contentious as it was with prevailing talk about impeachment 11 months into the Trump administration, internationally a most damning consensus is that America might never be great again.
Few will forget Trump’s statement in September after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on a US territory. He said Puerto Rico is an island “surrounded by water.”
“This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water,” the President of the United States said, as if revealing a new definition.
His Twitter feud with San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto did not enhance his profile with critics. And on a visit to the island surrounded by big water, hurled paper towels at nationals.
It would take all of this space to document the many idiosyncrasies and foibles the leader managed to fit into 11 months. But since this column is named for a region, the focus must resonate with landmass surrounded by big and small water.
A shooting in Barbados on Boxing Day — Dec. 26 — clouded the Christmas revelry for superstar entertainer Rihanna and her family when her 21-year-old cousin Tavon Kaiseen Alleyne was shot multiple times by an unknown assailant.
The pop star returned home to spend the holidays and shared photos of her and the relative on social media.
Together they seemed to share quality time and appeared carefree and happy.
“Never thought that would be the last time I felt the warmth in your body!!! Love you always man!” she wrote in an Instagram post calling for an end to gun violence.
According to police, Alleyne was walking through a track in the vicinity of his home when he was approached by a man who shot him several times before fleeing the scene.
Alleyne’s death brought to 31 the number of people killed in Barbados for 2017.
Across from the island of Manhattan in Brooklyn, Erica Garner — the eldest daughter of Eric Garner — died at Woodhull Hospital on Dec. 30.
The 27-year-old went into cardiac arrest earlier in the week and suffered major brain damage from a lack of oxygen after suffering a massive heart attack.
Her father, who also fathered five other children, died in July, 2014 at age 43 when police attempted to arrest him for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally in Staten Island.
Video of the incident shows New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo tackling Garner from behind and taking him to the ground using an NYPD-banned chokehold.
Eric Garner, who had asthma, was pronounced dead that day. His death was ruled a homicide, but a grand jury decided not to indict Pantaleo on criminal charges.
Repeatedly his last words – “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” were replayed on television media and became a rallying cry for protesters and outraged citizens who said the incident showed that law enforcement abused their power and mistreated people of color.
Erica Garner became a prominent activist in the wake of her father’s death. She wore T-shirts blazoned with the words “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”
She became an activist pushing for political change and social justice aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Erica the world loves you. I love you. I am glad you came into our lives. May you find the peace in the next life that you deserved while you were here. I will always love you my sister. love you,” Garner’s Twitter account said.
Individual stories about the 12 victims of a Bronx fire continues to haunt grievers trying to come to grips with the deadly inferno described as the worst tragedy in New York since the 9-11 terror attacks.
“Tonight in the Bronx we’ve seen the worst fire tragedy in at least a quarter of a century,’’ Mayor Bill DeBlasio said on Dec. 29. “It is unspeakable, and families have been torn apart.”
It is difficult to comprehend that the often described “safest neighborhood” would meet such tragedy. From now on, along with that prominent acclaim, the Belmont section of the borough will also be classified the deadliest site of the year 2017 due to the fact that a blaze in a five-story dwelling claimed a dozen lives and injured many more.
“As of now, this tragedy is without question historic in its magnitude here, and our hearts go out to every family that lost a loved one here, and everyone that’s fighting for their lives,” Daniel Nigro, NY Fire Commissioner said.
Fires on the West Coast plagued California throughout the last months of the year.
Not far away in Las Vegas, Nev., many are still trying to unravel the details surrounding the massacre of 58 people who attended a concert and were killed after a deranged individual opened fire from a hotel room overlooking the scene.
Also on the calendar of negatives for the year was the fact, white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va. boldly waved Nazi flags and other hateful symbols during a deadly incident in which a car plowed into a crowd of people, killing one and injuring 19, The incident, sparked by the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee drew no rebuke from the president of the United States.
In Africa, there was a peaceful transfer of power when Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe was forced from leadership after serving as president since 1980.
And in Liberia, the election of former international soccer star George Weah to the presidency of that often strife-torn nation seems cause for jubilation, but raises concern that warlord Charles Taylor might return to Monrovia, the Liberan. The development has a Caribbean connection: Weah’s wife Clar was born and raised in Jamaica.
Women rocked the U.S. and the world in 2017.
Tangible victories for the gender are evidenced in media, politics, film and entertainment and by the bronze statue of the Fearless Girl in the financial district. She stands bold and unafraid staring down a charging, bronze bull many times her size and seems unafraid and fearless.
It took one bold actress to expose allegations of sexual misconduct of producer Harvey Weinstein and it seems a house of cards tumbled with actor Kevin Spacey, television anchors Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, music mogul Russell Simmons, Democratic Congressman John Conyers and Senator Al Franken among notables. The feminist revelations spawned a #MeToo movement mobilizing women to liberation from sexual oppression, secrecy and repression due to fear and powerlessness.
A huge victory for the gender also installed Hilda Heine, as the first female leader of the Marshall Islands. She represented the gender when attending the climate change conference in Bonn, Germany.
As the first female leader of the island chain and the first of her gender to lead any independent Pacific island, Heine had a message for U.S. President Donald Trump, who withdrew his nation from the Paris Accords during the first months of his administration. “We want to make sure that President Trump understands the importance of emissions and what’s going on in terms of coal being promoted by his administration. We want President Trump to acknowledge the science.”
The Marshall Islands are considered the most endangered nation in the world due to flooding from climate change. Hopefully in 2018 there will be no return or threats from storms like those named Maria, Irma, Harvey and Jose that struck with such devastating effect in 2017.
I pray resolve of all resolutions and the very best of everything. A very happy and blessed New Year.
Catch You On The Inside!