During the latest edition of Radio Jamaica's weekly news review show, That's a Rap (Sunday, May 31), host Earl Moxam spoke with Ambassador Curtis Ward about the police killing of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the consequent protests. Below is the transcript of that interview. You may also click on the audio icon above to hear it in full.
EM: I suspect you’re not surprised at this development. Maybe the scale of it has taken some people off guard, but one suspects that the writing was on the wall for an outbreak of protests like this, particularly under the circumstances of the Trump administration.
CW: There have been lots of festering wounds, in the context of police brutality and the murder of black people and people of colour by police in this country, and the attitude of President Trump has not been one that dissuades this kind of behaviour. As a matter of fact, it can be said that his attitude has fostered this kind of behaviour, and in some morbid sense, it benefits him and his re-election, at least perhaps in his mind, because it has deviated attention away from the hundred thousand plus Americans that have died from the COVID-19 pandemic. But I see these protests across the United States as the precursor to larger protests taking place in the United States. I don’t believe there will be riots; I believe there will be more peaceful protests, but we’ll see, going down the road.
EM: Can you share your perspective as a Jamaican who migrated to the United States, finding yourself, and then with children, living in circumstances in which they are a minority and face all forms of discrimination, but in this case, particularly, discrimination by the dominant force for law and order; the police force across the United States?
CW: I must admit that I, as well as my children, generally have not experienced overt racism, but my son has been racially profiled by police, and has been stopped on more than one occasion. As a matter of fact, he posted one of his experiences on Facebook earlier today, so that his friends and others would understand the trauma that is involved when a young black man is stopped by the police, on the pretext that he has rolled through a stop sign and ordered to come out of his car, put in handcuffs, while they search his car. This happens whether you are the son of an immigrant or otherwise; this happens on a regular basis in some of the areas and townships where you would least expect it to happen. I use my son’s story as an example, but there is racial profiling, especially of young black men.
EM: Not surprisingly, Joe Biden has responded in a better way to this emerging crisis than Trump, but maybe one of the biggest tests for him in the weeks ahead will be the decision as to who will be his running mate in the election in November, and some perhaps would suggest that this might now bring more pressure to bear on him to, in fact, select a black woman to be his running mate. What do you think?
CW: Well, Vice President Biden had pledged to select a woman, and we know that a number of black women are being vetted, and you’re right; I think the racial profiling, the killing of black men, in particular, but also women, by white police officers here in this country highlights the importance of his selection even more so than if we weren’t in this kind of tense environment at the moment. So, you are right; I think it may actually become a factor in the selection process.
Ambassador Curtis A. Ward is a former ambassador of Jamaica to the United Nations, with two years of service on the UN Security Council. He is an attorney at law and international consultant specializing in national and international security law and policy, counter-terrorism legal and operational capacity assessments and solutions, international sanctions, rule of law and governance (programme development and execution), geopolitical strategy analyses, international business transactions, and inter-governmental relations.