“Finding Karen Harris: An opportunity to come closer together or to go further apart” by Shani S. Alleyne

If you don’t know about the Karen Harris situation from the weekend by now you have been living under a rock or sleeping in a cane field. That was a joke, if you are offended or emotional right now close down this article. I want to have a factual, civil conversation unencumbered by emotions, personal relations or a perceived sense of persecution.

First and foremost I am glad she was found alive regardless of whether or not things aren’t adding up or the circumstances of the search. I am glad she was found and is no worse for wear. Some people are convinced that there is a mystery to the story (why was the phone pinged in St. Joseph, why did one article say family member house and the other says stranger). Others are staunchly taking it at face value; woman lost: woman found, nothing suspicious to see here at all.

I want to tell both sides, you don’t know for sure and you may never know so don’t attack each other about information you can’t possibly know. Sure, it seems a bit fishy and sure we also have to have faith in our fellow mankind to be honest but either way YOU DON’T KNOW. You were roused to find a missing person and you found her. FULLSTOP.

Medical episode or extramarital affair or escaping abuse none of those things were your business before she went missing and aren't your business now, so stop fighting each other about it.

Medical episode or extramarital affair or escaping abuse none of those things were your business before she went missing and aren’t your business now, so stop fighting each other about it.

There has never been a significant problem that has gone away without discussion or by denying its existence. What I have seen in the past few days is people being shut down completely for expressing their opinion. I am not talking about the “she went looking for man” group I am talking about “It feels like the response was greater because it was a white woman” group. This baffles me. These are people coping with economic turmoil, higher crime, and rising unemployment; who have expressed a deep seated hurt based on the perception that they matter less to the authorities; is the best way to deal with them to ignore their concerns by shutting them down? To be brutally honest, it seems like black Barbadians of the middle class and above are the ones down crying people for “making everything a race issue” but at the same time yelling “LOOK HOW GREAT MY COMMUNITY RESPONDED” from the mountain tops. Are these hurt people not your community too? Shouldn’t you be taking the time to address their issues? Take the time to discuss it with them civilly.

Let me give it a try, guys I know you are hurt but it’s not a race issue. The element of race is incidental. It’s a by-product. However I can see how the misconception can be made. It’s hard to see the difference. Whites are a minority in Barbados BUT a significantly higher percentage of whites are wealthy than compared to Blacks. If Barbados was 300 people, then 6 would be white. Of those 6, about 4.5 would be middle to upper class. That’s most of them. It’s a definitely a class issue and the race aspect is a coincidence. That being said, the middle and upper class community which just happens to have a high white percentage came out and used their vast resources to find one of their own. That part is a non-issue. They have resources that money affords you and used it to fix a problem they had. Well done. That’s what the resources are for.

You can't get mad at Lois Lane because Superman saves her all the time. That is a resource available to her because of her circumstances. However the issue remains how do the poorer Bajans (who are mostly black) and the non-Lois Lanes get their help when the time comes?

You can’t get mad at Lois Lane because Superman saves her all the time. That is a resource available to her because of her circumstances. However the issue remains how do the poorer Bajans (who are mostly black) and the non-Lois Lanes get their help when the time comes?

Can you honestly say with a straight face that the average lower income Barbadian can whip up this much of an effort in less than 24 hours?

  • Rally cancelled
  • Polo cancelled
  • Lucky Horseshoe donating water.
  • Drones
  • Horses
  • Massy mailing list blasts
  • Other Corporate sharing
  • Thousands of flyers
  • Chefette Screens
  • BDF
  • K-9 Units
  • Roving Response Team
  • Countless more

MONEY IS PART OF IT!!

Here comes the “Poor blacks have access to the same resources as we saw this weekend” and the “you are just too lazy to get up and do what they did“. To all that said the latter, you are an asshole. “Lazy” ? That is a slap in the face to every person that has lost a loved one or has a loved one still missing. You think they didn’t do everything within their power to find their loved ones? They shared on Facebook. They called the police. They went out and looked. The fact of the matter is they don’t have the same resources available to them. They aren’t their own bosses so they can’t just drop work to go help a friend. They aren’t so far about the poverty line that they can “Fire de wuk” for a day or two and still be alright. They can’t pick up the phone and call Massy and say “My cousin missing send out a blast” (Although I admit it may be easier now). They can’t afford to print thousands of flyers. Do you even know what or who to call to get a face on the Chefette screens next to the wing dings? But Shani, they don’t need horses. Some black people own ATVs and Motorcycles. Some people have SUVS. What is your point exactly? Most people don’t.

THE POLICE ARE THE WORST GROUP IN THIS SITUATION

Here is my favorite part, “The police dropped their 24 to 48 hours policy long time ago, it’s your fault for not contacting them“. What utter bullshit. A member of the Harris party said the police only joined in during the early afternoon on Saturday after being shamed into action by the volunteer reaction. Now the proven corrupt police force is trying to RETROACTIVELY say they changed a policy. Did you guys know I changed my policy about eating Beets before I wrote this article? Nope because I DIDN’T TELL YOU, NOR HAVE I EATEN ANY BEETS IN YOUR PRESENCE FOR YOU TO KNOW THAT IT’S TRUE. I highly doubt that I could have called the Police Station on Friday morning to say that Mhizz Lakeisha Skeete from Haynesville was missing from Thursday evening and have gotten a positive response. That’s not a race issue though because even the Harris family didn’t get a positive response, fortunately for them they have the means to get around that road block. Others do not. The Police are the first and only source of aid for the less well off.

MONEY IS NOT THE ONLY ISSUE

Money isn’t the only issue. As with any minority in any society the white people of Barbados are more tight-knit than the majority. That’s just math though. We need the majority to come together as well. We don’t need the whole island but if someone is missing in your area. Get your neighbours together and go look for them. You might have to work so you might not being able to look for the whole day. You might not have drones and horses. You might not have gas to burn but get out and walk around for a few hours you might get lucky and save a life. Not having access or the means to conjure up amazing things does not mean you should do nothing. Every little bit helps until a proper infrastructure is in place.

SOLUTIONS

I don’t feel right talking about over my face without at least attempting to offer a solution.

Clarification on the procedure for missing persons reporting to the Police. Not a shame on you, half assed article like in today’s paper. A public enforceable record of what the policy is.

A private and public sector network that provides an avenue for getting news out there. Social media, emails, screens and flyer. A central mainline that all updates will go out as quickly as possible.

A volunteer team with links to the above network, Police, Roving Team etc. This team will objectively validate the claim before sending out the full force.

Personal responsibly. Let people know where you are going or be in contact. Any system would be crushed under the weight of people crying wolf.

MY PERSONAL CONTRIBUTION

I am only good at IT and using too many commas. I am willing to make an android app for missing persons in Barbados. Facebook sharing is great but it’s not proactive. You have to be on Facebook looking around for it to come up in your newsfeed. The app would give you proactive notifications in real time with picture as well as info about the missing person. Ultimately I would like to see it being able to let you know if there is a missing person in your direct area who you can help look for.

If anyone wants to help convert it to Apple so it can reach more people or if anyone with Lime/Digicel or whoever wants to help with distribution let me know. Contact me at Shanialleyne@gmail.com

7 Responses

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  1. Well said Shani. Clear and objective.

  2. Just wanted to say…the public thinks the search started Saturday morning but her friends were looking for her about 5 hours Friday night. She was to meet her husband at a meeting spot, she never showed up.

  3. Where was your article when the last five black people went missing? Where was it when the last ten black people went missing? Where was it when the last fifteen black people went missing? Nowhere!!! A white Barbadian woman goes missing and her family and friends organize and leverage all of their resources to find her and somehow this has outraged the black community? So,ehow this has become a race debate? I drive on the roads of this island every day and see black Barbadians driving up and down in the latest Mercedes, BMW’s, SUV’s of all makes, 4×4 jeeps, pickups and most of corporate Barbados is now run by black Barbadians and you are trying to tell me that when a black Barbadian goes missing you can’t get 5% of the black Barbadians together to look for that person? You expect people to believe that black people in Barbados have nothing? I find your article to be offensive and nothing but a poor excuse for the lack of action on the part of black Barbados to act when a black barbadian goes missing, making this into a race thing is very sad and for the record, I have had several phone calls and emails forms friends who live overseas who are horrified at how a missing person could turn into a race debate! Any black Barbadian who uses this very unfortunate incedent to discuss race is clearly a racist!

  4. But you clearly have not read this article, Shani said this is NOT about race but about Money & Resources so take a look again? In fact, a great suggestion for an App was offered, and on Facebook they’re suggesting an Amber alert – so by discussing openly even the “unsavory” issues (valid or not), good has emerged.

  5. I am mixed race so I hate this race talk from any side. I believe that in every missing person case people need to be good neighbors and stopping sitting on their butts yapping their mouths.

    Now for this part if Barbados had 300 people, then 6 would be white. Of those 6, about 4.5 would be middle to upper class.

    So that means that 294 would be black, are you telling me that of that number we cant find 4.5 that would be middle class with the same ability to get off their butts and round up help the same way.

    We are all people when I cut it is not my black blood that bleeds out or the white blood, it is my blood that is the same as all people.

    I would seriously like to meet some one in Barbados who can prove that there is no mixed blood in them trace wunna lines back and you will see somewhere there is a mix even if it was 300 years ago.

    Get real people.. we all have one father GOD so watch out for your brothers and sisters.

  6. Interesting article Shani. It is true that the white population has more resources at their disposal and the average person could not have pulled together so many activities in such a short time but that’s not the issue here. We should not be focusing on what others have but on what we can do with the limited resources that we DO have should another person go missing (God forbid). The Barbados police force should also be looking to improve their procedures for finding missing persons AND more importantly INFORM the public on exactly what that process is.

  7. Sent Sidneato’s flyer to Lucky Horseshoe Saloon & Steakhouse, Chefette Restaurants Limited and Massy Stores Barbados yet of them all – only Massy responded “…When you spend your dollar out of the community in which you live, the community in which you spend your money becomes richer and richer; the community out which you take your money (from) becomes poorer and poorer…” Malcolm X

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