Tue | Dec 12, 2017

ZOSO - Zone of Skin Operation

Published:Saturday | October 7, 2017 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
A woman positions herself for inspection at a military checkpoint in Mount Salem, St James, the first declared zone of special operations, recently.
Miss Jamaica World 2016 Ashley White Barrett crowns new queen, Solange Sinclair.
Davina Bennett, the 2017 Miss Universe Jamaica.
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There is nothing wrong with the zone of special operations (ZOSO) approach which the security forces are currently undertaking in Mount Salem, St James. However, although the immediate results - we continue to look in morbid fascination at the 'long guns' which are recovered and shown to the press - have been graphically displayed and the Cornwall Regional Hospital staff report a dramatic fall in trauma cases coming in to the facility, it is inherently limited in scope and effect.

For while ZOSO brings about immediate change in the crime situation where it is implemented, the gunmen continue to wreak havoc in other areas of the country. Additionally, representatives of the social services that should help sustain the short-term gains have already said that the time frame in which they are expected to work is way too short.

Ironically, I have thought of another meaning for ZOSO which is applicable to the entertainment business, which is remarkably effective and has proven itself sustainable. I call it the Zone of Skin Operation and it is directly sustained by the national level beauty contests.

Each year almost without fail, the lighter shade of our spectacular array of skin tones is trotted out as being representative of beauty without (and within, too) and duly crowned Miss whatever - Global, Universe, World. Even if the skin tone is darker, the features tend to be not the thick lips and broad nose of the majority of women in the population.

 

WHITE BEAUTY STANDARD

 

When the Jamaican representative lines up at that year's international pageant, a celebration of the white standard of beauty, she fits right in. When I do pay attention to these beauty contests, I play spot the difference among the women - you know, that game where you are shown two pictures that look exactly the same at a glance, but you are required to identify some discrepancy in detail.

Therefore, while the Miss Jamaica Whatever is certainly very attractive physically - yeah man, dem hot and the one and two I buck up or see from afar exude a great personality! - but does not represent how the majority of women look, she fits seamlessly into the competition's unspoken parameters. However, what is also unspoken is that the women who the Miss Jamaica Whatever does not look like are ugly. Or, certainly, not as beautiful, and I contend that there are no ugly people.

Notions of beauty are a social construct and the Miss Jamaica Whatever contests are representative of and reinforce a construction designed to help keep the society in line and preserve the power structures inherited from a slavery society, in which the mulatto class that inherited a hold on the reins of power from the whites are fiercely determined to keep.

Of course, that is reflective of a global situation where European conquest and terrorism of the darker races is the foundation of the continent's wealth and places where they have spread - Australia and North America among them.

So Miss Jamaica Whatever, is couched in a global context of white dominance, making the Zone of Skin Operation, which is the local contest to select a national representative, go over much better despite the accustomed annual bleats of protest from persons such as me. The number of persons who bleach by chemical or selective reproduction (you know, not breeding or breeding for someone darker skinned than themselves) is testimony to the effectiveness of that system.

On the other hand, the zone of special operations in Mount Salem, and wherever else it goes to next, battles a global context of gun glorification in entertainment (those Hollywood films), the manufacture and export of guns by the globally dominant countries which do nothing to stem the flow of weapons into Jamaica, and a history of gang violence in the country perpetuated by Cold War politics of the 1970s and political affiliation of gunmen.

I know which ZOSO I expect to have a sustained effect.

melville.cooke@gleanerjm.com