A Threat to Justice

The shadow of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion is seen on low level cloud while the aircraft searches for missing Malay
The shadow of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion is seen on low level cloud while the aircraft searches for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia, Monday, March 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

As a concerned global citizen, it got me fired up to hear that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the U.N. agency that governs civil aviation, is convening this week to discuss the global tracking of airline flights. I've been reading up about recent technology that could prevent another Flight MH370: air flights would be tracked and recorded real-time. I've lately become obsessed with the notion that every plane should be equipped with these remote black boxes, and that it should become mandatory by law.

My sudden passion for this technology stems from the core essence of who I am in my DNA. In other words, I'm a person that's been so fortunate my whole life that in return I am a crusader for truth and justice where ever I hear it calls me. So in regards to the tragedy that happened with the Malaysians I can sympathize because I saw what happened to my people in Haiti with the earthquake in 2010. From being with my band, the "Fugees," to bringing awareness to homelessness through my documentary "Skid Row," or helping a friend of mine who I believe in get elected as President in Haiti, I believe in modern-day revolution through social consciousness.

It's outrageous that more than two months have passed since Flight MH370 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, yet no trace of it has been found despite the most extensive search in commercial aviation history. In the world of smartphones, we should utilize the best and most advanced technologies to prevent such international disasters from happening; or if it's unavoidable, to be able to give families quick answers to what, where and why it happened. We have a social obligation to at least provide that.

Unfortunately it sometimes takes tragedy to motivate action. The missing plane has prompted European safety officials to call for tougher rules for black box flight recorders. Australia became the first country to make flight recorders mandatory in aircraft, following the 1960 crash of Trans Australia Airlines Flight 538 at Mackay (Queensland). Instead of leading, America is languishing on this front. In 2014, the greatest Nation on Earth is still operating under outdated policy. The Safe Aviation Flight Enhancement (SAFE) Act, which pushes for upgrading the black boxes based on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)'s 1999 recommendations, has failed to pass in Congress every time since it was first introduced in 2003.

After 9/11 there was enough public demand and political will to adopt changes that would ensure greater safety: Congress federalized airport security by creating the Transportation Security Administration; Airlines fortified cockpit doors, and made several other safety overhauls; passengers agree to pay extra fee towards enforcement of tighter security measures that weren't necessarily convenient for them. The fact is that we all recognized the need for urgent action. Since 9/11, there have been at least 13 airplane hijackings (as recently as on February 17) -- What would it take to stop being reactionary?

I have seen the horror in the faces of the mourning children searching for their mothers after the Haitian earthquake. My heart aches for the parents, spouses, children, friends, and lovers of the 239 passengers on Flight MH370. As a frequent flyer, I would never want such agony of grief to be felt by those who love me either.

Martin Luther King, Jr. aptly said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I can't stop wondering, if it were an American airplane, with hundreds of American passengers, would it make a difference? Would it then compel us to invest in a smarter black box and enact legislation to require it on every plane? America: our inaction is nothing short of injustice.