Features — 19 July 2017 — by Colin Hyde
Thoughts for  Ms. Lisa Shoman …

I see posts from Ms. Lisa Shoman on Facebook from time to time, when some mutual friend shares them. Some time ago she put up a story that deserved being sent back for more baking. Really, I hoped that someone else would put her right. Well, thank you for your help!

It’s been some months now, and then along comes Sammy Sosa. My gudnis, Sammy Sosa is now WHITE? Sammy is from the Dominican Republic. I’ve read enough about racism in that country, how they treat Haitians and other people who are black. That is one of the reasons why the mighty Fidel Castro was setting up an army to invade them. Of course Sammy could have changed his color for reasons unrelated to lack of self-love. But in this skin whitening he is not alone.

I absolutely do not think the lady is a racist. After reading what I write here, I expect some people will call me THAT. Really, I might have let it lie, if so many people hadn’t drooled over what she wrote. If she were a tree falling in the forest, yap, I might have saved my ink.

To my mind, Ms. Shoman and her legion supporters don’t know enough about race relations between the Black/Brown Kriol and the Garinagu. Really, who does? My childhood was in Belize City; my youth was in Belmopan; and my young adulthood was at sea. I didn’t know there were Kriols who had a difficulty with the Garinagu until I went to work on a cacao plantation on the Hummingbird Highway.

There are stories about curfews for Garinagu when they were in Belize Town (now City). I suspect at some point a brown Kriol looked at a Garifuna and said, I hope you notice that we are “whiter” than you are, to which the Garifuna responded, That’s because we were never slaves.

These two tribes have some big issues. It is mostly the blood of their children that is running in the streets of south side Belize City. Aha, I might hear that I am preaching “separatism” too. Funny that they didn’t hear when old Finnegan told young Musa that they (north side) don’t want the children from his side (south side) to go party in their safe territory. And funny too that Finnegan, the leader who can win until “kingdom kom”, doesn’t realize that he rained on his own leadership when he said that. I think people vote for leaders who they believe can make their lives better, make their neighbourhoods safer for their children.

It is said that there was a time when the Black/Brown Kriols fought to keep the other tribes out of jobs in the public service. The Kriols got a major racist tab for this. My, after the jobs in the mahogany industry died, the public service jobs were all the Kriols had. They didn’t control fishing; they didn’t control agriculture. They didn’t control banking, the import trade, the retail trade, the cigarette trade, the alcohol trade. I think we are talking about a tribe in desperation here. That’s why so many of them went away to the USA. I’d hesitate before I labelled such a person—racist.

No, they weren’t very successful with the protectionism on the jobs thing. Aha, the recent eavesdropping on PSU conversations about that very same matter gave Ms. Lisa opportunity to vent on Kriol misdeeds, which she did.

Hmm, I thought that if this day were to come, when I’d try to throw back some of the incompletely baked bread she served up, that I would be able to find her post in her Facebook files, with ease. Not so. The lady has hundreds of posts. It’s a needle in a haystack…bah, here’s a story about her passion for cashew seeds…what, what, a story here about some man who blew in like the wind. Ooh, romance will catch everyone’s attention. But not me today. Oh dammit, more cashew seed passion…I’ll never find it. I really so wanted to find the saving grace, if there was any…Aha, here’s this post…Jewelizeans most dislike criticism. Especially from others. We tinskin bad. Well, I sure hope she isn’t one of those.

Before wading into deepest waters, be informed that Ms. Shoman made it known in her post that she was married to a person of color from the Caribbean. Well, on the personal I didn’t need to know that fact about her life. I’ll call a person ignorant (in the Sedi understanding of the term) many, many times, before I arrive at the conclusion that they are racist.

I think her first jab was about Turks. She said her dad hated to be called—Turks. About a month after her post, a childhood pal, now fb friend, Mark McField, posted a story from Honduras written by Jorge Alberto Amaya, a historian in that country. J. Amaya said that when the people from the Middle East came, all their passports were stamped, Turks.

Knowing what the historian from Honduras said, I wouldn’t call the Kriols racist for that, hardly. It is understandable why many new Belizeans from that part resented being called the name of the Ottoman. If we had been taught some of that history, I’m certain the term would have been used much less.

There is the matter of the Kriols calling people—Teefing Turks. That’s rough, but that is an economic thing. If you own the shops, and you are making it, you really shouldn’t be surprised if those who aren’t making it, like we are, experience a little celoso. And then there are stories that abound about shadiness in the buy-and-sell business, and there will always be customers who are not entirely happy about the quality of goods they bought, or the price they paid for it. Call a person ignorant, call a person rude, but don’t call them racist for that.

We move to a story about the Chinese…she reminded us that Kriols used to like singing Ching Chong Chineyman, sit upon a fence. Well, I am guilty of chanting that a couple or three times. A few houses from where we lived, Manuel Wong K had a shop. I used to shop at his store every weekend for my mother. Oh, Manuel’s wife was my mom’s cousin. To be a racist is to hate. Kriols never hated the Chinese. If we did, we would never have patronized their shops. Again, people will have a little envy for those that are “making it.”

Oh boy, the Kriols say that Dean Barrow is Belize’s first black prime minister. But George Price was, because everyone knows he was black. Please, please, please, NO! George Price’s father could have “passed” in Dixie. And his mother was very Mestizo.

George Price might have experienced what it is to be a non-white when he was at a seminary in Mississippi. Not for one day in his life did he experience what it is like to be black in Belize. Of course he might have had to make a tack or two if he tried to make marriage with one of the Govnaz daughters. But in the Belize we know, George was way “up there.”

No, I don’t believe George Price hated black people, as some of his political opponents have suggested. That doesn’t ring true to me ataal. But it is my belief that like most of us, he got a greater appreciation and understanding of BLACK when UBAD came.

My dear lady, you don’t really know what BLACK is. BLACK is why Sammy Sosa and Michael Jackson whitened their skins. Black is why skin lightening is a multi-billion dollar industry in this world. And before anyone goes there, tanning doesn’t make a white person, black!

Let us get something very clear about the Kriols – they are the only tribe in Belize that doesn’t know who they are. The Kriol is too many things. They are the only tribe in the world that comes in THREE colors—black, brown, and near white. I believe UBAD’s answer to that was: Wi black; be proud of Mama Africa in our veins. That way, the Kriols would face the world as a tribe.

What is so wrong about the Kriols having pride of tribe? Of course tribalism, like all things, if it goes to excess it becomes a problem for a nation. The Kriols, and the Garinagu, and the Mayas of Toledo, have to become more involved in the economic life of Belize. The people who are in the “zero-sum” game; they will not readily accept our participation. The belief there is that if one gains, then another loses. The “zero-sum” game is not without merit. But to the extreme it is disastrous.

The plural nation must exert every effort to ensure that all its tribes are striving. Belize can only get better if we all have a place in the economy.

If it was me they were trying to impress, here’s what I would say to Sammy Sosa’s sisters. Please don’t follow your brother. The European idea that white women are IT is solely a white thing. Beauty is as it is advertised—skin deep. It has nada to do with color. Every healthy, active girl or young woman will have physical appeal. Of course there are some women with physiques that appeal to more males.

On the hair thing, I am aware that some women with Afro hair put hot iron on it because it makes their hair easier to comb. Unfortunately, this makes the hair look dead. On the real, hair is much like skin. If a female’s hair is healthy, alive, clean, sweet-smelling, it is beautiful.

In closing, let me re-emphasize that I didn’t see malice. Indeed, Ms. Lisa is to be thanked for sharing her sincere ideas about we Kriol. But she should have known better. The Kriols have watched a lot of people come here and blow by them in this modern Belize. Anyone with Palestinian roots should understand how it feels to be displaced.

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