In reading the article, “The Rise of BREDAA,” written by one of its founders Nuri Akbar, I must say that I commend the author and all the founders, namely; Shahida Shabazz, Darlene Jones, Nuri Akbar, Ishmael Shabazz and Imam W. D. Muhammad, leader of the American Muslim Mission, for the formation of this much needed organization. What struck me the most in this entire article, was his admission that the radio show became a distraction from their original goals and objectives that they set out to accomplish, as was mentioned in the statement below:
As important and historic as it was, to some degree the radio show became a distraction from BREDAA’s principal objective of advocacy for economic development via land rights, ownership and access through agriculture for Belizeans both at home and abroad. In addition to national agrarian and land redistribution.
The makeup of BREDAA was mostly Creoles, and I did not see any Garifuna or East Indian person in the founding of this group. If there were Garifuna people in the organization, then I hereby apologize for making an assumption. I refuse to believe that any organization that a Belizean is forming to benefit Black people in Belize can be successful without the Garifuna and the Creoles coming together. Los Angeles, where this organization was formed, has the largest Belizean Garifuna community in the United States, and they could have been found. Garifuna and Creole people must come together to work as people of African descent to address their concerns and secure their future in Belize.
If not, we will be at the bottom and will be deprived of whatever benefits our country has to offer. Now, thirty-six years after this organization was formed, the Black Belizean Creoles, Garifuna and East Indians have no significant economic development in regards to land, housing, farming or businesses at home or abroad. The elections that are being held in Belize, have not and are not working to empower our people politically and economically. These elections result in our giving power to a majority ethnic group, a minority ethnic group and a few families and national and international business people to politically exploit us and our nation’s resources. Under the UDP we had many Black politicians like ourselves, but no economic empowerment plan for twelve years, which was a total disappointment on their part.
The new PUP administration will laugh at us and will use this against our people. Politics and race can, and many times do, determine who are the people to be elected and what are the rewards citizens can gain from electing certain people into office. Even if BREDAA did not open a radio station, for them to have been successful with their program, they would have had to engage the Garifuna and East Indian people in the United States and Belize in their program. They would have also needed a partnering organization in Belize that was supported by the BREDAA headquarters in Los Angeles. Interestingly, this organization was also formed one year after the United Democratic Party (UDP) came to power, which had many powerful Black politicians in their government compared to the People’s United Party (PUP).
During that period of time, there was also a national Belizean organization formed by the name of Consortium that was focused on economic and political development in Belize. Unfortunately, like BREDAA the Consortium was comprised of many elite Creole families and Belizean people with a few Garifuna and Hispanic Belizeans. I had many friends in the Consortium and was asked to join the organization but refused because of the reasons I just outlined. I am a person who supports inclusiveness of all people, because it brings growth to nationhood.
BREDAA can still be an organization that can make a huge difference in the lives of our Afro-Belizean people in the United States and at home in Belize. However, they must think about some of the observations that I am making in this article. I have worked with all the major organizations here in New York City and have dealt with Belizeans from all the various ethnic groups. Now more than before the Afro-Belizeans need to come together, because they are living in hell in Belize. If it was not for their families in the United States providing for many of our family members in Belize, they would not be able to survive, and this is a fact.
The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting the economy of all the countries in the world and Belize can hardly meet its monthly payroll. Even we the Belizeans who live in the United States are being affected severely by this virus. Some of us have lost our relatives, friends and employment. Plus, the city, state and federal agencies are not functioning at 100%. For some of us who are waiting for government funds, it is taking longer because many of the offices are closed. In Belize it will get worse before it gets better because the revenues are not coming in to keep up with the government’s monthly expenditures. I hereby urge the BREDAA organization, not to give up on their goals and objectives but to develop a strategic plan for the next twenty years for our people. I am more than willing to provide some assistance towards this needed effort on behalf of my Afro-Belizean people. I am a Garifuna Belizean who loves all my people, despite their ethnicity. Belize needs the input and contributions from all of our Belizean people to build our nation.