by Colin Hyde
Black Americans and Kriol Belizeans have common ground in the 300 years of enslavement. Of course, our experience wasn’t identical to theirs, but oh so many stories coming out of that period in America are only different in the names of the people and places.
The divide between us could have widened in the last century because for much of that period we were the majority here, while in the 1960s Black Americans were fighting for the right to vote and to go to the better-funded white schools. Sure, we still knew white supremacy, but our situations allowed for a gulf to grow because of our life experiences. I believe it didn’t happen because of US cultural dominance. Those bohgaz have been imposing their world on us, and there’s been no letting up.
Over the weekend I listened to/watched a 1988 documentary on MLK’s birthday that year, “Images of Black Men in America”, which featured former Black Panther Party leader, Professor Huey P. Newton; Professor of English Literature at UC Berkley, Ishmael Reed; and Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, the author of the book, Countering The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys. You know we are about restructuring the school curriculum, because we are failing, so I especially keened in when the topic of failing black boys in the US schools system came up.
1988 seems like a long time ago, but little has changed over there, and here. Black boys are not doing so well in our school system either.
Dr. Kunjufu had some interesting stats. He said that in 1988 USA black children made up 17% of elementary school children, but 41% of students who were labeled as Special Ed. – those who were considered somewhat mentally retarded, having a learning disability, or having a behavioral disorder — were black boys. Dr. Kunjufu said that bigger than the issue of prison for black boys was the failure of the school system. He said that a big problem at the elementary schools was the domination of female teachers, who made up 83% of the teaching ranks.
He said that female teachers designed programs that suited female students, and the proof of this was that in the US the least likely student to be placed in Special Ed. was a white girl; next was a black girl; next was a white boy, and at the bottom was the black boy. He then went on to cite the numerous differences between boys and girls, and I think he said it takes a man to turn a boy into one.
Dr. Kunjufu is a very interesting guy, so I went on to watch a documentary in which he discussed his books. His arguments are well-reasoned. I don’t recall him mentioning what I have offered a few times as a problem for boys in general — co-ed classes, specifically with big girls.
Dr. Kunjufu said that up to the 3rd grade black boys (our Standard 1) in the US did very well, and then they started to drop off. Let me tell you about Standard 2 for me. I almost failed the first term. In Std. 1 the girls and boys in my class were all about the same age, and I was sharing pencils with a little girl. And then along came Std. 2. I don’t know what it was all about, but there were new girls in our class, girls older than we were, girls with those little balloon things under their blouses. The little girl I was getting friendly with, I forgot she existed. I got lost. And all the little boys in my class, save for one, got lost.
Oh, we got some big boys in our class too. But they played next to no part in why the grades of the little boys began to plummet.
Dr. Kunjufu was very enlightening. I 100% agree with him that female teachers need to have a better understanding of little boys. I insist that co-ed is a big deal in schools. When girls start blossoming, boys’ grades start to fall.
So we’re leaving
Well, if I worked with the Ministry of Immigration, next week I would pull up at the school where Brother Rudolph A. Neal teaches and ask him: what do you know? In his piece last week, “Teachers and nurses clearing out!” Mr. Neal said there is an informal mass exodus, in the hundreds and maybe thousands, of Belizeans heading north to seek asylum in the US, and there is also “a more inherent and systemic migration”, an exodus of teachers and nurses seeking “greater employment and economic opportunities.” Whoa there, on the undocumented ones in the informal exodus, there we were feeling so proud to offer them asylum, and getting scorned.
But the Immigration Department knows everything, so Brother Rudolph needn’t worry that I might have put ideas in their heads, to come and interrogate him.
Wow, a story I yer is that on the informal side undocumented “Belizeans” are paying US$4,000 per person, to caravan to the US. And I suspect the Americans are happy for the influx. Statista.com says: “In 2022, there was an average of 1.94 children under 18 per family in the United States. This is a decrease from 2.33 children under 18 per family in 1960.” A few years ago a few of our village youth went to Canada all legal, because that country needed workers.
I’ve read that white Americans prefer to give jobs to Latinos and Black Belizeans rather than to Black Americans. That’s a complex story, but a part of the core is that immigrants are always more compliant than natives. I said a part of the core. Yes, I know there are other very deep issues there.
Hmm, talking statistics, Dr. Kunjufu said that in 1988 America there was one available marriage-age black male for every two black females, despite black boys being born at a slightly higher rate than girls. If I remember correctly, the story there was black men dying young because of homicide, black men on drugs, black men in jails, black men without jobs, and black men married to white women.
Defending his profession
We have to be alert to American influence, thus I have to put Mr. Chris Rock right about something he said recently. I read this piece by Matt Wilstein in The Daily Beast, about a show Rock put off in which he discussed being slapped by American actor, Will Smith. The report said Mr. Rock told the crowd, “Anybody who says ‘words hurt’ has never been punched in the face.”
Okay, we’ve been down this lane before, but it, ehm, appears no one relayed the sense to the gentleman. Look, the brother’s either deceptive or naïve. One of my mentors explained to me why it is foolish to engage a man who stutters in a word war. I can also tell you why it is foolish for a man to engage a woman in a word war. But let me stay in safe waters.
Rock makes his living with words, and boy does he make a lot of bread off his chats. He has a right to defend his craft, I guess. But he needs to come better than that.
A reporter said the slap was vicious because she was in the rear of the building and she heard it. Really, really, Rock had a microphone in front of him, and a slap always sounds louder than a punch. I saw a replay on the media, and what I saw was all fly brush. The big story there was embarrassment, like how people must feel when they are the butt of Rock’s jokes.
You do understand embarrassed. We know what Mr. Tibbs did when he got slapped. He didn’t turn the other cheek. Of course, Rock deserves praise for not retaliating physically. But then if he had, Smith could have really taken license and punched him in the mouth.