There does exist a power structure in Belize. Perhaps there are several power structures, if we choose to look at things more closely. The Belizean parents of a child of color who shows some talent early have to be careful, because it is definitely not the power structure’s intention to educate that child and have him use that education to start up agitation trouble amongst his oppressed people of color. The child of color will be given training, but there is a bottom line here in the sense that the child’s absolute priority, in fact his exclusive focus, must be the accumulation of skills and assets for himself/herself only. This is as the power structure would have it.
The power structure will allow talented children of color to enter the House of Privilege, but such a child will not be allowed to go outside and bring any of his friends from the ‘hood into that House of Privilege. In the power structure’s House of Privilege, selfishness for the child of color is a must, a prerequisite.
Recently a lady writer from the University of Belize, Ivory Kelly, had a few kind words to say about North Amerikkkan Blues, a book I wrote fifty years ago about my three years (1965-68) at a university in the United States.
A couple years ago I told the man Assad Shoman that there were aspects of Blues which were embarrassing to me because of the immaturity of those aspects. Brother Shoman’s response was, however, that that was how I felt at the time, and so the writing was valid, authentic.
The one thing I need to say today publicly is that I was trying to create an impression in Blues, because I was just 23, leading a militant black youth organization at the time, and so I felt I needed to make myself look as relevant and capable as I could. There was where some immaturity was manifested.
There was one statement I made in Blues that was anti-Semitic, flat out. That was a silly statement. I made a statement about white women in Blues which was stupid. These are just a couple examples of my 1971 immaturity.
I was, to repeat, 23 going on 24 at the time, and thought I was hot stuff. At the same time, I was overreacting to a huge amount of pressure being placed on I. Between July of 1970 and January of 1971, just before I started writing Blues, I’d been tried twice in the Supreme Court, on different charges. Supreme Court trials are always preceded by fifteen or twenty appearances in Magistrate’s Court for preliminary hearings. A whole lot of hassle.
Early on in this essay I referred to children of color. Color and ethnicity are not the major topics that they were in Belize fifty years ago. It seems to me many times that none of us really understand the changes that have taken place in Belize, except for the fact that things have become much more dangerous and murderous for black youth here.
In Belize, I am not as definitively black as I was in the United States. It is important to understand that the various manifestations of white power have so much power that whereas you are black in America, in Belize, Jamaica, and other British possessions, you, the same person, are brown. There’s no such thing as “brown” in America, just black and white. White people define you. It’s weird.
Now the most important point I wanted to make in this essay was that there were stupid things I did way back in the time of Blues which I excused on the grounds that I was doing research for future creative writing. I never did do the serious creative writing, essentially retiring from that pursuit after a political embarrassment in December of 1977.
Now I come back to Ivory Kelly. Writers are people of relevance. My late mother spent some important years of her life growing up in Sittee River, a village on the coast after you pass Dangriga and Hopkins. I believe Ivory’s people are from Sittee, so, even though I’ve never met her, I hold her dear.
She wrote a few words about Blues recently, as I said earlier, and those few words provoked (inspired?) me into saying things, in this New Year, that I’ve wanted to say for decades. Thank you, Ivory. Blessings and best wishes.