Let’s get this out of the way and abundantly clear in case there was any uncertainty, I am Blackity-Black-BLACK. There is for me a blackness that extends well beyond the concentration of melanin, but it’s in my DNA, my consciousness and lived experiences. It’s the way in which I navigate the world, because it’s the way the world first perceives me. I am black before I am Garifuna-Creole, before I am Belizean, before I am cis-gendered female, and I figure that in owning that, I find power and draw strength. Indeed, the only thing that comes before that marker is my spiritual divinity. Of course, every day I learn how to better position myself in raising my own knowledge of history and then using that to advance myself and community. Every day, we are made hyper-aware of race because of negative reasons. The usual culprits on the –ism spectrum: capitalism, racism, colorism and its stemming socioeconomic and political implications for those of Afro descent. In these times, the month of August and September, I am hyper-aware because of all that’s happening in the recent history of Belize through the lenses that I share with you through this medium.
July 20, 2019: The UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF) and Image Factory Foundation hosted a community encounter to raise awareness of the 1919 Revolution.
July 22, 2019: The aforementioned entities also hosted a remembrance march in honor of the ex-servicemen that rioted on that date 100 years ago and a peaceful protest against the naming of a central plaza at the foot of the Swing Bridge after a slave owner.
Both of these were successful events that led to the retraction of the name and the launching of a competition to rename the plaza. My fellow youth writer in the Amandala, Kory Leslie, chronicles this triumph well in his front-page headline report.
July 31 – August 1, 2019: The great Jamaican dub poet and activist that is Mutabaruka visited Belize. The visit was part of community actions organized by the UEF-Kremandala conglomerate and other partners in celebration of the physical emancipation of our ancestors who were made to be slaves in the European interruption of our story. His conversation with a very packed audience embodied very familiar stories and interrogated our belief systems, our power structures, and put us face-to-face with our responsibilities as black families.
August 3, 2019: Chronixx comes to Belize! A twenty-six-year-old prophet in my eyes that rocked the stage at the Marion Jones Sports Complex. His repertoire includes songs that are rooted in the Rastafarian ideology, celebrates the love of the black woman, pays homage to elders and ancestors and calls for the return of humanity in all facets of life.
August 13, 2019: The Amandala, our newspaper, has existed for half a century! This ‘Power to the People’ totem has survived and thrived through political rifts and shifts, sedition trials, and financial hardships, in time for me to share my words on its pages. I celebrate my one-year anniversary of writing my musings on September 7th. I thank my editor and the chairperson of Kremandala for seeing me and granting me this platform that is invaluable. I also thank my readers who share with me kind words of encouragement on Albert Street, in the heat of the Lake- I Dalla Van, on social media. I truly appreciate you!
August 6 and September 21, 2019: Jamaica and Belize celebrate our political independence from the colonial rule of the United Kingdom — Jamaica being our senior celebrating 57 years of independence and us in line to celebrate our 38th under the theme, “From Maya Grandeur to Modern Glory, Together Let’s Shape the Belizean Story.” As a side note, is it just me or are the semantics of that theme a bit wayward and dismissive of the Maya contributions to today’s Belize?
To come back on a track of positivity, I think all these actions, though small, are indicators of the continued march toward us realizing our power in self to then transcend to our communities and nation. I do hope the next step is for us to replace the wretched Columbus Day public and bank holiday with that of Emancipation Day. I’d rather celebrate the freedom of my people than a colonizer that comes with all the pestilence that a colonizer comes with. We have a long way to go before we become the great nation we are written in the stars to be, but today in this piece I pay homage to those named and unnamed, past, present, and those to come, for allowing me the opportunity to be free, to be me. Blackity, Black, BLACK, me.
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots. –Marcus Garvey