Ultimate Provider of Authentic Garifuna Information!
  »Garinet   »Shop   »Entertainment   »Communications   »News   »My Garifuna   »Community   »Regional

Gari-News » Belize Black Summit
Oct 21, 2003

Belize Black Summit

Opening Speech

Dr. Theodore Aranda

Paramount Chief
World Garifuna Organization

September 12, 2003

There are three beliefs in Belize that, although widely accepted, need to be fully understood:

1. Black people are perceived primarily in a subordinate position.

2. It is believe that the individual achievement and offices, high or low, that black people attain do not do much to uplift black people on a whole.

3. Many people fee that opportunities are more available to others than to Blacks

When these beliefs are accepted by black people as immutable realities, mystifying as it may be, not only argues for black inferiority, but it becomes the strongest indicator of their continuance.

However, there is a universally accepted contract that institutions are a system of self-contained principles, guarantees and assurances of equality to all of the citizens and inhabitants of a country, including Belize.

We have all been trained to believe this and all of us, black or otherwise, adhere to our institutions not only to trust in them but also to defend them. Till very lately we, Belizeans, all respected and trusted that our

1. Police was guardian and guarantors of our security.

2. We looked to our Churches as guardian of our spiritual development.

3. We all believed our Politicians and Government to be our defenders and leaders.

4. We all run to our judicial system, our courts and our judges for impartial arbitration.

5. We all expend enormous amount of time, expense, and energy in our School to activate and develop our mental potential and brain power.

6. We raise our children at Home to nurture them and to provide for their well being.

7. We believe that we all have equal opportunity to success and advancement within a reliable economy.

However, what we do not perceive fully is that while those institutions can, and should be, what they are created to be, they can also be prisons of crushing oppression until we, as a society, bring them out into bright lights for evaluation and analysis, and that they have not operated for Blacks as they were meant to, and that a full turn-about needs to be made to actualize the liberating and elevating powers that they hold for all of us.

Belize must realize, either on its own or that it be made to realize, that Belizean institutions have failed, and are progressively failing black people more, in their promises, guarantees and assurances. They just have not delivered equitably to all.

This Summit is not for Afro Belizeans only. It was conceived and organized by two black organizations, yes, but it is for everyone in the country - - - Black, Maya, Kekchi, Mestizo, Chinese and everyone. It is not for any unfulfilled aspiration either. It is to assure the implementation of unfulfilled promises.

Looking back in history - - -

1. The Wealth of this nation

- was built on the back of

- black men

- black labouring class

- black union

- black logwood cutter

- and further back, on the back of black slave

2. Political Party Power

- is gained primarily by the support and vote of Afro Belizeans

- we are fully aware and cognizant that he who pays the piper calls the tune. But Belize is a democracy where voters decide who gets into office and campaign contract and promises for improvement are but to the voters.

3. In Our Schools:

The Church and State have both kept the black people ignorant of their history and ancestral achievements, leaving them naked to the onslaught of colonialism.

4. Civil Service:

- has been manned by black civil servants.


- Political Power and Administration

- Wealth

- School Control

- Social Prominence

have been loudly and blatantly not black.

Black labour has not created black wealth

Black teacherspresence throughout the entire country has not affected school programs or subject matters for Blacks

Black political allegiance and vote have not translated into black political improvement

Black civil service has not translated into black prominence.

Instead what has prevailed is:

- violation of equal opportunities for all

- betrayal of political promises

- mowing down of a level field

- Blacks languish in poverty

- Abandonment of built-up hopes

- No national development or budget for the welfare of all

There are many more schools in the country today than there were years ago.

- More students are graduating from:

- elementary

- secondary

- tertiary schools

Yet a seriously disproportionate number of our graduates, our black graduates, are in crime and prison.

There is a gaping disproportionate growth in slums, crushing poverty and stifling environment.

Because black history is not taught at all in our schools, there is the deeply ingrained belief that black history begins with slavery and bondage and that black history is one of slavery. I, personally, very recently encountered it at the Belize Museum, and I would also presume it is presented as fact through exhibits as well as by mouth.

Let me state it frankly: Black History does not begin with slavery and bondage. Neither is black history one of slavery.

But this belief and attitude go quite deep indeed. I did my graduate studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Campus. One of the things shared by all of my professors was that we the students, in particular the PH.D students of Philosophy and Education, and I fell into that group, be familiar with the Great Books of the Western World.

These books are presumed to be the synopsis of the best thoughts and authors of the Western World, which is argued to originate with Greece. Hence, those books begin with Homer, about 750 BC, and cover the intellectual fertility of the white world till recent times. Pretty little credit, scholarship and contribution is attributed to the intellectual and scholarly forerunners of the Greek, namely Africa and Egypt, whom the Greeks themselves recognized respected and credited as the major source of not only of their intellectual achievement, but also of their cultural, spiritual and material well-being. However, in the course of history and development, Western Europe, in its miasma of racism, exploitation and feeling of supremacy and superiority turned scholarship and intellectual integrity on their head by obliterating Black and Africa into a void and absence from universal contribution. It is by no accident that those Great Books were so selected. It literally and deliberately means that when the highest products of the highest intellectual instructions, i.e. the Universities, soak in the teachings and respectability of the Great Books there is that enormous void, subtle, subliminal and subconscious absence of Blacks from contribution to world development and civilization translating into a conscious and intellectual conviction of the supremacy and superiority of the Whites and the non-contribution and inferiority of Blacks and none-white.

Almost universally, influential researchers, scholars and highly developed intellectuals of the western world see very little or absolutely no Black or African contribution to human advances. Africa's greatness was twisted, denied or was completely and totally wiped out of scholarly writings, leaving only vilification and dehumanization of black people as creatures in their natural state - - - wild, untamed, ferocious, lawless, savage and sub-human.

You can appreciate the destructiveness of this condemnation of the Black Man when this characterization rings from University Lecture Halls to Great Books to Chambers of Parliaments. If the vilifications were from ordinary thinkers or weak parliaments, perhaps the effects would be less devastating. But when they come from Powerful Thinkers in the Great Book affecting the Legislation, Policies and Practices of Powerful Nations in the height of their Great Powers, there is indeed justification for Great Concern.

The above vilifications were by the powerful German thinker George Frederick Wilhelm Hegel and the powerful King George III of England. Hegel was the Leader of Philosophical Thought in Germany, 1818 - 1831, decorated by King Frederick William III of Prussia and was most influential over subsequent thinkers not only of Germany then but up to the present. Hegel was a major contributor to German thought patterns and feeling, including presumably a distate for Blacks as sub-humans. Adolph Hitler attested to that. However, thanks to Jesse Owens and Joe Lewis, who in their own way, responded dramatically to Hitler and the Germans.

His Britannic Majesty George III and the British Government, in the height of the power of the British Empire, not only shared the Hegelian and German antipathy to Blacks, but in their contact with the ancestors of the Garifuna People, they not only accused them of relishing human flesh but they massacred them by the thousands and expelled them from their island-home to keep it for British use and exploitation. Locked into a cause/effect inferiority of being black, Blacks could never extricate themselves.

As I discussed the Summit these past few months, many individuals raised problems and issues that they associate with black people. That is, the problems are seen to be race related. The list can be specific and long, but I will shorten it to about five

(1) High crime rate, hence high black prison population

(2) Poverty

(3) Poor educational performance

(4) Severe social problems, such as unstable homes and families.

(5) No substantial leadership in the economy of the country

In discussions about achievement or failure, race is indeed a subtle issue. Pick any one of the five problem above. None of them is a race problem. None of the 95% of blacks in prison is there because they are black. They are there because of what they, and perhaps as for back as their ancestors, have suffered and endured because they are black.

Blaming blackness for academic failures without fully analyzing the causes of the failure is not only misleading. It does a lot of damage. There is no such creature as a typical or average black person. Any individual, Black, White, Maya, Mestizo, Garifuna, Creole or Chinese, with very little opportunity, reviled and abused constantly, with very little confidence in himself, is guaranteed to fail in school. Its not due to race. It is his socio-economic condition.

Reverse the circumstances where a child is intellectually stimulated at home, satisfied materially and psychologically, nurtured into high expectation and pride in him or herself. That child will learn. We all know of nurtured and privileged individual black children who surpass other equally nurtured and privileged children, black, white, Chinese or any other, at elementary, secondary, tertiary levels all the way up to doctorate degrees. Its not race, it is socio-economic opportunities.

It is common knowledge that everyone is affected by his biology as well as by his nurture. Everyone is affected by his environment. Everyone's mode of thinking, feelings and aspiration are as much created by his environment as they are a response to that same environment. Given a normal brain and a healthy body, we are all trained into a mode of thinking and behaviour. A lawyer is trained into his thinking and behaviour by the precepts of his profession. So is a physician, a businessman, a soldier and they succeed most when they best reflect their professional characteristics. They all respond to their experience. So does a criminal. The question to raise therefore is, what in the principles and practices of Belizean Institutions, Family, Churches, Economics, Judiciary, Government, Schools, Civil and Human Rights have provided such fertile grounds for the crime and violence in our society?

This Summit, is first and foremost, a statement to the fact that our Belizean institutions are failing to provide for the full realization of the humanity and successful life of too many black Belizean. Not that they are to exculpate themselves from responsibility for their own improvement and success, or that life is to be made easy for them. They have to recognize that they have to face lifes hardships and that success is struggle against odds. There is no easy way out. However, I have heard too many glib, inept, superficial and unanalyzed answers from all our institutions. Hence, what's obvious is that we can certainly use some thoughts from trained professionals, such as, Criminologists, Psychologists, Sociologists and Educators in our search for answers. But certainly we cannot continue indicting Blacks for the wrongs of those few we have lost to crime and violence. Neither can we find solace in the achievement and success of those who have set landmark progress when so many others are oppressed. Too little has been done for that vast number that is languishing in poverty, extremely low self concept, poor education and poor nutrition. Not that poverty and all its causes and contributing factors can be readily dealt with, but too many Blacks are oppressed by poverty.

Remedies must be found for this disproportionate number and must be tailored to the scope and time of healing of the injury. Belize needs to give a full scale repair to the damage and neglect already in existence: crime, violence, low expectation, and very little administrative vision throughout its more than 205 years of existence and governance. Too many of us see the injuries and damage as if they started only yesterday, so that partisan politicians keep blaming one another all the time, but especially during electoral campaigns, when indeed none comes up with any usable answer. Most of us, Belizeans, our institutions included, have found too much solace in band-aid remedies, without seeing the hideous sketch and foreboding story in its full dimension. Belize owes full attention to the repair of the social condition of its Black People.

We will be here two more days discussing and analyzing black issues. Everyone understands, and no one is under any illusion, that those issues are simple and can be readily solved. This Summit cannot and will not solve our problems. But it will raise some of the issues. It will take the entire society of Belize, with all its institutions and Government, to adequately analyze our problems and to propose well thought-through viable solutions for short, medium-ranged and long-term period of effort. But the longest journey begins with the first step. To that end The World Garifuna Organization is holding a Summit on "Education and Family Finances" next April, 2004.

The task is immense. It is arduous. It will require blood, sweat and tears. But it remains ours to do.

Groundbreaking documentary captures cultural revival among afro-indigneous group in Caribbean

Garifuna Dictionary Mobile App just became available at Amazon App Store for Android Phones

Garifuna-English-Spanish Dictionary Approved by Amazon for Android Phones and Tablets

Garifuna Dictionary Mobile App Fully Available on iPhone/iPad AppStore

Garifuna-English Dictionary Approved by Apple for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

Garifuna-English-Spanish Dictionary Approved by Apple for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

Garifuna Film Trilogy Completes Principal Photography of Part 1

Garifuna Online Television, GariTV expands operations in Honduras


Garifuna Network - Ultimate Provider of Authentic Garifuna Information! GarifunaCommunity.com - Find out where the Garifuna people are getting together on the internet PuntaMusic.com - Bringing the drums closer to your ears  with authentic Garifuna music! GariChat.com - Chat Live Today GariTV.com - Online Garifuna Television GariStore.com - Garifuna Super Store. Great Products, Fast Delivery Garifuna Network - Ultimate Provider of Authentic Garifuna Information!