By G. Michael Reid
A bigot is a blinkered, narrow-minded person, usually also very intolerant and unable to see anyone else’s point of view. People can be bigoted about things that have nothing to do with race, for example, religion or sexual orientation. A prime example would be Archie Bunker from the old television sitcom “All in the Family.” ~Wikipedia
Belize is a melting pot of many different races, cultures and lifestyles. We currently exist in a state of what might be considered relative harmony. It was not always that way. I have always felt that the greatest accomplishments of our late leader George Price, was his ability to hold this mangled mess together and steer us from colonialism to our state of “jerry-built” Independence. It could not have been very easy.
As it is, we are very much a polarized nation, deeply divided along religious, philosophical and in particular political lines. We are governed by a Constitution which affirms “that the Nation of Belize shall be founded upon principles which acknowledge the supremacy of GOD…” Considering our attitudes toward others and the types of crimes and gross indiscretions of late, one would be hard-pressed to convince anyone of any such thing.
Belize started out as a settlement of ragtag pirates and a few slaves. They subsequently turned to the harvesting of the rich mahogany and logwood trees that they found growing in the area. They pushed inland as far as the Rio Hondo and established parameters for what would become this “tranquil haven” of “wealth untold”. Of course, from early in our existence, our neighbor to the west has been violating the tenth commandment and “coveting” all that we hold to be ours.
There is a long standing argument as to whether slavery in Belize was any different than it was in the United States. I am inclined to the position that slavery was slavery in any form or fashion. What was different was the aftermath of the atrocity; whereas miscegenation was illegal and prohibited in the states, it was widely practiced and accepted here in Belize. As a result, by the time the masters had depleted the forest and were ready to return to their true wives in the mother country, we were left a colony of mixed up and confused mulattos. Some were darker and some were lighter and that subsequently laid the foundation of our most prominent paradigm. While in the U.S. they were fighting for civil rights, we were fighting to see who was better than whom.
Before us of even, were the Mayans, who left a rich legacy and monuments of their storied past. We treated them in pretty much the same way that Vega and Grijalva are now treating the Noh Mul monument; with distain and disrespect. While their descendants are still here, they seem to have as much rights as their “native” relatives to the north. Banished to reservations and now being pushed even further to make way for rosewood harvesting and oil drilling expeditions.
Then came the Garinagu! How we hated them and would not let them within 36 miles of our nest of ungregariousness. We called them Kerobs (or Cherubs if you read the Bible) and looked down on their customs and eating habit. They were “bregging” and always smelled like fish! It took many years but we eventually realized their worth and allowed them to educate our children, play us music and stand on the wall of our security. All of us are indeed now one and haven’t we come a long way baby?
Then came the Mennonites. They were different; acted differently, dressed differently and “did not bade for forty days and forty nights”. We didn’t like them much either, however, we eventually also realized how valuable they were to our economy and in supplying much of the food that we needed to eat. They are also now fully integrated into our society. Hell, there is even one way up as a high ranking minister of government.
Then came the Chinese, “trying to make a dollar out of fifty cents”. At first there was a trickle and then they began to pour. They paid good money for their passports and they wrestled away the fry chicken and then the boledo business. In the beginning, as is usual, we didn’t like them. We robbed them and even killed a couple here and there. Then we ate their chicken and became hooked. They are now thoroughly assimilated into society and a couple is also up in the echelons of politics.
Then the immigrants from our Central American neighbors began arriving by the boatloads and truckloads. Spanish people that snuck in while we weren’t even looking. These “yellow-belly Panyas” ate corn, slept in hammocks and were boisterous when drunk. We did not care much for them, looked down our noses and felt ourselves superior. Then we realized that they also did a lot of farming and worked hard at the jobs that we thought ourselves too good to perform. We did not like it but we eventually had no choice but to accept them. We started leaving and they kept coming until now, we are reduced to “minority” and they elevated to status of “majority”.
Now, here’s the real point! Bigotry is etched deeply into our nature. We almost need it because we have to feel as if we are better than somebody else. At least on the surface, we have done well in accepting or at least tolerating other races and cultures. We have come a long way, no doubt, and now we are living together and it is a beautiful thing to behold. It was a tough and rocky road to this point but we did it and it has done us well. We have much spice in our coalition.
Now here come some idiots who are tugging at the last vestige of our snobbery. We have stopped hating other ethnic groups and now we have no one else to hate and feel better than, than those who call themselves “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” (LBGT). No way in hell! If we have to pull out every leaf of the Bible and beat them with it until they surrender, we will not surrender our right to hate. This is our last bastion of superiority and we refuse to let go. If need be, we shall assail the gates of the courthouse and sing sankeys and read scripture ‘til thy kingdom come. They will not win!
How dare anyone try to deny us our right to be bigots? We are what we are!
The Belize Times