MLK Day. A man died for what he believed in. He had a clear vision. He had a clear direction. He knew the price he would pay and still, he would not be swayed, not by fear, not by intimidation, not even by the thought of the loss of his own life. It is insulting when his name is used to perpetrate lies and hate. It is insulting when we take the gift he gave us and spit on it. It is insulting when we use this day and his name to draw lines between black and white instead of what is wrong and what is right. Martin Luther King was an African American. He fought for the rights of other African Americans, yes. But Martin Luther King was bigger than that. He fought for human rights. He loved all his brothers and sisters. His own people didn’t agree with him about that, but he was insistent that as long as we all were not free, then none of us is free. So, show some respect for his sacrifice. Show respect for his vision. Don’t pick and choose pieces of his life, his message, to serve your less than honourable purpose. If you ain’t fuh all, you ain’t fuh none and you ain’t fuh Martin. Peace, brothers n sistahs.
Bernie Toucan and Doo Doo Chickadee are sitting on their usual spot by the junction of Fortification and Judgement Streets, having a bit of tea. It is a lovely afternoon and the long time friends are enjoying a lighthearted chat when they feel the wire dip. Both of them look over and give shrieks of surprise.
“Milli!!!! Millicent Audrey Avocet!”, exclaimed Bernie.
“Blue Shanks! Gial! Whe u di du ya?” asked Dodes excitedly. The friends come together for a warm embrace and kisses.
“Well girls. I’m here to bury my grandmother, Aurelia Avocet, memba shi? Granny Ray? She passed a few days ago and I brought her home. She insisted that she be buried here in Belize. U membah how shi does goh? Always have to have shi own way,” Mili smiled wistfully.
“I’m sorry to hear that Milli. I hope it wasn’t too difficult for you and your family?” asked Bernie.
“Well, she was almost 100 so we knew this was coming and the past few months, she was going in and out of the hospital. That was hard because it felt like I never left work, you know? Nurse at work, nurse at home,” said Milli.
“I’m sure she appreciated it, Milli,” said Bernie as she touched her friend reassuring on the shoulder.
“Gial but hmmm! Comin home da neva no joke! Dey harass me every step ah di way. Dey act like ah midi try smuggle drugs or something. Dey nuh know dat if a midi do dat, di coffin mi gwein di opposite direction? What di hell ah wa smuggle into Belize from States?” Milli’s eyes danced as she giggled. “Yu wud tink dey glad dat the immigrant di lef di country, right? Dey stop my rass da every station! Ah neahly miss mi connecting flight home. Ah tell di lady if shi nevah let mi goh, mi granny miya haunt shi rass sake a lef ah fi travel by shi self,’ said Milli.
“Haha!” laughed Dodes.”U nuh change nuh gial. U still di give trouble, big time lady and all.”
“Well! Dey piss mi off man! Ih does be dat I mi glad fi have a Belizean passport. I used to joke that I would nevah want a American one cause dey wa tek mi mek hostage. But hell! Ah di change mi mind. Ah mean, who wahn go thru da process da states? You have to pay almost a thousand dollahs den you hafi study and tek exam. Hmph! But lately, I might prefer be American.”
“Well, u know Milli, lately, wha latta pipple di rail up bout fi we citizenship. How easy it is fi get it and dat anybody could get it fi leebit a money or a simple vote inna elections. Jus di oddah day, PM give hundreds a pipple citizenship. Pipple nevah tek tu kindly. Seh how dey only di du it fi get votes cause dey desperate.” Dodes shook her head. “Milli gial. You might glad u live da States fi tru. Dis country jus di go to rass. Ah mean, why d hell u wa give a bunch a Guatemalans citizenship? Dey don tink we da fi dey? Now dey could vote and buy land and send dey pickney da fi wi school. Ih just bun mi when ah tink bout it.”
“Shit! Ah neva know tings get so bad gial Dodes,” said Milli. But dis rass nuh new mein. When ah midi go da SJC, dey used to talk bout di Chiney di pay like $45,000 fuh wa passport. At least den wi mid get something firit, right? But dis? Dey just di come tek whe dey done tink da fi dey already and we jus give it to dey!” Milli looked over at Bernie who had gotten very quiet, just sipping her tea every now and again. “Bernie. Whe di goh tru da maze a yourns?”
“Ahh.” Bernie sighed.”Ah jus di tink fi tru Milli. Ah mean, what do you do when something like this happen? Who u call? Is there even a process of inquiry?”
“Hey Milli,” said Dodes. “Di one good thing whe come outta dis? Dey gat deya 2 gial name Aria Lightfoot and Fayemarie Carter. Dey two deh awn gial. You know whe Aria seh bout di passport ting? Shi call Belize a prostitute! Something bout open fi business with evibady!” Dodes’ body shakes as she heartily laughs.
“Buwahahahahaha!” laughed Milli. “Dat da wa gud one Dodes! Suh wi da still ‘soldier taffy’? Wi jus do it legal like now. Wow!” Milli sobered as the thoughts swirled around her head. The Belize of her Granny Ray’s days definitely seem to be gone with her. This is one of the major conflicts she struggles with deeply. How can she, Milli, say anything about what is happening in Belize when she lives in a nice house and has a nice job in sunny California? She thinks of coming home often but she knows she is not ready to face this type of life where politics and one’s existence were one and the same. She shook her head as if to shake the thoughts right out. “Anyway, Dodes. Tell mi bout whe deya gial di seh.”
The friends sat on the wire for the next hour, until the sun sprayed its golden tendrils across the land, closing one more day, signalling one more triumph of survival over continued difficulties and challenges to all the good these friends knew as home.
Watched “Iron Lady” about Margaret Thatcher and it was a remarkable portrayal. Well it’s Meryl Streep, how bad could it be? But it was so stark a realization, to see this one lady surrounded by barking, patronizing, condescending men. No matter what we think of her, she fought a fight few of us could fathom, much less actually do. So, that brings me to the thought: why do we show such disrespect for our leaders? Ok, Ok…don’t shoot me! You can’t catch me anyway, I fly too fast 🙂 But really ponder: what must it be like to be a leader of a third world country, surrounded by the big, intimidating goons of the world? Can you do it? Would you know what to say? how to say it? how to dress? which fork to use? It is a daunting task so before you spew more vitriol and call our leaders horrible derogatory names, take a step back and show some respect, if nothing else for the fact that they are doing what you can’t or won’t. Her adviser said to her “Margaret, if you want to change your party, lead it. You want to change your country, lead it!” So stop talking and start doing lovers!!!!! Or else, sit down and shut the hell up!!!!
Apparently people didn’t find this on the site but it is under “Welcome to Our Blog-Fayemarie Anderson Carter”.
So…who am I? First off, I am a woman. I am a citizen of the world and I belong to no one. I have faced unbelievable circumstances all my life and even before I was born. Basically, I shouldn’t be here. My mother had a difficult pregnancy and was on bed rest the last months. With all the precautions taken and advantages of having a father who was a medical intern, it still didn’t prevent me from being born premature and kinda dead for a while. That should have been the clue to the world “Watch out! She’s a fighter!” Well but, I didn’t always know that and many things knocked me down and there were times I felt hopeless and helpless.
I had a very confusing, complicated childhood. I felt like I had each foot in a different world so that I was constantly trying to balance between them. There were a lot of misconceptions about my family and our intentions. It went from “You’re white, you don’t care”; “You’re rich; why do you care?” to “Oh you’re poor, who cares?” Despite all that, I couldn’t help but grow up with an intense feeling of obligation and sense of civic duty. I was a quiet child (the irony, I know) so I was often unseen as I observed adults (many of whom, became leaders of our communities) discuss, argue, make plans and sound ridiculous. I was in the back of a government vehicle once, when an adviser to a minister (no names) actually recommended that we remove social studies from the elementary school curriculum and I was just stupefied by this intense stupidity. His estimation of social studies was “it is a waste of time”. With this attitude, we wonder why we are where we are????
On the other hand, living in Dangriga, I couldn’t very well insulate and isolate myself from the realities of regular folk. First of all, I lived smack dab in the middle of town. All the shops, the police station, the banks, churches, schools, government offices and the hospital was right there within a two block radius. Secondly, I didn’t want to. I wanted to play “toad” and punta and “bathe sea”. I wanted to crack my supa seed with the door stop by the church. I wanted to “plait” my hair and “walk bout street”. Even if people wanted to think that I was not part of the society because of my parents, my ancestry (I lived on a street named after my paternal family for goodness’ sake) anyone who looked closely would have seen that I faced many of the same issues everyone else did and then some. Not only did I have to wait every day for my dad to see a patient so I could get $10 to buy bread and milk, people wanted us to donate to everything. I always got picked, in school, to donate the most expensive item like a chicken or the cake. Multiply that times 4 Anderson children and that was half our weekly grocery budget.
I was often ashamed and proud at the same time. Crazy making, I tell you. Case in point. My dad loves to spread Christmas cheer to those who wouldn’t otherwise know it. I understood that about my dad and actually, I am so guilty of it myself. The price for that? I wrapped hundreds of gifts for everyone else while my Christmas gift was the bloody Christmas dress I needed to wear to church. Some gift. LOL. Or how about that time I got a blanket, or the time I got a fan? (I was glad for it don’t mind me) but I was a kid too dammit and I wanted toys! I really did only have two church dresses. My snobbish middle class friends loved to make feel me inferior because they had the latest styles from “States” and would tell me things like “Gial, u noh fraid da dress staat to talk?” Stupid, mean girls.
The blessing of this kind of upbringing is that I learned to empathize. I learned what it feels like to not belong and I didn’t belong anywhere. Too po fi di rich pipple, too white fi di po pipple and when I moved to the States, not white enough for the Americans. So, I learned to like myself. I had to. Nobody else did! I read and read and read. I would get lashin’ because I was reading books and not washing the dishes or I let the clothes get wet on the line because I forgot to pick them in. I learned to make toys out of old seasoning cans and match boxes; I turned them into doll house furniture. I made dolls out of mangoes and tried to sew my own doll clothes (I say try because I often made them too tight LOL). Books were like gold to me. Everything I read, I depended on the library for so that the highlight of my year, was when the ship came from England with new library books. I read about Judy and Maisy and nothing was more hotly traded than the latest Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book. When I was actually GIVEN a book, I treasured it and read and reread till it damn near fell apart. I still had the books Mary K Carridi (I called her Aunt Kath, back then) gave me until 1998 when I left them with my parents, not knowing that they would be following me not a few months later. Sorry, Kathy, but I think the books, a copy of Jack and Jill published in 1898 and B is for Betsy, were lost in one of the hurricanes . Those books, the latter, especially, gave me dreams of another kind of childhood, filled with pink clouds and fantasy, sweet memory for sure.
Today, I am married to an American and I have two girls, 19 and 10. I have lived in different countries and states. Just look at my Facebook page and you’ll see all the colleges/universities I “visited” 🙂 I graduated in 2006 from Adler Graduate School with an MA in Counseling Psychology but I haven’t written my thesis yet (long story) so I may never actually get that piece of paper :P. Fingers crossed, I’ll get it done soon now that I am a work at home mom, again. Before now, I worked in the Bloomington, MN school system as a contracted therapist/case manager in a special education program. I worked with children and families struggling with challenges that come with diagnoses of emotional/behavioural disorders such as ADHD, ODD, Bi-polar, Depression, Anxiety, Autism.
I was asked by Aria Lightfoot to be part of this blog addressing the issues facing our Belizean people and I didn’t hesitate for more than a second. Politics have scarred my heart but I decided to take a chance anyway and be a part of what I hope becomes known as a “revolution”. I hope to impart knowledge and insight but mostly compassion and empathy for our fellow citizens. We won’t get anywhere if we don’t understand that we are all in it together. Blue and Red makes PURPLE and that’s where we are: bruised and battered.
by Fayemarie Anderson Carter
I hope everyone had a lovely time and if you didn’t, tell me all about it! As I have been reading all the posts made by fellow concerned citizens, one thing seems recurrent. No one knows who really has the Belizeans’ best interest at heart. There appears to be no front runner who encompasses the qualities we wish to see in our leaders. There is a sense of frustration, hopelessness and despair. Our society seems to have come to accept blatant thievery and corruption as status quo. Each side accuses the other of the exact same thing. So, who is right? Who has the answer? Is there a silver lining in this at all?