My partner here at Twocanview wrote the article Legitimized in Belizean Society by Aria Lightfoot https://twocanview.com/2012/04/26/legitimized-in-belizean-society-by-aria-lightfoot/ and nearly a 100 comments later on another page and a few others here and there on other pages, as well as here, there seems to be a deliberate misunderstanding of her point.
Aria was NOT and I will repeat it (because no matter how many times I said it or how many ways I said it, it was ignored), NOOOOOTTTT exploring HOW we came to have gangs. She was only pointing out that we Belizeans legitimize their activity in ways perhaps, we don’t even realize? Is that where the defensive opposition is coming from? A lack of realization of how many little ways we really do legitimize the drug dealers/gangs in our society?
Look. Legitimising doesn’t mean legalizing. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are singing their praises to your children…some of the responses we got just made me feel like I had entered the Twilight Zone. So let’s explore what “legitimising” means.
-When you look the other way as one of your friends or family smokes a joint
– When you occasionally indulge in smoking a joint, snorting a line
-When you don’t show up to court as a witness in a case prosecuting one of these gang bangers
-When you think it is ok that the son of Mr. Soh and Soh “get off” for murder bc his family is soooo respected
-When you don’t call the cops when you just watched a crime being committed
-When you hear a domestic fight between a thug and his girl and you don’t call the cops because “da nuh nun a yer bizniz”.
-When you see a kid reach into his backpack and suspiciously palm something as he hands it off to your son.
-When you ask Mr. Soh and Soh for a donation for your youth program when you know where the money comes from.
-When you call the latest squeeze of Mr. Soh and Soh “Mrs.” and invite her to your fundraiser cause she will buy the $100 tickets
-When you admire their new car, their new house…their clothes
-When you let them buy you a drink or you go to their child’s birthday party, take you to the cayes, Can Cun
-When because his name is “brother” “son” “husband” you tell yourself “he isn’t all that bad”
-When you tell yourself “mek dey kill out deyself” thus making murder ok as long as it is one of “them”.
I could go on and on but the point I am making is simply this: When you apply a different set of rules and standards for people because you secretly envy their material success or because you are afraid of retaliation or you simply want your cut, you legitimise gangbanging. It is not only the “gangbanging” itself. It is an entire set of behaviours, from misdemeanors to felonies.
You legitimise by NOT accepting that the gangbanger is not just the thug sagging his pants BUT it is Minister Soh and Soh. It is Mrs. Soh and Soh. The lone attitude that it is a minority in the depths of our city legitimises all the other ones living in Buttonwood Bay, San Pedro, Belmopan? By perpetuating the myth that it is the teenager riding barefooted on the bike, you are legitimizing the crooked lawyer you have dinner with or the business person you know is smuggling or money laundering.
People. The thug on the street is the symptom, the mere tip of the iceberg. If we want to solve this so called “inner city” problem, you have to look at your mansions hidden in the hills along the Hummingbird Highway. You need to search the yachts docked in front of Placencia and San Pedro. You need to search the containers being shipped to churches. You need to turn in your friend the pilot who just flew a plane full of cocaine.
You need to get real. You need to get over your prejudices. You need to open your eyes and see what is right in front of you.