REPORT #104 Sept 1999
THE PORT TOWN, BELIZE CITY UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEM!


Produced by the Belize Development Trust

The following is intended as fuel for debate, the conclusions drawn may be biased and prejudiced. See what you think!

We can often draw parallels from studies done in other countries, with what is happening in Belize. In this regard, the Miami Herald of South Florida is grappling with the aftermath of the "F" (failed) ratings a lot of schools got. The experts of all kinds, are crunching the statistics and numbers trying to find out where education went wrong. Lot's of theories were put forth in a quasi-opinionated type of science. From "poverty", "single parent families", "black racial discrimination" and other guesses. Education is of course guessed at being the root cause of poverty.

Guess what! The scientific number crunching is in and the failing of schools is not POVERTY. It is not single parent family. It is partially being a black USA born African American. It is NOT being a black Caribbean black African American.

Here is what was found out. Dade County is about half black and half mestizo latino. With a small sprinkling of whites scattered here and there. Most of the USA born whites fled years ago and took the USA flag with them.

The failing schools all had their share of poverty and single family homes. While such things contributed to lower percentage scores, the big overwhelming contribution to failing schools was the USA born black African American. I feel somewhat qualified to make some judgement calls here, for I spent eight years doing five summer months a year, running four swimming pools in the heart of the USA black African American areas. The worst areas in the metropolitan county. It was nothing to have murders in the pool parking lot, or robberies, or check in guns so young black drug dealers could go swimming. I dealt at one time, or another, with Arcola, Brownsville, Gwen Cherry and Little River. Believe me, this is the home of USA black African American riots, and I was the only Parks and Recreation Employee for most of those years that was white in the area. One white man in a sea of blacks. I knew what discrimination meant. This of course was not really new to me, for when I first moved to British Honduras in 1960, I was only one of six white adults in what seemed a sea of Caribbean black African Americans. There were white colonial officers and there were white British Army troops. But residents living and earning a living type, "whites", were few in number in Belize. Many Spanish called themselves "white", but most were some mestizo complexion of color and they were in the minority anyway, in Belize. I was a much discriminated against white minority.

What the statisticians and studies are showing, is that the problem with Florida schools is, the CULTURAL ATTITUDE OF THE USA BLACK AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY. I repeat: the problem is a CULTURAL ATTITUDE problem!

Poverty, single parent familes, foreign language problems with English, cuts across all stratas of society. They effect the statistics in lowering scores for school grading, but the biggest segment by far, over 74% of the problem is the attitude and culture of the USA born black African American.

I know this intuitively from my pool experiences. USA born black African American children are no different than any other racial group up to about age 12 years. The kids were not aware that I was white. Only that I was an adult. It is the teenage years that change them. A learned taught experience, by their grandparents, their parents and peers. A hatred of all that is white, or different; be it Chinese, Korean, Central American, or black Caribbean African American.

The statistical number crunching is showing that USA born black African American teenagers are succumbing to adult relative teachings and teenage peer pressure. If you get good grades, you are too "white"! Poor grades is "USA black". Skipping classes is correct and hanging around on the street; attending classes regularly is "white" or "Asian". To study, or do academically well at school is "white". To talk understandable English is "white", you must talk Alabama slang, or feel peer pressure insults.

In my own experience, I had my ears filled lots of times with the culture of the teenagers. The girls had babies and planned their lives in Dade County as a single parent deliberately. It was geared to living in public paid housing, food stamps and various other welfare career choices. They had the Federal and County system of welfare payments honed to a fine art, worthy of a Bachelors Degree. The boys could easily make $500 a week as a "runner". This is small drug deliveries to street corner sales spots by bicycle from a central wholesale location of storage. Because they were legally underage and juveniles; even if caught they would not suffer any penalities and the criminal records would be sealed. This usually backfired when they turned 18 years of age and most of the ones I knew over the years are now living in the penitentiary system. They skipped school and an education, under the rationalization that they were actually making more money than their parent, or adult relatives who was working at a job. It was true too! Stealing cars and chop shops to sell the parts is another teenage business in these communities that I worked at. Quick, excellent money, instead of going to school. The whole teenage USA born black American culture was geared to instant teenage gratification. It backfired in adult life, as they had no skills with which to earn decent money. This CULTURAL thing is the main problem with the failing grades of the "F" rated failed schools.

How does this relate to the nation of Belize? We can draw some comparisons and some conclusions. The biggest problem is only in one District capital, the port town of Belize City. Elsewhere in the other districts, teenagers usually have the opportunity to learn some entrepreneurial basics from part time farming, seasonal work and those sort of things, outside of the elementary school system.

The port town of the Belize District is the major problem in the nation of Belize. There are many contributory factors here to unemployment and lack of self-employment. Back in the 1960's, most port town families had relatives in the villages. They swapped town stays for the rural relatives for food stuffs brought from the home plantations. Kids went for summer holidays in the rural areas. As the nation went through the 4 political terms of SELF GOVERNMENT and then onward through another 4 terms, or so after INDEPENDENCE, the nation was ruled by a system of "population representation". What this did, was to concentrate political power in the port town of Belize City. These port town politicians did then and still do, dominate the hierarcheal political administrative system of power. It is only natural as a consequence, that most national revenues and most of the borrowed Foreign National Debt was plowed into the port town. Government offices were established here, all the major educational facilities were gathered here. Business gathered here also, in order to cut costs and the convenience of dealing with a centralized hierarcheal bureaucracy. What the political structure did, because of "population representation" and due to the fact there was only one layer of government, rather than multiple layers; was create a CITY STATE like the African ex- colonies also did.

The city state of Belize City still rules the nation of Belize. City population has subsequently grown, mostly concentrated where all the government bureaucracies have their offices. If you want to get something done, you must go to Belize City. If you get tired of this, then for cost purposes, or convenience you must move and live in Belize City.

Instead of building a nation, what POPULATION REPRESENTATION did, in a one layered hiearcheal governing system was concentrate the building of a megapolis. A one city state that rules a rural countryside and small district towns. This is an artificial setup, a consequence of "population representation".

Belize City the port town was always majority black population. Creole as you were! Throughout the Caribbean countries there has always been majority black populations. This has changed now in the nation of Belize. Yet within the black Caribbean nations the cries of discrimination are always bandied about. In Jamaica, it seems amusing to me, to hear two momma's arguing over the fence, whose daughter is "whiter" than the other's daughter. In Belize, there was a social status based also on color of the skin. The port Belize City Creoles looked down on Stann Creek Garifuna. The Garifuna were often coal black, where the port Creoles had different shades of black. Mostly in the nation of Belize, society discriminated both on shades of color, but also on financial, or educated status. You could be a coal black Garifuna, but at the top of the social heap because of education, or money. My white color put me at the top of the social heap, though my financial status was at the bottom of the heap. I applied for the Pickwick Club one time and got black balled. Used to tie up my boat under their river balcony and I applied so I could get their lunch time sandwiches. They were cheaper than the restaurants.

The cries of discrimination in unemployment, mostly coming from the Creoles of the port town of the Belize District are mostly based on shades of color. Racial descrimination as it were! Discrimination in the port town by Creoles is a misnomer. It exists alright, but not so much from color, as from connections. Nearly all businesses in the nation of Belize are small family run businesses. So they tend to employ family, or relatives. The amount of business JOBS were very few and the competition from qualified people very high. Limited jobs go to connections, or references. So, even though Creoles dominate the population of the port town, they did not for the most part, qualify in the job market because of lack of family, or connections. The lack of full time jobs in a rural agricultural country is normal. It is the same all over the world, whether you are in Asia, or Eastern Europe. Most businesses in Belize were from Mestizo, or White people. Were there were CREOLE owned businesses they tended to hire Creoles. In government jobs, the Garifuna who were coal black and at the bottom of the racial color discrimination heap, usually conquered society by superior work ethics and education over that of the port town Creoles. Nowadays, the Maya are upwardly mobile from the same reasons.

Unemployment has many causes. Mis-applied colonial education is certainly a contributory factor. I don't believe that the port town Creole population was really discriminated against. It was simply that there were too few jobs and too few Creole owned businesses to make jobs available. In any case, it was the habit some decades ago, the CULTURE if you will, for people to work only when they needed money to buy a radio, new dress, or fix the house. The rest of the time they went fishing, or farming. They just did not need to work that constantly, or hard if you did not want to. All that has changed now. Money now rules Belize!

It did not help that Evan Hyde's generation that went on their USA walkabout, got traumatized in the USA and brought back real USA style USA born black discrimination attitudes. This imported "white blame" discrimination to Belize created a CULTURE in the growing port town among at least 3 generations of port town Creoles. This hangs on to this very day.

It is cool to rob and steal! It is cool to skip school and play truant. It is cool to blame "whitey". Or the Spanish, or the Maya, or the Chinee, or the Arab. It is cool to speak Creole and not understand or speak "white" English. It is not CULTURALLY acceptable among much of the port town teenage Creole population to get an education. And when they did get an education, it was mis-matched to the environment. The education was useless.

Probably the biggest culprit of all, is the POPULATION REPRESENTATION representative system in a one layered hierarcheal pyramid leadership structure. The answer to unemployment and many social problems, I believe, is in a multi-layered political management structure, coupled with a switch to District Geographic representation at the national level of government. With the problems of populations represention delegated to District Governments. We have to distribute population around the nation. We cannot do that in this one-layered government system that concentrates population in a city state megapolis.

In order to bring port town Creoles back to the roots of what Belize was and really is ( an agricultural nation ), we need to encourage them to migrate to the other districts. In order to do this feat, we need financial incentives. These come from "Geographical Representation" at the National Level and through District governments ( commissions, or managing committees ); wherein each district gets 6% of the national revenue. Districts with low populations will get windfalls of money and thus attract business and migrations of population from the port Belize City for the better economic lifestyles. People will move given the financial incentive to do so. With District governments and thus responsibilities, many of the national government services will be distributed district wise also at combined cheaper costs, thus curtailing the necessity of rural district people to have to move to the port town, swelling the population even more just to get government service convenience.

I'm sure you can think of other things, and maybe you will disagree with some of these. But at least think about it and what you can do to build a NATION, rather than a city state megapolis African style.

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