Against Police Brutality in Belize

Dear Belizeans,

According to the Constitution of Belize, Section 4(2) it is legal for police to shoot unarmed people to protect property and prevent a non-violent crime. This could include, perhaps, your teenage son or daughter trying to escape arrest who has not otherwise broken any other law.  

The Constitution of Belize States:
“A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section if he dies as the result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably justifiable:
(a) for the defence of any person from violence or for the defence of property;

(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
(c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny; or
(d) in order to prevent the commission by that person of a criminal offence,
or if he dies as the result of a lawful act of war.”


While the use of lethal force may be justified in protecting others from physical harm, protecting property and preventing non-violent crime should never justify anybody’s death. This section of the Constitution of Belize neither complies with
international law nor reflects a valuing of human life. It violates our human rights. 

Importantly, because of institutionalised racism, lethal force and other police violence is also more likely to be used against black people and indigenous people in our communities. This has been demonstrated time and time again through countless stories both in Belize and internationally. George Floyd was just one person that this happened to, and as a society, we can do better. 

We demand that the National Assembly amend the Constitution of Belize to comply with the 1990 United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, and that Belize become a state party to the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights for the benefit and well-being of all Belizeans. 

Sign this petition if you believe that the law should protect and serve the people of this country. 

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/community_petitions/the_national_assembly_of_belize_and_the_governorge_take_a_stand_against_police_brutality_in_belize/?toxYOqb

Thank you Mikaila.

We feel your pain Atlas

It’s Labor Day 2020.

Of course, having the blessing to be alive now during a pandemic has us all looking at the world through the lense of that reality. So on this cool Friday morning with a hint of smoke in the air, this is what I attempt to do. Life is segmented now into BC Before Corona and AC After Corona.

Labor day is the day we use to commemorate and celebrate the contributions of our workers and validate the value of all work, big and small. I’m drawing on the juxtaposition of the pandemic and work simply because our focus on what is important work has been dramatically shifted. Societal norms raised to think that the office job is better than that of the janitor. We then think that the cashier or shelf stackers were people who just did not take school as seriously as they should have. That our bus drivers, doormen, and bag boys deserve a low income because those things aren’t important jobs in the grand scheme of things.

Then the novel coronavirus came to town for an unscheduled and prolonged visit.

We rush stores to bulk buy. We jump on the buses and vans at rush hour to get home. We begin to obsessively clean everywhere. We then realize that the shelf goes empty faster, the shopping lines get longer, the buses become more packed and everything that we touch can inevitably lead to us contracting the virus. Hopefully, we have recognized how incredibly important the labor of those who we have looked down upon are.

We also must have recognized the importance of solidarity during this time as my brothers and sisters of Cuba always have. That country and its people have so valiantly offered themselves to so many countries in the world in this biological war against the human race. A country that we have also treated just as we treat our janitors and cashiers. Cuba a country that has been lambasted with an embargo from a country that is now the global epicenter of this pandemic. The beautiful island nation, the most developed country in this hemisphere, has sent frontline workers, soldiers out charging forth to help us survive even as its embassy is being attacked on US soil. That’s as close to the perfect labor of love that we can get.

Image Courtesy Breaking Belize News

I never miss a chance to tell people that this pandemic is a humanization reset. It has reminded us of what is most important, of the most valuable things. It has forced of the reconfigure the mathematics of how we measure value on a whole. As we reimagine as a globe and march toward creating a world where decent work is a priority and is a indispensable tool to achieve true and meaningful sustainable development, we must take the lessons with us. Those lessons that has pounded “pan de mic” and in the ears of the status quo.

“Without labor nothing prospers.” – Sophocles

Stay Curious.

Safe Spaces on the WWW.

So we know Ms. Rona has cracked the sash cord and has us in our homes for most of the day. If you’re like me you’re probably struggling with this new normal. We’re trying to adapt and adjust to the new requirements to stay safe and alive while balancing mental stability with remaining productive. I have a brain that has to intentionally keep learning ALL THE TIME even when not in a formal educational setting. There are millions of resources out there on Mr. Google but I wanted to share some of the resources, both new and old, that keep me occupied but also growing that big brain that we humans have been blessed with. We’re flipping the script on quarantine culture!

Before we go on though, I encourage everyone to read this essay by Charles Leslie Jr. entitled ‘Let us Prepare for the Rise of the Phoenix.’ It was such a comforting and insightful read in times of uncertainty especially if you live in Belize or if Belize lives in you.

 

The Resources:

 

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative is my first plug. I’ve always wanted to be a YLAI fellow but I’m still too young to apply. In the meantime, I joined the network to access online training and access great resource tools from YLAI alumni. These include servant leadership, grant writing, community organizing for action, transparency and good governance and much more! You can sign up for the newsletter and join a course here: https://ylai.state.gov/online-courses/

Next, Harvard University, one of the world’s leading universities,  is offering FREE courses to keep those noggins in tip-top shape. These range from Pyramids of Giza: Ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology, Strengthening Community Health Worker Programs and Justice among many other quirky but interesting topics. Some have already started so jump on it here: Free Harvard Learning

We’re scurrying along! Next up are the online resources made available by the Department of Youth Services. These programming objectives are specially curated for youth development purposes that are in line with its objectives of governance, health and well-being, enterprise and community strengthening. You can find the sign up information here: https://www.dysbelize.org/online-trainings

This one is for my fellow tree huggers who want to strengthen their understanding of the interlinkages of climate action at communal to international level. The United Nations Climate Change Learning Partnership is a partnership by over 30 organizations that love and work to preserve our only home! The awesome courses on this platform include children and climate change, cities and climate change, sustainable diet and of course much more. You can sign up and find out more at https://unccelearn.org/course/index.php. You will definitely be able to think, talk and act climate after these interactive sessions!

Finally, this one’s for my fellow book worms! Maestro Yasser Musa is one of my muses. He is an art activist,  poet, publisher, and promoter. A bona fide creative with a WICKED brain. On his website, https://www.yassermusa.com/, he shares with us downloadable versions of his favorite reads from authors such as Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, George Orwell, Arundhati Roy among others. No doubt a collection of books shared with him by those who inspire him, these books speak to politics, love, art and just the things we stay alive for. A concept memorialized in a quote from my favorite movies of all time, Dead Poet Society. “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” While you’re on the website by sure to explore it a bit. I am sure you’ll find it awe-inspiring!

Of course, we know that everyone doesn’t have access to the internet in these times so if you are able to share those wifi passwords with your neighbors. Though small it’s an incredible act of solidarity!

That’s it! These are the spaces on the world wide web that are keeping me sane and safe while the in-person meetings with colleagues have ceased, while the quiet library with that comforting book smell is closed, while I can’t go visit my favorite coffee shop on the mouth of the Belize River to read my Amandala. I hope you can find learning and inspiration in them too!

 

Remember, Stay Home but Stay Curious.

Twenty Trinity: A Letter to DN

“…thinking where I’m gonna be if I’m ever 23…”

It’s been twenty-three years since my first breath. It has been a beautiful life when I think about it. Yesterday also ended my 12-day reflective practice which rings in my official new year. As one of my final activities in that practice, I took some time and went through a lot of photos and outside my obvious obsession for my eyes, lips, flowers, and sunsets, I noticed that I have grown. Grown not only physically but up and out mentally and emotionally. I watched a shy girl grow into a confident woman (still very much introverted). I saw photos that I knew I was faking a smile in because my brown eyes were sad. I saw photos of persons who I’ve loved and lost, of those I’ve lost and still love. I reeled through the years and saw so many triumphs and even more failures. I reminisced on the rooms that I spent what felt like endless hours in with people that molded my worldview. I saw my steel pan, the wad of notes, the rhythm, the music that saved my life in dark DARK times. I looked back at the straight hair I once had, of the day I chopped that all off without fear.

I think of all the places I’ve been and the faces I’ve seen and damn how blessed I’ve been. I gave thanks to the family and friends that have loved me when it has been very difficult to. I am grateful for the colleagues that have shared their space and knowledge with me without fear of my fiery being without fear of my taking their place. I give thanks to those who have shown me how cruel the world can be, your lessons were invaluable. I stand on the shoulders of ancestors and elders that have built institutions that today allow me to be and do what I love the most. I pay homage to that by my stalwart journey through paths less traveled through my maintenance of integrity, service, and humanity.

I don’t have it all figured out, still learning to love myself, still practicing this confidence thing. All I know is that I want to live a passionately curious life and leave everything I touch in this realm a little better than how I first found it.

Cheers to many more years, my girl. I love you!

…for Melody

Most things I’ll never have to courage to say for several reasons either my tone will be taken as aggressive or my eyes will well up with tears or just some vulnerable situation will take place that I’d just rather not have anyone see me in and thus with taking finger to screen to vent, yes? Cheap therapy.

I’ve grown up a whole lot since I started to play steelpan at 16. A hobby that literally saved my life. Through the hobby of palancing,salsa-ing, caressing the notes of the pan I made life long friendships. Friends that I’ll love for life like Kandice, Alex, Maurice, Amal, Ryan, Kelsey, Arianne, Keanu, Kadeem, Analiese, Andoni, Kieran, Mr. Cas and my momma Jules along with her family. I also had people that I wasn’t particularly fond of in the beginning for whatever reason and one of those persons was Melody. My spirit just didn’t align with this girl’s own.

We played tenor together for a while and for most gigs we were in the same line. I don’t know what it was about her that I didn’t like because she was nurturing her black consciousness, being educated, she was pretty, her hair was bomb and well she was eccentric in her own way. All things I would regularly dig in another human. What was my problem? Maybe I was still coming into my own self like I alluded to before my later teens were turbulent as they could’ve ever been because my mind was in such a mess  (reference that Spongebob scene where everything was burning in his mind) yup! That’s was me. Fast forward to 21/22 year old me and me and Melody the “par haad!” We’re discussing politics, ambitions, relationships and everything in between!

It’s been a slow-to-grow relationship but I’m glad it did. They say everything will bloom in its time and I’m grateful for that. Melody, I appreciate you chica! I admire your open mind, your humanity, your uniqueness, your confidence. Thanks for not shunning me and my miserable self, thank you for accepting me in my growth even though you were oblivious of that action.

Cheers to many more years and beach days?

In my head is my favorite place to be…

I’ve always been more of a doer than a talker. I’d much rather manifest my thoughts all by myself because as much as other people want to help you make your dreams a reality their own thoughts on how to make it better will infiltrate and that can be a good or bad thing depending on the situation. Also, if you listen to me carefully as I speak you know I have a speech impediment that I worked on tirelessly to fix as a child by reading cereal boxes and a whole lot of Dr. Suess stories so public speaking is more of an insecurity. You could ask Musa how my face lights up when I find a Dr. Suess book! As a consequence of my introversion and “living in my head”, communicating my thoughts have been MAJOR struggle all my life not only because I didnt want to but also because I’ve never practiced it. I struggle even today to do that and writing helps some. I find that when I write there is little ambiguity (people simply interpret based on their human experience) because I use clear, direct, humanistic language or at least try my best to. This struggle I have trickles into every facet of my life friendships, professional life and romantic relationships. I often start, “okay,so…” and then right after my signature hand gesture show and a sigh of defeat I just retreat and say,”nevermind man.”

So when you see me on set with Marleni, or Mr.Ernesto,Yaya and most recently with Mose Hyde know that I takes a lot out of me to sit and be questioned but admittedly, it does help when I’m passionate about the topic. When I’m in a UNICEF,UNFPA, NCFC, DYS or Restore Belize meeting and I stand to speak its usually because someone has made a really wayward declaration that I need to correct in my unique vernacular; it’s not out of me wanting to make you look bad. In fact, you done that way before I stood up. When were friends and I take the time out to send a long voice message or write a long message know that I put so much thought into it and write it with you and your emotions in mind. When I’m trying to get to know you and I constantly and painstakingly make an effort to communicate with you my feelings don’t take that for granted because the universal creator knows that it is much easier for one of it’s most complex creations to simply not say anything.

I say all this to say that talking is not my strong suit (it will never be) but when I do speak or write there is barrage of mental preparation and overall discomfort. If I do it, it’s out of necessity and responsibility. Please don’t take that for granted.

Well this piece, this is just something I threw together this Sunday morning, thoughts I had to get out.


From the Tumblr Thoughts of 20-year-old Me…

Aren’t you in love with both the fragility and complexity of life? One minute you are here reveling and relishing in it and the next minute you can become a gift to death. I happen to believe that’s beautiful too because while your family mourns your death your life and contributions are also celebrated. Yet, with all that truth staring us in the face all the time we still waste our lives. We don’t watch enough sunsets, we don’t smile when we see happy children, we don’t feel the breeze on our skin, we don’t listen to the night, we don’t acknowledge the universal creator, we don’t write, we don’t travel, we don’t appreciate music and we don’t forgive. Why is that? Why blatantly disrespect life and love when we, completely unworthy beings, we’re given a free pass? I really don’t know that’s what makes life so complex. What I can tell you though is that whatever doesn’t make me happy is immediately removed from my life and replaced with what adds value and teaches lessons. I allow myself to feel and I am present. I appreciate and I love. I wholly respect the labyrinth of life and enjoy the odysseys knowing full well that around the corner could hold grave danger. I walk with faith.

Musings of the Curious Non-Conformist

Thanks for joining me! I first started to write for the Amandala on September 7th 2018. The Amandala is Belize’s leading newspaper with a rich history of over half a century! Here are the links to some of those ‘Power to the People’ thoughts that grace the Friday publications of the paper.

The Disguise Corporate Philantropy: A look at Post Independent Belize

We Wear the Mask

Belizean Students and COVID

Sovereign Solutions Post Pandemic

Ryan on Rhodes

An Open Letter to Belizean Youth

Nation Building: An Ode to Cuba

Black Action in Belize

Diplomacy Policy

Belize is not a Real Place

Di Revolution Nuh Wahn Be Stream Live

Sweet Belizean Child, I Apologize

Aborto Legal paro no Morir

Belize say Yes to the ICJ

Rt. Hon Musa said Sankofa

Youth Mainstreaming Speech 2019

What Could Have Been And The “More” We Could Have Done

Behold, I am coming like a thief!

Sound Revolution

The Young Codd on Exploitation

Memeology: Bad Humor

For Posterity

Dishonesty began with the Bible

Leaning Liberty

A Bembe Gyal

My 8867

Babylon Inhumanity

501 @ 37

Juss Buss Backa Di Zinc

I am human, nothing human is alien to me. -Maya Angelou

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