Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Murder Mamis Up in Belize"

I remember once driving home from school one evening listening to Jadakiss' "Knock Yourself Out". In a display of sheer lyrical mastery, infused by a sense of international awareness, Jadakiss raps, " Keep dancin, 'cause I like how that ass shake in the capris/ I'm like BIG wit the murder mamis up in Belize." (Pardon my obvious classy taste in music). When I first heard his reference to "Belize," I felt an influx of 'did-I-just-hear-that' disbelief and the sense of pride most Belizeans feel when our jewel receives any international recognition, a la Marion Jones' lap around the Olympic track with our coat of arms nestled on her back. I admit that I have realized the significance of those lyrics only after becoming a witness to the social disintegration caused by rampant crime in Belize; while it is still nice to hear references about Belize on the international scene, I am a little more cautious in allotting my sense of pride.

Like the blog below (written by my lovely colleague, the Unsilent) I must attach this disclaimer: I have never been a victim of crime, nor have any of my family members been victims of major crimes. When I see victims' families on the news, begging to know why their children were ruthlessly gunned down, I sympathize, but cannot empathize. The problems are abundant, the solutions few. But whatever suggestions are indeed put forward, it is absolutely necessary that it reflects a "Belizean-specific" solution, as opposed to adopted mechanisms imported elsewhere that are ineffective. This requires an examination of the root causes of crime, which sounds as ambiguous as asking "What is the meaning of life?" It is no secret that a poor economy contributes to the problem, and this is probably the biggest source of our problem; less jobs leads to desperate (and violent) attempts for relief from the burden of poverty. In an ideal world, the government can play an instrumental role by instituting employment and training programs for those who cannot secure jobs. The problem, as many claim, is that few would work for a low-salary. Hence, it takes more than the implementation of programs; it requires a collaborative effort to reinforce the benefits of employment as opposed to idleness - an idleness that transforms into violent activity because of "beef," drug conflict, and the litany of other causes.

This blog, like our solutions, are incomplete without other opinions. Let thy voice be heard and send a comment along.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Counting the Murders for 2008

I hope that you'll forgive my short term silence. {Been busy}

"There has been another murder in the Old Capital"...

Ladies and Gentlemen, if only I had a dollar for every time I heard this statement on the nightly newscast!

It's difficult for me to write this blog... I know that crime is bad and that it affects the lifestyle of all denizens of Belize, but it has never personally affected me. **Knock on wood** I don't want to have an elitist "them people vs. me and my people" air as I continue. It is so easy to judge and separate myself. Maybe even this mindset is a part of the problem.

At my own conservative, generalized estimates, I would say that 50% of the murders that occur in Belize are drug related, 25% due to domestic violence, and the other 25% split mainly between robbery and "beef" -- revenge killings for the above mentioned 3 topics. More than ever, the value of life is being lowered. It's a sad, scary reality. What is the worth of a Belizean life?

It hurts me to mention that the majority of these murders are occurring in the South side of Belize City. What series of actions, over the years, has turned this area, perhaps the earliest populated settlement in Belize, after the Mayas, into the most dangerous and crime-afflicted location in the entire country? Another obvious observation about the rash of murders is that the killers and people being murdered are young, black, and uneducated.

There is not one factor affecting the high rate of crime. But I propose that one of the most significant reason is a lack of Belizean culture. Now, I can't expound as much I would want about this subject, because I'm trying to keep the length of this entry reasonable. But, Belizeans are the greatest chameleons on Earth. We have chosen, by and large, to abandon the wonderful, beautiful Belizean culture that our "naivety" and "isolation" affords us, to embrace and emulate a capitalist American culture. Just as the past administration tried to follow an "international level capitalist economic plan" that failed horribly, we're trying to follow an American "societal plan". Like them, we're failing. These murders are an effect of this intangible cause. We have to start living like Belizeans again.

Sure, we were poor. We didn't have bling or cars. But every child was fed, clean, had a fear of God & authority, and went to school. That's a great starting place... and I'm sure that all children in Belize aren't afforded these basic things today.

By taking things back to the basics, our progression as a people would be astounding.

God Bless all those affected by Arthur.... more to come on this subject with time. As always, I ask you to think, then comment for further discussion.