When I graduated from high school, Ms. Judy Diego was the guest speaker. While introducing her, the principal said "Ms. Diego was born in Stann Creek. This Garifuna lady is now CEO on the Ministry of Education" or something to that effect. At the time I thought it was odd that they had to specify that she is of the Garifuna culture.
Three years later, while in sixth form, I was in a class discussion about Garifuna us Garingu. The discussion turned from a whole class discussion to a debate between a male Garifuna classmate and I. I felt that if we are going to have a day to remember a culture we should have a day to remember all the cultures of Belize so why not change Garifuna Day to We the People Day or something like that? Mr. Garifuna man got mad. He was quick to defend that his people deserve a special holiday because they are a special people. When I asked why, because as far and I am concern all people should be equal. He started to say that they are Africans stolen away but never enslaved. Bahh, I said, I would rather celebrate a people who were enslaved, because they never ran away, they were enslaved and they survived. Survival is something to celebrate. Then he said that his people were African royals. But they were African royal, but they were still stolen away. He claimed then that his people are the only ethnic group in Belize that still has their culture, that have not been brain washed by colonialism. But every ethnic group in Belize has a culture. In this day of globalization cultures may be harder to define, but everyone has a culture because culture is how you live; once you have life you have culture. And finally he went to the extreme of claiming that his people were the only people that have been so discriminated against. I resorted that every Belizean have been discriminated against. Whatever ethnic group has been or is discriminated by other people, regardless. You are either a Corn, Carib, White Cheese, Coolie, Spanish, Indian etc...We were soon shut up by our teacher and other classmates, but the conversation left me feeling quite smart, and him feeling bad at me. I was labelled as a "hater" since. I thought he was just hardheaded.
Today I was thinking. Tomorrow I am going to stay home from school because there is a national holiday called Garifuna Day. I am going to stay home and do some homework. But maybe, just maybe, I will think about how we all survived something and by the grace of God we are thriving.