Belize is like a foster mother who is taking in people from all socio-economic groups from all over the world. She has big open arms and a warm, friendly greeting and she does not have any concept of prejudice or race; no pre-conceived notions of any sort of political divisiveness. As far as the culture itself is concerned, the most refreshing thing that my wife and I have experienced is there’s just no concept of racism at all, or of there is, we haven’t seen it. It’s a completely refreshing kind of place.
I had to be down in Corozal four or five times before it started to really sink in how unabashed they are toward each other and toward everyone else. In contrast, right or wrong, here in the South, there are still some people who have a problem with bi-racial couples. In contrast, when we’re in Belize, we associate with several bi-racial couples and it is accepted and is not looked upon as something bad. It’s just the norm, and it’s great! There’s no tension, there’s not feeling of anybody being uncomfortable. It’s just refreshing. I don’t know how to explain it. You just have to experience it. From a guy born just after the war growing up in the South, I’ve seen some crap that’s just not nice. And being in a place where that doesn’t exist, from my perspective anyway, is good.
As an example, you can be with a social group in a family reunion, and everybody is just Belizean. It’s not that they are something other than Belizean; they’re Belizean. The family members could have from the whitest skin to the darkest skin- and they all might be cousins. And everybody loves everybody. There’s just no issue with the color of one’s skin whatsoever. There’s no pre-conceived notions that if you are this color you must believe this, or if you’re that color you must believe that. These concepts are totally foreign to the Belizeans and it’s confusing to them. When we try to share with them some of our racial conflicts here in the States, we would just get a really confused look as if to say, “What’s that got to do with anything?” They don’t get it, and thank God they don’t.
One of my biggest concerns is that we foul up their Belizean culture. I hope we don’t.
(4th of July celebration at the American embassy, Belize, pictured.)