I am Belizean American, first generation, and being someone from Belize or Belizean background, is the struggle. Especially since I am of the lighter skin tone range. Everyday, all day I get asked what my nationality is. And those that don’t ask, have always just assumed I was of Spanish decent. It is really tiring when people try to talk to me in Spanish, and I have to tell them I’m not Spanish or that I don’t speak it. I tend to tell them that I’m not Spanish but technically that is not true, but that’s a whole long story to explain period. But I rather tell them that, because otherwise they look at me like why didn’t you learn to speak Spanish? And they chalk me up as another lazy Spanish American that has lost their culture.
That is not the case people. This is the basic run down when people are confused about what I am:
1. Are you Dominican? No.
2. Puerto Rican? No.
3. Spaniard? No.
4. Cuban? No.
5. Than eventually they’ll ask me if I’m half black, half white. That’s also a no.
6. Other weird things I have been asked, is if I was Egyptian. The person was obviously Middle Eastern. But to give him credit, that’s when I had my bangs cut straight across to my brows, my hair jet black and to my shoulder, and I had my black winged eye as usual. Also I was way skinnier, and my nose is pretty prominent, like a pyramid I always said. A straight triangle. Anyway, there was that and Native American. Two more nos. Thought I kinda wish I was part Native American. Great culture and history. I would loved to learn about healing rituals, dances, and astral projection… but I digress.
7. Then finally they give up. I only let them guess because they’re rude and won’t just ask me. People like to think they know everything. And I take pleasure of robbing people of that, no matter how small. I’m just a big meanie that way.
8. So then I tell them my parents are from Belize. I say that way because a) they will know that I am first generation and I know what they fuck I am talking when I talk about my country, b) that both my parents are from Belize and they won’t ask if I am mixed with something else, and c) the number 1 reason, when I say that I’m Belizean, they automatically correct me and ask if I meant Brazilian. Now……. I need to pause *sigh*….. this is my BIGGEST pet peeve out of the whole debacle. Why wouldn’t I know how to say Brazilian? If I honestly was, wouldn’t I know how to pronounce the country that all my family is from? It is only the first generation who are American. All my relatives are Belizean. So why the fuck wouldn’t I know to pronounce Brazil? Why wouldn’t I know how to say the name of a country that EVERYONE knows about? It just doesn’t make any kind of sense to me at all. These are two blatantly different words. R isn’t even in Belize!!! I just can’t!
9. Then if they have heard of Belize, one of two things happen. People really love to think they know everything, and sometimes you really really don’t, that’s how you get embarrassed. They say they know what continent that it’s in and a few people are right, and then I get really happy. But most people don’t know where it is. Oh, South America right? Nope, Central. Stop trying to be smarter than you are!!! Usually that comes from guys trying to impress me with their skillzzzz. Just have a seat.
10. Ok, and this is where I think, man I could be a Social Studies teacher. I have to teach geography and history. This is for the people who are like what the fuck? You’re from where? So I tell them, Belize is a very small country, located in Central America, stuck on the side of Mexico. It’s between Mexico and Guatemala, and the Gulf is on the side. So it’s an island? No, it’s a country on the side of Mexico. So you’re Mexican? No, that’s another country, Belize is its own country. So you speak Spanish? No, because we’re not Spanish. But you’re next to Mexico, how can you not speak Spanish? Because Belize was ruled by Britain so we speak a broken English called Creole, which it is like Jamaican’s patois. (I have to say that so they understand what I mean by a broken English.) So the official language is English but the second is Spanish because people do speak it there, impossible not to. And at this point I am just really exhausted because I had to do a whole lesson plan, with charts, and graphs, and I don’t have any stickers to reward the good kids that have actually know about Belize.
11. The relief of someone knowing about Belize. Omg, it’s like a weight has been lifted! I don’t have to explain anything or pull out charts or nothing! It’s great, I can totally relax. I don’t blame people for not know about Belize. I probably would have never heard of it if I wasn’t from there. I just really hate the questions, the stupid ones. Like did you mean Brazil? Oh, so you’re Mexican? No, no, no!!!! It’s really annoying, so I don’t have to deal with it when someone already knows about my country. Someone did all the hard work for me. And I always like to know how they found out, because it is so rare, and I find it interesting. Like there’s more people like me out there!!
On Staten Island, I really like to know who it is that people know are Belizean. The Island is pretty small, and most of my family on my mom’s side live here, so most likely it’s them. Or someone they knew. Everyone has a Belizean flag on their review mirror, it’s a basic must. And when my family see other people we don’t know that have it, best believe they go and stalk that person’s whole life. Hey! We’re Belizean too! What part you’re from? Who’s your family? Best believe they will find some connection to that person.
As much as this gets annoying, it is nice to be from somewhere that is considered “exotic”. People get so crazy, especially after I finish showing them all my charts. But it’s like any other Caribbean country. Beautiful beaches, hot weather, so relaxing. I do consider Belize a second home because I grew up going there every single year. But not the case since I got older and I have to pay for my own ticket, but whatever. I love that place and seeing my family and hanging out with everyone. It is really relaxing and beautiful there and I have no worries. It is a really great vacation spot if you’re looking into it, and it really isn’t that expensive.
Here are two groups of people who know about Belize:
1. Rich white people- And I say this because, that’s all that’s there when you go to the hotels. Belize has really great diving and caves you can visit. White people love that shit. And I say rich because it is usually them buying one of the cayes and living there, and I also think because no one knows about it. It has all the aspects of the Caribbean but no one knows about that place. People are always like wha? You mean Brazil?
2. Criminals and Malpractice Doctors- Basically all the criminals go to hide out there. Why? Because people are going to say wha? You ran away to Brazil? No one will ever know where you are. A lot of fugitives run away there to hide out. Whenever they have to hide out, that’s the place they go. The malpractice doctors can basically continue their work there. People really don’t question you. It’s a small country that no one knows about, speaks English, no one is asking any questions, and it’s a nice place to bum around. Sure it is dangerous if you don’t live there. Make no mistake I don’t go anywhere without my family before I get kidnapped or something. They can tell you’re American right away.
With that being said, here a few instances where my country has actually been acknowledged and I have gotten so excited, and not so much:
Meg Cabot- In her Princess Diaries series, I can’t remember which book, Princess Mia’s bodyguard, Lars, took a nice trip to Belize.
Julie Kagawa- Iron’s Prophecy- Puck had traveled to Belize and took something from a Maya ruin that annoyed the guardians of the ruin.
X-Files- In the first or second season, they were looking for some doctor that had experimented on prisoners or something. I think it had to do reptile body parts or attaching dead ones to other people, whatever. Anyway, they Scully and Mulder finally talked to him in his apartment, and they said there is a gap in your record, where were you? He was in Belize experimenting on people. Ya see, criminals and malpractice doctors.
Breaking Bad- When Walter White killed Mike and Saul used it as a euphemism for getting whacked. And Saul wanted to send Jesse to Belize, but Walter loved that kid too much to. Ya see, criminals.
Oprah- They were looking for this sex offender and of course he they found him hiding in Belize.
I Love Flavor Flav- The second season finale was in Placencia, Belize. He kept saying it weird, sounded like he said placenta. I have been their twice and it is such a beautiful place and they have the world record for the smallest street. (So I heard, and if not, it should be.) It is literally a single file sidewalk. And you can’t ride your bike there. It’s single file or walk in the sand.
Wild Boys- They took a trip to Belize, explored the Blue Hole, went to the Belize zoo and let an anteater eat fire ants off their body, played with a panther, and ate something called a jackass root. Because it is so bitter you have to be a jackass to eat it. They also caught iguanas.
I believe Andrew Zimmerman or Anthony Bourdain, or both went to Belize but I have yet to see those episodes.
Drive- When the shit was hitting the fan with the mobster shit, and that dude was trying to hurry up and leave before the killed him. He said he was going to run away to Belize. Ya see, criminal hide out spot.
Destiny’s Child- Around the time of the VMAs, they went to Belize and that’s why they couldn’t attend one year. This was so along ago. I was in Belize at the time as well, my grandfather had died and my uncle was on the same plane as Beyonce, and so was my grandfather’s body.
Charlize Theron- I read in a tabloid that she spent her honeymoon in one Belize’s most expensive hotel.
Arden Cho- On her Instagram, you can see pictures of her trip to Belize. I was super stocked about that because I love her so much on Teen Wold. Idk, I just get so excited when people have fun in my country.
TI and Tiny- This year TI took Tiny on a trip to Belize after all those cheating rumors went around.
And some famous Belizean Americans you may know: Marion Jones won 3 gold Olympic medals. It was real proud moment for all of us even if she was later stripped of her title for using drugs. I don’t really blame her, who wasn’t? Anyway, it is was something for us.
Lamorne Morris is Belizean American. You probably know him best as Winston Bishop on New Girl. After Trinidad James came out, he made a parody called Belizean James. I found Lamorne of Facebook and messaged him asking if he was Belizean American. He said he was and I got so excited because I didn’t expect him to answer me. So, yeah real fuckin proof.
And here are some more Belizean Americans I didn’t know about:
And just in case you still don’t believe Belize is not a Spanish-speaking country:
I really hoped this has opened your mind and taught you not to be an asshole and just going around guessing peoples’ ethnicity all the time. Just ask. And when you do finally meet a Belizean, you can impress them with all the things you know about Belize, not Brazil.