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Aug 27, 2014

Is First Caribbean Discriminating Against Garifuna Language?

Theodore Aranda

There is controversy brewing tonight in Dangriga where a young woman’s job as a teller is reportedly in jeopardy after being reprimanded by her superiors for speaking her native language when greeting and transacting business with customers of the bank.  News Five understands that an employee of Garifuna extraction at CIBC First Caribbean, whose name we will withhold, has tendered her resignation, following a meeting with higher-ups at the district branch.  Earlier this week, prominent Garifuna activist Doctor Theodore Aranda visited our office where he gave an account of the situation involving the teller.  Dr. Aranda maintains that the bank is being discriminatory in its actions to prohibit the use of Garifuna in the office place, particularly since it is the predominant tongue in Dangriga.

 

Dr. Theodore Aranda, Dangriga Resident

“There’s a young lady at the First Caribbean Bank who has been there and I know the young lady for quite some time.  As a matter of fact, she is a role model as far as I am concerned because one of the things I used to tell that young lady when she was starting, roughly five or six years ago, that one of the things for her to do as an officer of the bank [was] to stay with the bank, stay with the business so you can learn the business and become, rise within your own atmosphere and within your own business.  That’s what I’ve been telling this young lady and she has indeed come through.  She started as just a lowly clerk, so to speak, a teller, but today, she is one of the higher ups in the bank.  In other words, she has indeed complied and has been successful within the profession.  All of a sudden now, she told me, I mean we have been informed, and she herself has told us this, that in the past she has been called into the office to be told that she should not speak Garifuna in the bank.  The issue is not so much that she is speaking Garifuna or [transacting] business with the people in Garifuna so to speak, but rather when people who come in who know her they would day hello or good morning and they would say buite binafi which is good morning.  And she has been called into the head office and told that she should not talk Garifuna in the bank.  The issue here is basically this, if you are within a society that speaks any specific language it is to your advantage as a company that you have people there who understand, speak and are a part of the culture that you are in.  That’s what I think they ought to have hired that young lady for and that’s one of the things that she does.  So that she’s enhancing the company, she’s doing the job of the company, she’s drawing people to the company and for you to tell me that there is something wrong with that is not simply, absolutely contravening the ideals behind hiring competent individuals but I don’t know what the heck the bank is doing.  We have spoken to the manager of the bank here in Belize City, as a matter of fact, this afternoon I called the man, Mr. Smith and Mr. Smith wants to tell us that he is going to investigate the situation.  Mr. Smith is shooting a lot of crap, that’s nonsense.  He knows of it.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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15 Responses for “Is First Caribbean Discriminating Against Garifuna Language?”

  1. Rod says:

    I say the bank has every right to do as they please this is not Africa this is Belize and our language is not garifuna if you want to talk that do it outside of the workplace the bank has every right to tell this person to talk English first of all it is rude because people cannot understand this employee and this is not a gov. Job this is a private company and they can tell you what to do if mr arcana wants to talk kerub then he should open a bank and he can have everyone speaking Kerub.

  2. george alamilla says:

    Being multicultural is good. In business you speak the language. In this case is English.If a customer only speaks Garifuna, then you respond in kind to communicate.If they do understand English,then you speak English.It is rude to speak some other language infront of other people who do not understand it,specially in a business environment.We are starting the same political correct crap is crippling the US and other western Nations.I think Belizeans might be smarter and stay away from all these nonsense.Turn the tables around and speak Spanish in where all the others are Garifuna.Let me their response.Also, are they Belizeans first or Garifuna only.Make up your mind.

  3. tess adams says:

    Rod, I totally disaagree with what you are saying. I work in the Banking world for over 20 years and let me tell you something, there are customers who speaks different type of languages and dialect. When someone want to speak to someone in spanish we transfer them to someone who speaks spanish so the bank can continue to serve them and keep their business at the bank. Here you are stigmatizing the garifuna people and their language. I am so happy this came to light. If this young lady was in the US she could have sued First Caribbean Bank for the last dime it has. I hope other banks start to give training in regards to discrimination in the workplace. This is ridiculous. Hope this is a lesson learned.

  4. Natural says:

    Rod, is another typical small minded Belizean wanna be an American with no knowledge of how beautiful Africa was until the Caucasians invaded her now, Rod, pay attention son. The banker has every right to speak to the customer in whatever language barrier makes and has the customer interested in the certain bank and it’s need. NEXT TIME ROD DON’T TRY TO SOUND AMERICAN HOMIE OR JAMAICAN BE ORIGINAL BE BELIZEAN DEFEND YOUR PEOPLE.

  5. Karen says:

    First of all, it is important to speak the main language of the country when in a business situation. Although Gariguna is widely spoken in Dangriga, a language spoken by all needs to be used in order to make sure that transactions and business is conducted honestly.
    Secondly, I would like to address the comment from Rod. Kerub is a derogatory term and I am pretty sure that you used it to try to be a smart @$&. It is OK to make educated comments without being purposely rude. We are all one race – human. Treat people with the same respect that you would expect for yourself.

  6. Ted Ogaldez says:

    Rod, The bank may have a right to tell people to speak English. I must say your statement is that of an ignorant fool, most of why you write on this page shows that you are a coward hiding behind your computer. Ranting and raving like a person with no sense.

  7. GG says:

    A este sr. ROD. que se cree el. a que el no se da cuenta que el en Belice, el ingles para muchos es lenguage segunda. 48.7 son mestizo- hablan el Espanol. el criollo constituye 24.9 % Maya y Garifuna suma el 16 %.
    estas actitudes de sentirse superior al poder hablar ingles solamente, los pone a ustedes en desventaja. Dichoso el ser que sea bi-lingue en una institucion bancaria.
    Haber ROD si me le entiende la mitad de lo que le he dicho aqui… oh quisa pienses que no sepa escribirtelo o mejor decirtelo en ingles.
    .

  8. dats just gud says:

    U are definitely a stupid individual “Rod” so Spanish can speak their language, Chinese can speak their language other cultures are free to speak their language but the Garifuna people cannot???

    what is your fair “Rod”? nobody have no need to talk about you. A Multi-Cultural Country like Belize, from your ignorant comments, now u behaving like you swing from trees…..

    I say FCIB as an reputable organization need to take swift action by either transfer that racist basterd from the Bank or better yet fire that individual that has no regard for people and culture………

    If action is not taken then hold the Bank as an Organization responsible for Racism……….

  9. moses x says:

    Rod, “chu bow ne”

  10. Heavenlyblaq says:

    I am not surprised at the level of ignorance that you display, Rod. Interestingly, English is the official language of the country and you cannot write a grammatically correct English sentence even with the barrel of a gun to your head. As a matter of fact, you cannot even spell because as far as I know the word is Carib. Just to educate you a little, in our history books, we are taught about how the wealth of most of these wealthy European nations was built on the labor of not only Africans but also indigenous people in the New World. Some of those people were your people as well. Of course your debilitating ignorance prevents you from knowing this fact. Furthermore, within the slave trade, tribes were separated from each other so that they could not communicate unless they could mimic the slave master’s language. It was during that period that families were separated from each other and the disunity began. That happened in the 16th century yet today we are seeing the effects of divide and conquer not only along ethnic or political lines but also within the very social fabric of our family structure. The daily news from Belize show that black on black crime is very rampant. This a direct result of the breakdown of the family structure. Men are not in their homes to guide their sons and daughters. In the era of slavery, men and women were sent from their families and children were at the mercy of strangers and the masters. If you are familiar with King Leopold’s tyranny in the Congo, you will know that he took children away from their tribes and took them elsewhere to train them as his personal soldiers. Those children were subsequently sent back to areas where their people were kept as slaves and they would not hesitate to chop, beat, burn alive or kill them because they had been trained to be subservient to the master. While King Leopold never set foot in the Congo, he stole the wealth of the Congo and took it to Belgium with the help of his loyal army. This dark history is threatening to repeat itself in our nation whereby our own people are being asked to betray each other for the benefit of a foreign master.

    Yes, we are black…both Creoles and Garinagu. However, the division was made so that we could dislike who we are. It is of national concern when any entity tries to take away one’s individuality and cultural identity. UNESCO saw the value in our Garifuna Heritage and declared it an Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity . Furthermore, Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective have taken our music that is not only Garifuna, but also Belizean, to countries in the world that most of us and our children will never see in our lifetime. When the Garifuna Collective tours to U.S. cities where BELIZEANS congregate, BELIZEANS show up for their concerts no matter what their ethnicity is because they feel proud to be able to identify with their Belizean Heritage. If the global society is so willing to embrace our Garifuna Heritage, don’t you think that it is a shame that entities and people in tiny Belize cannot embrace the Garifuna language?

    I have no problem picking up my phone at work and speak Garifuna to whomever Garifuna person is on the line. Yes Rod, I am a proud Garifuna woman working in the foreign service overseas. I have had Garifuna conversations from diplomatic offices in Chile, USA, Spain, Italy, Canada, U.K, Turkey, Kenya, Mexico, Columbia, Egypt etc. My global thinking superiors have no issues with me speaking my language because the Philipinos are allowed to converse in Tagalog, Chinese in Mandarin or Cantonese, Israelis in Hebrew, Syrians in Arabic, Hispanics in Spanish, French in French, Kenyans in Swahili etc. All these languages are heard in an international setting making up the United Nations. I am certain that one can speak Creole or Spanish in the said bank. Therefore, why can’t the employees speak their language of choice depending on who the client is? Belize has not developed because of the division along cultural lines. Our little country has a very long way to go. We should all know that the difference between the wealth of nations is based on the attitude of their people. Hatred has no place in our country. For those of you who think that you are better off because you have a lighter complexion or straighter hair I dare you to travel to the United States and enlist for the Klu Klux Klan or just try to go live where they settle. I have no doubt that you would end up burning on a cross despite your beautiful, superior Belizean complexion or superior language. It behooves me that in little Belize, with a population of a little over 300,000 people, that we choose to hate on each other and discriminate against our own. We live in a global society people. You cannot survive outside those little borders with the backwards mentality. Look around you to see what ignorance, prejudice, favoritism and discrimination have yielded. Please open your minds.

    Therefore, Rod, I suggest that you and all the haters of Garifuna culture and history look at your own history and understand that your people suffered at the hands of the slave masters of the 16th century and know that your ancestors would have fought in the 21st century to ensure that their cultural identity was respected. I dislike having to get this annoyed but due to your lack of respect for my culture, I greatly suggest that you take your head out of that dark hole behind you long enough so that you can be enlightened and educated. I also suggest that you find one of the old Garifuna teachers who taught ALL races across this nation so that he/she can teach you how to write in grammatical English since it is the language of your preference

  11. BZDAPPA says:

    I would say the same goes for all banks in Belize that allow their employees to speak spanish to their spanish speaking B@ttym@la customers. Belize is an english speaking country and this is not Spain nor Guatemala.

    If they want to speak spanish, let them open up a “Banco Popular” franchise in Belize and ban Spanish from all english speaking private companys in all of Belize.

    LOL ;)

  12. Charles says:

    It is clear to see the level of colonial mentality and condescending behavior of Rod’s response above. First, the use of the term Kerub is most insulting. While the colonial masters have left decades ago, the legacy of their divisiveness, arrogance and ignorance is shown by the above response to remain. That’s one of the sad legacies of racism that has no place in an independent Belize. No bank has every right to do as they please. As an “international” bank, First Caribbean and any other bank MUST respect internationally recognized rights of all people. Shame on Rod for his blatant disrespect. But then can we expect better or should we in deep pity say, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

  13. Sofia says:

    BELIZEANS NEED TO UDNERSTAND REALITY AND THAT IS WHY WE ARE GOING DOWN THE ROAD AS A COMPETITIVE NATION.. TOO MUCH BULL.. NOBODY DISCRIMNATES ANYONE AND NO LANGUAGE. YES WE ARE A COUNTRY FULL OF MANY ETHNICITIES BUT OUR LANGUAGE IS ONE.. ENGLISH…THE BANK HAS EVERY RIGHT TO MAINTAIN PROFEESIONALISM AND RESPECT TO ITS CUSTOMERS AND ITS BRAND. IMAGINE IN A HOTEL TWO GUESTS SITTING AT A BAR HAVING A GLASS OF WINE AND TWO EMPLOYEES SPEAKING GARIFUNA OR MAYAN OR CREOLE AND LAUGHING. OF COURSE ITS MY BUSINESS, ITS RUDE, ITS UNPROFESSIONAL TO MY GUESTS AND THEY MIGHT EVEN THINK YOU ARE SPEAKING ABOUT THEM. THE CUSTOMERS CAN SPEAK WHATEVER THEY WANT BUT THE EMPLOYEES MAINTAIN ONE LANGUAGE COHESION WHICH IS WHATT THE BANK REPRESENTS AND WHAT THEY ARE BEING PAID TO REPRESENT AT WORKING HOURS.. OUT OF WORKING HOURS YOU CAN SPEAK WHATEVER YOU WANT.. I AM SORRY BUT ITS NOT A MARKET BUT A PROSFFESIONAL PRIVATE COMPANY AND YOU NEED TO FOLLOW RULES OR WHAT WILL HAPPE IS THAT THE BUSINESSES WILL STOP HIRING GARIFUNA PROBABLY TO AVOID PROBLEMS AND THIS WOULD BE BAD FOR THAT WONDERFUL ETHNICITY. THERE NEEDS TO BE A MIDDLE GROUND AND COMMON SENSE..

  14. Retired CEO says:

    It is appalling to see that in the 21st. century there is so much ignorance in the jewel. The stuff that is written by this Rod character should not even be published. Should be censored and deleted. We salute you Teddy Aranda for defending your fellow Belizean. Much respect to you at heavenlyblag, however, there is no need to write an essay/book in response to Rod’s ignorance.

  15. Teddy Steinway says:

    There’s more to this story than you’ve been led to believe.

    All,you drama queens and princes can rest until the truth emerges.

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