HHM: The Garifuna

I looked in the index of my World History textbook, hoping I would see the term Garifuna somewhere, but, nope, wasn’t anywhere to be found.

Have you ever heard of the Garifuna? They are a group of mixed race descendants of West African, Central African, Island Carib and Arawak people. The Garifuna mostly live in Central America, on the Caribbean Coast of Honduras and there are smaller populations in Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Within the US you can find small communities in NYC, LA, Miami, New Orleans, Houston and Seattle. However, the Garifuna people developed on the island of Saint Vincent.

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So why are we talking about the Garifuna?

Because we’re still digging into Hispanic Heritage month and we can’t talk about Honduras, without talking about the Garifuna and the deep African presence. Afro Hondurans are anywhere from 5-10% of the population in Honduras, and as it is with other Central American countries, the number isn’t a hard fact because of a large “Mestizo” population.

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Listen yall, the history of the Garifuna is deep and as I was researching their story, it took me from Central America (Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica and Panama), to St. Vincent, and all the way back to Mali. The very close connection between Central America, The Caribbean and the Continent of Africa is expansive and began way before 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. The amount of research that discusses the African presence in the Americas before Columbus is mind blowing. As a history teacher at heart, the idea of teaching about Africans in America before slavery has me giddy with excitement. The opportunity to show our greatness and influence and ability to integrate with the indigenous without conflict. Needless to say,  I have become a bit obsessed with the Garifuna and their history of resistance against European domination. But honestly, you should watch a little for yourself.

Now why did I choose this very specific video to share? Here’s the description:

“This video’s purpose is to stress to Africans in America and the world that our history did not start with slavery in the New World. The Ancient Ancestors of Egypt and West Africa traveled to the New World, traded and exchanged cultural ideas with the inhabitants. This irrefutable and historical fact is very important to the African psyche here in America. This video shares insights about the Garifuna, the Taino and the myth of extinction as part of the Caribbean Indigenous Legacies. There is a foundational layer of indigenous culture throughout the Caribbean.. A rich Central American culture is fast disappearing in the wake of immigration and integration. This film chronicles the challenges and struggles of the Garifuna people to preserve their identity. The History of The Indigenous Island Natives (Lesser & Greater Antilles) How they migrated, Arawak, Ciboney, Carib, Kalinago, Taino, Yucanans, Garifuna, Garinagu Native American, American Indians St. Vincent, Trinidad, Haiti, Dominican Republic,Grenadines, Bahamas, Barbados, St. Kitts. St. Lucia, Dominica, original people, pre-columbus, history of the Caribbean Island, , history of the Caribbean people, roots & culture & language. A rich Central American culture is fast disappearing in the wake of immigration and integration. This film chronicles the challenges and struggles of the Garifuna people to preserve their identity.”

And as we’ve been taking this journey through Hispanic Heritage Month from an Afro Indigenous perspective, I have nagging questions; When do we find the time to teach this history? What is the appropriate way to teach this history? And how will CREAD support our family in this endeavor?

CREAD Commandment #4 asks for you to remix the calendar, which also requires us to remix our curriculum. And so HHM ends in 9 days but that doesn’t mean that digging into the Afro Latinx identity needs to end. We need to begin to think about other ways to intersect this history into our curriculum, through geography, English Language Studies, the sciences, language and of course history.

Indigenous People’s Day is quickly approaching and we’ve discussed here and here with the hopes that you will bring this perspective into your classroom. And as the holiday season approaches, our hope is that we begin to think about the celebration of Thanksgiving and Kwanzaa specifically as we engage our students in an understanding of the Afro Indigenous experience in America.

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Positive Racial Identity, developing a critical consciousness and the Sankofa principle means we must decolonize our minds and our instruction, so that our students know they come from a rich and expansive history. In knowing that rich history, they will create a future that we can’t even imagine but will be so proud that we were a part of making.

So as always,

Deep Thinkers Only.

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