Tuesday evening I had the cultural experience of a lifetime. Our group ate dinner at the Black & White restaurant. Actually, Black & White was more than just a restaurant - it was an all-on history course with a Garifuna jam session. Miss Julia is the owner of this restaurant/cultural center. All the food prepared is cooked the traditional way. We had a smorgasbord of traditional Garifuna and Belezian food. I wanted to try it all, but I really don't think that was possible. In all fairness, I tried. :-)
In Belize, there are quite a few ethnic groups: Creole, Mestizo, Garifuna, and Maya. Each of these
ethnic groups is actually a convergence of many different groups of people. In the early 17th century, Spanish slave ships carrying West Africans sank off the coast of St. Vincent. The West Africans that were able to make it to the island of St. Vincent, intermingled and intermarried with the Carib Indians there, creating a new culture of people - the Garinagu. After warfare between the French and the British erupted, the Garinagu people were forced into exile to find a new home on the island of Roatan, Honduras and later to the mainland of Spanish Honduras. Again, they were pushed out of Spanish Honduras during warfare and settled in British Honduras (which is now Belize).
We watched a movie while at Black & White that recounted the struggle the Garinagu people endured. Forced from one land to another, fighting to hold on to their culture. Immediately upon hearing the recount of the Garinagu struggle, my first thought was about the similarities between the Trail of Tears and the migration of the Garinagu. Then, I began thinking about how so many people of color, in particular, have been pushed from one land to another throughout history. There's something quite unsettling about this for me. For years I struggled with the fact that black Americans/African Americans (although I don't refer to myself as African American, I do use the term for clarification purposes) have been stripped of the opportunity to properly identify with their ancestors and having a complete heritage to call their own. I think it's beautiful that for all this time the Garinagu people have been able to preserve their culture despite all that they have endured.
History amazes me (so many untold stories),