(GARIFUNA Perspective Commentary) Caribbean Flag Waving By Garifunas at Annual West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn?

 

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Brooklyn, New York — On Tuesday morning, I came across commentary by Garifuna American Woman Audrey Flores (from Roatan, Honduras) on her Facebook profile.  She offered her perspective after attending the Annual West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn (which takes place on Eastern Parkway every Labor Day Monday).

Upon seeing her commentary, I figured her perspective would resonate amongst people so I asked her if I could post it on the Being Garifuna Facebook Page.  She said sure, so I did.  She wrote,


“It never fails to see a Honduran with someone else’s flag so allow me to enlighten you a bit. Garifuna people (a.k.a. Black Caribs) are the product of an Arawak Indian mother & an African father. The Arawak side of us is a mix of Yellow Carib Indian and Red Carib Indian; these groups of people were spread throughout South America and the Caribbean and are original inhabitants of the countries in that part of the world. Caribs, Arawak, West Indian, etc. are just labels created by society to make it “easier” to classify everyone, but at the end of the day we all have similar roots, cassava bread is eaten by all of us, punta music sound similar to some Guyanese folk music,etc. As a matter of fact today at the parade there was an Arawak Indian and Carib Indian float.”

“Shout out to those who waved their real flag in the air today.”

— Audrey Flores

As I predicted to myself, the post generated a number of likes and comments. If you are on Facebook, go to the Being Garifuna Facebook page and see for yourself.

 

Garifuna American Audrey Flores writing about Garifunas waving Flags of Caribbean Countries at Annual West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn.  Photo and text courtesy of Facebook.

Garifuna American Audrey Flores writing about Garifunas waving Flags of Caribbean Countries at Annual West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn. Photo and text courtesy of Facebook.

ABOUT The Garifuna People

The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent.  From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men,  1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.   1

In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.

 

Notes:

  1. Nancie L. Gonzalez, “Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pg. 21

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