Is MILES MORALES, The New Spider-Man, a GARIFUNA?

 

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New York, New York — About two weeks ago, in late August, an announcement was made about the actor Donald Glover being the voice of the new Spider-Man in the third season of The Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon on the Disney XD Channel.  1

Upon seeing the clip on the internet, and noting that this new Spider-Man is Black and is named MILES MORALES, I couldn’t help but think to myself, with the fact that he’s black and also has a Spanish surname, could he also possibly be a Garifuna?

Is Miles Morales, The New Spider-Man, A Garifuna?

Is Miles Morales, The New Spider-Man, A Garifuna?

I hadn’t paid attention to the recent development of there being a new Black Spider-Man in the comic book world but with the release of this news, I was inspired to do a little research so that I could see if in fact, this character is a Garifuna.  It would be fun to find out once and for all.

Is MILES MORALES, the New Spider-Man, a GARIFUNA?  Illustration courtesy of marvel.wikia.com

Is MILES MORALES, the New Spider-Man, a GARIFUNA? Illustration courtesy of marvel.wikia.com

Created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichilli, this Miles Morales Spider-Man appears in the Ultimate series of comic-books.  It’s a parallel universe for Marvel and the life of each Ultimate comic book series is dependent on public reaction (and ultimately, sales).  The first appearance of Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man was in Ultimate Fallout #4 in August 2011.

He was born to an Black-American father named Jefferson Davis and a Puerto Rican mother Rio Morales.  So to answer the question posed, Miles Morales is NOT a Garifuna.


He is thirteen years old and takes on the Spider-Man identity after the death of Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man.  Miles Morales discovers his own Spider powers after being bitten by a genetically enhanced spider 11 months before Peter Parker’s death.  2

Is MILES MORALES, The New Spider-Man, a GARIFUNA?  Illustration courtesy of marvel.com

Is MILES MORALES, The New Spider-Man, a GARIFUNA? Illustration courtesy of marvel.com

Not all Garifunas have Spanish last names, but most do.  Hence, my thinking about the possibility of Miles Morales being a Garifuna.  I know Garifunas with the Morales last name, in fact, relatives of mine have the Morales last name.  However, as this instance proves, just because one is Black and has a Spanish last name doesn’t automatically make you a Garifuna.


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You have plenty of black people in Latin America, who ARE Hispanic/Latino and could certainly have served as inspiration to the creators of this new Spider-Man.  You have Afro-Latinos, (Hispanics/Latinos of African descent–many who arrived in the region hundreds of years ago, due to slavery) or simply Hispanics/Latinos who have intermarried with Black people from the Caribbean.  While Garifunas aren’t quite Latino/Hispanic/Afro-Latino (I know, it gets confusing) the idea that a major superhero could be Garifuna sure is tantalizing.

I am not sure if the public is aware of this, but having a Black Spider-Man isn’t an entirely new idea.  I remember in the late 90s/early 2000s, when I worked with filmmaker Hype Williams, he took many meetings with executives at SONY Columbia Pictures.  They had the rights to Spider-Man at the time and were interested in having Hype Williams direct the Spider-Man movies.  At the time, Hype mentioned to me that he wanted to cast comic actor Chris Tucker as Peter Parker, which I thought was a wonderful idea for a whole host of reasons.  However, I suspect that that idea didn’t go over well with those executives.  Well, Veteran film director Sam Raimi wound up directing the initial first three Spider-Man movies, which wound up doing very well at the box office.

Is Miles Morales, the New Spider-Man, A Garifuna?

Is Miles Morales, the New Spider-Man, A Garifuna?

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.   3

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.

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Notes:

  1. http://marvel.com/news/tv/2014/8/26/23128/hear_donald_glover_voice_miles_morales_in_marvels_ultimate_spider-man_web_warriors
  2. http://marvel.wikia.com/Miles_Morales_%28Earth-1610%29
  3. Nancie L. Gonzalez, “Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pg. 21

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