Punta Music Has Never Been a Honduran ‘Thing,’ It Has Always Been a Black One

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2022-03-30 02:39Z by Steven

Punta Music Has Never Been a Honduran ‘Thing,’ It Has Always Been a Black One


Julaiza Alvarez

Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.

I was 12 years old when I went to my first fedu, a Garifuna word for a traditional gathering or party in Honduras. I was intrigued by how comfortable everyone was: The women dressed in traditional garments danced to the beat of the drum and sang to the sound of hands clapping. It was effortless. I had never seen anything like it. While I had been to family functions and seen my aunts dance, this did not compare. It was mesmerizing, especially with everyone being Black. It was different, and it set me on a journey to discover who I was.

Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, I struggled to find a sense of belonging in a community that did not accept me but accepted what my Blackness could give them. I wrestled with constantly being challenged to prove myself, not realizing that we are burdened with defending ourselves from the people we call our neighbors. Through music, Garifunas have told their story. But sadly, Punta is one of the countless Black musical movements that are having its history erased. The scene at my first fedu was unlike the music videos I grew up watching on YouTube where the Garifuna men would beat the drums, and the fair-skinned and dark-haired women would dance in front of them.

In my introduction to Punta, I saw my Blackness be celebrated. But to the rest of the world, their introduction to Punta showed my Blackness used as an accessory. Something you put on and take off when you are done with it. That’s why it is disheartening to watch the deliberate whitewashing of this sacred genre of music. The genre’s mainstream face is based on the misconception that Punta is the heartbeat of the Honduran people, the entirety of the country. In fact, this genre is rooted in a more specific community: the Garifuna people, the descendants of mixed West African and indigenous people that have historically resided on the Caribbean coast of Central America

Read the entire article here.

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Oral history interview with Lawrence Dennis, 1967

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2021-12-23 20:08Z by Steven

Oral history interview with Lawrence Dennis, 1967

Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections
Columbia Center for Oral History
Columbia University, New York, New York
Digitized 2010 (Originally recorded in 1967)
DOI: 10.7916/d8-cpb1-1692

Lawrence Dennis (1893-1977) interviewed by William R. Keylor (1944-).

Listen to the interview here.

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Mapping Amerindian Captivity in Colonial Mosquitia

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2015-10-11 18:18Z by Steven

Mapping Amerindian Captivity in Colonial Mosquitia

Journal of Latin American Geography
Volume 14, Number 3, October 2015
pages 35-65

Karl Offen, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio

In 1764, Spanish colonel Luis Diez Navarro mapped the racially diverse British settlement at Black River on what is today the coast of northeastern Honduras. I use the map as a point of departure to ponder the origins of Amerindian and mestizo residents of Black River and other British settlements across the Mosquito Shore in the eighteenth century. I suggest that Diez Navarro’s map can be read to discuss a regional history of violence, the lengthy importance of northern European (and especially British) influence in the region, the significant presence of free people of color, and the social and economic importance of female captivity in general and the Amerindian slave trade in particular. The paper shows how the Afro-Amerindian and Amerindian Mosquito people became deeply entangled with the trade-driven supply of Amerindian captives during times of Anglo-Spanish peace, but also the capture of Amerindians, Africans, mestizos, and mulattos during times of Anglo-Spanish warfare. The paper argues that Amerindian, mestizo, and mulatto captivity made the Mosquito Shore one of the more racially mixed societies anywhere in the British Atlantic and deserves much more attention than it currently receives.

En 1764 el coronel español Luis Diez Navarro mapeó el diverso y mezclado asentamiento británico de Black River, en el lugar que hoy es la costa noreste de Honduras. Utilizo este mapa como punto de partida para examinar el origen de los residentes indígenas y mestizos de Black River y de los demas asentimientos a lo largo de la costa de los Mosquitos en el siglo dieciocho. Sugiero que el mapa de Diez Navarro se puede leer como una pista para entender la historia regional de violencia, la importancia y larga influencia de los nor-europeos y especialmente los británicos, la presencia significativa de gente libre de color y la importancia económica y social de la cautividad femenina en general y el tráfico en esclavos indígenas en particular. El artículo demuestra cómo los Mosquito, tanto los Afro-indígenas como los indígenas, se involucraron con el comercio de las indígenas cautivas durante tiempos de paz entre los Españoles y los Británicos, así como también participaron en la captura de indígenas, afrodescendientes y mulatos durante el tiempo del conflicto Anglo-Hispano. El artículo sostiene que la cautividad indígena, mestiza y mulata convierte a la costa de los Mosquitos en una de las sociedades más diversas de la Atlántica británica y merece un sitio mucho más central que el que tiene actualmente en la academia.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Garifuna: The Young Black Latino Exodus You’ve Never Heard About

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2015-10-05 18:08Z by Steven

Garifuna: The Young Black Latino Exodus You’ve Never Heard About


Jasmine Garsd

Honduran migrants passing through Mexico often carry only the bare essentials: cash, some clothes and a cell phone, if they can afford one.

Gustavo Morales stands out among the migrant population here in Tequixquiac, a hot, dusty little town right outside Mexico City. The 21-year-old is traveling with an African drum that he plays during his downtime along the journey.

The drum isn’t the only reason he stands out. He’s a black migrant in a country where few people are of African descent…

…As Hondurans are being forced to flee their country, Garifuna, who have historically been shunned by society, are increasingly being uprooted from their homes on the Caribbean coast.

Garifuna (“Garinagu” in the Garifuna language) are the descendants of slaves brought from Central Africa and indigenous Caribbean people, including Arawaks and Island Caribs. They speak a distinct language that mixes all three influences…

Read the entire article here.

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The Garifuna Exodus

Posted in Articles, Audio, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-02 01:29Z by Steven

The Garifuna Exodus

Latino USA

Maria Hinojosa, Executive Producer & Anchor

Marlon Bishop, Producer

For centuries, the Garifuna people — descendents of both Africans and indigenous Arawak people from the Caribbean — have lived peacefully in seaside towns on the North Coast of Honduras. There’s always been a trickle of migration from the community to the United States – especially the Bronx, where the largest Garifuna community outside of Central America lives.

But starting last spring, the trickle of migrants became a flood. Hundreds of Garifuna from each town left, thousands all together, embarking on the dangerous journey through Central America and Mexico to the U.S. border. It was mostly mothers with small children. They showed up in places like the Bronx, seeking refuge with family members, wearing GPS ankle monitors placed on them by U.S. immigration officers who detained them. They await court dates in limbo, unsure if they will be forced to go back to the homes they fled…

Read the entire introduction and listen to the story here.

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Honduran held in Mexican jail returns home

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Live Events, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2014-11-09 20:35Z by Steven

Honduran held in Mexican jail returns home

BBC News

A Honduran migrant who was jailed for more than five years by Mexican police is expected to arrive in his home country on Sunday.

Angel Amilcar Colon Quevedo belongs to the Garifuna community, descended from African slaves and indigenous groups.

He was picked up in 2009 by police in Tijuana in Mexico as he tried to across the border into the United States.

Human rights organisations say Mr Colon was tortured and detained on the basis of his ethnicity.

Mr Colon was released in mid-October but stayed on in Mexico to publicise the treatment he had received.

International human rights organisations worked alongside local rights campaigners to release him.

“I am an example of thousands of people who are in jail today and who do not have anyone defending them.” said Mr Colon…

…The Garifuna

The black communities living on the Caribbean coast of Central America are commonly called Garifuna or Black Carib, or as they refer to themselves, Garinagu.

Over the last three centuries, in spite of many migrations, re-settlements and interactions with Indians, British, French and Spanish, they have preserved much of the culture from their two main branches of ancestry.

The Garinagu are the descendants of Caribs Indians and Black African slaves. The Caribs were originally indigenous peoples from South America…

Read the entire article here.

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A Rising Voice: Afro-Latin Americans

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Slavery, Women on 2013-04-02 22:34Z by Steven

A Rising Voice: Afro-Latin Americans

Miami Herald
2007-06-10 through 2007-06-24

In this series, the black experience is unveiled through a journey: to Nicaragua, where a quiet but powerful civil and cultural rights movement flickers while in neighboring Honduras, the black Garffuna community fights for cultural survival; to the Dominican Republic where African lineage is not always embraced; to Brazil, home to the world’s second largest population of African descent; to Cuba, where a revolution that promised equality has failed on its commitment to erase racism; and to Colombia, where the first black general serves as an example of Afro-Latin American achievements.

Part 1: Nicaragua and Honduras: Afro-Latin Americans: A rising voice
Audra D.S. Burch
A close-up look at a simmering civil rights movement in a tiny port settlement along Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast.

…To appreciate the story of race here, is to understand the kaleidoscopic legacy of slavery, the historic demonization and denial of blackness and the practice of racial mixing.

This portrait is complicated by the lack of reliable census data because of traditional undercounting and because some blacks decline to identify themselves as such.

The dynamic along the coast is a layered quilt of Miskitos, mestizos and blacks. The ancestors of other Afro-Nicaraguans were free blacks who immigrated from Jamaica and other Caribbbean countries, lured by the good, steady jobs available for English speakers.

Stories abound about people who have hidden behind ambiguously brown complexions, “passing” for Miskito Indians, or mestizo.

“It’s hard to mobilize when you are still recouping the identity and just starting to openly use the term black,” says [Juliet] Hooker, the University of Texas professor whose father was a regional councilman…

Part 2: Dominican Republic: Black denial
Frances Robles
An examination on the sensitive nature of racial definition in a nation with inextricable ties to Africa.

SANTO DOMINGO—Yara Matos sat still while long, shiny locks from China were fastened, bit by bit, to her coarse hair.

Not that Matos has anything against her natural curls, even though Dominicans call that pelo malo—bad hair.

But a professional Dominican woman just should not have bad hair, she said. “If you’re working in a bank, you don’t want some barrio-looking hair. Straight hair looks elegant,” the bank teller said. “It’s not that as a person of color I want to look white.   I want to look pretty.”

And to many in the Dominican Republic, to look pretty is to look less black.

Dominican hairdressers are internationally known for the best hair-straightening techniques. Store shelves are lined with rows of skin whiteners, hair relaxers and extensions.

Racial identification here is thorny and complex, defined not so much by skin color but by the texture of your hair, the width of your nose and even the depth of your pocket.  The richer, the “whiter.” And, experts say, it is fueled by a rejection of anything black…

Part 3: Brazil: A Great Divide
Jack Chang
Black Brazilians speak out and push for affirmative action laws in the hemisphere’s most Africanized nation.

…And Brazilians are finally discussing race after decades of telling themselves and the rest of the world that the country was free from racism, said Sen. Paulo Paim, author of one of the pending affirmative-action bills.

“The Brazilian elite says this is not a racist country, but if you look at whatever social indicator, you’ll see exclusion is endemic,” he said. “We want to open up to more Brazilians the legitimate spaces they deserve…

…”I have never seen any evidence that suggests anything other than there’s widespread racism in Brazil,” said UCLA sociology professor Edward Telles, who studies race in Brazil…

…Black leaders also blame what they describe as decades of self-censorship about race spurred by the “racial democracy” vision of their country, which long defined Brazilian self-identity.

Preached in the early 20th century by sociologist Gilberto Freyre, the vision depicted a Brazil that was freeing itself of racism and even of the concept of race through pervasive mixing of the races…

Part 4: Cuba: A barrier for Cuba’s blacks
Miami Herald Staff Report
Economic and political apartheid are alive in Cuba, despite a revolution launched in 1959 that promised equality.


Cuba’s official statistics offer little help on the race issue. The 2002 census, which asked Cubans whether they were white, black or mestizo/mulatto, showed 11 percent of the island’s 11.2 million people described themselves as black. The real figure is more like 62 percent, according to the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami.

And the published Census figures provide no way at all to compare blacks and whites in categories like salary or educational levels. Ramón Colás, who left Cuba in 2001 and now runs an Afro-Cuba race-relations project in Mississippi, said he once carried out his own telling survey: Five out of every 100 private vehicles he counted in Havana were driven by a Cuban of color.

The disparity between the census’ 11 percent and UM’s 62 percent also reflects the complicated racial categories in a country where if you look white you are considered white, no matter the genes.

“You know, there are seven different types of blacks in Cuba,” said Denny, who now works as a waiter but dreams of a hip-hop career. From darkest to lightest, they are: negro azul, prieto, moreno, mulato, trigueño, jabao and blanconaso

Part 5: Achievers: Racism takes many hues
Leonard Pitts, Jr.
An overview on the achievement of black leaders in the region. And a personal essay by Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.

…Which brings us back to that earnestly debated question: Who is black?


The question is more complex than an American might believe. In Brazil, a nation of indigenous peoples and descendants of African slaves, European colonists and immigrants, a dark-skinned man who might automatically be called black elsewhere has a racial vocabulary that allows him to skirt the Africa in his heritage altogether. He can call himself moreno (racially mixed), mestizo (colored) or pardo (medium brown). Anything but “afrodescendente” (Africa-descended) or negro (black)…

..Brazil likes to think of itself as a racial democracy, says Miriam Leitao, but that’s a delusion. She has, she says, been making that argument for 10 years and has become one of the nation’s most controversial journalists in the process.

When she writes about racism in Brazil, people tell her she’s crazy. “I don’t know how to explain the thing that, for me, is so obvious,” she says


Read the entire series here.

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Boa Aparência (Good Appearance): How Colorism Plays Out in Latin America

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-11-22 00:04Z by Steven

Boa Aparência (Good Appearance): How Colorism Plays Out in Latin America

50shadesofblack.com | Fueling Conversation

Dash Harris

“Go to the banks and you’ll see how racist, this country is.” This was a sentiment expressed ad nauseam in my interviews about how colorism drives societal treatment. Interviewees in every country I visited for the docu-series always cited airports, banks and TV shows as representations of the aesthetic their particular country strives for:
It was true, I only saw one tanned bank teller throughout my travels, in Honduras. For any of the others jobs that were pointed out, the standard was homogenous, light skin and straight hair. This preference is blatant even within advertisements and postings for jobs…

…White supremacy and the aspiration to be the closest you possibly can is rooted in the idea of ‘mejorando la raza’ or improving or bettering the race by marrying white, if not white then light. Almost all of my interviewees have heard this phrase from a family member or friend as advice in the dating and marrying game. One Honduran, whom her friends call her ‘negra’ because she is dark skinned said her family said she hit the jackpot when she started dating her current boyfriend, a redhead very pale skinned Honduran. On the other hand when someone who is light or pale chooses to date ‘dark,’ families insist they are ruining or damaging the race. To preserve the privilege of being light, some have even resorted to marrying within their own family, like actress Michelle Rodriguez found out about her kissing cousins. Many of my interviewees came from mixed family backgrounds where their parents different colors caused a lot of fighting, drama, discontent, and familial problems that still persist to present day. The most common, was a dark skinned father and light skinned mother…

Read the entire article here.

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Hue & Phenotype: Colorism… Even More Complex

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-11-21 23:24Z by Steven

Hue & Phenotype: Colorism… Even More Complex

50shadesofblack.com | Fueling Conversation

Dash Harris

I have interviewed over 100 people for this docu-series and recently I’ve come across more and more interviewees who ask me about my background. I’ve had a handful of Caribbeans ask me if I were ‘dougla,’ a person of Indian or indigenous and African ancestry and when I was in Honduras I was called a mulatta, which means the same. Usually someone who identifies as a mulatto is of european and african ancestry but that’s not how it was used in Honduras among the people who described me as such. I asked the reasons for these assumptions and people pointed out that my skin wasn’t “very dark” and my hair was curly and my eyes were “different.” I found that interesting because I consider myself a chocolate brown, my hair has gone days without a comb being ran through it because of the wrangling that it calls for and I see my eyes as any other person’s eyes can be. One Garifuna young man said I wasn’t ‘black enough’ and I could remedy that by getting a ‘super black boyfriend,’ he graciously volunteered himself. All courting aside, I thought he and many others were just pointing out the phenotypes that guide perception and categorization of ancestry in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is important to note that the U.S. is the only country that followed the one drop rule of hypo-descent, where you were considered ‘Black’ no matter what other ancestry you had. This did not exist in Latin America so it gave way to many ways to describe someone based on skin tone, hair color, hair texture, size of nose, lips, eyes. These all decide what category you’ll fit into. Your desciptors may also vary just based on individual perception. In Brazil there are 134 color descriptors. In the Dominican Republic ‘javao’ describes someone who is of pale of light complexion with “African features,” the list below shows more…

Read the entire article here.

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American Identities: California Short Stories of Multiple Ancestries

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Mexico, United States on 2010-01-13 01:07Z by Steven

American Identities: California Short Stories of Multiple Ancestries

Xlibris Press
263 Pages
ISBN: 1-4363-7705-6 (Trade Paperback 6×9)
ISBN13: 978-1-4363-7705-8 (Trade Paperback 6×9)

Eliud Martínez, Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing and Comparative Literature
University of California, Riverside

In many parts of the country, especially in California, when one passes by a school or strolls across a college or university campus, it is inescapable to the eye that the American student population looks very different from that before the seventies. Young people today are accustomed to seeing people from many ancestral backgrounds. In classrooms, at schools, colleges and universities; at shopping malls, weddings and other social gatherings, young people are aware that they are living in an increasingly multicultural America.

These then, are the voices and stories of today’s young Americans. Diverse, by turns uplifting, insightful, illuminating and heart-warming or heartbreaking, the stories give us moving portrayals of the young authors and their families, mothers and fathers. Some offer shocking depictions of military brutality and political violence. Others recover family stories and make touching tributes to earlier generations. Some stories help us to see how young people perceive themselves and their identities when they are offspring of mothers and fathers from other lands or of different cultures.

The young writers included in this anthology, or their parents and ancestors, come from Egypt, Ethiopia, Korea, China, Japan, Cambodia, Taiwan, India; from East Los Angeles, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Vietnam, Italy, Denmark, the Philippines, Cuba, and other places. Generational differences are inevitable between immigrant parents and their children, who are either American-born or grow up in America. The differences shape many attitudes to the ancestral cultures, customs, language and ways of life. The stories remind us of why some people came to America, of what they left behind, and what persists in ancestral forms adapted to American ways.

The stories provide telling evidence that collectively, there are many varieties of American identity among children of immigrants and their parents from other lands. These California stories tell of young lives that have been shaped by ancestry, time and place, national background, personal and generational experiences, geography, and by American social and immigrant history, conditions in their ancestral lands and lingering perceptions of race.

Many immigrants come in search of a better life or in pursuit of the American dream. Some Americanized children of immigrants struggle self-consciously to fit in. Their experiences invite dramatic literary expression. In two of the most powerful stories in this anthology, Jan Ballesteros and Thien Hoang exorcise their extreme pain, self-consciousness and struggle for acceptance.
In high school Ballesteros is repeatedly humiliated in his classes by four bullies who ridicule his Filipino appearance and his spoken accent. Extremely vulnerable, Ballesteros is perplexed because the bullies are all half-Filipino. In Hoang’s case, he is self-conscious about the Chinese reflection that looks out at him from the mirror. By writing their stories these two vulnerable young men come to terms with being American, and at the same time with being Filipino and Chinese, respectively.

More so than in Ballesteros and Hoang’s case a heightened consciousness of color and the desire to look American leads the Vietnamese mother in Kim Bui’s story—“Asian Eyes Westernized”—to change the shape of her eyes surgically. Ironically, the young author points out, the woman who in Vietnam used to work in the sun daily, here In America, she avoids being out in the sun, and resorts to skin whiteners. Kim Bui is struck by her mother’s advice to be proud of being Vietnamese, but to look American. In their stories Megan E. Chao, Chariya Heang, and Neha Pandey highlight their views of young womanhood in America when parents observe or desire to observe the tradition of arranged marriages. Conflicting points of view and parental cultural norms affect young women. Moving self-portrayals, characterized by thoughtful introspection and injections of irony and humor, attest to their dilemmas.

The Stories in this anthology are important for American education, I believe, so that young people can see themselves in these portrayals. In addition to the moving value of the stories the storytelling is of a high caliber. The storytelling is based on knowledge of ancestral traditions and customs, languages, cultural and social history, geography, family memorabilia, immigration documents, old photographs and family correspondence, materials and family stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. In addition to these sources, the young authors interviewed mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents, and in some cases in languages other than English, all to the young writers’ credit…. [T]he titles of the stories tellingly identify major themes, experiences, and issues that invited and received dramatic literary expression. These stories are valuable repositories of human experiences shared by many young people today. These then, are the stories and voices of young Americans. One may safely predict that the experiences of which these young people have written so candidly, and in many cases eloquently, will resonate with other people and invite thoughtful self-awareness and self-understanding, a deeper appreciation for the richness of the many immigrant cultures of America, and an enhanced understanding of people of multiple ancestries.

And according to the prospectus…

The decades of the 1960s and 1970s ushered in a productive, illuminating and prolific body of scholarly research and creative expression in all the arts. Much of that enterprise was devoted to the most admirable task of historiography—the reinterpretation of the past and the rewriting of American history.

These stories add artistic dimensions to American social and immigrant history, and complement the scholarly research and literary expression of individual groups. The subject matter, the themes, cultural issues and the very human drama of young lives, as depicted in these stories, are timely. Also, because many of the stories address the longing to belong, which historically, was denied to some American groups in the past, they illustrate how emotionally complex the task continues to be for vulnerable young people from many countries…. In the case of U.S. minority groups—as African Americans, Chicanos, Asian- and Native Americans were once designated—that past denial resulted in the retroactive recovery of our rich intellectual and cultural histories, creative and artistic roots, our arts, heritages and ancestries.

Imaginative and creative expression in the arts dramatizes scholarship in history and the social sciences…. Personal, emotional, direct and down to earth, these stories drive home the psychological and emotional impact of feeling different with a directness and immediacy that scholarly works can only approximate. As such, the anthology also complements numerous scholarly works about bi-racial, multi-racial and mixed-race people.

To read an excerpt, click here.

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