Top Ten Garifuna News Developments of 2010 from BeingGARIFUNA.com

Copyright 2010 by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

New York, New York — As we come to a close to the year 2010 now’s a good time to reflect and review all the news stories of the past year and try to put it into persspective.   And what a year it was for Garinagu not only in America but all over the world!

As opposed to noting specific news stories, as I did on the “It’s A Go” Internet Hip Hop Radio Show this past Tuesday for my BeingGARIFUNA.com Report, I’d like to point out trends and themes that I have noted over the course of 2010.

GARIFUNA NEWS STORIES IN 2010 THAT I DID NOT REPORT

First I’d like to briefly mention the stories I did NOT report in 2010 for BeingGARIFUNA.com  I did not get to cover:

1) Performance of rarely performed Garifuna Cultural Dance The Gunchei by Garifuna American Choreographer Mariano Martinez’s  J Dove Productions Dance Company for New York Governor David Patterson at a event made by Kennedy Benjamin (wife of Bronx Assemblyman Michael Benjamin) in December 2010.

2)  Trip by Garifuna Community Organizer JOSE FRANCISCO AVILA to Morocco, (Casablanca specifically) in December 2010 as a special invited guest and representative of Garifuna Culture (deemed one of UNESCO’s Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001) to the 2010 Mousseum de Tan Tan, a festival which celebrates Saharan, nomadic tribes.

The Mousseum de Tan Tan is the largest gathering of Nomadic Tribes in Northern Africa and has been in existence since the 1960s.  The Mousseum de Tan Tan was also declared by UNESCO to be a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2004.  So this meeting of UNESCO Cultural Masterpieces was a news item that I wished I was able to note at the time but was unable to.  I will write about it in 2011, though.

3) Hurricane Richard — which wrecked havoc on the country of Belize in October 2010.  Hard to get a handle on specifics as far as Garinagu being affected by this hurricane in Belize.

4) Hurricane Tomas — which devastated the country of St. Vincent and The Grenadines in October 2010. It was hard to get specifics as far as Garinagu being affected by this hurricane in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

5) Outbreaks of Violence at Heckscher State Park in Long Island at Gira Gathering in August 2010.  Authorities estimated that over 7,000 people were at this gathering at the Heckscher State Park and when the violence broke out, over a dozen police officers were called in, as well as a police helicopter.

It was difficult to determine what was fact and what was fiction so due to the lack of information (names of perpretrators, people injured, etc) at the time so I refused to add to the noise surrounding this awful news event.  News spread like a epidemic on Facebook once it happened, though.

6) GAHFU Inc. Garifuna Spirituality Summit in Los Angeles, California which took place in late February 2010.   I had just started the BeingGARIFUNA blog and wasn’t prepared to properly report on this unique event.  However, interested people can read up on it on the GAHFU Inc website.

a) There was a similar Garifuna Spirituality Assembly that took place in June which took place in the Bronx, New York.  While I did mention it, I did not get to cover it in depth.

b) Also there was an instance of Garifuna Nuns being honored in Los Angeles.  Again, while I did mention it, I was unable to cover this news event in depth.

c) Also, it was announced that Brooklyn Garinagu were invited to join the Black Catholic Apostolic of Brooklyn.  I wasn’t able to get much more information than that, but since that is a still developing news story, I hope to write about it in depth in the future.

7) Violence Against Garinagu in Central America

I have to be very vague about this, but I have come across news of horrible acts of violence against Garinagu in Central America.  In some instances, there wasn’t much information available (and this is WITH local press reporting on the matter) and in other instances, I was able to get some information but there’s a safety factor that I have to take into consideration.  I can’t blindly write about horrific events that have occurred against Garinagu in Central America while the victims are still vulnerable to…reprecussions, so I decided to keep quiet.

8)  Garifuna Coalition USA Inc 2010 U.S. Census Outreach

This news item I mentioned in passing, but never really covered in depth.  Perhaps I should have.  In essence, since the results of this effort won’t be known until 2011, I figured that this particular news story was…too long in the making to cover effectively.  In short, the effort to get Garinagu counted in the United States 2010 Census was an ordeal and hopefully will be worth the effort.

Long in the making, The Garifuna Coalition USA Inc (out of the Bronx) made serious efforts (and partnered with the U.S. Census) in a grassroots effort to get New York City Garinagu Residents (as well as Garinagu Residents of cities all over the country) to fill out Census forms so that the presence of Garifuna people in the United States is better documented.

There was a silly difference of opinion online between Garifuna leaders and Garifuna citizens as far as how to approach the 2010 U.S Census and fill out the Census forms that came down to semantics, but there’s no need to revisit that at this point.  The bigger point was to get Garinagu to fill out the U.S. Census forms and BE COUNTED as Garifuna.  Hopefully the results will show that the efforts were not in vain.

9) Garinagu Using Facebook as a Tool for Promotion, Preservation and Posterity

This should probably also be in the Top Ten as Well, but I will leave it here.  In short, the headline should explain it all.  In short, more and more Garinagu have used Facebook as a focal point for promotional efforts and as a way to engage with Garinagu.  Has Facebook peaked?  Who knows?  According to a December 21, 2010 article en the business section of The New York Post, Facebook surpassed Google as the top visited website for most of 2010.  Not bad, time will tell if this is a sign that Facebook has peaked or if the best is yet to come.

Fact remains that there are many Garinagu on Facebook and if you want to get the word out about any given thing, that website is a good place to start.  Trick is identifying and locating Garinagu there, which has certainly been a challenge for me.

I am sure there are other news items that I missed and didn’t get to report.  Hopefully, other blogs or websites were able to mention and report on stories of interest to Garinagu across the country and the world.

So With That, Here are:

The Top Ten Garifuna News Developments of 2010 from BeingGARIFUNA.com

NOTE:  I placed these items, themes with a mixture of total blog hits, social significance and social relavance.

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10) The Honoring of Accomplished Garinagu by Garinagu in 2010

There were three specific instances of Garinagu choosing either to pay tribute or honor accomplished Garifuna individuals in 2010.  Actually, there were four but this post will focus on two.  It’s important that this type of activity happen more often, namely because if we don’t, who will?  Not only that, but when this type of activity occurs, there’s an inherent expression of the appreciation of the VALUE of aspects of Garifuna culture and the achievements of individuals of Garifuna descent.

In Late November, The Garifuna Coalition held their 2010 Third Annual Yellow White and Black Fundraiser Gala.  This year it’s theme was that of the rarely performed Garifuna Cultural Dance, The GUNCHEI.

Individuals Honored (Garifuna and Non-Garifuna) Included…

Honduran Home Town Association ASUNCOR (from Corozal, Honduras)

Guatemalan Garifuna Organization COMGARIGUA

St. Vincent & The Grenadines Organization COSAGO

Garifuna Settlement Day Cultural Mass Association

Bronx Assemblyman MICHAEL BENJAMIN

BeingGARIFUNA.com Founder TEOFILO COLON JR (a.k.a. “Tio Teo”)

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In Late September, GAHFU Inc (out of Los Angeles, California) chose to honor the lifetime achievements of Garinagu from the Los Angeles, California area.  The Garinagu honored were:

RUBEN REYES

ANITA LAMBEY MARTINEZ

CARLOS DOMINGO ALVAREZ

MARTHA MARTINEZ

CLIFFORD J. PALACIO

Also in the Bronx, There was a tribute to Garifuna Musician Marcelino “Don Marasa” Fernandez.  I was not able to attend either event, but by the accounts I have read, each event was touching, beautiful and NECESSARY.

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9) Continued Exposure of The Garifuna Community to either the New York City Population or the Populace of other cities in the United States.

Each march, Each mention on Television, Each bit of participation in public events like Parades or Panel Discussions at Conferences, etc and such is another opportunity for residents of any given area to become aware of and learn about Garinagu in the United States.

a) You have the news story on Garifuna People in New York City on Ethnic Public Affairs Show INDEPENDENT SOURCES which aired in December 2010.

b) The Hamalali Wayunagu Garifuna Folkloric Dance Company marching in the Bronx Week Parade in May.

c) The Chief Joseph Chatoyer Garifuna Folkloric Ballet Of New York marching in the Bronx Puerto Rican Parade.

d) The participation of Garifuna Reggae Recording Artist AZEEKWEH and Garifuna Dance Company HAMALALI WAYUNAGU in Caribbean Heritage Month Festivities in New York City Council Chambers in Manhattan.

e) Garifuna Musician BODOMA and Garifuna American Dancers performing on Hispanic/Latino Morning Show “Al Despertar” as representative of the country of Honduras having a soccer team playing in the 2010 World Cup.

f) Garifuna Community Organizer JOSE FRANCISCO AVILA Being Invited To Speak on the subject of Afro-Latinos in Central America and Mexico at NCLR Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

g) Garifuna Entrepreneur LINA HORTENSIA MARTINEZ LOREDO being honored by the U.S. State Department.

h) Garifuna American Band GRUPO XCSTACY, Garifuna American Recording Artist EDDY GNG and Garifuna American Recording Artist YOUNG GARI performing at a Bronx site along the route of the 2010 ING New York City Marathon.

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EIGHT) Continued Economic Development by Garinagu

Money doesn’t guarantee you happiness but it sure does help.  The richer that individuals in the Garifuna Community become, the better the odds are for the improvement of the Garifuna Community.  Especially in regard to the building of institutions and the financing of potential projects that can help the development of the Garifuna community.  In 2010, we had the…

a) Garifuna American Executive Director of the Garifuna Coalition, JOSE FRANCISCO AVILA going to St. Vincent & The Grenadines to spur economic engagement amongst the Garifuna Diaspora in October.

b) The first meeting of the Garifuna Entrepreneur Networking Group in the Bronx, where Garifuna American met to attempt to share ideas and try and improve their collective businesses in June.

c) The Ten Year Anniversary Gala of a Garifuna Investment Group in May.

d) Third Garifuna Food Expo in the Bronx in April 2010.

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7) Death and Tragic Events in Garifuna Community

Here we note the sad and tragic news items regarding members of The Garifuna Community in 2010.  Some of which ganered significant press.

a) The Death of Garifuna Musician and Choreographer MOSES ROYSUS BREGAL in June.

b) The Murder of Garifuna Man CARLOS ALEJANDRO MEJIA and his Cousin in Mexico while en route to The United States of America. The two were part of 72 Migrants who were killed in August 2010.

c) The Murder of Garifuna American Woman LILLIAN MARTINEZ-SHAW in Georgia by her Husband in September.

d) The Death of the Members of Girl Group LAS CHICAS ZAMBAT and Garifuna Band KAZZABE AGRUPACION in Tragic Honduran Bus Accident in October.

e) The Curious Case of Garifuna Woman YOHANDA MARITZA GREEN ARZU, a New Orleans Resident who passed away and spent three weeks not being claimed by anyone.  As far as I know, family members or friends haven’t come forward to claim her.

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6) GARIFUNA ACHIEVEMENT IN SPORTS

I wish I knew of more American Athletes who are of Garifuna Descent.  Hopefully, more will come out of the closet and claim their ethnicity and make themselves known to the general public (there are past American athletes who would NOT make their Garifuna ethnicity known, or demonstrated no special affinity towards their Garifuna ethnic identity).

a) In March, I got word of Garifuna American Boxer EDDIE GOMEZ winning his match in his division at the New York Daily News Golden Gloves Competition.

b) In late October, we had Garifuna American Soccer Player HANSEL RIDDOCK (he is also a Garifuna musician) being named SUNY Athlete of The Week.

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5) FOUNDING & RELATIVE SUCCESS OF BEING GARIFUNA Blog

Over 54,000 Total Views and Counting since it’s inception on February 16th 2010!  Not bad for such a niche subject in America.  Now that the blog has been moved to a website, it’s almost like I am starting all over again. But here are some news items related to the BEING GARIFUNA blog and it’s founder, Teofilo Colon Jr (a.k.a. “Tio Teo”).

a) Teofilo Colon Jr (a.k.a. “Tio Teo”) being interviewed in Garifuna Movement Magazine.

b) Here are some reflections after Being Garifuna passed a Total Views Milestone (over 5,000).

c) Here are some reflections after Being Garifuna passed 10,000 Total Views.

d)  Teofilo Colon Jr (a.k.a. “Tio Teo”) being quoted in an article on Garifuna culture by a Brazilian website.

e) Account of Teofilo Colon Jr’s (a.k.a. “Tio Teo”) first on-camera interview.

f) Announcement that BEING GARIFUNA blog being granted a prestigious award by Garifuna Coalition.

g) CARIBBEAN LIFE Mention of Teofilo Colon Jr being given a prestigious award by Garifuna Coalition.

h) Announcement that BEING GARIFUNA Report to begin monthly stint on the “It’s A Go” Internet Hip Hop Radio Show.

i) Announcement of Tio Teo getting award at SOLD OUT Garifuna Coalition Gala.

j) Tio Teo Speech at Garifuna Coalition 2010 Yellow White and Black Gunchei Fundraising Gala.

k) Inclusion of Tio Teo in News Story on Garifuna People on New York City TV Show INDEPENDENT SOURCES.

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4)  ACKNOWLEDGEMENT & RECOGNITION OF GARIFUNA COMMUNITY BY PUBLIC ELECTED OFFICIALS (POLITICIANS)

a) Proclamation of 2010 Garifuna Heritage Month in New York State, New York City and the Borough of The Bronx by Bronx Borough President RUBEN DIAZ JR and a Representative for New York Governor DAVID PATTERSON and a Representative for New York Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG.

b) Annoucement that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to have Garifuna Civic Meeting with Garifuna Community in The Bronx in July.

c) Photos of the Garifuna Community Civic Meeting with New York City Mayor  Michael Bloomberg in July.

d) Video footage of the Garifuna Community Civic Meeting with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in July.

e) Celebration of Garifuna Day in the Bronx, with Bronx Assemblyman Michael Benjamin.

f)  U.S. House Of Representatives Member SHEILA JACKSON LEE (from Houston, Texas) issuing a Congressional Certificate of Recognition in celebration of the Proclamation of April 12th 2010 Garifuna Heritage and Survival Day in Houston, Texas.

g) Proclamation of April 12th 2010 being Garifuna Heritage and Survival Day in Houston, Texas by Houston Mayor ANISE D. PARKER.

h) The Proclamation of 2010 Garifuna Settlement Day by Brooklyn Borough President MARTY MARKOVITZ to The Garifuna Settlement Day Cultural Mass Association.

i) I also shouldn’t forget a late December meeting that was an example of Civic Engagement that bodes well for the future.  It doesn’t really fit this particular category but is too BIG to not comment on, but The Garifuna Meeting with New York State Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. – Bronx, New York – Monday, December 20th 2010. While I didn’t post on this matter, I did take photos of this seminal meeting and you can read my thoughts on this meeting there.  The link is of my Facebook photo album of this meeting.

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3) Participation in The 2010 World Cup Soccer Tournament by Honduran National Team

They didn’t win but believe me, there was a lot of interest in the 2010 Honduran National Soccer Team that competed for the 2010 World Cup.

a) Garifuna Players on the 2010 Honduran Team playing for the 2010 World Cup.

b) Story on Garifuna Soccer Player WILSON PALACIOS.

c) Story on related members of the 2010 Honduran National Soccer Team competing for the 2010 World Cup.

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2) Garifuna Contestant for the Title of 2010 Miss Universe, KENIA MARTINEZ

If the number one News Development put the BEING GARIFUNA blog on the map, THIS story declared that the BEING GARIFUNA blog has ARRIVED.  What can I say, this news item generated the most hits on the BEING GARIFUNA blog and continues to generate hits to this day.  What can I say, readers of BEING GARIFUNA love Pageants.

a)  Garifuna Woman KENIA MARTINEZ crowned 2010 Miss Universe – Honduras.  The second Garifuna woman ever being crowned Miss Universe – Honduras.

b) On a sidenote, The crowning of 2010 Miss Garifuna in New York City also generated considerable interest.

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1) FIRST ANNUAL Garifuna Coalition Garifuna Heritage Awards and Cultural Night in New York City combined with Proclamation of 2010 Garifuna Heritage Month in New York.

The 2010 Garifuna Coalition Garifuna Heritage Awards and Cultural Night in New York City was a momentous occasion, a touching tribute, a historic event and the FIRST event where representives of ALL countries of the Garifuna Diaspora were honored for their lifetime commitment to the preservation and promotion of Garifuna culture.

This news item was the news item which ganered the MOST blog hits until the crowning of 2010 Miss Universe – Honduras, KENIA MARTINEZ.  This news item put the BEING GARIFUNA blog on the MAP!   My jaw was on the floor at the hundreds of people who took a look at this particular news item seconds after it was uploaded.   The prospect of covering this particular event that helped inspire the founding of BEING GARIFUNA and the interest this news item received CONFIRMED that starting the BEING GARIFUNA blog was a GREAT idea.

a) Executive Director of The Garifuna Coalition, JOSE FRANCISCO AVILA on the First Annual Garifuna Coalition Garifuna Heritage Awards and Cultural Night.

b) First Annual 2010 Garifuna Coalition Garifuna Heritage Awards and Cultural Night.

The Garifuna Individuals honored were:

BLANCA ARZU – Honduras

DAVID WILLIAMS/DAVID AUGUSTINE GLASCOW – St. Vincent & The Grenadines

E. ROY CAYETANO – Belize

PABLO ROBERTO MEJIA (“Don Beto”) – Guatemala

KENSY SAMBOLA - Nicaragua

CRISANTO ARMANDO MELENDEZ – Honduras

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c) 2010 Garifuna Heritage Month declared in New York City, New York State and the Borough of the Bronx.

d) DVD of the First Annual 2010 Garifuna Heritage Awards and Cultural Night Released.

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I get exhausted just thinking about all these stories (most of which I covered on a VOLUNTEER basis).  And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the BEING GARIFUNA blog.  I conducted many interviews where I learned much and I hope helped paint a big picture of the state of Garifuna in America and in the world for that matter.

As I noted in my acceptance speech at the 2010 Garifuna Coalition Yellow White and Black Gunchei  Fundraiser, “Something Is Happening…” and I hope you all can continue reading and following BeingGARIFUNA.com as I chronicle future achievements and news items (positive OR negative) related to Garinagu.

-Tio Teo

  • carmen miranda

    Love it! I am happy to read what 2010 bought to us garinagu 2011 here we come!

    • http://www.beinggarifuna.com admin

      Thanks for writing, CARMEN MIRANDA! Happy New Year! — Tio Teo

  • ROSEMARY “SONGSTRESS”

    yup u pretty much summed it up man..lol…it was great recap of the major events that happened throughout the year, thanx a bunch for bringing it to us.

  • Yolanda Sabio

    Great wrap-up. You do a great & important job of keeping us informed; thanks for your time and effort and dilligence. Blessings to you!