Copyright 2011 by Teofilo Colon Jr. (a.k.a. “Tio Teo” or “Teofilo Campeon”) All Rights Reserved.
Bronx, New York — On Saturday evening, April 2nd 2011 at The Charles Drew School in the Bronx, Garifuna American Choreographer and Businessman MARIANO MARTINEZ opened The FIRST Garifuna American Fashion Show with the following words.
We’ve traveled around the world
We’ve made Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and New York our homes.
We are baaaad, Powerful Beyond measure.
We are the dream and the hope of a Non-slave.
I’ve Empowered a generation of Garifuna-American youth. And although many of us may not speak the language of our ancestors, we haven’t let that stop us from making speeches about our cultures and reciting them to a classroom full of college students. Creating blogs titled “Being Garifuna” and taking pictures at almost every Garifuna event. Creating acronyms like
DUGGA = Dedicated
Turning on your Ipods and hearing music from groups and artists like Xcstacy Band, Chicas Bonitas, Young Gari, Legacy Gifted, Labuga Isieni, Eddy GNG, and countless others, a lot of those tunes are sung in our native language.
Creating companies and clothing asking you to “Check One” and actually seeing the word Garifuna. Wearing sweaters with the words Proud To Be Garifuna, and yes coming back to create cultural choreography. See its all of these things that will push us to remember that we Garifuna Americans have a rich language and culture that must also stay alive.
No matter where we are or how far we go, we can always be rest assured that our Ancestral Garifuna spirit always brings us right back home. SEREMEIN.
And now I ask that you all rise for the singing of The Garifuna National Anthem, ‘Yurumein’.
And with that, The FIRST Garifuna American Fashion got off to a powerful and magical start. Now upon Mariano asking the audience to rise, I could hear audible gasps and cries of “Huh?!!!” throughout the auditorium. This is because some people (Garifuna and non-Garifuna) do not know that there IS a Garifuna National Anthem. While it is unofficial, it is sung at just about every Garifuna event and it’s that response that highlights some of the significance of this unique event. That response (the “Huh?!?!?!!!??”), demonstrates how The FIRST Garifuna American Fashion Show was both a cultural, social and educational experience.
The FIRST Garifuna American Fashion Show featured models displaying clothing lines from Garifuna American designers in an unprecedented exhibition of beauty, talent and Garifuna pride. A colorful mix of both modern and traditional clothing. The Clothing lines or Garifuna Clothing Designers featured were:
Daisy & Gylkey Collection (by Daisy and Lilian Fernandez)
EDANNA by Sandra Caballero
Artists like Young Dancer JAHSON, Rapper STAR The Artist, El Escojido, XCSTACY Band and Rosemary Bermudez all performed and showed off their considerable singing and dancing ability.
The performances, modeling, the mix of songs by Garifuna, Garifuna American and American Popular Musical Artists as well as individual choreographed routines by MARIANO MARTINEZ were designed to appeal to young Garifuna Americans as well as other people who may not be Garifuna.
With the popularity of shows like Rip The Runway and America’s Next Top Model inspiring interest in fashion (and celebrity), the thinking was that among other things, a Fashion Show like this could not only show off the talents of the Garifuna American Designers out there (many Garifuna Women are seamstresses with considerable ability and a striking eye for design), but also attract and enlighten young Garifuna Americans who are not used to thinking of the considerable talent in their ethnic group. It was hoped that upon seeing this intriguing experimental cultural spectacle, more young Garifuna people would be encouraged to further identify with Being Garifuna and ultimately become emboldened and empowered.
With the auditorium of The Charles Drew School almost filled to capacity, The FIRST Garifuna American Fashion Show amounted to an evening of unforgettable moments. From Garifuna American Songstress ROSEMARY BERMUDEZ singing her song, “Son Of A Snitch” to the Public Awarding of Citations by New York City Councilman (and Majority Leader) The Honorable JOEL RIVERA of The Bronx to the J Dove Productions Dance Company, to the opening AND closing of The Garifuna American Fashion Show to the Garifuna National Anthem YURUMEIN, it was a night NOT to be missed.
Part of 2011 Garifuna Heritage Month, I must add that I have an immense bit of satisfaction with the success of this event. You see, while MARIANO MARTINEZ had been thinking of doing this project for a long time, it was a discussion at The Garifuna Entrepreneur Networking Meeting that helped spark the flame that became the fire that was The First Garifuna American Fashion Show.
Specifically, it was a meeting in 2010 about 2011 Garifuna American Heritage Month and all the people in attendance at this meeting were urged to consider doing something during that time period (March 11th 2011 to April 12th 2011) because a major marketing push was being planned and it would probably be best to piggyback this major marketing effort with various ventures. I am beyond thrilled that Mariano had the means and was willing to take advantage of the opportunity presented before him. I suspect that he is happy with the result.
Stay tuned to Beinggarifuna.com for more Garifuna News as they develop.
— Tio Teo