Many Garifuna people call Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua home. And here in the United States large population concentrations of Garifuna people can be found in major cities like The Bronx, Los Angeles, Houston, and New Orleans.
Keyanna Gotay is a proud Garifuna woman that advocates for the inclusion, elevation, and celebration of Garifuna people and their culture.
“Garifuna is an ethnic group, culture and language. It is a mixture of African, Arawak, and Carib. Garifunas were intended for slavery but were never slaves, our history begins on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Our ancestors were exiled and landed in Roatan, Honduras,” says Gotay. Born in The Bronx, New York to parents from Honduras Gotay recalls her grandfather being someone that taught her the importance of being proud of her Garifuna culture adding that he even tried teaching her the Garifuna language. “But it’s hard. I don’t have someone to consistently speak it with,” says Gotay. This type of cultural education stands out to Gotay because when she was younger she knew she was Garifuna but did not always understand what that meant. Even with these conversations with her grandfather, she still struggles to fully understand her identity.