The Garifuna People Of Honduras Are Making Some Very Sick Beats : Alt.Latino A workshop on the eastern coast of Honduras is keeping Garifuna culture alive and accessible for young musicians.

'Music As A Weapon': A Discussion About Garifuna Music

'Music As A Weapon': A Discussion About Garifuna Music

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Wendy Yuleida Martinez and the ODECO Dance Company from the video for the song Hijos de Africa. Courtesy of the Artist hide caption

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Courtesy of the Artist

Wendy Yuleida Martinez and the ODECO Dance Company from the video for the song Hijos de Africa.

Courtesy of the Artist

All eyes turned to Central America this past week as Vice President Kamala Harris made her first trip to the region as part of her attempt to address the wave of immigration from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to the United States.

Her comments in Guatemala left many people across the globe and within our own community — one that is colored with diverse immigration stories and all the complicated feelings that accompany those — shocked.

We'll save some space in another episode to discuss the complex history and emotions that arise with an event like this one. But for now, we wanted to highlight the region in a different way — by sharing the story of a group of people who are trying to preserve longstanding traditions and building a sustainable community in the Central American country of Honduras.

Aurelio Martinez is from the north-eastern part of the country, which is home to many Garifuna people, an Afro-descendant community that was exiled in the 18th century from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent to the eastern coasts of Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. Martinez has become known as a cultural ambassador of the Garifuna people and has taken their music beyond their Central American home to the world through his recordings and constant touring.

Just before quarantine, New York-based musician Eleanor Dubinsky had been planning a workshop called Ritmos Unidos: Celebrando Nuestra Historia with help from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. When the coronavirus shut things down around the world she reached out to Martinez to help with the project and soon they were part of the world wide virtual space. Soon young Garifuna musicians were given songwriting instruction from Martinez and Dubinsky and instructed on the ins and outs of the music business so they might also become musical guardians of Garifuna culture.

This week we sit down with Martinez, Dubinsky and a participant in the workshop, John Pastor.

Join us as we discuss community, cultural celebration and, of course, the making of some very sick beats.