A History Lesson, Served as Coconut-Seafood Soup


Repeating Islands


A report by Francis Lam for The New York Times.

When Sulma Arzu-Brown’s father traveled from his village in Honduras into the city, people pointed at him, at his black skin. When he spoke his language, people laughed. “They said, ‘Look at that monkey, goo goo gaga,’ ” Arzu-Brown told me. When it was time for her mother to be promoted at her job, she stood out a little too much. “Blanca,” her boss said to her, “I know you’re qualified, but I can’t give the job to you. You have family in the U.S. Go there. You’ll achieve there.”

Arzu-Brown told me these stories in a calm voice; not the calm of acquiescence but, I assume, of understanding that the present outshines the past. Her family is Garifuna, the descendants of intermarried Africans and Caribs who live on the Atlantic coast of Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize and Guatemala. Rejecting the…

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