Defending Garifuna Land and Gentrification

In recent years, my reporting has focused mainly on the gentrification of Latinx communities in Los Angeles. Through photos, text, and audio I tell the stories of neighborhoods facing displacement. I archive and record the histories of people who may no longer be there in a few years so we can better understand what is lost and how people are affected.

In the United States this process typically occurs due to an influx of investment in traditionally disinvested communities that then attracts people who can afford higher rents. With low rates of home ownership and a lack of laws protecting tenants, it’s often difficult for people to fight these powerful forces.

On the second half of my trip in Honduras, I focused on the Garifuna community and their efforts to preserve culture and land. I learned how intimately tied culture and land are to each other. Their cuisine is dependent on being able to fish, cultivate yucca, and have access to coconuts. Preserving their land assures the community remains tight knit and healthy.

While I spoke to activists and land defenders, I couldn’t help but think of what was happening miles away in my own neighborhood as Central American immigrants are displaced from their homes and businesses. I realized the importance of land ownership to preserve communities. How can communities in the United States facing gentrification learn from the Garifuna struggle?

The context is different but the fight is the same.

Samanta Helou Hernandez, 2019 IWMF Honduras Fellow