By Aaron Humes: June is National Immigrant Heritage Month in the United States, described as “a Nation of immigrants, shaped by the courageous people from around the world who leave their homes, lives, and loved ones to seek refuge and opportunity on its shores.”
Though a relatively recent source of migration (dating back to the 1930s), Garinagu from Belize, Honduras and elsewhere left their mark on all manner of industry and organizations from the merchant marines to business and entrepreneurship, politics, sports, the professions and others.
The Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. spotlighted two such immigrants from Belize – Rakeem Nunez Roches, Super Bowl-winning defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and originally from Dangriga, and the co-owners and co-founders of Garifuna Flava Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, Rhodel and Chef Yolanda Castillo.
Nuñez-Roches or “Nacho” was signed by Tampa Bay on October 2, 2018, after becoming the first Belizean-born player drafted to the National Football League (NFL) as a sixth-round choice in 2015 by the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Castillos founded Garifuna Enterprises, Inc., (Doing Business as Garifuna Flava Caribbean Restaurant) in 2005 in Chicago’s historic Marquette Park neighbourhood. In 2019, Garifuna Flava won the WOW Award at The 2019 Taste of Chicago, where 82 food vendors participated. Taste of Chicago is one of the largest culinary events in the United States with a focus on diversity. It has been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, WTTW’s Check Please & WGN’s Chicago’s Best!