by Jerome F. Straughan
Los Angeles has emerged as the capital of U.S. immigration, making it more racially and ethnically diverse. Amongst the many immigrant groups in L.A. are immigrants from Belize, who bring a unique set of characteristics that reflect Belize’s history as the only former British colony in Central America, with historical and cultural links to the English speaking Caribbean. Belize is also a diverse country. Mestizos (“Spanish”) are now the majority ethnic group and the once majority Creoles is the larger of two Black ethnic groups in the country (the other being Garifuna). There is also a large and diverse Mayan population. Other groups include a growing Chinese and Mennonite population, East Indians, and Middle Easterners. Correspondingly, it is a multilingual country where English is the official language, Creole is the lingua franca, and Spanish is widely spoken. Other languages are spoken in the country as well. This dissertation examines the life experiences of Belizean and U.S. raised Belizean-Americans in Los Angeles. It focuses on how some of their characteristics and attributes (ethnoracial background, pre-migration experiences, and language ability) help shape certain aspects of their lives and influences the types of experiences they have in a diverse and spatially defined L.A. In particular, it takes into consideration how their characteristics are mediated through structural conditions and contextual factors (specific to L.A.) they encounter in the economy and society.
Primarily through in-depth interviews and participant observation, this dissertation describes how a diverse and representative group of Belizeans (and U.S. raised Belizean Americans) in Los Angeles see themselves, and how they are seen by others. In many ways, their sense of identity (ethnically/racially, nationally, and regionally) and how they are identified has a significant impact on their experiences, especially in the economy and society. This was the other focus of this dissertation. Economically, it focuses on their employment experiences and the extent to which they experienced socioeconomic mobility. And socially it describes and discusses their social life and relationship experiences with other Belizeans and non-Belizeans. Lastly, it addresses their perspectives on Belize and the United States (L.A.).
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Keywords: migration, immigration, Belizean diaspora, United States
Suggested APA reference: Straughan, J. 2004. Belizean Immigrants in Los Angeles Volume I. Los Angeles: University of South California. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll16/id/559173