Belizean conch fritters at South LA’s Joan and Sisters Restaurant

Samuel Bevans, owner of Joan and Sisters | Logan Heley

Samuel Bevans, owner of Joan and Sisters | Logan Heley

At Joan and Sisters Restaurant in South L.A.’s unofficial “Little Belize” neighborhood, cooks serve up conch fritters, rice and beans — all typical foods of Belize that represent the Central American country’s wide-ranging ethnic influences.

Belizeans can be Black Creoles of slave descent, Hispanic Mestizos of Mayan and native descent, or Garifuna, a group whose ancestors are a mix of Carib Indians and West Africans arrived from wrecked Spanish slave ships in 1635. East Indians, Middle Easterners and East Asians have also made their way to country on the coast of the Caribbean.

Jerome Straughan, a Black Creole from Belize, moved to the U.S. in 1980. In his Ph.D. dissertation about Belizeans in Los Angeles, he wrote that Belizeans can more easily interact with other ethnic groups in L.A. than in other places, because the city is so diverse.

Click to hear more from Straughan and others:

Nearly half of the 120,000 Belizeans in the U.S. today live in Los Angeles. Belize, meanwhile, has a population of just over 300,000.

When Samuel Bevans, owner of Joan and Sisters, came to L.A. in 1952, he said Belizeans only lived in South L.A., especially in the area near Western and Jefferson Avenues. But today, he said, Belizean-Americans live all over the city.

The big celebration for Belizean-Americans happens every September in Los Angeles for Belizean Independence Day. This year, mark your calendars for Septemeber 20 – 21 in Inglewood at the Hollywood Park Casino.

Joan and Sisters Restaurant

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