As I get ready for my friends baby shower I can't help but think about how fortunate this child will be to grow up in this new era where Haitian people are better off than they were 15 -30 years ago.
I know hatred towards Haitians is still alive and it rears its ugly head now more than when it did years ago but I still feel a sense of pride knowing that this child will not have to endure the pains and struggles that many in my generation had to.
What struggles you may ask.. well when I came to this country midsummer 1986 being Haitian was as bad as having a dog bite you in the ass. I remember all the names that they used to call me just because I was haitian, and all the times I had to stick up for myself and tell people how great my country was.
As an immigrant in this country it is often hard to overcome the obstacles of being different from the rest when the rest who are different (like you are)make fun of you. When I came here there were so many derogatory comments made about my people that I often had to lie about where I was from. (I'll fess up to it, I was one of those Haitians who claimed that they were Jamaican, then became Canadian when they questioned me about my name.)Trying to hide my Haitianness (add that to your urban dictionary) was harder than I had expected. My name screamed HAITIAN but I tried to say that I wasn't. In hindsight I wish that I never denied this because my country held a history that is revered world wide. Trust me it never worked cause with a name like mine HAITIAN is all that they could think of.
When I attended catholic school it was easy to let my haitianness run free because everyone at the school was haitian like me. There was nothing to fear and nothing to feel embarrassed about because everyone spoke creole, everyones parents said their name with an "ou" at the end, and everyone had embarrassing haitian moments to share. I loved being there, I was no longer different, I was never made fun of (well not for being haitian anyway). I shared something with the others and we weren't outcasts.
When I entered High School I had a fear that the torment and torture of being Haitian would return, but I vowed that if I was asked if I was Haitian I would NOT deny it. Lucky enough for me that when I entered H.S. in 1995 it was the around the same time that the "Fugees" came out. In the group there were 3 people of caribbean heritage and two of them were Haitian and one Jamaican. Instantly I thought, No, this could not be. Never has there been a haitian in Hip-Hop.. (well none that openly admitted it), that is until Mr. Jean did it. I remember walking through the Halls of John Dewey H.S. and thinking shyt it feels great to be Haitian. Were is your Haitian Booty Scratcher scratcher now??
That summer when "Ready or Not" hit the streets of Brooklyn it was like a Haitian invasion came through. Everywhere you went you heard people speaking creole (the official haitian language) all the Haitians who had denied being Haitian came out of the wood works to celebrate their culture. On Eastern Parkway that summer every Haitians from all parts of the United States, Canada, Haiti, etc. came to show their love for their country. It was as if we needed a small doorway to finally being accepted and when Clef gave that to us, that is all we needed to make our presence felt. Every where you went you heard people screaming out "Sak Pase." (Whats up?) to anyone and everyone who was Haitian.
SO, on this Saturday in Black History month I want to give a shout for the one Haitian that I know that never turned his back on his people. He stood with the flag strong for years when many said that we had HBO!
The son of a Haitian preacher Wyclef was born in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince. When he was 13 Wyclef's parents moved to Brooklyn, NY then after sometime his family left and moved to New Jersey. As a member of the hit group Fu-gees Wyclef changed music to introduce the cultural styles of the caribbean and brought light to his motherland of Haiti.
Wyclef has made music with legendary singers Celia Cruz, Carlos Santana, Earth Wind & Fire, Mary J. Blige and many others. He has recorded remakes of legendary songs "Guantanamera" by Celia Cruz and "No Woman No Cry" by Bob Marley. His joy for making music resonates in multi-platinum selling albums.
Every time you see Wyclef you see the Haitan Flag. He holds it up with pride and honor. He isn't afraid to tell you of his love for his homeland. When the earthquake hit this past January Wyclef was the first to fly down and see if everyone back home was ok. (My cousin was on the same flight with him and King Kino that dreadful Wednesday morning)
I love and admire this man for his undying love for his country. I love that there hasn't been a moment when he didn't shout our his home. Wyclef I want to thank you for always being true to your country. Though many of us have denied our home you have NEVER been one to do so. While some people are still hiding the fact that their Haitian you have stood strong in your love for our home. Thank you for being a pioneer in this "HAITIAN REVOLUTION"
In our language I say, Wyclef mesi pou tout sa'w fe pou pep Ayisien yo. San ou nou pa kon kikote nou tap ye! Nou mande Bon Dieu pou'l toujou kenbe'w nan pla men'l paske ou fe ke nou kontan!! * (Wyclef, thank you for all you have done for the ppl of Haiti. Without you, we don't know where we'd be. We ask God to keep you in the palm of his hand, because you fill our hearts with joy!)
Always Reppin Haiti!!