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#246: Diaspora : M-V Aristide comments

From: Marx-Vilaire Aristide <aristide@myself.com>

The idea of a divide between Diaspora Haitians and those in Haiti is
nonsense. Widespread acceptance notwithstanding, this theory is bogus to
the core. It's a red herring that masks real divisions and
contradictions: CLASS (and often times COLOR). At the root of this false
dichotomy is the outrageously erroneous notion that when we say
"diaspora" we are somehow referring to a socio-economic class. We are

For the record, let's get a few things straight:

1. Haitians who fled on leaky boats do not suddenly join forces and
fraternize with those who departed on first-class flights;
2. Former restavèks do not become shopping partners of their former
"Mrs" once they're both in the Diaspora;
3. Former Site Solèy slum-dwellers do not make the guest lists at
parties of those who reigned supreme in Laboul, Kenskòf and Petyonvil;
4. Landless peasants do not suddenly find common turf with big shot
grandon just because they are now in the same ?class? called the

Illustratively stated, there are women?s groups in the Diaspora, which
conduct their meetings and seminars in French and there are women?s
groups in Haiti, which conduct their seminars only in Kreyòl. For
example, I don?t think Ms. Hermantin?s experience is a definitive
statement of women?s groups in Haiti, but rather a reflection of the
petit-bourgeois status of those women in question. I?ve attended
countless seminars in all corners of Haiti, and I?ve never come across a
debate as to which language to use. My point again is that class
divisions is what?s at work as opposed to one?s place of residence in
Haiti or the Diaspora.

To be sure, there is infinitely more movement among the classes in the
States (and elsewhere in the Diaspora) than there is in Haiti. But the
class (and color) divisions that define Haitians in Haiti do not
dissipate overnight in the interests of lòt bò dlo solidarity.  

What?s more, once in Haiti, for a visit or otherwise, Diaspora Haitians
are expected to rejoin their old respective ?clubs? in Haiti. And if
each group were to remain within its defined ranks -- family origin,
social class, etc. -- there would be no issue of antagonisms whatsoever
between the Diaspora and Haiti. 

But for most Diaspora Haitians who visit Haiti, their new-found economic
security is an opportunity to do things they never would have been able
to do had they stayed in Haiti: frequent the fancy restaurants in
Petyonvil alongside the Mevs; enjoy a day in the sun at Moulin Sur Mer
with the people with ?good hair?; go to Eagle Market with the arrogance
and confidence of a typical ?gran nèg? flaunting diaspora dollar;
display the trappings of wealth with lavish jewelry and an expensive
rental car. 

No doubt, such attitude gets plenty of resentment. However, the
resentment and condemnation do NOT come from Haitians of lower economic
classes. It invariably comes from the bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie,
which now feel challenged by people who, had they not emigrated, would
be in no position to travel in the same circles as they.

Finally, a question for Diaspora Haitians on the list: when you say you
feel resented by Haitians in Haiti, are you saying that people you grew
up with, family members, people of your same social class, people in the
countryside where you?re come from, all give you the cold shoulders when
you return ?home?? Or do you feel resented by the bourgeoisie, which
feels its social position challenged, and the petit-bourgeoisie, which
feels professionally challenged?

Marx-Vilaire Aristide