[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

5978: Re: 5939: Re: Re: 5911: 'Blan' & Haitian Culture (fwd)

From: C&C Henrius <carolineislands@hotmail.com>
>From: mark gill <doctorgill@clas.net>

>extended periods of time.  While a "blan",  i was never a target for
>exploitation or stealing.  Further, I can say that my friends there are the
>best personal friends I have ever had, and I have lived in several other
>countries, in addition to Haiti.  I can also say that my level of trust for
>them is very high.  In fact, I completely trust them.

I agree.  I have, in fact, found the Haitian people to be the least racist, 
least judgemental people I've known in my life.  That's why I miss Haiti so 
much when I am away.  Haiti is the only place I know in which I am judged 
according to my value as a human being and the way I conduct myself in life 
-- NOT the color of my skin or my nationality. Of course, I've been called 
"blan" about a hundred thousand times, but only a couple of times has it 
been with a hostile undertone and that was in downtown PAP by people who did 
not know me.  There have been many times I have gotten into discussion with 
people about the use of the word and have explained that, to us, it feels as 
though we're being summed up by the color of our skin.  Each time I've 
pointed this out the person -- whether friend or aquaintance, or just 
someone on the taptap -- has listened, understood and agreed that it would 
be better to call someone Madanm, than blan.  This was easy because they 
never meant it in a derogatory way in the first place -- simply a 
discriptive term meant to clarify which person they were referring to.
And so, Kathy's comparison of the use of the term "blan" to the word 
"n_____" is not only ludicrous but highly offensive (And I won't even get 
into what it must have been like for those Vodouisants to see outsiders 
making a business out of a tradition their people have paid so dearly to 
preserve and carry with them 'depi nan ginen').

As an inter-racial couple, my husband and I are much more comfortable and 
accepted in Haiti than in the United States.  I can, unfortuately list 
instance after instance of racism that has confronted us while Stateside, 
the likes of which we *never* encounter in Haiti.  But I won't get into that 
since this is a Haiti forum.

On my last trip to Haiti, I was in Petite Riviere in the Artibonite Valley 
and a group of kids ran up to me, still in their uniforms from school.  They 
were all laughing and yelling, "Blan blan... ba m senk goud..." etc.  I 
stopped and asked them, "Poukisa ou konnen mwen gen kob?"  <why do you think 
I have money?> and most of them yelled out, because you are a blan.  One 
little girl piped up, "Paske ou bel!" <because you are beautiful!> and I 
laughed and said that was a much better answer.  It was all a bunch of fun 
by this time and since they were listening, I told them I did not, in fact, 
have money because I had just spent it all on my brothers funeral who was 
killed a week before (the reason I was there).  But, I said, I would give 
them something that would last a lot longer than the five gourdes or the 
candy they would buy, eat and forget by tomorrow.  I asked them why they 
called me blan and they said because they didn't know my name.  Ah... then, 
when you see a market woman in the street and you don't know her name, you 
say, "Hey black, give me 2 gourdes worth of fried plantain."  right?  "NO NO 
NO..."  they yelled.  So what do you call her?  We call her Madanm or Momi.  
Then how about calling me Madanm or Momi?  And I explained that we Americans 
feel we are being disrespected when we are called blan and we like to be 
called those nice things too because we are more than just our nationality 
or the color of our skin.  We all went away happy and a little more 
sensitive to each other's feelings.

Point is, those kids didn't mean the word blan to be derogotory and they 
felt bad when they realized that's how we perceive it.  So did all the other 
Haitians I ever spoke with about this.  Blan is not a derogatory term.  It 
is mainly our perception of it that is offensive. As eloquent as the Haitian 
people are, I'm sure they would come up with something a lot more 
discriptive than "blan" if they were wanting to insult you.  As a matter of 
fact, I KNOW so.


Caroline Henrius
Get more from the Web.  FREE MSN Explorer download : http://explorer.msn.com