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#2041: Haitian Labels (fwd)


If you play on that word a little, "diaspo" could almost sound like its on its way to being "diable". I'm definitely not feeling that, but what am I to do? It's just a label. When I went to Haiti for the first time, in April 1998 (I will always mention it) no one even knew I was an out of towner. My Kreyol isn't perfect, but I know when to keep my mouth shut. I hung out, partied, and haggled with the machanns, just like I was a "natif natal", because I felt like I was home. I was home.

When people are labeled, that is because a "group" gave someone an excuse to create that label. It's not about the clothes they have on or a look, cuz Lord knows I've heard enough, "You don't look Haitian" in the US. It's about the attitude. You have to admit, there is much bravado being thrown around by some "diaspo" when they (notice I've removed myself) visit Haiti. They usually seek attention by letting people around them know that they are visiting. It's like a reminder, "I don't live the same life you do." That's kind of foul!

My motto, "I ain't got nothing to give so I won't flaunt it" I work 9-5 like everybody else....so I'm going to be just as frugal in Haiti as I am in Jersey or New York. If I can beautify myself for a stupid trip, then I can afford to spare some pennies for my kinfolk at home. I've witnessed people take 2-3 days off from work just to prepare themselves for a trip to Haiti and spending MAD CASH. Then they wonder why people get mad at them for not sending money more often.

I didn't buy it so I'm not going to wear the label. If someone asks, I keep it simple. I'm Haitian. Like I've said before, I-dentity is done by self. Here are some of the different labels I've heard in my day:

1. "Just-Come Haitian" or "Just Got off the Boat Haitian" (self explanatory)
2. "Crunchy Haitian" (Same as 1)
3. "Not too Haitian-Haitian (Very Americanized, but acknowledges Haitian Ancenstry and that's about it)
4. Bad Boy Haitian (Just-Comes who have lived in the US or Canada for a while and aspire to being drug dealers and hoodlums)
5. Fake Haitian (Only Haitian when around other Haitian people)
6. My favorite because I invented it "VoudouNation Haitian" (Just proud of every aspect of Haitian culture, regardless of other's perceptions)

There's more, I'm sure, but "Haitian" always works for me.

Tetgren "always"