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#3339: Sterotyping: Grey replies to Antoine
<< I KNOW many foreigners who have shared with the Haitian peasants
their day to day life in obscure corners of the country. On the other hand,
I have met many Haitians who would recoil from the idea of even being
touched by a Haitian peasant. That's what I have been talking about,
without making any generalization. >>
Hooray! You know, Guy, there is a Jamaican proverb which goes "The truth
always brings offense, but it is not sin".
There are cultural tendencies among Americans, including the work ethic and
value placed on education, which can lead to arrogant behavior. In my work
as a Mambo, I refer to this as "the need for the attitude of a beginner", or
sometimes I just call it the notion that it is possible to own everything,
know everything, that one has a right to appropriate anything and ask
questions which one expects to be answered. These are the folks that walk up
to me or my partner Houngan and say, "Who is your met tet? How can I call a
lwa?", and so forth. Not ALL Americans do this.
There are cultural tendencies among Haitians, including the value placed on
sharp practice and clever deception, which lead to other attitudes, some of
which I have discussed. Not ALL Haitians do this.
When I became a Mambo, I didn't ask for it! I asked for hounsi kanzo, the
lwa insisted that I take the asson. I was surprised into the attitude of a
beginner. So maybe that is why I have gone so far, who knows? But in order
to learn, one must throw away one's beliefs and ideas to date, or at least
suspend them for a while. Physically eating and living with majority class
Haitians won't do a thing for a foreigner who has it in mind how "wrong" they
are or who has a "savior complex."
I remember a missionary woman I met in Croix fes Missions, who was busy
taking infants from Haitian homes to be raised in an orphanage nearby. These
were children of very poor familes, obviously. She had toddler in her arms,
or rather I should say she was holding a toddler - holding him as far away
from her as she could. Her revulsion for this child was so obvious I nearly
screamed! I talked with her for a while, and she mentioned her daughter, who
was in the same religious group. "She's cleaning up another one to take with
us", said the mother, indicating another little house where her daughter was
at work bathing a second toddler.
I wanted to grab those two babies and RUN!
But then there are the non-Haitians who form normal relations with Haitians
that they meet in daily life, and who learn and understand the cultural
background against which the political and historical events of Haiti take
place. There are non-Haitians who have quite literally risked their lives,
over and over again, and I mean physically standing between Haitian civilians
and loaded guns in the hands of Haitian Army officers or attaches.
Cultural tendencies are real, they exist and they shape societies, but
individuals have a CHOICE. THAT is what it's all about, anyway.
Peace and love,
Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen
"Se bon ki ra",
Good is rare - Haitian Proverb
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