As a Haitian-American — or just black person, in general — I find that I often have a tendency to root for “my” people. It’s almost like we are one big unit, and any and all actions made by members of the unit reflect on us as a whole. So I’m constantly rooting for the unit to do well. For example, I’m a fan of Tiger Woods. I rarely watch golf, yet I’m a Tiger fan. Yes, he’s an awesome, record-breaking golfer — but he’s black! If I’m honest, that’s really what brings me to the “fan” side! Somehow, all of Tiger’s victories make me happy and proud. Now if the person is black AND Haitian? Well…then the stakes are higher, the pride factor is elevated and the proverbial “unit” is more dependent. For example, I’ve seen the actress/model Garcelle Beauvais before on TV, and right away I liked her — she’s beautiful, black, doing well, etc., but it wasn’t until I learned she was Haitian that I took a real interest in her. Now I’m a fan, a twitter follower, I’ll read up on her, etc. Whenever a Haitian person excels, or raises the bar, I’m so thrilled, and beyond proud. Haitians have gotten a bad rep in the recent past, and it’s refreshing to see Haitians get positive publicity every so often. So all Haitians setting the bar high, exceeding in their field, and/or making a difference are an automatic heroes in my eyes.
And of course, sadly enough, the reverse is also true — when Tiger’s “scandal” was front page news, my heart cringed for “us”, and I hoped the scandal would just go away quickly, as it was costing our unit some well needed points. And God forbid there’s bad news about Haitians. With the media already harping on Haiti’s political disarray and poverty level, we need all the good news we can muster!
Have you ever heard some off the wall story in the news and think “I sure hope that crazy person isn’t black”? That happens to me all the time, in fact it happened just the other day. I heard the crazy story about the face eating zombie in Miami. Of course the first thought that came to mind was “I sure hope this is not a black face-eater”…and as the story developed, sure enough the face eating zombie guy was a black man, and the unit took at hit. Drats! When more information became available about the story, and the Face Eating Zombie was identified as Rudy Eugene, I had to clutch my pearls. UGH!! i don’t know about you, but in my experience, 9 out of 10 times a man named “Rudy” is Haitian. And a “Rudy” that lives in Miami? That has Haitian written all over it! DAMN! This double-whammy was such bad PR for the unit. It was certainly worse in my opinion, than if it were some non-Haitian black person.
As I examine my feelings I realize that I don’t truly adopt the actions of my fellow unit members. In fact, the “unit” is not even a real entity. Sure, the success stories are inspiring, but the not-so-pleasant stories don’t take away from my person, and are truly not a reflection of me. I do truly root for black people and Haitians, when they are deserving. I guess I just want the public opinion of the groups of which I am a part to be a positive one.
Do you root for your “unit” too? Do you seek out success stories of people who you have something in common with? If so, why? How do you feel when you hear a “bad” story about a member of your unit?