Post submitted by TastyKeish, a Radio host/producer, professional chatter box, tweet-head, hype-girl, voice over talent, blogger, event host, and good girl gone better. TK is the host of “TK in the AM” a morning show that airs 10-11:30am EST Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on bondfire radio. Learn more at http://www.TKintheAM.com, and check out the TK in the AM Flag Day show here: http://www.spreaker.com/user/tastykeish/tkam_59_sak_pase_it_s_haitian_flag_day
Once upon a time… in my parents time, hell even in my older cousins time- you couldn’t be Haitian. You just couldn’t. My mom tells me stories of coming to America as a teenager and getting beat up in High School and being called “Frenchie” and other slurs that were even worse. Haitians were associated with boats, body odor, not being able to match your clothes at one point. You couldn’t go to a reggae party cause a Jamaican would try to fight you. It was a bad deal to be Haitian. To this day there is an underlying shame that people try to project onto you. Shame for being from a country that practices vodun as a religion, shame for once having record high rates for HIV/AIDS, shame for continuing to be poor hundreds of years after independence.
I don’t carry any of that shame. Those perceptions are your problem.
When it came time for parents of first generation Haitian Americans to make a choice, they did one of two things. Both of which I find in my family today:
A) They erased all things Haitian from their lives, spoke only english, and never taught their kids anything productive about Haiti outside of the flag colors. B) They taught their kids even more about Haiti.They taught the language, how to cook the food, told us stories of where we came from and reminded us that we need to go back.
My parents fell into category B.
As a child of category B parents, you almost never have to have set foot in Haiti to be super prideful and educated about your heritage. Category B kids have been studying Haiti since before google. The one thing that was missing was fellowship. Category B kids like myself were so good at blending in and code switching between the Haitian and the American lifestyles that we couldn’t recognize each other until you learned someones last name.
So meeting each other is extra special. You’ve met someone that knows how crazy your parents are, why kneeling on rice seems totally logical, how delicious cremasse is, and why it’s okay to eat rice 7 times a day. When you meet a group of Category B kids, you want to hang out and have someone to speak Kreyol with because chances are as you get older and the elders start dying there’s no one to talk to. So meeting up is how we keep things fresh and also build a network. Sometime we just want to step outside of our all American everything and meet with each other once in awhile.
As Haitian culture becomes more and more popular and positively portrayed, there is a trend I’ve noticed that non-Haitians are remarking that we may be getting too big for our britches. That we don’t want to include them or share. This isn’t true.
The only way Category B kids will keep the culture fresh is to seek each other out. Enjoy each other’s company without interference or need to translate every sentence. We need to trade skills that we may not have picked up because we juggle our dual identities. I hardly think that is too much to ask for. Just a few days to wave our flag, to make black rice and not share, to only speak in our mother tongue. Tomorrow, you can come over and we’ll do it together.
L’Union Fait la force.
Strength through Unity.
I’m TastyKeish and I’m a proud Haitian born in America.