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Posts Tagged ‘daughter’

Growing up, if I ever wanted to go to an after school function, house party, or quite frankly anywhere without my haitian parents, I had to give them at least two weeks notice.

Haitian parents do not like to be ambushed with requests at the last minute. Never, I repeat never, call from a friend’s house asking for permission to do something that same day or you will be in some serious trouble when you get home. You already knew better not to even ask to sleepover. Although, the phone conversation may have ended politely, as soon as you walked through the door, you were facing a consequence. (See “Mete ou ajenou (Get on your knees)!”https://cornbreadandcremasse.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/mete-ou-ajenou-get-on-your-knees/ for the aftermath.)

So just like leaving a job, you need to give haitian parents ample time for notification and to process your request. You may also have to spend time explaining to them terms like ” pep rally”, ” calabash”, or “tailgating”. Not quite sure there is a word in kreyol for any of the aforementioned, but in any event just avoid discussing the attendance of members of the opposite sex. Keep in mind, after you’ve made the request, you had to make it your duty to constantly remind them up until the actual date of the event. If not, you had better be prepared to have them tell you, that they don’t recall you ever asking them, and that either the answer was no or they would back to you after discussing it over with each other. This usually was the kiss of death.

Personally, I had a strategy in presenting my two weeks notice. First, I asked the more lenient parent, which in my household was my dad. My dad didn’t care too much about the details, but I knew that when I needed a backup for when, not even if, my mom acted like I was telling her something she had never heard before, he had my back.

Next thing I had to do was discuss it with my mom, but in doing so I had to invoke the “ONE FRIEND” into the conversation.

You see, Haitian parents have your one friend that they like. They don’t like your friends in groups; just one. The one friend even knows your parents love them because they will even say to you ” Just tell them you are coming with me”. The qualifications of the “one friend” vary from parent to parent. For my parents, mostly my mom, she had to have never been seen hanging around boys. This clearly meant that she was ” loose”. Her appearance and overall presentation had to be always on point. This meant her hair had to be done and her clothes neatly pressed. If she were Haitian, she would receive bonus points, and quite frankly win by default. Just make sure that you are actually going with that friend because the fallout from lying on and about the friend is devastating. Take my word for it.

I really envied my friends who could just go places on short notice or better yet tell their parents after the fact. That was unheard of when I was growing up. How about you? Did you parents let you go to different things on short notice? Did you have to give notice way ahead of time like I did? Did they have the one friend they loved? Are you still friends? Were you the coveted friend? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

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haitaincreole

Creole lessons empower the Haitian diaspora in the small Two Moon Art and House Cafe in Brooklyn by the founder of the Haitian Creole Language Institute of New York, Wynnie …

via Creole, Haiti’s Mother Tongue, Brings People Back to Their Roots.

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The following post was submitted by Ellen Thompson. Ellen is a Haitian-American medical professional living in Orlando, Florida with her husband and two children.

 

Plate&Fork- 032Throughout my years growing up as a Haitian child, my mother would fix us Haitian breakfast pretty much every morning. My mother had some rules when it came to breakfast. Always eat everything on your plate, never turn down any type of food and you can never eat a man’s food. We as woman were taught that we pile up the man’s plate and don’t eat off it. As I got older, I missed those home cooked breakfasts and I didn’t really cook them when I got on my own. After my grandmother passed away in 2011, my now husband Danny, my son and I went to New York for her funeral and I finally got a chance to have some of that home cooked breakfast that I haven’t had really since my mother moved back to New York a few years ago. But there was one thing I didn’t mention, my husband is a southern black man from North Carolina, who has never had a Haitian breakfast and his best idea of Haitian food is rice and beans.

 

As we traveled on the train from Orlando to New York, he asked a lot of questions about my family and how to act. This is the first time that he had met my family and he was really nervous. I figured he knew the rules, little did I know that I should have explained all of these principles to him. After we got into town and good night’s slept, we decided to have breakfast before we went into the city for a busy day. My mother fixed one of my favorites, Mais Moulin and avocado. I explained to my husband how excited I was to be having this when he asked me “Ellen, what does Mais Moulin taste like?” After thinking about what to say, the only thing that came to mind was Yellow Grits. Little did I know how much he loved Grits?

As we sat down at the table, my excitement grew as my mother fixed our plates and as she laid them down on the table, I saw my husband’s face look deflated like a balloon that lost its air. My mother hovered over us as we took the first few bites, as I took my bites the memories of growing up as a child flowed through my mind and the taste was incredible. When I turned and looked at Danny, it looked like the opened a present on Christmas morning expecting the one thing he asked for and ended up getting a pair of socks. My mother started speaking in Creole, he doesn’t like the food? Danny smiled and said its good Mrs. Michelle. Then Danny leaned over and said “Baby, this isn’t Grits, I have no idea what this is, but this isn’t’ Quaker.” I finished off my food like it was last supper and I looked over at Danny’s plate and he only had taken two bites. Looking a child who was looking for the family pet to come over to eat the food off his plate, I started to take some of his breakfast when my mother and aunt stopped me in my tracks. “Ellen, don’t eat Danny’s food” my mother said. “Danny is the man and he needs to eat all of his food.” He took another bite and he whispered in my ear, “This tastes like gravel and I can’t eat any of this anymore.” I told him that it’s disrespectful to not eat the food that is made and it’s insulting to say that the food is terrible. He explained that he would just have to eat it and that’s it. Danny had the look of a 3 year old was just told the word “No”. I grabbed small spoonful’s to help him out, but he had to put in the work to get it done.

After breakfast was done and we started out on our day, he told me that I only finished the food because I wanted my future mother-in-law not to dislike him at all. But he asked where the nearest pizza place on the way to the subway is.

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This blog post is by Martine, Haitian-American author of the blog ” Taste Buds Required.  Please check out her blog at: http://www.tastebudsrequired.com

 

concord

 

I have a confession: I don’t know much about wine. This was mostly a non-issue for me before moving to Seattle because most of my friends and family in NY didn’t know about wine, either. When I moved here, I realized how much serving wine was actually a part of the culture; having people over for dinner generally meant having wine to serve them.

In keeping with my philosophy that what goes in my mouth should taste good, I’m mostly a fan of picking up brands that I think I’ll find tasty. We could argue that knowledge gives you a different sense of what tastes good, and maybe once you’ve had a really good wine it’s hard to go back to bad ones, but ultimately it’s still just a matter of preference (of course, with my limited knowledge, I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that wine can be used to enhance the flavor of a meal). My mother’s preference was for Manischewitz.

I know what you’re likely thinking, and I wouldn’t entirely disagree. I’m sure most wine enthusiasts would be appalled by this, or the fact that it was actually occasionally served to guests at parties (either that or White Zinfandel), but no one ever seemed to be bothered by this. To be fair, wine (or alcohol in general) weren’t standard parts of the meal. They were very occasional and usually precipitated by someone asking if they could bring something. If someone mentioned wine, though, someone was likely breaking out a bottle of Manischewitz.

With that background in mind, I was at a severe disadvantage when I moved. Most of my guests would offer to bring wine, but I like to make sure my guests don’t have to worry about bringing anything which meant I wanted to be the one to buy the wine.

At one of my very first dinner parties here, I did the unthinkable and actually brought out a bottle of White Zinfandel. In my mind, this was the classy wine, and definitely a step up from Manischewitz. The bottle went untouched as several of my guests (who apparently don’t like showing up empty handed) had all decided to bring a bottle of “real” wine. I was thankful (if slightly embarrassed) for the lesson and to my guests for deciding to bring the wine, anyway. I also realized I was going to have to learn a thing or two about wine.

How do you go about picking your wine? I’m betting that most people aren’t taking long wine classes or even doing massive internet searches for how to pair wine with a meal. I still don’t know much, but at least I’m no longer serving the undrinkable. While I’ve also usually got a bottle or two of wine on hand, for the most part, I’ve decided to let my guests bring the wine, and focus on the things that I do know.

 

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I had just turned 6 when I was blessed with my first child.  I really didn’t have much of a choice. They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  Here I was 6, and I was being told by my Haitian parents that I was going to be someone’s “marenn”  or as we say here in the United  States a “godmother”. That is pretty much how things went down in my family.  By the time I was a teenager, I had lost count of all my godchildren. It got me to wondering why DO Haitian parents pick minors as godparents?

 

godmother

  1. The Decision Process: I doubt there was one.  I was a great elementary school student, but other than that I was still living with my parents and in no way shape or form capable of being a second parent. So, was it to ensure that someone lived as long as their child? I just don’t know how I felt about my godchild growing up with me, literally. I should have a created a support group for “young marenns”. Hmm, It’s not too late. Were you a young marenn? Leave a comment below and share your story.
  2. Job Description: No one was really ever clear to me on what my responsibilities would be.  In the beginning, I would buy gifts, well correction, my parents would buy the gifts and just say it was from me.  I was and continue to be the type of person that needs clear and concise instructions. Otherwise, I am just winging it and that’s not fair to the kid right? A godmother assumes an important role in the spiritual life of a child she has sponsored during baptism. The parents of the child who will be baptized choose a godmother or godparent to represent the child who is unable to respond during the baptismal ceremony. In the case of an adult baptism, the godmother assists the person in making this step of faith. Being a godmother is not a legal commitment but a spiritual one. The godmother’s responsibilities start at the baptismal service and continue throughout the life of the child.  Clearly, a huge responsibility at 6 and so it begs the question what were they thinking?
  3. Quid Pro Quo: From time to time  I would wonder if the parents felt indebted to my parents for something and threw the “marenn” label on me as to call it even. Were we somehow the Haitian Corleone family? Who were these people ( my parents) before they came to this country? Never mind, I don’t think I want to know.
  4. The Parenn Problem:  I was often paired up with a MUCH older Haitian male who was the “parenn” translation “godfather”. It is an extremely awkward photo when at 6, you are standing with a gentleman who could be your grandfather but most times it turned out he was your cousin. Everyone is your cousin but for some reason you end up being paired up with the one cousin who you wouldn’t want your parents to leave you alone with. Ever. The cousin that holds your hands just a little bit too long after you have greeted him with the obligatory kiss on the cheek.  Which makes me wonder; are Haitian boys even considered? That’s a whole other blog.
  5. The Irony: My parents were always quick to throw my name in for consideration as marenn. However, If I ever would have had a child as a teen, I would have been put on the first plane to Haiti to stay indefinitely or that’s the story they would’ve used to explain my disappearance.

Thanks for checking out this week’s blog. Please feel free to leave a comment:).

 

 

Switching gears, on a more serious and personal note, I wish to take this time to remember my own son’s Godmother, Stephanie Lissa Leger,  who tragically passed away at the age of  25 after a 4 year battle with cancer. 

http://www.palmswestfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Stephanie-L%C3%A9ger/

 

 

 

 

 

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rel·a·tive [ réllətiv ] adjective
  1. changing with circumstances: not permanently fixed, but having a meaning or value that can only be established in relation to something else and will change according to circumstances or context
As a regular blogger for Cornbread and Cremasse, people almost always assume that I am so deeply embedded in the Haitian culture.  I must eat, sleep, live, and love all things Haitian.  I have a confession or more like full disclosure. The truth of the matter is, I am more cornbread than cremasse. However, there are certain situations when it is the reverse, allow me to explain.

Here are a few examples of encounters and I even rated myself on a “How Haitian Am I Scale” from 1-10.
 
1.      White people (some, not all)- I don’t care how much or little kreyol, geography, or Haitian history you know, as soon as a white person finds out you are in any way shape or form associated with Haiti. You are just as Haitian as a newly arrived immigrant.  Be forewarned that you might get stuck in a conversation about the mission work their church has done/and or is doing for the children of Haiti.
(Haitian Rating: 100)
2.      Non-whites– There can be some confusion especially if an accent is not detected. There seems to be a long brewing confusion with Haiti and Jamaica. Jamaicans hate this. We love it. Wyclef’s name might be brought up legitimizing their love of Haitian music. I just go with the flow.
 (Haitian Rating: 10)
3.      Younger Haitians– This is my comfort zone. As long as I can represent with my Haitian tee shirt or bandana on Flag Day. They don’t question my validity. I can even throw in a few “sak pases” and post on Facebook that I drank my #soupjoumou on January 1.
(Haitian Rating: 9)
4.      Older Haitians– Things get tricky here.  I am usually greeted in kreyol and expected to respond back in kind. My fluency is suspect at best.  Here’s the thing I can understand everything that is being said, but please don’t ask me to respond because it’s all jacked up. So, I normally either smile and nod or repeat “ okay” for everything.  A parent usually comes to the rescue but also berating you for being too American.
(Haitian rating: (-105)

So basically in a nutshell on some days, I am made to feel like the Ambassador to Haiti, but then reality sets in.

The reality is I am love and embrace my culture enough to be able to be introspective and make light of certain things. How about you?

How are you defined in certain circumstances? Do you go with the flow?

Please feel free to leave a comment.

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I was born in the United States and raised in Haiti. I moved back to the United States at the age of eleven. Being a witness to the struggles faced by my mother, a single mother, made me more appreciative of the education and the opportunities that I have had as a Haitian-American woman. Having to learn English as a second language and completing my Masters Degree in Social Work are my two greatest accomplishments.

Growing up in the United States and having to adapt to a new culture was a difficult and challenging experience for me. However, my struggles were minimal compared to those of my mother’s. She worked two jobs, at the time her English speaking skills were minimal, and she supported four young children. Additionally, even after we moved to the United States, my mother believed that she had a responsibility to care for her siblings living in Haiti. As a result of this belief, she kept sending them money on a regular basis.

My mother always stressed the importance of education. She did not want to see her children struggle as much as she did. With education in mind, I completed High School believing that getting a High School diploma was all of the education I needed. Unfortunately, I had a guidance counselor who, rather than support the idea of my going to college, reinforced my belief that High School was enough education for me. Luckily, I met a professional and successful Black woman who became my mentor. She taught me the importance of furthering my education. She believed in me and she helped me to believe in myself. Although my mom had also stressed the importance of education, up to this point, my experience was in seeing the women from my culture who had immigrated to the United States, obtain jobs as cleaning ladies and I considered them to be successful. So, with a broader understanding of success, as well as some assistance from my mentor, I applied and was accepted to Syracuse University where I majored in Social Work and ultimately obtained a Bachelor’s Degree of Science and Social Work.

I learned many valuable life lessons during my undergraduate years. I lived in Harlem, NY; and as a result, I was not exposed to many different cultures. When I went to Syracuse University, I was faced with culture shock! I had to learn to live with individuals of different backgrounds and religious beliefs. I was impressed with the different student organizations to choose from. However, because I wanted to feel like I belonged, I assisted in creating a Haitian-American organization so that I could meet other students of my own culture and who, I assumed, were faced with the same challenges as I did. I soon began to realize that I was segregating myself from the many different cultures represented by other students on Campus. I began to branch out and participate in different organizations so I could learn more about different cultures. To my surprise, I found students from a wide variety of cultures who were struggling as I was and their parents struggled as my mother did.

My first professional experience was as a Director of a child abuse prevention program. Working with parents was rewarding for me because I was able to educate them about child rearing skills and help them to learn stress reduction techniques. After approximately one year, I was accepted onto the staff of an organization that specializes on domestic violence. In my capacity as a Senior Social Worker, I encountered many minority women who were victims of violence in their primary relationships. I soon learned that it is often difficult for women to break away from violent relationships. For the women I worked with, matters were complicated even further because many of them were undocumented and, as a result, they were usually unwilling to ask for help from any authorities because they feared they would be deported. These women also faced language barriers, difficulties getting employment, and the social isolation we often see both with battered women and in new immigrants who have not yet settled into American society. Of those who were able to leave the batterers, they often found themselves unable to navigate the system and not able to support themselves financially without the help of public assistance. Of those who did receive public assistance, they often came to rely on public assistance because their English speaking and writing skills were poor and or they were unable to get training in a vocation that would allow them to support themselves and their children.– Rachel Acloque

Article Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Immigrant-Women-and-Their-Struggles&id=482810 by Rachel Acloque

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