Home > Haiti, Personal > Ashamed to be Haitian

Ashamed to be Haitian

I used to be ashamed to be of my Haitian descent for the longest time. In a lot of ways, I’m not fully over it.

What good have I ever had to say about the country my parents came from? The Haitian government receives aid, money, and supplies and simply squanders it. The Haitian Creole (Kreyol) language is not popular. Eighty percent of the Haitian people are poor. In fact, Haiti, which shares an island with the Dominican Republic, is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. My parents came from a third-world country. Once I learned that, I figured there was nothing to be proud of in that.

So many times I wished I was something else, something cool. Like, oh say, Hispanic. It’s cool to be Hispanic. Spanish is a useful language to know, especially in America.

Now, it’s suddenly cool to be Haitian. Haiti, devastated by a recent earthquake, is at the forefront of the world’s mind. Suddenly, this tiny, pathetic country is huge, taking up space on the airwaves, dominating news, and pressing upon people’s hearts. Blink-182 had their signature rabbit running with the Haitian flag on a T-shirt and Lady Gaga created a T-shirt with the word “Haiti” and Haitian flag colors dominating throughout. As I type this, “Hope For Haiti Now” is on TV with the biggest and brightest of superstars lending their support to raise funds for a country that has none. People who never gave a damn before give a damn now.

I can lift my head up a little higher when I speak to people about my heritage now. Everyone seems to want to connect with a Haitian. A country that no one cared about—a throwaway nation—is suddenly front and center. When I used to tell people that my parents were from Haiti, at times, I received baffled looks, sometimes accompanied with a “Where’s that?” Everyone had heard of Cuba; Haiti? Not so much.

When the earthquake first occurred and aid poured into Haiti, I initially got upset at everyone, including myself. “Oh NOW, suddenly you care about Haiti?” Haiti has never been okay, Haiti has never been doing fine, and no one cared to assist a country that was sorely in need. Now that hundreds of thousands of people have died, the world’s eyes have been opened.  The plight of the Haitian people has come before the world and moved it to compassion by giving generously to a country that may never be able to give back.

But 10 days later after the great 7.3-magnitude Haiti earthquake, I’m at a point where I can reassess and think, “Wow. People actually care. This shows the best of people. The world is moved to assist a country that it never cared about before or even knew existed.” And I must thank God. I’m not happy that so many people had to die for the world to notice Haiti. But I’m humbled by seeing the outpouring of love and support from other nations including one that I am a citizen of—the United States. I am humbled by seeing both old and young being pulled alive out of rubble days after they should have been dead. I know only a merciful God can sustain them.

The faith of the Haitian people has humbled me. To hear stories of Haitians singing “How Great Thou Art” in spite of death and decay humbles me. Yes, there is voodoo common throughout the country but Haitians are a people of faith—a people who believe in God. In fact, they refer to Him as “bon Dieu” (translated as “good God”) in almost everything. A common saying tacked on at the end of many plans is “si Dieu veux” (translated to “God willing”). Perhaps it’s superstitious and embedded in the culture but it’s there. A belief in God—not just any god but a good God—is pervasive. And it’s the faith that has carried many Haitians through, it’s the faith that has carried many buried people found alive, and it’s the faith that will help rebuild the country.

And that is something I can be proud of.

Now playing: David Nevue – How Great Thou Art
via FoxyTunes

  1. Janel
    January 22, 2010 at 11:18 PM

    I believe the only reason I knew about Haiti before the quake was that a lead minister from my church used to do missions there and he would come back with stories. I knew it was poor but not a whole lot more than that. I believe that God has awesome things in store for Haiti and it’s part of the reason He allowed them to be put on the World Stage, in our face! Very interesting POV, thank you!

  2. Adonachelle Calixte
    February 2, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    I’m reading your article and not to bash you but I feel it’s sad that it’s when others start to care that’s when you decide to care. You listed so many negative attributes about Haiti even though there are many positives. How about Haiti being the first black independent nation, how about it was Haiti who helped America with the Louisiana Purchase, what about Haiti sent 500-600 soldiers to help America fight when they wanted their independence,how about Haiti helped many other countries when their independence after we won ours …how about this poor little country donated money when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans…yes Haiti has it’s negative attributes like any other country but it has many positives. Don’t be fooled by the pics you see because Haiti has sandy beaches and resorts just like the other Caribbean islands.Also just like Haiti has slums many of the other Caribbean countries and America have slums. Its really sad it has to take other people to appreciate your treasure when you don’t and then you see the value of it. I’m glad this earthquake hit because the truth comes out now

  3. February 5, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    I wish more people were like Mr. George Clooney. What he has done to help the Haitian people is just amazing. So many of the Hollywood celebrities are just phonies looking for publicity. George is one of the true greats.

  4. February 6, 2010 at 5:24 AM

    I wish more people were like Mr. George Clooney. What he has done to help the Haitian people is just amazing. So many of the Hollywood celebrities are just phonies looking for publicity. George is one of the true greats.

  5. February 19, 2010 at 4:24 AM

    You have a great looking site. I have read a lot of these posts and they have come in use. I have visited many blogs and it seems like most of the information sounds generic or is copied from other site and I can’t ever get useful information or information that is even worth the time that I spend reading it. I myself run several blogs and forums. Most of my blogs pertain to animals,to be more specific, dogs. I have checked out your site and absolutely love it. I would like for you to visit some of my blogs. I know that you probably don’t want me posting all my links here and I do not want you to feel like I am spamming you so therefore I will not leave a bunch of links. However, if it is okay with you, I would like to post a link to one of my most successful sites. The main component of my site is vbulletin forums. I also have a blog on this site along with a function that allow members to enter their dog’s pedigrees. The pedigrees show up in a four generation site where every dog name is a link to that dog’s four generation pedigree. I would really like for you to check out my site and let me know your thoughts on it and ideas or suggestions for improvement. I am especially interested inyour input on my blog because this seems to be your specialty. My site URL is http://www.PetPedigreeDatabase.com/

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