Observing Popular Haitian-American Allies: A Bridge Across Troubled Borders
IIt has been a week since horrific images of the US Border Patrol’s treatment of Haitian asylum seekers circulated in the media. During this time, I couldn’t help but notice the unrelated coincidence of many popular Haitian-Americans making headlines as hot topics.
Twenty years ago, if the average citizen were asked to name three Haitian celebrities, they would likely give the individual names of the Fugees (note: Lauryn Hill is not Haitian). If you asked the same question today, you would probably get a variation of the same answer, just more uncertainty name removal.
MORE: Dictatorship Masked as Democracy: A Timeline of the American Invasion and Occupation of Haiti in 1915
A Google search of famous Haitian Americans will produce a relatively short list with mixed results based on your keywords. I noticed that most of the results were missing tennis star Naomi Osaka. Yet NBA player Blake Griffin has always been listed. Rapper Tony Yayo was in the spotlight, but despite always waving the Haitian flag among scantily clad women, DJ Whoo Kid rarely appeared. I learned that sultry singer Maxwell and gym class hero Travie McCoy each have Haitian parents. Of course, there is Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose influential art and hairstyle seems to be becoming more and more popular by the day. As for the person most synonymous with the Haitian word, this honor unsurprisingly goes to Wyclef Jean.
In 2010, after the major earthquake, Wyclef made a serious attempt to run for President of Haiti. Unfortunately, these plans were stifled by the country’s electoral council due to its lack of residence.
Last week, a month after the last earthquake, he reunited with the Fugees in concert for the first time in 15 years. According to Billboard Magazine, at the show, Wyclef did a freestyle tackling the “troubling situation” at the border.
During an episode of “The Real”, actress of Haitian origin Garcelle Beauvais (also an excellent result) spoke with emotion about the mistreatment at the border while integrating her personal journey as a little girl who does not could not speak English when his family arrived in America – a story very akin to many first generation immigrants.
Singer Jason Derulo was born in Florida just before the refugee crisis of the 1990s, when thousands of migrants fled by makeshift boats after Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristede’s military coup. While Derulo has never shied away from promoting his legacy in the past, his social media posts last week focused on a TikTok milestone and most of the reporting he received was about him and her mother. her newborn baby breaking.
Like Derulo, rapper Kodak Black is also from Florida, where the negative stigma of being Haitian is well known. Most community members will describe it as third class citizenship. However, many will also laugh at cultural honesty as they acknowledge the Fugees for helping to ease a burden that ultimately allowed a deep-seated pride in their own homeland.
Kodak Black was born in 1997 at the height of the Fugees’ success. Earlier this year, he released an album coinciding with Haitian Flag Day. Shortly after, he posted a video apparently throwing $ 100,000 into the ocean. The same water that some of his ancestors died just a few years before he was born. Earlier this month, rapper Future (also of Haitian descent) hosted a benefit concert in Miami that included a performance by Kodak where 100% of the proceeds were donated to Restorative Aid.
Ironically, this concert was co-hosted by media strategist Karen Civil, whose allegedly dubious business practices were recently dragged through the social media mud. Just over a week ago, the decision in a libel lawsuit between her and media personality Jessie Woo (real name Jessica Juste) rocked the Richter scale and Black Twitter timelines are suffering. always backlash.
Civil and Woo, who are both Haitians, had a public feud which led to litigation where the court ruled in Woo’s favor. The ruling broke the dikes for what looked like a class action lawsuit in the court of public opinion – or, in this case, Clubhouse.
Many notables have taken to various public forums to voice their grievances against Ms. Civil. As prominent names like Meek Mill, Cam’ron, Joyner Lucas and Jason Lee dominated the airwaves of allegations, it was testimony from a nonprofit organizer that prompted Ms. Civil to devote the bulk of its official damage control. While receipts from rappers and gossip sites are categorized as entertainment, an account by someone outside of the industry can be more harmful. It is easier to give an interpretation of dishonor among thieves that it is a crime against humanity, especially if it is children.
Melissah Prato is a Haitian-American who works with an all-volunteer charity called Sow a seed. In a recent Twitter thread, she detailed an experience from start to finish recruiting Civil as the organization’s ambassador, the end of said relationship and all the mess that happened between the two.
The full story seems like a credible accusation, but I choose not to discuss it further. There are many lessons to be learned from its public display, as it metaphor for how Haiti receives “aid”. While I believe there are circumstances like these where we have a right to be judgmental, for me there is nothing fair in writing standardized purity tests of pride, honor or d altruistic intention for Karen Civil or any of the above-mentioned Haitian Americans.
I wonder if Haitians even know these people. I mean, everyone says they want to, right? For them, is there a difference between Jessie Woo, Karen Civil or the Red Cross? Future, Russell Wilson or Mitch Albom? If they were reading this, what would they think I would define their lot around the concept of celebrities who are privileged to draw pre-existing hyphens in their nationality status? If they arrive in America and try to help the loved ones they have left behind, will they be forced to equate themselves to a vanity fair of hashtags, self-branding, fundraising concerts and goodwill photo ops?
Their arrival at the Texas border has nothing to do with the lack of charity events organized on their behalf. Their migration did not begin after the mercenary execution of President Jovenel Moïse in July or the earthquake in August. They will tell you that they left their homeland long before that. The refuge, where they were stationed mainly in Chile and Brazil, occurred after the 2010 earthquake.
So when they received “fake news” that America’s borders were open, the disinformation had to come from somewhere – and I doubt it was George Soros. Through the prism of Haitian time and American presidential terms, is there really a difference between Trump, Biden or Obama? While crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico to Del Rio, Texas last week, unharmed and carrying food in Styrofoam containers to feed families who were in plain view, without hiding from authorities, did Is there no United Nations law that protects their humanity?
Whips? Truly? It is not surprising to occur in the home state of juinteenth.
Yet, unsettling as the imagery of Haitian migrants being treated like cattle and slaves, we are triggered by a narrow American field. Their presence transcends the stigma of boats and predates natural disasters. This is something man-made since their independence in 1804. It is an eternal punishment for this victory. These are not a few Texas Rangers living out period fantasies. These are all the imperial powers complicit in the destabilization of Haiti and the strengthening of the world borders of North America, South America and France. Not to mention a particular border that unites all these territories in history – the Dominican Republic.
Before this border divided the respective colonial rule of France and Spain, the land (then known as Hispaniola with an indigenous Taino population) was the first stage of the transatlantic slave trade which made all these current very rich non-entry countries. The fact that Haitian migration today reflects these routes – these roots – should send a chill to the bones of every black person.
So with the weight of this whole story, I don’t know what Haitians think of their American counterparts or how they see themselves shaping the future of both countries. The question is: if Wyclef Jean were to become president of Haiti or of the United States, would anything change?
Data shows US grants less asylum to Haitians than any other nationality
Does the United States have a legal obligation to treat asylum seekers? It is complicated