Haitian Immigrants in Black America: A Sociological and Sociolinguistic Portrait

By Fiore Zéphir | Go to book overview

Haitian identity. For the one hundred and twenty Haitians interviewed, Haitian ethnicity is a situational response to an unwelcome and what they consider a nefarious system of classification and identification, and it is a way to condemn American racism while attempting to fulfill the purpose of their migration.


NOTES
1.
Laguerre ( 1984: 155) asserts that "the Haitian immigrants make no conscious decision to form an ethnic group; the racist structure of American society compels them to use ethnicity in their adaptation process." However, it is precisely because of this racist structure that Haitian ethnicity cannot be considered accidental or unintentional. I think it is more judicious to argue, as I did, that Haitian immigrants make a deliberate and conscious decision to organize themselves as an ethnic group or a "self-conscious" group of people who value and affirm their traditions and culture.
2.
Charles ( 1990: 207), while observing that Haitian organizations in New York City are "usually differentiated by class, color and regional place of origin." conludes that "there is a tendency toward division and heterogeneity in the community." While it is correct that such divisions exist, I do not believe that they impact on Haitian ethnicity. Regardless of social class, the five dimensions of Haitian ethnicity that I have identified throughout the chapter are very salient in the Haitian community.
3.
An example of this type of involvement in Haitian affairs is the colloquium on education organized by Haitian educators in Haiti and in the diaspora on the campus of City College of the City University of New York, August 5-7, 1994. The theme of the colloquium was the participation of the tenth department (as Haitians of the diaspora are called) in the establishment of a modern and democratic system of education in Haiti. Since I attended the colloquium, I can confidently say that more than three hundred people participated and engaged in a productive and frank discussion of issues pertaining to Haitian education in Haiti. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide gave the closing remarks to the galvanized audience.
4.
A full discussion of this argument can be found in Charles ( 1990, 1992); Richman ( 1992); and Basch, Glick Schiller, and Szanton Blanc ( 1994, chapters 5 and 6).
5.
An article published recently by Allan Nairn in The Nation ( October 24, 1994) seems to corroborate the U.S. operations through the Haitian military and paramilitary. The article "Behind Haiti's Paramilitaries" describes how the CIA helped launch the paramilitary organization that became known as FRAPH and trained its leaders. Furthermore, in an interview published in Black Issues in Higher Education11, 16 ( October 6, 1994), the well-known Haitian scholar, Professor Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, contends that "[The Haitian people] see the Haitian army as an American army by proxy. The Haitian army is an American army in Haiti" (p. 31).
6.
The following designations were given: Black, Black American, Black immigrant, Haitian, Haitian-American, American, African American, West Indian, Caribbean, French, and French American.
7.
There was one exception to this. One informant ranked the designation "French" third, and explained that most of this person's professional activities are conducted in a francophone milieu.
8.
The expression "black success story" is borrowed from the title of Model's ( 1991) article in which she states that cultural differences may motivate West Indians to outperform native-born Blacks.
9.
The Haitian expression gran moun can be seen in opposition to the label boy used by the Whites during the segregation period in the United States to refer to any

-67-

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Haitian Immigrants in Black America: A Sociological and Sociolinguistic Portrait
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Maps vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Part I - Haitian Immigrants: Sociological Dimensions 1
  • 1 - Haitians in New York City 3
  • Notes 22
  • 2 - Premigration Experience of Haitian Immigrants 25
  • Notes 40
  • 3 - Emergence and Essence of Haitian Immigrant Ethnicity 43
  • Notes 67
  • 4 - Haitians' Responses to African Americans 69
  • Notes 96
  • Part II - Haitian Immigrants: Sociolinguistic Dimensions 97
  • 5 - Language and Ethnicity in the Haitian Immigrant Context 99
  • Notes 120
  • 6 - Patterns of Language Use of Haitian Immigrants 123
  • Notes 143
  • 7 - Haitians, American Cultural Pluralism, and Black Ethnics 145
  • Notes 160
  • Appendix - Interview Questions 161
  • Bibliography 167
  • Index 177
  • About the Author *
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