June 18, 2009

Haitian American Celebrities: Propaganda,Myth or Pride?

Haitians in cyberspace are giving African-American celebrities added publicity by identifying them as either Haitians or of Haitian descents.

When I first migrated to the US (in the 80's), I was told by a few, who shall remain nameless, that the few afro TV news anchormen/women in the Tri-State area, were Haitians/or of Haitian descents. Lately, thanks to or DAMN the internet, a long list of so called "Haitian entertainers" has been published/circulated/emailed around with the names of so called "famous Haitians" , in the US entertainment industry. We have a tendency to be overly proud of ourselves, is it an obsession or a need to belong?

First, and foremost, we need to understand that when an African-American states that he/she is a Creole; it doesn’t mean that he/she is Haitian (born/raised); it means that he/she is from a mixed race from Louisiana (Southern). It is true that a small group of slaves from St. Domingue were taken to Louisiana by their masters
(Read the biography of Henry Christophe), and constant travels were documented in those days, I'm certain, some Haitians slaves settled in Louisiana.

The word Creole:
In the
Caribbean region, the term Creole is sometimes used to describe anyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, who was born and raised in the region. It is sometimes used to refer to persons of European, African, or mixed Afro-European descent such as mixed race people ( mulattoes). It also refers to the syncretism of the various cultures (African, French, British, Spanish and Portuguese among others) which influenced the area.
In the United States
, Louisiana, the word "Creole"usually refers to people of any race or mixture thereof who are descended from settlers in colonial French Louisiana.

There are a quite a few videos on youtube.com of the singer Beyonce, stating that she is a Creole. Bootylicious Beyonce uttered a few Haitian "KreyĆ²l" words. Needless to mention, that the youtube videos are quite popular amongst Haitians, over 200 000 hits, and counting! Hot and Sexy Beyonce/Jay Z's wife have the honour to join, the ever-growing Haitian superstars list:
Usher, Oprah Winfrey, Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, and Mrs.Robinson (Michelle Obama’s mother), Harry Belafonte, just to name a few. W
e haven't claimed Flavor Flav yet, just give it time !

What is behind this frenzy and how do we stop it?

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