A group of Haitian and Salvadoran immigrants sued the Trump administration on Thursday in a federal court in Boston, arguing that the decision to end special protections that shielded them from deportation was motivated by racism against blacks and Latinos. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil and Economic Justice, a Boston-based legal non-profit, filed the suit on…
Cover Photo Credit: The Haitian Newsroom/ RISE NEWS
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By Staff Report
Statue_Jean_Baptiste_Pointe_Du_Sable In a meeting on immigration last week, President Trump allegedly referred to multiple places around the world as “shithole countries.” One those countries was Haiti, where according to people who were at the meeting, the President said: “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” RELATED: Trump’s on a Chicago eatery’s hit list, and… Read MorePost Views: 358
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By Nick Moncy
For RISE NEWS
The term second-generation, as shown by a quick Google search, is an adjective “denoting the offspring of parents who have immigrated to a particular country”.
What factors drive people to move to another country? For a variety of reasons: to earn money for family battling poverty and sickness, for better opportunities for their children and themselves, to escape war and persecution. There are many other motives as well, but what most actions share are the selfless and brave motives behind them.
My own parents immigrated to South Florida from Haiti in their thirties to expand their horizons, graciously happening to find each other, fall in love and marry, and have my older sister and me.
Their hard work and sacrifice has carried us through school, my sister through graduating college as last May, and through endless extracurricular activities and personal ventures.
However, with that unconditional love comes unconditional expectations from their culture, many of which clash with those of prosperous countries like the United States that we also strive to embody. This leaves second-gen individuals feeling trapped between two insistent worlds, yet assuming this spot has allowed me to admire both sides.
In a traditional household, the rituals carried over create a rigid atmosphere. The parent’s native language is usually primarily spoken and heard in media outlets, cuisine revolves around their native tastes, and their expectations reflect those they were issued growing up.
Some basic ones are common – putting school and family first, learning your native tongue (Creole for me), and looking presentable to exude a sense of composure. There is, in fact, a barbershop on every block in just about every Haitian town, at least it seems that way.
When all you have is yourself, you must be your best self according to that logic.
But there are some cultural themes that do not carry over so smoothly. Emotions show weakness, immaturity and lack of self-control. You are your gender and sex and you will not deviate.
Your complaints pale to the immense pains your ancestors endured, so it’s no use. Mental illness is an illusion – you’re just afraid to try hard. You will wear what your parents tell you to wear, and think what they want you to think, or you are disobedient. You might even get compared to your friends who conform and feel ashamed. You lose the ability to believe in your own convictions.
When all you have is yourself, you must be your worst self is the sad reality.
The grand, overlying difference I have observed is others versus self. In rural parts of Haiti, where the heart of Haitian culture beats loudest, individualism simply does not exist. Family members put others before themselves – using free time to aid parents with laborious tasks, plowing fields, mentoring the young, caring for the old. There’s no “paying you back”. Or “chasing your dream” – that is perceived as a luxury.
Here in the United States though, being yourself is highly encouraged. Saying what’s on your mind, free speech, self-actualization. We have technology to provide access to an infinite amount of information and exposure to many ways of life around the world, which enriches our perspective and increases our tolerance for exploration.
Even in college, most students have the freedom to choose the field that resonates with them. When your family remains in the back of your mind, and you feel the gnawing conviction to return the favor, to bring honor, and your friends back home did what they were told and brought that honor, doesn’t it feel like an unseen power is forcing your hand the other way?
Ultimately you may feel guilty for following your heart, even though no beaten path –doctor, engineer, lawyer – worked out for you.
“Although tradition seems to control us like puppets, a predetermined course, it is truly up to us to steer our fates.”- Nick Moncy
“Being successful, you ponder, is the “paying you back” that I’m missing”.
Even your peers who’ve assimilated into American culture will look down on you at times for not keeping up with milestones – not being caught up with the latest episodes of American Idol (R.I.P) or sports, not being manly enough (which is an issue on both fronts), not flowing with the crowd.
And guess what? Other second-gens from your ethnic group will mock you too, for not repping your roots or knowing your language or not visiting your motherland yet. Oh boy! The pursuit of perfection, unfortunately, is widespread.
All reasonable people will ask for, like my parents, is to perform the best you can at whatever you are doing. Although tradition seems to control us like puppets, a predetermined course, it is truly up to us to steer our fates. However, our heritages compose a significant part of who we are today and explain how our circumstances came to be.
As I grew older, I saw the other side of the gourde (Haitian currency): parents usually aren’t narcissistic or obsessed – they just don’t want their cultures to dissipate, to be lost, and that is why they clench so dearly to what they know.
To what they are.
And I’ve been able to understand, or at least try to, just what that is. For two weeks this June I trekked all over Haiti with my family to see both family and our motherland. I dove into the core of the island and despite facing the unknown, the links between this world and the one back home became crystal clear.
I finally feel at peace in this gray area, and for that I am grateful. I now believe in my potential to uphold my family’s future legacy by being there for them –plus, I personally want to help Haiti at a future point – but the only way to accomplish that goal is to settle into the person I’ve envisioned myself to be. And that person, I hope, will be as courageous and righteous as my family members.
If you’re a second-generation person like me, I encourage you to discover your past and find your own balance in the present – the experience has proven to be fulfilling. And for goodness’s sake, don’t wipe your hands on the fancy towels. They’re there for decoration.
Cover Photo Credit: Nick Moncy/RISE NEWSPost Views: 717
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By Nate Nkumbu
Housing discrimination is an issue that is being faced by many cities across the United States.
In South Florida, housing discrimination is nothing new.
In a place where real estate is such an important part of the local economy, tales of housing discrimination are prevalent within minority communities.
Morgan Williams is the Director of Enforcement & Investigations for the National Fair Housing Alliance in Washington D.C. Williams explained in an email the history that housing discrimination has had the U.S.
According to Williams, in the 1930’s, a phenomenon known as redlining became a common practice in areas where minority people lived.
Redlining was a federal housing policy that explicit denying housing services to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic makeups of those areas.
Williams said that the practice is still in effect today with banks often at the front.
“Today, some lenders structure their loan products, restrict broker services, site branch locations, and/or target their marketing on the bases of race, national origin, sex, familial status, disability, or other protected class,” Williams told RISE NEWS.
“In restricting lending services in a discriminatory manner—whether limits services in communities of color or that isolated prospective female borrowers on parental leave—the more subtle contemporary redlining practices have the same practical effect of limited credit access on a geographic basis.”
One such case that Williams talked about is Providence v. Santander Bank.
According to the Providence Journal, the city’s lawsuit alleged that Santander Bank had reduced lending in minority neighborhoods over a multiyear period while expanding its business dealings in “predominantly white neighborhoods.”
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Santander Bank bought Sovereign Bank in 2009 and as a result occupied a large share of the overall mortgage market in the city, meaning that people had few options outside of Santander.
This case saw the city of Providence settle with Santander Bank for $1.3 million in grants for lower income houses in return for dropping the housing discrimination case.
In South Florida, there are organizations that fight housing discrimination.
Each one has different experience with the issue.
Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence or HOPE is an organization that operates in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Daniel Howe, an expert for HOPE said that that the most common cases that HOPE deals with are REO house.
REO houses are bank owned houses that are maintained and kept during foreclosure or unsuccessful sales.
Howe said that the REOs in richer, more white communities are maintained and well kept better that their Latin American or African American community, leaving areas of Miami looking dilapidated in stark contrast to the richer areas only a few blocks or miles away.
Another organization up in Palm Beach County has a different take on the housing discrimination in South Florida.
Vince Larkins is the CEO of Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches.
His organization recently took the city of Boca Raton to court accusing the city of discrimination towards families with children.
During an interview, Larkins said that housing discrimination cases are prevalent in the Haitian Community.
“The level of discrimination towards Haitians is disproportionate to the number of cases we get at the the office,” Larkins said in an interview with RISE NEWS.
This assessment is followed by Marleine Bastien, executive director of Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami, a organization based in Miami that helps Haitian families.
Bastien said in an email that the Haitian community often gets short shrift when it comes to housing.
“Most affordable housing seems to go to more politically connected and empowered immigrant groups like Cuban-Americans,” Bastien said.
“Those Haitian families that finally gotten through after long waiting periods often find themselves uprooted from their neighborhoods to Homestead, Florida City ….far away from their milieu ambient, extended families and friends.”
Just recently, Bastien’s organization fought to officially define the border for Little Haiti, an area that is the center of Haitian-American cultural and economic life in the city of Miami.
Last week, the city of Miami commission voted to make official the borders of Little Haiti.
Bastien said that there are plans for improvements across the area.
“Now we’re on a plan to revitalize the area and [create] a community land trust, to recoup spaces and land in the district/area and redevelop them for affordable housing,” Bastien said. “The second part of the plan is beautification and a CRA to bring resources to Little Haiti that strengthen businesses and spur growth.”
Florida is home to nearly two thirds of the Haitian American population. According to the 2009 census, Haitians Americans numbered at 830,000 people.
This community while growing in clout, is also at the heart of housing discrimination fights around the country.
Larkin pointed towards one case in particular with a Haitian family trying to buy a condominium. The family was flat out rejected by the condo’s owners, saying that they had a policy of “not allowing any colored people inside the community.”
“In the end, we were able to get the family into the house and won a settlement, but that family reached out to us first and were able to get their case heard,” Larkin said.
For Bastien, the work in Miami is not completely over.
She said that affordable housing isn’t much of reality anymore because the prices prohibited large sections of the population.
“It has been very difficult for folks to have access due to very limited resources,” Bastien said.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
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