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Haitian Immigrants Sue Trump For Being Racist

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… Read More

Haiti Suspends Oxfam Operations In Country Due To Sex Scandal Probe

Haiti on Thursday suspended the operations of British charity Oxfam pending the outcome of its investigation into allegations that its staff sexually exploited Haitians after a devastating 2010 earthquake. The country’s ministry of planning and foreign aid said Oxfam GB had made a “serious error” by failing to inform Haitian authorities of the actions by their… Read More

Chicago Was Founded By A Haitian. Bet Trump Didn’t Know That

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 More

This Millennial Haitian-American Activist Is Not Backing Down From A Fight With Trump

What’s New With This Story: 

Francesca Menes is a rising star in Florida politics. 

-She was recently named as the Treasurer for the Florida Democratic Party and has long been an immigration rights activist.

-Her well run campaign for Florida House District 108 has some wondering what her political future is, but she hasn’t figured that out yet. 


A nine-year career and numerous accolades including the Miami Herald’s “20 Under 40 Emerging Leaders in South Florida” award, already follow 32-year-old Haitian-American activist Francesca Menes.

And after a strong but ultimately unsuccessful campaign for State Representative in District 108 last year, many in local political circles are wondering what the future is for the millennial leader.

Born to Haitian immigrants in Miami, Menes saw from a young age what public involvement can do for the causes that she cared about. 

“One of the first protests that my mother took me to that I can remember was when the coup happened in Haiti for Aristide,” Menes said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “Fifty-Fourth street was shut down with hundreds and thousands of Haitians, who were basically singing in the street ‘democracy, democracy for Haiti.’”

Growing up in Miami, though, Menes remembers not interacting with other groups besides her fellow Haitian-Americans.

She said that Miami, despite being a melting pot of many cultures, is still segregated — Cuban-Americans are in Little Havana and Haitian-Americans are in Little Haiti.

That’s something she has always tried to change.

First at Edison Senior High School in Miami, and after her family moved to Kansas City, the Central Classical Greek and Computers Unlimited Magnet High School, Menes was involved in debate and remembers learning about and debating many different issues.

“That is what helped solidified me in many ways was seeing how we can debate both sides of an issue, and actually try to push something for our communities,” Menes said. 

That appreciation for debate continued at Florida International University where Menes became involved in on-campus progressive groups.

The child of Haitian immigrants, Menes views the issue as a calling for herself.

“Being in college, I was part of that radical feminist group that just wanted to shut everything down,” Menes said. “We weren’t happy with the way FIU was operating, how they were completely out of loop, and how conservative the university was.”

After graduating from FIU in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and women’s studies with a minor in philosophy, Menes served two years through AmeriCorps in the Public Allies program at Catalyst Miami, which according to Menes’ website “focuses on developing the next generation of leaders who are committed to long-term social change.”

Immigration law and enforcement is now an issue at the forefront of American public discourse, and President Donald Trump has made it one of his priorities.

The Trump Administration recently announced that it would be ending Temporary Protected Status for nearly 60,000 Haitians who currently live in the United States.

That means that those people will either have to fix their immigration status by July 2019 or risk deportation.

The child of Haitian immigrants, Menes views the issue as a calling for herself.

She has worked as the Policy and Advocacy Director for the Florida Immigration Coalition for multiple years. In that role, she helped push the state legislature to grant in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. 

Menes has certainly caught the eye of more established members of the Haitian-American political firmament.

“It is always amazing to me because, and I saw this working in Tallahassee, there is this conservative wing that is like ‘small government is better.’ And the more power that is at the local level the better,” Menes said. “What I learned over time is that it benefits them. If you are going to protect your communities and we [the Trump Administration] don’t like the way you are going to protect them, we are going to take away the ways to protect them, and that is basically what Trump attempted to do even though it was challenged over and over in the courts.”

While she may sound like a candidate, Menes is currently not considering running for office.  

Menes said that it was members of her community who pushed her to run in 2016 for the Florida House of Representatives in District 108 (an area that includes Little Haiti, Liberty City, Miami Shores, and large parts of North Miami).

She ultimately lost to Roy Hardemon in the seven-way Democratic primary.

In the aftermath of her strong electoral showing and the decimation of the Florida Democratic Party in 2016, Menes was picked to be the Treasurer for the state party.

“At the moment I do not have a yes or no answer [whether or not I am going to run for office again] because when I decided to run it wasn’t me it was a community that asked me to run, and I had that support system behind me to know that I wasn’t going into this alone,” Menes said.

But Menes has certainly caught the eye of more established members of the Haitian-American political firmament.

Marleine Bastien, the executive director of  FANM, whose mission, according to their website is to “empower Haitian women and their families socially, politically and facilitate their adjustments to South Florida,” recommended Menes for the Miami Herald’s “20 Under 40 Emerging Leaders in South Florida” because of her hard work and dedication to helping all immigrants.

“Her work has benefited immigrants in general, especially what she had done at FLIC,” Bastien said in a piece published by the Herald. “Anti-immigration laws have been defeated in Tallahassee because of her no nonsense leadership, and hard work. ”

RISE NEWS is South Florida’s digital news magazine. Follow us on Facebook to make sure you never miss a story!

Have a news tip about this topic or something completely different? Send it on in to editor@risenews.net.

WATCH ANOTHER STORY: North Miami’s Enchanted Place Is South Florida’s Best Kept Holiday Secret

The Earth Shook In Haiti And He Left As A Boy. Now He Wants To Go Back And Make Change

This story is part of the “My Story” series by The Young Leaders. 

It was a sunny morning in Haiti on January 12, 2010 – the first day of school after winter break.

Lying on my bed, I looked at the trees dancing on the ceiling.

The neighboring rooster crowed as I finally rose, put my knees on the floor and began to pray.

My mother, as always, was cooking eggs.

She spoke to me about education: “Son, you have to do well in school to succeed in life. Life and education are a competition. Please son, do not embarrass me. Avoid the wrong crowd. Promise me that good things will happen. Make your family proud wherever you go.”

The author as a child. Photo Credit: CarlHenry Isidore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

As she spoke, I wondered why she told me these things.

At the time, I wasn’t mature enough to understand, so I agreed just to make her happy.

A few minutes later, I arrived at school. Already, I had fallen in with the wrong crowd, paid no attention in class, and decided not to do my homework.

After school on that day, I played marbles with friends until one of the elders in the community saw me playing and scolded me to go home and do my homework.

I listened to the elder and went home.

When I got there, my mother asked me, “Where were you?”

I replied, “Outside,” as she shook her head, obviously worried about that I was not following her instructions.

One hour later, the earth started trembling.

I heard a noise like boulders falling from the sky.

Our television and bookshelves fell to the floor.

I was terrified and thought my life would end.

The aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Photo Credit: RIBI Image Library (CC BY 2.0)

We tried running away from the house, but the ground was shaking intensely.

I didn’t know what was happening.

Read More: This Miami Icon Doesn’t Want Young Haitians To Lose Their Heritage In The US

I thought about all the advice my mother had given me.

I heard people screaming from outside, running everywhere and trying to save others stuck under demolished houses.

When I got out of the house looking around, I realized my mother and I could have been in the same position.

After the 7.0 shock-wave, my mother, my sister and I walked on the street and saw the catastrophe. Roughly 300,000 people were killed in the event and 1.5 million were displaced.

People had lost their families and everything they owned.

We were too afraid to sleep in the house, scared it would collapse.

We had no choice but to sleep on the street. The streets became beds for everyone when it’s was night-time. Aftershocks shook the ground every five minutes.

A week later, my father came from New York to get my sister and me.

I had never imagined myself leaving Haiti but there was no other choice.

I cried, and hugged my mother tightly.

In tears, I said, “Mother I’m sorry for everything. I will succeed; I will learn English and make you proud.”

My dad smiled.

I realized I would do everything in my power to make my parents proud. That moment would drive me for years to come.

When I came to America, I was ready to excel in school.

The author as a child in Haiti.

I knew no English, and communicating in school was extremely hard.

I started reading and writing to improve my English skills.

I knew I wanted to attend college.

I started working harder in classes, coming to school early every morning to study subjects that I needed to give closed attention, so I would not fall behind students who took their English for granted.

I challenged myself to become better in school by practicing for the SAT on my own and doing extra work in class.

It paid off. By the time high school came, I was in the English Honors class and the National Honor Society.

I started an acting program in high school named DreamYard Art Center. I began acting in plays with the goal of becoming an actor and a director.

I want to continue being successful and I plan on working very hard to accomplish my goals.

These goals have already helped me to achieve things I never imagine I would have achieved, such as acting in front of 300 people.

Read More: Haitian American Communities Have Become The New Focus Of Housing Discrimination Fights

These skills will continue to help me as I pursue my education.

I am currently a junior studying Social Work at CUNY York College.

My goal after achieving my bachelor in social work is to go for my master in education policy.

I want to start my career as a school counselor, however I would like to elevate myself as a principal as time progresses.

After my studies, I want to build a school and an art program like DreamYard Art Center in Haiti for children.

My purpose in pursuing higher education is to succeed in ways victims of the January 2010 Haiti Earthquake only dreamed about, since they never had a chance to make their dreams a reality.

When I succeed, my goal is to start an art program in Haiti for teens that want to pursue their dreams.

This terrible tragedy led me onto the right path and made me focus on my education.

But Haiti is still in my heart. And I’m going back home.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Haitian American Communities Have Become The New Focus Of Housing Discrimination Fights

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.

Photo Credit: Occupy Miami Photos/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Occupy Miami Photos/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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.

Cover Photo Credit: John S. and James L. Knight Foundation/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

That Time America Went To War Over Bananas

By Nate Nkumbu

Often you look at a banana and you see a table item or a common breakfast food. But many people wouldn’t believe that the fruit holds a dark history in Latin America and that the United States government actually supported dictators for this peel-able food.

The Banana Wars were period between 1898 and 1934 were the U.S heavily intervened in Latin American politics.

Using the legacy of the Monroe doctrine, the U.S invaded countries like Cuba, Haiti, Panama, Colombia, and Honduras to protect the Banana plantations and other investments made in the countries according to Jose Cruz, Director of Research for the Kimberley Green Latin American and Caribbean center at Florida International University.

Cruz said in an interview with RISE NEWS that the period saw many in Latin America view the United States as occupying forces as opposed to being just a neighbor up north.

The Monroe doctrine help to establish America’s dominance in Latin America but in 1904, in an addition to the long standing US posture of dominating influence in the Western Hemisphere, President Theodore Roosevelt upped the ante.

In the Roosevelt Corollary, TR gave the U.S the ammo it needed to justify its intervention in Central and South America by arguing that America shouldn’t just prevent European control in the hemisphere, but that it should also use military force to further American interests there.

A worker offloading bananas in Mobile, Alabama in 1937. Photo Credit: C. Thomas Anderson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A worker offloading bananas in Mobile, Alabama in 1937. Photo Credit: C. Thomas Anderson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Cruz said that the most blatant case during the banana wars was the U.S intervening in Honduras seven times between 1903 and 1925.

He said that companies like United Fruit which had owned plantations in Honduras would call on the U.S Marines to deal with political insurrections and that the local elite were supportive of the actions.

So yes. American Marines were basically the private police force of American fruit companies. Just let that sink in for a second and try not to laugh.

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“The local elite in Honduras got paid or received payments from companies like United Fruit to protect their plantations,” Cruz said. “In some places, the people working on the plantations were able to unionize thanks in part to some of the United Fruit workers coming from America helping them, but this was in small amounts.”

Photo Credit: AMISOM Public Information/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: AMISOM Public Information/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Cruz said that United Fruit had often put down worker’s strikes with violence. One notable case was the Banana Massacre of 1928 where Colombian workers for the company were killed following strikes demanding better working conditions.

Cruz said that the effect of the Banana Massacre is still felt today in places like Colombia.

“Just 10 years ago, Chiquita Bananas was accused of hiring paramilitary troops to put down strikes in their plantations in Colombia, likewise other corporations like Coca Cola,” Cruz said. “It isn’t rare today for actions like this to happen, but during the Banana Wars, it was quite common.” 

WATCH: Documentary clip about the Banana Wars. 

Know a weird history story that we should look into? Send us a tip to editor@risenews.net. 

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.

Cover Photo Credit: elycefeliz/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This Miami Icon Doesn’t Want Young Haitians To Lose Their Heritage In The US

By Leslie Ovalle

In 1977, after one year in prison for discussing his political beliefs, Jean-Claude Exulien—a secondary school history professor—decided to flee his home in Haiti.

Exulien said that there are times in history when a government cannot be criticized, but he is also quick to remind that as an intellectual and educator, it is impossible to suppress critical discussions.

Exulien fled Haiti during the rule of the dictator “Baby Doc”, or Jean-Claude Duvalier, seeking his own and his family’s safety.  He said that if it hadn’t been for Haiti’s suppressive regime many Haitians, including himself, would not have fled the land they feel such patriotism for.

His office in North Miami, decorated with Haitian flags and cultural photographs, is evidence to his love of country.

“I’m a big witness, I would say, of what happened in Haiti during the dictatorship of Francois Duvalier and Jean-Claude Duvalier,” said Exulien, “Haitian intellectuals were obliged to leave the country to save their lives.”

Many Haitians fleeing the regime of the time decided to migrate to Montreal, Canada. This is something that crossed Exulien’s mind, but a summer school teaching opportunity and family here in South Florida is what pushed him to make this city his new home.

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“Some friend told me one time ‘it’s not difficult for you, because you used to teach at a higher level.’ I said ‘no it’s not a problem because I love these people, they are my people’. Until today that is my job, to teach them how to write in French, Creole, and English,” explains Exulien.

Knowing Creole, French, English, and Spanish, Exulien embodies the importance of knowing multiple languages in a place as diverse as South Florida.

On his office desk lays an ocean of newspapers—which he refers to as his tools—and in this ocean you can find all four languages. He jokes, although in a serious manner, saying that nowadays if you speak only one language you are handicap.

“Sometimes there are news in El Nuevo Herald or Las Americas and you cannot find the same news in The Herald, for example, so we have to read more than one newspaper and in more than one language,” he said.

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 On the side of his office cabinet hangs a quote by John Dewey, the liberal philosopher that reads, in all caps: “education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.”

Exulien takes education beyond the classroom, besides teaching literacy, history, and anthropology he has a radio show on 1700 AM Radio Mega every Saturday at 11am.

“This is a class, it’s not a radio show,” Exulien said.

His radio segment is 90% Creole and 10% English; where he discusses current events, ideas, and history with his listeners.

A very proud man of his country’s history, he is one of the founders of the Haitian American Historical Society—a non-profit organization seeking the recognition and accuracy of historical events pertaining to Haitians and those of Haitian descent.

In 2007, the organization erected a monument of Les Chasseurs Volontaires de Saint Domingue in Savannah, Gerogia. Les Chasseurs Volontaires de Saint Domingue was a group of Haitian free men who volunteered to fight in The Siege of Savannah on October 9th, 1779 against the British.

“Haitian people died there, in Franklin Square, for the independence of the United States,” said Exulien.

The organization is now working on erecting yet another monument, in St. Augustine, Florida, commemorating General Georges Biassou—a Haitian forefather who fought with Spanish royalists.

Exulien is also the president of the organization Haitian League for Human Rights, INC.

“We created this organization one year ago, because of the situation of [our Haitian] brothers and sisters in Santo Domingo,” said Exulien.

This article was originally published on Rise Miami News.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Photo Credits: Leslie Ovalle/ RISE NEWS

Being A Second Generation Haitian-American Is Really Damn Hard

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.

Nick Moncy in Haiti, June 2015. Photo Credit: Nick Moncy/Rise Miami News

Nick Moncy in Haiti, June 2015. Photo Credit: Nick Moncy/RISE NEWS

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.

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Haiti. Photo Credit: Nick Moncy/RISE NEWS

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 NEWS

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