Why I’m Not Proud to be called a Haitian, “Zoe.”

the new neg marron

“The New Neg Marron: Haitian American Male Model Wilnor Tereau, a representation of our inner strength. #FlagDay”

*Before I start this, I know I referred to myself as a Zoe in one of my previous posts, when I do use the term I use it as a joke never seriously like I’m addressing in this post.)

First off I want to say Happy Flag Day to all my Haitians, and Haitian-Americans like myself. I’m sure the Festival in Miami was CRAZY (my mom was fiendin’ to go -_- *straight face, rolls eyes*).  When we all can come together and celebrate our heritage and culture it’s deff. a beautiful thing. I am so proud of where I come from and love my people. I just don’t like what my people put up with and allow of their culture. Like the term Zoe. And that’s why I saying I’m not proud to be called a Zoe.

You can ask anyone I grew up with or went to high school with, I never use to use the term “nigga” or “bitch” like I do now. I knew it was derogatory, I knew it was putting my people both black and females down so I didn’t want any parts of the foolishness. I think our generation and the next few to come are so screwed and deranged by the actions we display, to things we partake in; as if it wasn’t only a little over 50 years ago we went allowed to enter through the main entrance of a movie theater, or drink water which is FREE from the same spout as white people. I didn’t want to be a part of my peoples self-destruction (as I still don’t) so I shyed away from that language. It wasn’t until I got into college that I started using those words including “Zoe”. No one’s perfect we all make mistakes, and the environment that I’m in now is a complete 360 from my high school one. Not saying that this is completely responsible for me using the words now but hearing it more and more it has found its way into my vocabulary. I will say I only use the word nigga jokingly. When I’m mocking people or telling a funny story. Besides that’s I don’t use it that much. But I do need to slow down on my use of the word bitch because it is a deff. a daily word for me that has no effect or meaning behind it anymore because I use it so casually.

When black people great each other it’s my “my nigga” as opposed to the term used for slaves Nigger, with an ER (ask Donald Sterling the difference… ya, I think I’m funny and I’m really not lol). It’s a form of letting someone know they’re your friend, or your brother. When females great each other often times we say “my bitch,” as I opposed to that being connected with a dog or someone with a bad attitude. “Zoe” in Haitian-creole means Bone, and bones being strong hold up you and your body. I started to hear the the term Zoe after my mother showed me a gangland documentary about a group called “Zoe-Pound.” Mostly located in Florida is it a group of Haitian misfits and drug dealers terrorizing others, you know- typical gang activities. In Boston (where I’m from) no one uses the term, but when I moved to Miami in 2011 it was a widely spread and used mostly by the younger Haitian generation and Haitian-Americans.
It’s used to symbolize that you are of Haitian decent and that you are proud of that but to me I see it the opposite. I see it as the term nigga or bitch. I see it as derogatory, and putting my Haitians down.

Growing up I got a lot of sh*t talked to me for being Haitian. My grandparents were born and raised in Haiti and were few of the first Haitians to move to Boston is the late 60’s early to mid70s, helping and paving the way for more Haitians to come to Boston and live a comfortable life they’ve always dreamed of. They did this to better themselves and course their children and grandchild, and for that I am forever thankful for them. I am so extremely blessed for the opportunities they’ve allowed to blossom in my life and they’re the true reason I’m proud to say I am Haitian. Two hard working people who migrated from the only home they knew to a foreign place to give us all what they believed we deserve. So because of that I am going to continuously grind to raise the name of the Jean-Merisier Legacy. I never knew to be anything else but proud of my culture so I never understood why people bashed me for it. Middle school was really tough for me because I spent most my summers in camp and with mostly African Americans.  The white kids at school didn’t know what Haitian was (until the earthquake happened in 2010) but the black kids seemed to think they knew everything about Haitians and tormented me every day. First the girls didn’t understand how I was Haitian and had lighter skin, and long soft hair. I remember one girl telling my cousin and I “you two Are the only pretty Haitians. All the others are dark crusty and ugly with bad hair.” I just looked at her with my confused 5th grade self because I have plenty of dark skinned family members with skin smooth as butter and beautiful curly soft long natural hair. I also got told that I wasn’t Caribbean, that I was a disgrace to black people, that my family eats dogs and trash, and that my family is trash. And one girl wanting to fight me, because she hated Haitians that much. The stories could go on. But not once did I ever stop telling someone that I wasn’t Haitian or give them a fake nationality like a lot of other Haitian-American kids I knew did, who has been ridiculed and ashamed of their nationally and country. Yes Haiti is one of the poorest counties in the Western Hemisphere, yes there is a corrupt government and not everything is right over there, but what people fail to realize and open their eyes to are the beautiful things and people that come from Haiti. For everyone who ever said Haitians were dark skinned ugly and crusty, my mother is a beautiful light skinned woman with long hair down her back, while my great grandfather was dark but had piercing blue eyes with soft curly hair- while I’ve been to Dominican Republic and met Dominicans darker than my great grandfather with hair rougher than sand paper. Also a famous Haitian Band “T-Vice” has two lead singers who are often mistaken for Latino because they have slicked back suave black hair and are light skinned. And that whole “Haitians eating dogs”- that’s gross and a lie. Haitian cuisine has become a delicacy in many cities and countries across the world. One of my favorite restaurants in Miami “TAP TAP” on 5th street, Miami Beach not only sells some of the best Haitian food but has a beautiful restaurant decorated in traditional Haitian fashion that shows just how gorgeous our culture can be.  And you can’t forget about the extremely famous “Chef Creole,” which is celebrity magnet, having served Dwayne Wade, Lil Wayne, and Juicy J(they have their pictures, and many more covering the walls of their establishment). And not to forget majority of their customers are NOT Haitian but tourists from around the world.  And although the earthquake had devastated much of Haiti in 2010 it is now becoming a huge tourist attraction (again), bringing in lots of money every year, turning our home land beautiful again. And those same kids who were tormenting me about being Haitian in middle school have either since gone on to date Haitians themselves, claim to love Haitian food and eat it all the time, and have been prancing around Boston’s Carnival with Haitian flags chanting “AYITI BOP BOP BOP!!!” to which I just laugh. And Boston being a large Haitian community (one of the largest in America besides Miami) has had prominent Haitian leaders leading our city to better itself. Including Senator Linda Dorcena Forry who is the first Haitian senator of Massachusetts.  Also my aunt Michelle Williams who is Boston’s first Haitian Chief Probation officer in Massachusetts Trial Courts. I’ve seen nothing but great come from Haitians and Haitian-Americans and I’m nothing short of proud. When I moved to Miami it was different.

Miami is home to the largest Haitian community, only being a few miles away from Haiti.  I was happy that I could now educate and share my culture with my new college family and have them understand and potentially love my culture as much I do.  The more I got to talk to people though the more negative backlash I got and I felt like I was back in middle school.  I was often told “Eww your Haitian?  I don’t like Haitian people.  They smell, the language “Hiaitan” (proper term Creole) sounded stupid, and they’re dirty F.O.B’s (Fresh Off the [Banana] Boat).”  The ignorance for other people’s culture was at an all-time high.  But then I looked around me and saw why.  The Haitians in Miami are nothing like the Haitians in Boston.  I feel like the pride that we as Haitians carry ourselves with in Boston isn’t the same as in Miami.  Not saying that Haitians in Miami aren’t proud of their culture because they’re some of the most proud Haitians I know!  But I fell like they devalue themselves.  They allow them-selves to live up to the stereotypes that others give us.  The heavy gang activity, the ignorance THEY have towards others, the lying cheating and stealing to get by (as if they are still in Haiti) not taking care of themselves, the neglect to learn English setting them back education and work wise, the list can really go on.  They walk around calling themselves Zoe’s and acting up giving people a reason to talk about Haitians and I didn’t like or appreciate a lot of what I have seen in the past 3 years.  I’m not saying Haitians in Boston are perfect and the best, but Haitians in Miami aren’t the great representation of our people either.

The most I can do is just show others by setting an example with myself that Haitian’s are not all the same. That we come in many different shapes, colors, and “flavors,” and that we aren’t like the negative stereotypes flying around.  I think it’s a shame that people, especially other black people go to beautiful, culturally rich places like Miami and gain a negative conation about fellow black people who just happen to come from a different country as them.  At the end of the day if we didn’t have a sign on our head that says “AFRICAN-AMERICAN,” “HATIAN,” TRINIDADIAN,” “GUAYNEESE,” “JAMICIAN,” “AFRICAN,” people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference apart from us.

And a quick side note:  IF I HEAR ONE MORE TIME THAT HAITIANS LOOK A CERTAIN WAY IM GOING TO SPAZZ ON WHOEVER SAYS IT.  We can’t be identified by our noses lips, feet, none of that!

Anyways the point is we all need to be proud, and embrace each other’s cultures and our own.  We need to stop putting ourselves down and raise ourselves up.  I love every culture that I’ve encountered before and I love all of them.  And while yes we do poke fun at each other’s cultures (I make sly little Haitian jokes all the time), there a difference between jokes and pure ignorance.  I want nothing but for my people (Black-Americans, and Haitians-Americans) to continue going farther in this world.  It can start off by slowing down on the use of derogatory words towards each other, or start off with a nice plate of Haitian Rice and peas, with stew chicken!  The choice is ours to better ourselves and the world.

 

Happy Haitian-Flag Day Everyone!

Make Sure you guys do me a HUGE favor and go check out Haitian Fashion Icon’s clothing line by my amazing aunt Ms. Guertie ! DEFF a Rock Star !

http://www.haitianfashionicons.com/

 

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