My father’s family Moved from Haiti to United States when he was a young child. He grew up in a Haitian home and to this day still Speaks kreyol . I was born in Los Angeles and grew up speaking English and hearing some intermittent kreyol when I went to New York to visit my Haitian family .
Not speaking Kreyol nor growing up in Haitian culture ,it never crossed my mind that I was or wasn’t Haitian; It was just who I was . However , when asked are you Haitian ,if I responded yes , it is always followed by another question or statement …. In kreyol. The language, as in other cultures, is very much part of the the blood , the identity of the people. I think my lack of identifying my self as Haitian wasn’t based on shame , I just never had visited Haiti nor spoke the language so when I was asked if I was Haitian, I Would say my dad is Haitian .
I don’t know what exactly changed in my life or what spurred the sudden interest , but I just decided almost out of the blue that I was going to Haiti. As I reflect , I think turning 30 really played a part in The whole thought process . Walking into a comfort and confidence with my identity as a man , there was a void that came from never being to Haiti. To have never seen the land of my father nor speak the language built a barrier between the thought of who I was now and the wholeness in thought and self in being exposed to all that Haiti is .
So to sum all that up succinctly , I put my butt on a plane and went to Haiti; The trip was amazing, frustrating , hilarious , beautiful inspiring and a bunch of other adjectives .
There was immediate irony as I landed. Here I am a man of Haitian decent in the Dominican Republic and I can communicate with Dominicans that were at the airport , yet cannot speak to the Haitians that met me there to pick me up . For the first time in my Life , I really felt frustrated that I could not speak kreyol. Living in Southern California , away from my Haitian family , I never really connected or embraced that side of who I was . There was a lack of familiarity being that all my Haitian family was on the East Coast.
I stayed in DR for a few days then took a bus to Haiti . The arrival was surreal. The Dominican Republic is not as advanced as the U.S. but in comparison to Haiti , it looks very advanced . Driving through these towns to my bus stop just made me think , ” Where in God’s name did all that foreign aid go after the earthquake “? It was just amazing how undeveloped the country looked.
In spite of it all , Haiti is still a beautiful place. The rolling hills , the endless expanses of green; It’s breathtaking . The people however , is what really make This place shine . I stayed with a woman and her husband at her hotel/ compound.My dad knows her from ministry . She was so warm and kind . At night I went out for dinner . It was beautiful to eat at this Haitian businesses and sit there under the dark expanse of the sky while people danced. This is Haiti . This is life . Despite all hardships, there lived a stubborn vibrant energy , a persistent joy that pushed through the mire of poverty and made itself known and felt . I was happy to laugh , proud to share conversation and jokes with my people and friends . The rest of the week we saw monuments and just spent time amidst daily life . This place has shaped my thought process in reference to legacy and purpose . The last few months , I have been feeling called to ministry; I don’t know what shape that calling takes , but I feel that it’s an incorporation of enterprise and community. All I knew when I left was that I needed to commit time to learn the language and I needed to come back soon . Haiti is an amazing place . It’s part of who I am . It’s part of my legacy .