Stop calling me African- American! There is nothing that boils my skin more than someone assuming I am something that I am not. I know some Americans may think that the politically correct term for calling someone of my skin tone is African-American, but I am here to say that you are wrong. Yes, it may be a little scary to call someone black, and yes, I am black but not every black person is African-American.
In my house growing up there were always two languages spoken interchangeably throughout the day — English and Haitian Creole, with the latter used more than the former. Of the family that I have here in America my parents, oldest brother, uncles, aunts and even some cousins are immigrants from Haiti. I have more family in Haiti than I do in America.
I have no problem with African-Americans. I don’t think it is a bad term at all, It’s just that our history, our traditions, and way of life is more different than you can imagine. When their ancestors were being enslaved here in America, my ancestors were enslaved on a French Colony. When their family gets together to eat some of the best collard greens, fried chicken, mac and cheese and/or cornbread (don’t be mad at it), My family was getting together eating legume (a veggie rice dish), poule en sauce (baked chicken in sauce), macaroni au gratin (baked macaroni), and/or banan peze (fried plantains).
It wasn’t until I went to college when I finally realized that the music is more different than I thought. Yes, we both may listen to rap or R&B amongst other genres but there are some songs from the 60s or 70s that I have never heard but my friends know because their parents would listen to it. But while they were doing that, I heard my family playing a mix between a lot of Kompa and Celine Dion (she helped my mom learn English).
Our cultures are unbelievably different, so yeah I get upset when someone calls me African – American because to me that is erasing so much of who I am. I am American but I am and always will have another part of me to embrace. Every New Year, my family gets together to eat soup joumou (pumpkin soup) to celebrate Haitian Independence Day. Every Sunday, my mom cooks for the whole family and although it may always be a different Haitian dish, 9 times out of 10 rice is involved. I have been there when my family has watched futbol (or as we Americans like to call soccer) on a Spanish channel on mute so that they can listen to the Haitian radio explain the game. The values that Haitian parents have instilled in their children is also different, like my mom still believes she has the right to whoop me. And I laugh but it sort of is true. This is my culture, my normal.
And to those who are Haitian but feel the need to tell that I am not. You too, are wrong. I never walk around and tell someone I am just Haitian. I always say Haitian – American. Because I lived in a bilingual house, I had to balance being American and Haitian, I dealt with the inner struggle of feeling like I was choosing one side of me over the other. That is something that I dealt with until I finally learned how to love two different cultures. My mom has kept a lot of the Haitian traditions alive in our family, as will I, once I start a family of my own. My children just like me will be Haitian-American. And no one will be there to convince them otherwise.
A Happily Haitian American girl