Growing up in Queens Village, I’m extremely close to Haiti. It’s given me a lot. It gave me some of my closest friends, and is such an integral part to New York. Although my family is not from Haiti, I learned about the country through my friends’ families. And through them I was able to learn about the Caribbean culture of a sweet and proud people. First and always, family is at the center. Next is religion, followed by education. If you’re hungry, you will get hooked up with the best plate of peas and rice, and chicken. I used to love going to birthday parties just to get a slice of that delicious sweet birthday cake. (What is in that, guys??) Haitian moms are so warm and welcoming. To visit their home is to be family, and I am so blessed to be adopted by a few. Lots of love, Mrs. Jean-Baptiste.
And of course, there are the funniest stories. One of my best friends said his dad would never stop at McDonald’s. If he got hungry, his dad would pull out jars of peanut butter and jelly and make him a sandwich in the car. Although not so fun when you’re a kid, it made my friend one of the most sensible people I know. I cherish the stories as part of my childhood and makes me who I am.
New York is home to the largest population of Haitian Americans, with most of the community settled in Queens and Flatbush. Yesterday, Haiti suffered a 7.0 scale earthquake, the worst disaster in the nation’s history. Let’s do what we can to help. Reach out to the Red Cross or Wyclef’s foundation, Yele Haiti.
Kompa is the traditional music of Haiti. Whenever I hear it, I’m reminded of friends’ family barbecues. It is a mix of dancehall and merengue, with a slower tempo.Check out some kompa music below by Haitian artist Carimi, and some links for ways to help. Let’s roll up our sleeves and help a small country that has given us so so much.
Sending a world of prayers to all of those in Haiti, and all of my friends of Haitian descent.
Let’s Mend Haiti: