I don't look Haitian - by Prosper Sylvain Jr.

I Don't Look Haitian?

You approached me with a smile on your lips
and slapped me five, gave me a pound with your ignorance
by telling me that I don't look Haitian.

You shook my hands to welcome me,
open arms of your Statue of Liberty
and then shook my soul with your audacity,
stating that I don't sound Haitian.

Accolades and jubilee,
citing the wonders of Haitian history
yet you say I don't act Haitian?

You asked me if I was sure I was from Ayiti
when you are not sure where you are from
and you carry this mentality
to the doorsteps of your white houses
and your media coverage
showing me impoverished
barefoot and hungry
seeking food and water in the slums,
you show the negative of my cultural drums
in a light of despair.

I don't look, sound or act Haitian?
Why?
Is it because I do not have the seawater of Biscayne Bay dripping from tattered clothes, or is it because I am not always dark as you perceived me to be, did I mess up your entire theory of relativity, that all relatives of Haitians must be dark and comely, like the tents of your media's Kedar? Is it my style of dance that has you in awe, or have you never seen a Haitian dance kompa, salsa, meringue, cumbia, gualacha before?

I don't look Haitian you say?
Is it because you did not catch me with a bucket on my head
working in some factory with an accent on my tongue until I'm 40,50,60 dead tired,
no I think your notion of me should have expired
a long time ago.
I apologize if there is more to me than voodoo dolls,
and I apologize if there is more to my country than slums, poverty and hunger, and I apologize if my poetry makes you wonder if I am really Haitian, product of years of miscegenation.
I apologize if your idea and concept of me
is not what I have proven to be,
accent on my tongue and pride in my eyes,
yes, I am a product of Ayiti's thighs
with no apprehension to stand straight,
steel girders are the contents of my spine
and I do not bend so easily,
or acquiesce to conformity.
Gideon's trumpet bellows from my voice
as Maroon conch's echo in my words.

I'm sorry if you thought you'd find me in some sugar cane field, I know how many of you must feel,
catching me with a pen in my hand instead of a machete,
beating a gavel instead of a drum,
judge, doctor, lawyer, teacher, accountant, nurse, and engineer, my goodness, I think we have instilled an absolute fear deep within your socio-political heart, because we have evolved from your views of primitive art from Hyppolite, Jerome, Dambreville to Tiga, Wah, Sajousse, Basquiat and Bastien!

My history drew the original plans and freedom chart
so is this why you want to keep us apart?
Because we don't look like what you expected us to be?
Or are you still upset because we declared we were free
after riding the freedom train to it's 1,804th last stop,
upset still because we made the world's mouth drop?

"Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Haitians have declared themselves free.
Napoleon and Leclerc embarrassed internationally!
Haiti becomes the original Statue of Liberty!
Denmark Vesey inspired by Ayiti!
Gabriel Prosser inspired by Ayiti
even he used August as the month for his rebellious activity! Extra! Extra! Read All About It!"

We held truths to be self evident before the first shackle, built an above ground railroad way before Harriet went Underground, knew rivers before Langston told my horse before Hurston spoke to international pharaohs like Moses did to let our people go, stood side by side with Arawaks and Tainos, yes we invoked our Petros AND Shangos, spoke with the same tongue as Patrick did,
give me liberty or give me death,
built our capital of freedom on 15 hills of wealth
and called it the Port of Princes.

I don't look Haitian? (sarcastically)
and you don't look American,
are you Cherokee
or Apache?
you don't look like the original indigenous Indian
but you do look like an international comedian
because you've got jokes and jokers in your white house
and punch lines filled with coke lines in your congress political white lies that are blasphemous stand up comedy in your judiciary that needs to under-stand that they need to stand up for justice and honor or step down running your ivory house like a circus with father and son clowns.

I don't look Haitian (sarcastically)
with my multi-lingual self, English, Kreyol, French and Spanish, I am more than The Serpent and The Rainbow, I am the real rainbow coalition
with a multitude of colors and artistic, intellectual erudition filled with powerful history... the power of my stride is energized by the Haitian women who stand next to, not behind me for they have galvanized Haiti when many ostracized me, women of different shades within our community who do not believe that our better tomorrow is an effort in futility. I look and am so Haitian that you fear me.
Vespuccian sons and daughters ,
CAN YOU HEAR ME???!!

Look past my face, dark or light,
Look past my hair...straight, curled or kinked,
Look past your own mentality
into my heart and you WILL see,
My only nationality IS defined in three letters...
and that is

I E T!
"I am Haitian not only because I was born in Haiti, but because Haiti was born in me."

Prosper "Makendal" Sylvain, Jr.
(c)2005, All Rights Reserved. Excerpted from the soon to be published book of poetry and short stories, The House That Mangoes Built, by Prosper Sylvain, Jr. Reproduction and publication of the above is strictly forbidden without the expressed approval of the author.

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Comments...

Nadege i give you so many props on this poem my brother, what a relevant poem, if only i had had that going to high school in the 90s.
Reply · April 04 at 11:42 AM
Zoe Boii EXCELLENT HIT... CAME OUT AND CAME HARD. BORN AMERICAN DECENDANT OF HAITIANS. 561 HAITIAN WE SEE YOU KEEP IT UP.
Reply · December 09 at 8:20 AM
Keashia I REALLY LOVE THIS PEOM ABOUT Y I DONT LOOK HAITIAN
Reply · May 14 at 10:50 AM
Nadege that poem is beautiful, you really have a talent there my brother. I am sure you inspire alot of people with it.
Reply · May 08 at 3:26 PM
Sarah awesome i feel you on that one send me a copy
Reply · February 28 at 5:21 PM
Yvette Thank you for the poem.
Reply · February 12 at 10:48 PM
Manuchca beautiful but we need to have heart to heart about why is haiti awful to it's people
Reply · January 13 at 9:41 PM
Sandy Wow!!!! I was amazed, after I read this poem on my cousin myspace page, I goggle your name, I must say as a Haitian woman I
Reply · December 25 at 9:13 PM
Ti Chouchou haitian dont look diferent,the skin is light dont mine nothing.One haitian steel stay haitian,and be pround,sait'it 1-2-3 I'm haitian so whath, by... see more
Reply · March 20 at 9:03 AM
Joe Rubino Clivens, My name is Joe Rubino, I am a recruiter in Chicago. I came across an old resume from 01. Please get in touch with me if you are still in IL.
Reply · March 04 at 4:17 PM
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