The calling to organize the Haitian community in the United States has taken a different turn in the past few years. Many among us have noticed a leadership vacuum that exists within our communities. Plainly put, we do not have a group or anyone who is able to speak on our behalf on any matter.
As we are trying to foster change in Haiti, many of us are also conscious that we have a lot of work to do here. I’m thinking of the tragedy that took place in Boston two weeks ago.
Last weekend, as I was enjoying myself at “la nuit des jeunes” in New York, a family was going through a shocking and unexplainable event at home. Their own son, who had a few criminal records, had decided to end the life of two of his sisters. While he was trying to kill a third sister, the police bulged into the house, and shot the young boy dead, and saved the life of that young girl.
Words can’t really explain this horrible event. But each time tragedy strikes it gives us an opportunity to reflect on us. It forces me to ask, what we could have done as a community to prevent such a tragic scene. There is no way we can prevent every tragedy, but when the signs of trouble are present, we should at least be willing to offer our help.
In our community, there are many things that happen inside of our homes that we would like to seek help, but because of our culture, often we preferred to keep a tight lip on them. Our people take such a great pleasure in bad-mouthing each other, instead of trying to be a support for one another. As a result, we become a very individualistic community. Each person thinks they are better than the next one, and as a consequence everyone only worries about their own affair.
While I’m not sure if being a better organized community can prevent such acts, I am certain a savvy, sophisticated community would be able to marshal out a better response to such tragedy. The survivors and family members need some sort of mental help. Yet, it has not been there for them.
We can no longer ignore those events just because they happen to have no impact on our daily lives. This family is going through a lot of pain right now, and they need the support of every single one of us. They need to know that as a community, we care for each other, and that we would work the best we can to prevent the next tragedy.
In the agenda of organizing ourselves in the Diaspora, there should be a section about supporting one another, leaving behind our egotistical manners. It is not plausible to talk of organizing, when we really don’t care for the welfare of each other. The first step in that process should be the recognition that we need to put more efforts in showing compassion for one another.
It is easy to show support after a tragic event, but what we do the days after is more important than what we did during the tragic hours. It was great to see so many of my brothers and sisters showing their respect at the wake and funeral for these three young individuals that our community have lost, but it would be even more meaningful, if we all could remain united to work as a community.
Many of us believed the diaspora have so much to offer Haiti, and yet we are unable to make ourselves relevant in the communities in which we live. People don’t take us seriously because they can see how fragmented we are. While we all profess to be in the interest of Haiti, each of our community from Boston to New York to Miami can not draft a united agenda on behalf of the Haitian diaspora. When tragedy strikes, we tend to look for the culprits, point our fingers at others, even if we don’t know the cause of the issues.
Organizing a community takes more than just a gathering of a few people, sharing a few proposals on prospective planning, or even speaking some beautiful words. It takes compassion, dedication and above all a sense of care for those we want to organize.
Our neighbor’s problem is our problem. We must not isolate people who maybe looking for our help. We need to extend a welcome hand to everyone within our community. We need to stop prejudging our own based on their appearance. Stereotyping is very common within our midst, and it often leads to isolating or at worst making individuals feel that they are unworthy to be part of the community.
It would be wise if people who are focusing on organizing the diaspora could take into account a way to welcome those young individual, who have been in trouble with the law, instead of bypassing them. We have many young people who are unable to take advantage of the opportunities this country offers them, sometimes to no fault of their own, but most often because as a community we have rejected them.
We can’t call for organizing ourselves without including everyone, and the trouble souls among us must not be forgotten, nor rejected. We must help them before they turn into our worst nightmare.
You can reach Ilio at Ilio@zanmi.com