"Elian Gonzalez, The Bible's Moses and The Haitian Middle Class"
Elian which sounds like Alien was born on December 6 in Cuba and he was found floating on a raft in the oceans of South Florida on Thanksgiving Day 1999. This biblical reproduction of the Moses story is crucial in order to understand the importance of this incidence to the Haitian middle class in South Florida. Whereas the bible's Moses was eventually adopted by the Pharoah's sister and subsequently enjoyed a life of priviledge and wealth, Elian Gonzalez had a reprieve from a life san manman (she died during the voyage) and deprived of material wealth in Cuba. Eventually, he was returned home to his father's land.
In the bible, Moses learns of his humble parentage and returns to eventually lead his people out of babylon. Some believe that the Elian Gonzalez incident was responsible for the debaucle that occurred in
the 2000 s/elections. The Cuban power structure disagreed strongly with the State department's decision to return the boy to his father who chose to go back and live in Cuba. This decision put into motion powerful events that would subsequently lead Al Gore to loose the 2000 elections. And GW or "The Shrub's" s/election guaranteed that the issue of Cuba and Fidel Castro would be crucial for the re-(s)election of the Bush/Cheney ticket.
While I understand the desire to defend one's political party, I also feel that it is crucial for us to adhere to the truth. For instance, should this situation have been dealt with in the family courts as many proposed? Al Gore among other liberal leaders felt that this was an issue for the family courts a system which strongly influenced by the powerful Cuban majority in South Florida. In addition, Elian's Miami or Little Havana relatives felt that the state of Cuba was unhealthy for the boy and his mother and stepfather died trying to reach a new world to give h
im a better life in freedom.
Since the 1960s the New Wave of immigrants who emigrated primarily from the so-called third world came in search of many things and economic, political and religious freedom were some of them. The Cuban immigrants who have arrived to South Florida since that time have also come seeking these same things and more. It has been written and said that Cuban immigrants imprisoned in Arkansas during Bill Clinton's tenure as governor caused him an election once and now they lived to cause the election of his vice president.
However you see it, Krome is no home it is a state facility and the Cuban ex-cons who are held there without a chance of ever being released to return home (since Castro will not take them) are to remain there forever even though they have served their time in other prisons across the US. This issue is the single most significant or different poit between Cuban immigrants and other immigrants. Whereas Cubans benefit from the wet foot/dry foot law they
suffer when they have nowhere to go after serving time in prison and other immigrant prisoners can return to their homeland.
For Haitians whose nation state Ayiti/Haiti and motherland Hispaniola was discovered on Decemmber 6, 1492 this is a thorn in an otherwise multicolored bed of roses. Let me explain, everyone, including Miami Dade Mayor Alex Penela realize that the wet foot/dry foot law is wrong and needs to be revised to include other immigrant groups like Haitians. As such, the Haitians who were seen around the world getting off the boat on the Miami shores would have been granted asylum.
The Haitian middle class in South Florida as those from other ethnic groups are in the minority. In fact in the poorest city in the country (Miami) which is also home to the highest rates of AIDS, the middle class is practically non-existent. The middle class or households with combined incomes of at least $50K are built by professionals who are able to command descent wages. This means a minimum hourly
wage of $10-$15 per person in that household of 2 parents with both working.
At this time I can tell you that those jobs are scarce even for those with strong qualifications and degrees from prestigious institutions. In fact for some Haitian buppies or young urban professional Haitians of various age, gender, color, immigrant status, generation and class background finding work that is rewarding in all ways is hard. In fact, many seem to be starting their own thing. Hence we see the proliferation of small business primarily restaurants and immigration services.
However, these ventures are not enough to build the infrastructure that we need to catch up with the Cubans. In fact, due to ethnic, language and economic capital the Jamaicans (recently tagged the "New Cubans") seem closer to attaining the status and power of the Cubans due to educational opportunities.
Whereas they too seem to experience some level of interethnic marriage, they are less at risk for disenfranchisement than the
Haitians. The 2nd generation Haitians will mimick this same pattern of inter ethnic marriage primarily for economic reasons. They are at a crucial crossroads and the only way to move ahead is to create alliances with other ethnic groups within the race. Although many seem to prefer ethnic groups from similar immigrant backgrounds, African Americans are available for partnering.
The Haitian middle class cannot afford to buy into a liberal ideology that may lead to emotional pain down the road. We must not forget how incidents like Elian Gonzalez reminded us about the importance of race or the detriment of racism and ethnocentrism on immigration. Moreover, we must seek to find solutions to our manje moun mentality and behavior that produces gangs like Zo Pound and As Tough As Zos in South Florida that endangers our youths. We must be vigilant about the access that our youths has to education as a tool to freedom. We must raise our voices when members of our ethnic or national group are disempowered and
silenced by powerful Others. These acts go beyond the liberal ideological paradigm and require us to shift back to 1st gear to our historical past the one built by our revolutionary ancestors.
Liberalism, interethnic ethnic dating are indicators of a 2nd generation in decline. These occur when a group cannot sustain itself. Unfortunately, Haitian immigrants have been unable to pool their resources together to build a stronger community abroad. We continue to suffer from the same colonized mentality that pushes us to hate one another for nonsensical reasons. And within the next 2.5 months I hope that Haitian leaders from all sides of the political spectrum panel and hold forums to bring out in the open the various ways that we can work to help each other to ensure a better tomorrow. And since this will be done san moun etranje or powerful Others it will be a RADICAL event marking perhaps a 2nd revolution.
I hope that this happens soon and brings forth the birth of a new nation of strong Haitian
s in the djaspora for the healing of Haitians everywhere.
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