Haiti, Haitian Times, Inglês

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BROOKLYN — On social media, as in conversations offline, the frustration has been palpable ever since The Haitian Times broke news about the legal fight between organizers of a cultural parade slated for Manhattan. 

‘Lord have mercy! We rather [sic] fight each other in courts than to benefit and promote the culture,’ user @nothingisordinary11 posted. ‘That’s too bad, was looking forward to it this year, it was actually well executed last year,’ @cthea commented. 

But it was @zafentabou4’s ‘Tout la jounen se goumen!’ (Every day, there’s a fight) that seems to best capture an overwhelming sense of fatigue with infighting many community members feel.

“This is so childish,” Yves ‘Fanfan’ Joseph, the manager of the legendary Tabou Combo who posts as @zafentabou4, told The Haitian Times Friday. “It seems like it’s such a common thing to see Haitians fighting. We have to stop.”

The communal headshaking is over the NYC Haitian Heritage Parade in Manhattan that received a permit for June 1. Some bemoan that the legal battle signals what they perceive as an inability for some Haitians to come together to benefit the community, culture and country. Community leaders, vendors and event supporters said regardless of who is at fault, all Haitians pay the price when compromise fails. That is why, they said, those in positions to serve and uplift Haiti and Haitians must learn to resolve disagreements better.

“We need more, we deserve more, we can do more,” Elsie Saint-Louis, executive director and CEO of Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP), said about the suit. “We’re our own worst enemy. Yes, people do to us. But we do [harm] to ourselves too.”

“I’m counting on the diaspora to give Haiti a better image [narrative],” said Michel Chataigne, the Haiti-based fashion designer who crafted the look of last year’s parade, speaking by phone from his beauty salon in Port-au-Prince.

“We depend on the diaspora so much from over here,” Chataigne said. “We had such a good impact last year. Now, this is like another egg breaking. It’s nonsense.”

Last year, the NYC Haitian Heritage Parade took place June 3 along Central Park West. Soon after, controversy ensued between organizers over who had rights to claim reimbursements for expenses and to receive the city permit to coordinate the 2024 event. As result, parade founder Lionel Lamarre sued collaborators Glenda Elie Jensen Desrosiers, Stephanie Pierre and their companies as well as Little Haiti BK, the nonprofit created to promote socio-cultural institutions in the micro-ethnic area by that name in Flatbush. Accusations in the suit include conversion, breach of contract, breach of good faith interference and slander.

For Porez Luxama, whose Life of Hope organizes the annual “Ayiti Nou La Toujou” Haitian Culture Day Parade on Nostrand Avenue, scheduled for May 11 this year, news of the NYC Haitian Heritage Parade court case had a more urgent effect.

“People thought it was our parade having problems, and I had to tell them, ‘No, we’re still having ours,’” Luxama said. 

For Luxama, the broader issue the lawsuit highlights is the community’s lack of institutions, given that the fight comes down to individuals laying claim. 

“In this day and age, we have to make sure we invest in the future of our community,” Luxama said. “So far, we’ve invested in the individual [organizers]. We have to think instead about how we make the institutions better to protect the community. Once we have those conversations, then we can see what the people served by those organizations are doing.

“Otherwise, people feel entitled,” Luxama said.

The lack of unity extends to the number of parades even, Joseph said. He blames it on many of the key players having big egos when it would be better to set aside entitlements to resolve disputes. 

“Last time I was in Brooklyn, everyone was celebrating the flag on a different day,” he said. “ We can’t have 20 parades for one flag. How are you gonna celebrate the Haitian flag in June?”

“We have a flag, the flag belongs to every Haitian, to the country,” Joseph added. “No, this is not your thing, it’s the people’s. Ego is the devil.”

Chataigne shared similar sentiments about compromising, adding that he would love to work on the parade again.

“Haitians must respect their fellow Haitians,” he said. “There’s not even that much money involved.”



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