Posted in Culture, Family

Haitian/American: The Cultural Balancing Act

Growing up, I was used to things coming in twos. Two languages, two cultures, half the time it felt like I was leading two lives. As a child, I loved my home culture. In elementary school, when my teacher asked what our favorite food was, I said “diri” because that’s what I knew it as. When my white teacher gave me a puzzled look, one of my classmates said from the side of his mouth, “she means rice.” I gladly accepted his translation, though rice was not a part of my vocabulary at the time, it soon fell under my frequently used terms. The longer I was in school, the more I could feel the tension rising between my two cultures.

If it weren’t for my grandmother, I would never have had that experience to laugh at. She first immigrated to the United States from Haiti, along with my grandfather, in 1980. I love sitting down with her for breakfast or dinner as she recounts the story of how she and her fellow passengers got to Miami by boat and were welcomed into this country with a towel and buffets of food. They flew to New York to begin their citizenship process and she has no issue emphasizing that Jimmy Carter is and forever will be her favorite American president. (Obama is a close second though.)

Soon after finding their footing in a new country, the real work began. And by real work, I mean field work. The US was begging for immigrants in the 80s. Who else would be able to keep up with this farm work for such little pay? How else could they get people in the marsh and swamps to make sure their children had fresh fruits and veggies for lunch? But isn’t that how the cycle goes.

Picture this: The US needs people who are willing to work for loose change and they need a whole lot of them. They go to Mexico and the Caribbean to find workers. They promise the immigrants a good life, American money, and residency. The immigrants come in, the work gets done, and then they have to figure out a way to discard the very people they begged to come in.

Thankfully, my grandparents found their way back to Florida before New York got any wilder. They found themselves in South Florida in 1987 and haven’t left since (outside of visits to the homeland.) Growing up, my Haitian heritage was always important to me, but I didn’t always have the understanding of why. As I’ve grown, that why has come to be the fact that we didn’t just build our country as the first free black republic. Haitians, along with Cubans, Mexicans, the Irish, Venezualans, Nigerians, and every other immigrant have helped build the United States into the world recognized nation it is today. For better, or for worse.

Looking back on my kindergarten experience, I said what I said. Rice and diri bring two different images to my mind. My culture has always been an inseparable part of my life. I could not have one without the other and I’m thankful for that fact. I’m thankful that my grandparents chose to leave everything they knew behind in hopes of providing a better life for their future grandchildren.

Sidenote: I originally wrote this for via a gig from Fiverr. If you want to check out my gigs on Fiverr, click here.

Do you have to balance multiple cultures?

What are some of your elementary school memories?

Where does your identity life most?

Let me know in the comments below, let’s chat!

Posted in Activism, Community, Discussion

The Intersectionality of Climate Change

Let’s face it, the fact of the matter is that marginalized and POC communities are the ones suffering the most from climate change. The damage in Puerto Rico wasn’t a random tragedy. These hurricanes are no coincidence, they are a direct result of climate change.

On Friday, September 20th I joined thousands, check that, millions of people around the world in marching for the Climate Strike. Global warming is a real issue that we shouldn’t waste time arguing on. This is the time for action.

Continue reading “The Intersectionality of Climate Change”
Posted in Culture, Discussion, Exploration

I tried out Fiverr!

Disclaimer: This is in no way an ad, I just wanted to try something new.

Since school’s been out, I have found myself on Youtube way more than usual. Several side hustle videos keep popping up on my feed, and having nothing else to do for the next three weeks, I keep clicking on them.

I’ve been on a budgeting videos binge lately, so it makes since that these side hustle videos were added to the mix. Usually, they seem to be talking about the same things: babysitting, tutoring, and online surveys that never really get you anywhere. But, these past few were actually kind of helpful.

I’d heard of Fiverr before, on YouTube, of course. I just never really thought about selling my services. While I was waiting to see if anyone would purchase my blogging services, I decided to see just what the site had to offer.

Continue reading “I tried out Fiverr!”
Posted in My Thoughts

Only 19, but my Mind is Older

So, today’s the last day I can accurately make this statement. Tomorrow I will be turning 20, entering a new decade and ready to see where life takes me. As with the reminder of time’s passage, I’ve been thinking about the past and what it means to mature.

Growing up, many of the adults in my life would tell me that I was very mature for my age. From elementary school and long after, teachers would go on and on about this to my mother and whoever else would listen. As a young child, I would beam every time someone said it.

During my senior year of high school, I started to wonder if being “mature” was even worth it. I questioned if this so-called maturity was causing me to miss out on being a kid and really living my life. There were so many other students making reckless decisions that seemed to turn out fine. At least they looked happier than I was feeling at the time.

I spent part of my senior year making dumb decisions in the “spirit of youth.” I realized early on that I wasn’t actually missing out on much and decided to go back to being “mature” with my choices. With that, I started to realize that I was creating my own future instead of waiting for others to take the lead.

Rachelle Saint Louis
Check out 18-year-old Rachelle at The Breakers Palm Beach. Sorry about the quality, this was taken on an Android.

So, what does it mean to be mature?

Continue reading “Only 19, but my Mind is Older”
Posted in Community, Culture, The Writer's Block

Open Mics in Coffee Shops (Take 2)

These open mics have become a part of my biweekly routine and I’m loving it. Last Saturday I brought my brother’s camera along (I promise I’ll be getting my own one day).

I’ll be highlighting a few of the performers in this post.

First up, enjoy these pictures a friend of mine took.

Continue reading “Open Mics in Coffee Shops (Take 2)”
Posted in Culture, Family

Prom: But Make it Culture

So, it’s been a hot minute since I went to prom and I was reminiscing with all the pictures on my feed a few months back. I went to prom both junior and senior year of high school. Junior year, I went super simple with a black dress and makeup I did myself. This was before I knew the difference between day looks and night looks, so please don’t judge me if those pics every resurface.

Senior year, my mom helped me go all out. We brought our A-game. I was given the opportunity for a prom she’d never had. I’m talking custom-tailored dress, face beat, a professional photographer, and a Mercedes for the night. I didn’t get to drive it, though. Prom was truly a night to remember.

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Posted in Community

3 Reasons You Need to Support Local Bookstores

I always wanted to be the kind of person that shopped at local bookstores and had tote bags with quotes on the cover. Growing up, that idea was never something that fit into our family’s budget. But now, I’m an adult.

There’s a bookstore that opened up downtown about two years ago that I’d completely forgot about. When I started visiting it this summer, I learned so much about the importance of supporting independent bookstores. Todd, who works at The Book Cellar, even let me take a few pictures of him.

Here are three reasons you should support local bookstores, too!

Continue reading “3 Reasons You Need to Support Local Bookstores”
Posted in Community, Culture

Open Mics in Coffee Shops

I am a Spoken Word artist. Writing has always been a part of who I am. I wrote my first short story in second grade, it was about a land of flying turtles. I’m pretty sure I modeled parts of it after Avatar: the Last Airbender.

In middle school, I had the gift of an amazing English teacher. She introduced our class to the workings of Langston Hughes. Before then, I had only known of Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson. I wrote my first poem in seventh grade and published it on Wattpad immediately. Those were the days when Wattpad was really poppin’.

Freshman year of high school, I started hearing about this Spoken Word Poetry Club. I didn’t even know that was a thing. So I went to a meeting of these so-called poets and immediately fell in love. I started writing that same day so I could come back the next week with a piece. I was so scared to perform, even if it was just in front of ten classmates. But one day, I did.

Continue reading “Open Mics in Coffee Shops”
Posted in Commuter Chronicles, Culture, Family, The Writer's Block, Travel

My Haitian Vacation: A Return to the Motherland

I wouldn’t consider my summer one of the Hot Girl variety, but it was a fun one, nonetheless. This summer was one of travel, adventure, and newness. It was also my first time out of the country in six years.

I went on a cruise at the start that gave me a small taste of Haiti. Labadee was the tourist side of my ancestral plane, but it was also a place where I could hear the melodies of my native tongue.

I drew a close to the summer engulfed in Her beauty. The week I spent there was what I can only describe as complete cultural immersion. So before I get into the happenings, let’s get some backstory.

Continue reading “My Haitian Vacation: A Return to the Motherland”