The Bahamas Haitian Situation – Part 3
By Apostle Cedric Moss
March 25, 2004
It is sad to watch people work feverishly to try to prevent something they are not aware has already happened. They slam the gate shut, put a lock on it, and wipe their sweaty brow, ignorant to the fact that the horse has already stampeded out. As I listen to Bahamians generally express the ways they do not want Haitians to “take over” The Bahamas, I am amazed that they do not realize that much of what they do not want has happened and will continue to happen. And it’s too late to change it.
Get Used To It
Several months back, I followed a long discussion on the Haitian situation on the local discussion website, www.bahamasissues.com. The title was, “Not the Haitian Flag”. The thread was started with the following comments: “I don't know about you, but I have a problem with the amount of Haitian flags I see popping up on cars. In the midst of my celebrating my independence, while I am proudly displaying my flag, the Haitians are displaying theirs. What is that all about? It is an insult to me. If they are proud of their country then they should go home and put up their flag. How dare you come in my land and put up your flag. Wake up my people. This is a serious time; this may seem like a small thing but is only the beginning. Today it is the flag, tomorrow it will be streets named after them, they will be running for public office soon, and then in the very near future peas and rice, and names like Cox and Bain will be replaced by Haitian names and dishes. They have already started to open businesses and guess whom they employ? This up and coming generation is in for the fight of their lives; we must fight to keep this land for our children. THIS LAND IS MY LAND. Sail away my friends”
Perhaps the most obvious point that was missed by the person who offered those comments is that many of the persons donning Haitian flags on their vehicles are Bahamians with Haitian parentage or affinity. In addition, this land is no longer just “our” land since many Bahamian-Haitians own land too. And they will not sail away – they are here to stay with their expressions of Haitian patriotism. So we must get used to it.
Even if every Haitian living illegally in The Bahamas decided to go back to Haiti, we would still have tens of thousands of Haitians and Bahamians of Haitian descent living here. Either way, we have a sub-culture within a culture. What are we going to do? Continue to ignore them? While this might have been acceptable many years ago when Haitian communities were allowed to exist in The Bahamas because they were not looked upon as being permanent, to continue to respond in this way, in my opinion, is a threat to our national security. Prejudices already run deep, primarily Bahamians against Haitians. There is also resentment on both sides for different reasons. In my view, we have all the essential ingredients for our own “ethnic” time bomb. How do we diffuse it? I trust that we do not attempt massive rounding up and repatriation because these acts could very well detonate it. Instead, I believe an intentional process of managed assimilation will effectively diffuse it.
One People, Two Cultures
The goal of a managed assimilation process for regularized Haitians and Bahamians of Haitian parentage should not be to create one culture. Instead, it should be to create one people while recognizing two cultures. No doubt some will object to such a process. However, since there is nothing we can legally do about a significant number of the Haitians and Bahamian-Haitians living here, we would be better off trying to forge one people with two cultures than allowing two people and two cultures. If we continue to allow two people with two cultures living in hostility in one land, we will become the Caribbean version of the Jews and Palestinians. I pray we do otherwise.
Apostle Cedric Moss serves as Senior Pastor at
Kingdom Life World Outreach Centre. Commentary and feedback may be directed to:
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The Islands’ Haitian Situation – Part 1
“For several months I have been contemplating offering my thoughts on the Haitian situation in our country.”
The Islands’ Haitian Situation– Part 2
Was Aristide forced out?