The Haitians: Their History and Culture
Civan, Michele Burtoff
Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) & U.S. Department of State
1994, 34 pages
Provides a detailed introduction to the people, history, and culture of Haiti for community service providers and others assisting refugees in the United States. While Haitians have been arriving in the U.S. and contributing to American history since the 1770s, recent immigration has been associated with subsequent waves of repression within Haiti, starting in 1957 with Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier's rise to power. Terror has been an almost constant fact of life in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. While Haitian communities in the U.S., particularly in South Florida, Boston, and New York, have made economic progress and have overcome immigration barriers, they still face cultural misunderstandings and stereotyping. Chapters describe (1) the geography and climate of Haiti; (2) the ethnic characteristics of the Haitian population; (3) Haiti's history, including the colonial era, independence and social divisions, occupation by the United States, the Duvalier family dictatorships,and the promising and then rocky presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the rebuilding of Haiti; (4) education and reform; (5) language and literacy, including the central role of Creole; (6) the health care crisis; (7) family life and religion; (8) arts and cultural values; and (9) the impoverished economy.