An Introduction to Haitian Vodou

In our nationalist pride, we include a great variety of things ; our diverse peoples, our strength, history, gastronomy, dances and values. We often leave out – purposely, might I add – the glue that holds all these pieces together. There is a whisper amidst the noise, that teaches all the speakers what hasn’t always been written in books, or formally taught; Haitian voodoo. More a practice, than a religion, Haitian vodou is the root under the tree, and the true story behind the “myth”. Among our people, there are many misconceptions on the practice that have been ingrained in us over the years, by colonization. As the years went on, we spread those false interpretations as truths, that stra

Illiteracy by Devonne

I relish the days when reading was my pastime. As of late my thoughts are too loud to enjoy the silence. I used to find jubilee in the suspense of a well-positioned ellipses on the page now I dread the space from one word to the next. I fear it might not be short enough to beat the crippling thoughts catapulting themselves to the front of my tongue. So I shut my mouth. Or else be shut down, sunken once again in a bed. In a room littered with past due library books mourning the loss of their reader. Judging me, my weakness. But dear Literature, my own thoughts have amassed too large for me to process. So forgive me if I cannot reach out to absorb someone else’s. I cannot hope to float in Kush

Intimacy by Devonne

You wanna get intimate with me? Share me your playlist. Recommend me your favorite parts of your soul. I promise to entertain even the most outlandish of selections Marilyn Manson to Harry Connick Jr. I want know whose vocal chords play runway to your flight of emotion. What bassist strikes light on the reproachable corners of your heartbreak. Share me your playlist. Recommend me your favorite part(s) of childhood. What guilty pleasures you keep in your library hoping you stumble upon it when you shuffle Your logic comes from lyricists I pray to meet. Your Daddy didn’t teach you to respect women, but “Brown Skin Lady” did. Tell me how Kweli and Mos Def became your favorite professors educati

Queer Haitians: The ghosts they try to pray away. - Introducing OBTEA

For folks whose identity falls within the CIS heteronormative umbrella, discussions on identity do not start with questions of existence. Said groups’ advocacy is one of worthiness, respect, and basic human right entitlements, more than it is one of fundamental debates about existence. What this translates to, is that ultimately, their fight does not begin with proving, or convincing a queerphobic world that they in fact exist. In that way, their battles are slightly less fundamental in nature. Identity is from within, labels are outside creations: but how does one learn the proper spelling of their name, when they’re only given the letters to one that doesn’t fit? Queer Haitian folks who ha

An introduction to immigration detention: knowing your rights

Over the past months immigration detention centers have been a raging subject over the web. In addition to adults getting their loved ones taken away to those detentions, there is a growing and scandalous trend that is the baby jails. Immigration laws are complicated and now shift everyday due to the strict zero tolerance policy infringed by the Trump administration. This article will serve to inform people of their rights and give them an overview of the detention process. Every case being different, the reasons why one may find themselves in immigration detention may vary. However, in most cases, it’s because the person in question is a removable alien. A removable alien can be either a pe

Introducing Healing by Stephanie Voyard

Healing is an ugly ass process It is not composed of only the before and after It's filled with blood sweat and tears Falling back into old habits is my only fear You see, this is not some 90 day trial you can sign up for The end results are never truly the end This is a lifelong commitment to battle and war It’s a metamorphosis at the core, A hallway where portraits of your facades collapse, And the chaos often screams “relapse!” Its a race between agony, and will Between trauma and self- love And well, you’re running barefoot on the broken glass of your heart It’s tearing your skin open, Bleeding reminders of how you’re ill Day 89, and you’re raging for a refund, Your heart, head and body

Flè deyò by Valencia Clement

A quiet has settled over the house & still I hear you slamming doors I hear “shut the fuck up” as I walk into my bedroom I feel your hands on my body knocking me down I feel my fingernails scratching into your skin I taste the kiss you robbed from me when you walked out the door I fucking hate you and I fucking love you. I just want to feel safe so you need to leave Even though you’re gone and a quiet has settled in the house… you’re still here You’ve found your way in my head and you are the star of the nightmares that flash behind my eyes during the day your “love” plays on repeat I’m in an abusive relationship and there are roses outside my door I’m in an abusive relationship and you say

My Parent's Child by Valencia Clement

I am my mother’s crippling anxiety She shackles me at the ankles Making each step harder than the last I am my father’s extroversion Bouncing back and forth, person to person With such contagious charm... I am my mother’s intellect, Her tenacity and sheer wit confounded her unlikely probability of achieving the American Dream I am my father's common sense He has no degrees but he moves through the world like King of the streets. I follow in his footsteps and I always make it home I am my mother’s loneliness It crawls in bed with me when reality starts to blend with my nightmares how can I kill the darkness when it is trapped inside of me? I am my father’s anger punching walls, holding grudge

"You're too pretty and lightskin to be Haitian" - And what does Haitian "look" like?

Have you ever been told you are too PRETTY or too LIGHTSKIN to be Haitian? Many Haitians with fairer skin, and of features with a closer proximity to Eurocentric beauty standards, - encounter this experience, and it's a frustrating one to live, because what exactly is a Haitian person supposed to look like? Many people have this idea that people from one specific country look the same, and that is simply absurd. Prejudice is the act of judging without knowing any information. This is an act that is done by everyone, including myself. We all judge certain issues and events without obtaining any knowledge, but we tend to keep it to ourselves. Unfortunately, many people do not keep those opin

Origins by Devonne

Born of Captives Born of Konpa, Racine Tanbou Enrolled in “Pura Vida”, striving to reach a shelf holding impossibly placed success. Born into a world that decided I am genetically predestined to lose Because I am too woman and man’s ego is too bruised. Descendant of the first Black Republic. Product of the occupied, colonized, blood-ridden lands. Legacy of the degraded, invaded, enslaved, monarchs who were withheld from the truth: that they were so much more than the tie-dye colored welts on their fathers’ backs. That they were more than the screams escaping the mouths of their mothers whose bodies were ravaged by the most ravenous of beasts. I am from nightly recitals of passages and prover

Grief: My Journey Without You by Devonne

When you love someone you do your best to honor them. When they hurt you, you either tell them or spare them. This piece is dedicated to a person whom I love dearly, but to whom I never got the opportunity to express the pain she caused me. This is my journey without You. 14: I saw you the night before you left. You weren’t quite as I remembered you. You were never healthy, but you had decomposed; this was decay. I thought it strange to have seen you in one afternoon more dressed in a wooden encase bed than you were in the days spent in that mechanical one. Clad only in that cheap linen robe. Half-closed. Linen with thread count lower than quality, a body count too high a quantity. That line

Middle class, what's that?

Middle Class, what’s that? Under the most prevalent economic system, that is capitalism, there are different types of social classes. Notably, in Haiti, there is the Upper Class, or the bourgeoisie, essentially composed of successful business people, celebrities, and individuals, or families with generational wealth. Said class lives in the best neighborhoods, and is able to afford the best lifestyle, as it concerns education, healthcare and the services of other privatized, but necessary institutions. Generally, the lower class, is an umbrella for both middle class, and relatively poor folks. (That is, poverty varies across countries, and so do the standards for what is considered middle cl

Mental Health in Haitian Society: The monster swept under the bed

Health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing” – and thus “not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. In our hierarchy of survival, and overall health, we often consider the first “layer” that is the physical as being the only layer essential to survival. Notably, in under-developed countries where medical care can be scarce, the physical state is the most pressing of matters, since it seems to be the most useful tool for the average poor person who is overworked and unable to make ends meet. Even with the more privileged, - especially when it comes to black people – having to endure structured abuse for centuries has rendered a lot of them incapable o