January 18th, 2005 by Yolain St. Fort
About Love and Race
“The Lord knows how to give generously, but He has no idea how to distribute things evenly among His children.” Maman often mumbled these words beneath her breath as she struggled to braid my hair.
I understood her remark perfectly, though I sometimes wished I didn’t have ears to listen, or eyes to see her disappointment. She said very often that my short, black hair was too stubborn, that my skin shade was too deep, that I was too tall, that I was too thin. The Creator must have run out of supplies when He was designing me. She didn’t mean to be hurtful, I knew. But she couldn’t help comparing me to my next door neighbor whose hair fell on her slender back, whose tender skin was the color of amber, whose eyes shone like the moon.
Maman never said it aloud, but I could imagine her thinking that the Creator must indeed have been in a delightful mood when he sketched Belle.
Belle was the envy of every young girl who lived in Lagune. Including me. She was the pride of every mother in town, though she didn’t belong to them. As they often said with a dreamy look in their eyes, Belle was the closest thing to an angel in Lagune. There were times when I wished that Belle didn’t have such a big heart. Besides dazzling beauty, Belle had a gentle, considerate nature, and a gift for drawing. Read more of this article »
Posted in Fiction, Haiti
February 21st, 2004 by Yolain St. Fort
My grandmother sang the Lavalas song when Mr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide became Haiti’s first democratically elected president on December of 1990. It was a song of hope, of faith, of love, of redemption. It was similar to a praise song that was known to many Protestant churchgoers in Haiti and in the U.S., except for the fact that the lyrics were slightly modified. The name Seny√É‚Äπ (meaning The Lord) was replaced with Titid (short for Aristide), and “Tonight we are healed” was changed to “At last we are rescued.” This is a translated version of the song:
Oh Titid, Oh Titid,
It was you we were looking for
At last we are rescued!
This song, though few in words, is a depiction of what President Aristide represented to the masses, mainly those without a voice. My grandmother sang the song so much that one day I told her that if she weren’t careful, she would shout out “O Titid” in church, mistaking his name for The Lord’s. Though I didn’t share her optimism, I sometimes prayed that Haiti would be healed somehow. Someday. Read more of this article »
Posted in Haiti, Op-Ed
January 19th, 2004 by Yolain St. Fort
For eight years and four months she waited for him. They were married for four years when she and her daughter emigrated to America. Her husband couldn’t come with them, for his request was not approved. “Some complications,” the consul had explained. “Some complications.”
Josephine remembered how her heart sank when the consul gave them the news. She remembered staring blankly at the man who wouldn’t grant her husband permission to go to the land where they say milk and honey literally pour down from the sky. She thought she saw the stranger’s green eyes penetrating her flesh before uttering indifferently that her husband was not qualified. The stranger’s skin was pale. So pale that she wondered if he had any blood running in his veins. He said that when her father filed the papers she and Emille were not married; she would have to file for him once she got to America. How her heart throbbed when she heard this!
To think that she must separate from her man so soon, after only a few years of marriage.
She was not used to looking at these kinds of people in the eyes, for they seemed too uppity and too intimidating with all their wealth and yellow skin and supple hair and eyes the color of thirsty grass or even the color of the sky when it’s in its happiest state, but that Friday morning, sitting in a square windowless room, she raised her face and pierced the stem of the man’s eyes with her own, hoping he would read the “shame on you and how could you be so heartless?” message in her eyes and grant her husband the visa. Her three-year-old daughter, Marguerite, clutched her hand and buried her tiny sugar-brown face in her mother’s skirt. Read more of this article »
Posted in Fiction, Haiti