Haiti’s Influence on Louisiana

Haitians are the dominant Creole culture of New Orleans. Currently there are 5,000 people of Haitian descent that live in the New Orleans area. 

In 1709 (dayiti: I believe the author means 1791 because that’s when the Revolution started) after the Haitian Revolution that ended French rule and gave Haiti its independence 90% of the Hatian refugees settled in New Orleans. The immigration of Haitians, both white and free people of color (gens de couleur libres) brought 2,731 whites, 3,102 free persons of African descent and 3,226 slaves to the city. This one event doubled the population of New Orleans in one year and had an important social and cultural impact on Creole Louisiana that still influences it to this day.

The Hatian Creole population settled in the French Quarter and brought a distinct culture and architectural tradition giving New Orleans a reputation as the nation’s Creole Capital. They brought with them what was to become the rhythm and soul of New Orleans. The Crescent City would not be what it is today without these contributions.

Haitians played a major role in the development of Creole cuisine, the perpetuation of voodoo practices and preserving the city’s French character. Among the most notable Haitians in New Orleans history were; the pirate Jean Lafitte born in Port-au-Prince around 1782. Marie Laveau, the undisputed Queen of Voodoo (dayiti: Her portrait is above), born in [Saint Domingue] in 1794.

The newest chapter of the Assassin’s Creed series gives me some of the things I’ve always wanted in a video game: a heroic fantasy that lets me control a warrior fighting against slavery. Part of it happens in Haiti, where my parents were born. Characters talk in Antillean Kreyol, the mosaic tongue made of French and West African words that I heard while growing up. But, mostly, it reminds me of going to church with my mother. It makes me happy and sad at the same time.

I want this game so badly now…WHY CAN’T I HAVE NICE THINGS, GUYS?

Bat chyen an tann mèt li

Haitian proverb

Translation: If you beat a dog, its owner will come.

Meaning: You are free to act as you please, but be prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions.  

Cultural note: In Haiti, most people don’t view dogs as a part of the family as in the US. Dogs are free to roam the streets as they please. This proverb relies on the premise that even if you think a dog has no owner, if you beat it, you’ll face the consequences. 

"Dialect" Does not Equal "Inferior"

This isn’t the first time I’ve observed this but this morning over on my docu-series page two individuals took offense to my use of the word ‘dialect’ in describing Dominican Spanish.

They were adamant that it isn’t a dialect, and it was unlike ‘creole’ or ‘patois’ and I must be confused because every region has its own words, pronunciation and style of speaking.

Thing is.

"style of speaking/pronunciation/words" are EXACTLY what a dialect is. 

Put simply: A dialect is a version of a language that is special to a particular region or group.” 

ie- Dominican Spanish, Panamanian Spanish, Puerto Rican Spanish (note: it’s not as if folks go around saying “yea I speak Panamanian Spanish, you don’t know nothing bout that!” (see, what I did there, I used AAVE which is, you guessed it, a dialect!)  no, it’s just Spanish but know that there are variants to this larger thing known as “Spanish”)

"Dialects of the same language are different from each other, but still understandable to speakers of another dialect of that language. For example, American English and British English are two dialects of English. They have some differences, such as in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, but they are still understandable to each other." 


The term dialect (from the ancient Greek word διάλεκτος diálektos, “discourse”, from διά diá, “through” + λέγω legō, “I speak”) is used in two distinct ways. One usage—the more common among linguists—refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language’s speakers.

The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class.[2] A dialect that is associated with a particular social class can be termed a sociolect, a dialect that is associated with a particular ethnic group can be termed as ethnolect, and a regional dialect may be termed a regiolect or topolect. According to this definition, any variety of a language constitutes “a dialect”, including any standard varieties


Now that all is said. The REAL issue I believe folks have when they hear dialect is they hear “inferior, not good enough, or improper.”

 (Who taught you to hate yourself)


One of the indignant dialect-oppositioners used the word “well-spoken” in their diatribe and that’s a clue in exactly how they view the term. As aforementioned, I think folks broadly connect sociolect when they hear dialect. And that saddens me.

In the same way when people say “proper English or proper Spanish.” Look, I don’t know what that is. And I got this question from one of my students, upon her learning that I knew Spanish, her next question was if I knew “proper Spanish.” I looked at her perplexed and asked  ”what is proper spanish?” She said “uhmmm uhhh you know, like….” I had another student in the room and I said that I don’t know what “proper” is because everyone’s way and style of speaking is proper. It is an oppressive way to again, separate and lord over one another. Yes, there is a time and a place for different styles of speaking, code-switching and within different environments people will make judgement based on how you speak, be aware of that but  also know that whatever way you speak is valuable. The other student, exclaimed “yea, it’s just different ways of speaking!”

(just say no to respectability politics) 

And that’s what it is. Different ways of speaking. One is not inferior to the next but you have to ask these questions of “WHERE did we get these ideas that there is a “proper” and a “standard”? It is highly classist, racist and of course, white supremacist. I have thought about and discussed this topic forever and it always seems the languages and dialects of Afrodescendants (and other brown folks) are degraded and thought of as “less than” when in reality the simple fact that we CREATED these languages and dialects out of our MANY languages and other influences IN the most deplorable of circumstances is pretty fucking awesome and amazing to me. Our various creole and patois languages are BEAUTIFUl because it is from and of us. Not to mention many that we think of as just “broken [insert language], are actually “real” languages.  

I feel the quote below sums up many of my thoughts, but this is the big take-away: 

 ”Wherever you are from and whatever form of language* you speak, please do not take offense at my use of the term “dialect” in referring to different varieties of a language*. They are all interesting and valuable, and I respect every single one.”


Do you?


Related Reading:

Diaspora Dash - “Nicaraguan Creole English is a real language… Diaspora Dash - “Le Negre Marron” (The Black Maroon; in creole,… Diaspora Dash - -The Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language… Diaspora Dash - Languages and Dialects in the Americas Diaspora Dash - The Gullah Creole Language Diaspora Dash - Haitian Kreyol: The Language of the Slaves






RAM, Sa’n pa wè yo

RAM 1995 song. Sa’n pa wè yo (Those we don’t see) has both a spiritual and political meaning referring to loas and the thousands who disappeared under Raoul Cedras.



As a teacher, I love teaching my students in both Ebonics and “Standard” English. And I will continue to do so. Their comprehension levels are higher than students who are not afforded to be taught in their languages. I see them more in tuned with learning and they strive for more.

People will respect English Patois

Folks will respect Kreyol

But folks continuously try to shit on Ebonics as if it has no place

Black Americans are always put in a lose-lose situation

Fuck those that dont respect Ebonics. I am keeping my language and my culture. 

Birthday Toussaint Louverture May 20, 1743

Royalty is in the heart not in what you wear.

Like the son of All Saint’s Day to stare.

Of whom Napoleon Bonaparte could not tare.

From A Duty Bookman inspiration with a flair.

So let the Vodoun words come from the air.

St. Domingue is a thought to struggle for those who care.

In a Spanish rosary that is red, blue, and white without glare.

Freedom is a song by Santana from Hayti.

So let gens de couleur last a lifetime to bare.

Every Caribbean soul in a Catholic prayer.

With Jean-Jacques Dessalines stands to dare,

Georges Biassou with a revolt in memory that is fair.

Jean-Louis Villatte comes up high to forswear.

With Andre Rigaud as they overtake any French military pair.

There goes Étienne Lavaux as star shine above every hair.

Freedom is a song by Santana from Hayti.

Just like Leclerc’s campaign which is nowhere.

But at Cap-Francis with Christophe it was somewhere.

You will find Fore-Liberte still standing in hearts that have no ware.

Even if there are still plantations in Ennery to spare.

The month of May will bear witness to their destruction in a fisted blare.

After all Wodsworth would agree just the same in sonnets that repair

Hearts and memories full of Kreyol, Spanish, French Carnivals in midair.

Freedom is a song by Sanatana in Hayti.

From Port-au-Prince to Taino hearts rare.

Just like the son of Arrada that knew no corsair

But a ancestor of Benin to make all shout in joy aware

Brda is a muse that is not forsaken in history to pair

Into every corner of Hispaniola that has a rosewood chair.

Even with any hurricane that reminds us of Maxmilian Robespierre.

Even with every earthquake that shatters all glassware.

Napoleon at St. Helena could still not forget Toussaint which is rare.

Black Jacobins in a Paul Robeson inspired London to snare.

April 7 is when clouds bring rain for all to spare.

Onto grey dolphins that glide in waves amber blue compare

Freedom is a songby Santana in Hayti that is


Suzanne Simone

Saint-Jean Louverture

Issac Loverture

Pierre Baptiste Simon

Paul Louverture


Abbe Raynal

Seraphim Le Clerc



Treaty of Basel

July 1795


Thomas Maitland






Jean Negulesco

Malcolm X

Steve Biko

Paul Bogle

George Jackson

Marcus Garvey

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Steve Pulse


Tribute to Martyrs

Lydia Bailey




Combattant de la liberté, artisan de l’abolition de l’esclavage, héros haïtien mort déporté au Fort-de-Joux en 1803.


Freedom is a song by Santana in Hayti

So let me go to Broadway in the month in time to spare

For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf honors the fighter from Hayti I swear

Don’t talk to me about zombies in a nightmare

Or blowfish poison that are meant to surely scare.

Or of other stereotypes that guide you and me in an age of thought that goes faster than the speed of light from Borgne, Cabaret, Bainet, Bahon, Dondon, Ferrier, Ganthier to Miami with software

Show me the one who was like Voltaire.

Because it’s his birthday so let me share.

1995 All Souls Rising past any hardware.

Past Chaine de la Selle éclair

Past Pic de Macaya err

Past Gros Morne on Toussaint’s holy mare.

Past Monre Chien hair

Past Monre Blockauss pear

Nature’s testament to the land of mountains where

Camp Turel lives in fists with hearts to forbear.

La Tannerie bears his mark in bricked tiles to share

Onto Cordon de l’Quest in moments to shoot a flare.

Léger-Félicité Sonthonaxnever to becomeunfair.

Étienne Maynaud Bizefranc de Lavaux blare.

Like the red bat which flies the soul to dare.

To a heavenly way stair..

Let me remember Kreyole names here and there

Of the one we remember this Monday without despair.

So today I listen to you Santana in my lair.

Of the father in Saint Dominique in this life’s affair.

Freedom must be a song in Hayti so let me prepare.

"In overthrowing me you have cut down in Saint Domingue only the trunk of the tree of liberty; it will spring up again from the roots, for they are many and they are deep."