I was born into this world in the frigid month of December, in the city of Boston. So far away from the climate and culture of my people, I was brought into this world. So far from the mountains and rivers of Ayiti. So far from the drums. Oh, the drums! The drums that beat the rhythm of my life. The drums that taught me how to speak. The drums that beat the cadence of my mother’s words. So far. Yet, so close. My first language was kreyòl and I am Ayisyen.

My whole life has been a confusing experience. You see, I have seen Ayiti from different perspectives. From the twisting paths of Thomassin and the gridlock’d, sweltering humidity of Miami to the bleeding scarlet and gold of the United States Marine Corps. I ask myself, these days, what is Ayiti? What makes me Ayisyen aside from my bloodline? What is it that makes us all Ayisyen? I am sitting here watching a documentary on the Egyptian revolution. I am observing how the layers of the Egyptian culture, that are usually opposed, came together to change the future; wondering what is it that binds Ayisyen to each other.

We are a culture that sprang forth from the soil of a crossroads soaked in blood and cruelty. Out of that we have created something so beautiful that when I let my mind steep in it, tears well up in gratitude for those that came before and what they left for me: a vibrant, soulful, warrior people. When I am in Ayiti, I am content. When I am not, I experience moments of giddiness when I recognize other Ayisyen. But, what makes us what we are? I’m not asking about historical events. I’m talking about our true essence. The metaphysical definition of our people, from Kap Ayisyen to Jeremi.

 I know that we are a people born of many cultures bound together by the glue of our African heritage. I know of the many battles we have fought. I know of the many injustices we have endured. But is that all we are? A sequence of events? We are more than that. There is something deep that draws us to flow together like the waves crashing against our shores. I don’t have the words for it. I don’t need words for it. It is in the rhythm of the drums of our roots. It is traced in the vèvè lines. It is shouted in the market place. It is tasted in sugarcane, mangoes, and kasav.

We are not political parties or socio-economic positions. We are so much more than that. We are a people, that to this day, continue to beat the deep sound of our hearts to a cosmic rhythm. Deeply spiritual. Powerfully social. We are a tribe of scholar-warriors. A clan of thinkers and philosophers. Dancers of the Dream. Singers of the Soul. Drummers of the colors of the human experience. In touch with the balance of our land, we live and thrive in most brutal adversity. In the grace of the women, I see visions of my mother. In the strength of the men, I see reflections of my father. In each and every voice I hear the songs of our Ancestors.

My identity is not my passport. My identity is filled with the love my mother put into every meal. My identity hangs on every word of the profound proverbs my father passed to me. My identity is deep in the roots of the mountains, in the rivers flowing down to the crystalline waters through which you can almost see Ginen anba dlo. My identity is steady in the roots of the pye zanmann. My identiy is Ayisyen. It is not bound by the colors of the flag, but by the rhythms of my life.


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