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Ethnic identities among second-generation haitian young adults in tampa bay, florida :
h [electronic resource] /
b an analysis of the reported influence of ethnic organizational involvement on disaster response after the earthquake of 2010
by Herrica Telus.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
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(M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2011.
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Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: Drawing upon 20 in-depth interviews with second generation Haitian young adults, I examined the ethnic identities and the involvement in ethnic organizations of the respondents. This study pays particular attention to how involvement in ethnic organizations influenced how the second generation Haitians believed the earthquake affected their identities and how they ultimately responded to the earthquake. Several of the findings revealed differences in how and why the respondents chose to ethnically identify such as Haitian, Haitian-American, black Haitian. The respondents' choice to join an ethnic organization was driven by different desires but the perceived influence of the organization on their ethnic identities resulted in an increase in cultural knowledge as well as an ability to stay rooted in the culture. However, the lack of participation on the part of some of the respondents was a choice dictated by conflicts of authenticity, time, and responsibilities. The comparison between involved and non-involved respondents in terms of their response to the earthquake revealed that involved respondents were more active in volunteer projects. Involvement in ethnic organizations influenced how the second generation Haitians perceived the earthquake affected their identities, and ethnic affirmation in terms of a desire to visit Haiti was expressed by involved respondents. The implications of this study revealed the importance of establishing ethnic organizations in middle and high schools in order to foster a sense of pride through knowledge at an earlier age.
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Aranda, Elizabeth M.
Ethnic Identity Development
x Sociology Ethnic Studies Organization Theory
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Ethnic Identities among Second-Generation Haitian Young Adults in Tampa Ba y, Florida: An Analysis of the Reported Influence of Ethnic Organizational In volvement on Disaster Response after the Earthquake of 2010 by Herrica Telus A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Sociology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Elizabeth M. Aranda, Ph.D. James C. Cavendish, Ph.D. Elizabeth Vaquera, Ph.D. Date of Approval: April 6, 2011 Keywords: ethnic identity development, ethnicity, significant events, ethnic affirmation, ethnic organizations Copyright 2011, Herrica Telus
Acknowledgments I would foremost like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all the infinite blessings and mercies he has bestowed upon me. I owe my deepest gratitude to Elizabeth Aranda, Jim Cavendish, and Elizabeth Vaquera, who each has provided immense encouragement, guidance, and support from the initial to the final preparation of my paper, enabling me to develop a keen understanding of my research topic. I truly appreciate their full dedication a nd expertise in helping me develop as a sociologist. Lastly, I am indebted to my many friends who have shown me a great deal of support and unbelievable encouragement. I would first like to thank Gessica Genois-Deronvil, the best roommate ever who always made sure I was writing on a full st omach or writing period. It is with pleasure that I thank both my Â“twinÂ” Sandra Franc ois and David Durand; they never let a day go by without sending me a message to check up on my progress. I would like to show gratitude to Mireille Leon for the assista nce she provided me, especially when I really felt overwhelmed. I am deeply gratef ul to Herly D. Constant, a friend with an endless supply of jokes and words of encouragement that kept me motivated when I felt like giving up. I also acknowledge the support of Tayana Saintilmar, Michaella Francois, Otis Coliny, Dianne Guerrier, JeanLuc Phanord Jr., Mike Deronvil, the department staff (Joan Jacobs and Pat Greene) and the church members at the University Church of Christ.
Table of Contents List of Tables .......................................................................................................... ii Abstract .................................................................................................................. iii Chapter One: Introduction .......................................................................................1 Chapter Two: Literature Review .............................................................................6 Ethnic Identity Development...6 Adolescent Ethnic Identity: The Role of Family, School, and ...................... Religious Participation .............................................................................8 Trajectories of Ethnic Identity during Young Adulthood ..10 Second Generation Haitian Identity .................................................. The Complexities of Ethnic Identification Influence of Significant Events on Ethnic Identity ...................................15 Influence of Ethnic Organizations on Ethnic Identity ..............................19 Ethnic Organizations on College Campuses ..................................20 Ethnic Organizations Outside of College Campuses .....................22 Chapter Three: Research Methodology .............................................................26 Background ................................................................................................26 Research Design.........................................................................................27 Interview Data ............................................................................................34 Chapter Four: Identities and Culture .....................................................................37 Overview ....................................................................................................37 The Complexities of Ethnic Identity.38 Chapter Five: Organizational/ Community Involvement ......................................52 Chapter Six Earthquake Reaction ..........................................................................64 Chapter Seven: Conclusion ....................................................................................74 References ..............................................................................................................84
List of Tables Table 1: Demographic Characteristics of Sample .................................................35
Abstract Drawing upon 20 in-depth interviews with second generation Haitian young adult s, I examined the ethnic identities and the involvement in ethnic organizations of the respondents. This study pays particular attention to how involvement in ethnic organizations influenced how the second generation Haitians believed the earthquake affected their identities and how they ultimately responded to the earthquake. Severa l of the findings revealed differences in how and why the respondents chose to ethnically identify such as Haitian, Haitian-American, black Haitian. The res pondentsÂ’ choice to join an ethnic organization was driven by different desires but the perceived inf luence of the organization on their ethnic identities resulted in an increase in cultural knowl edge as well as an ability to stay rooted in the culture. However, the lack of participat ion on the part of some of the respondents was a choice dictated by conflicts of authentici ty, time, and responsibilities. The comparison between involved and non-involved respondents in terms of their response to the earthquake revealed that involved respondents were m ore active in volunteer projects. Involvement in ethnic organizations influenced how the second generation Haitians perceived the earthquake affected their identi ties, and ethnic affirmation in terms of a desire to visit Haiti was expressed by involved re spondents. The implications of this study revealed the importance of establishing ethnic organizations in middle and high schools in order to foster a sense of pride through knowledge at an earlier age.
Chapter One: Introduction Â“IÂ’m Haitian, I used to say Haitian-American but now IÂ’m Haitian.Â” -Dana Â“ IÂ’m just now getting to know myself reallyÂ….I would identify myself as aÂ…Ha itian AmericanÂ…Â…..who sees the big difference between the American values and t he Haitian values, or should I say Caribbean values.Â” Jean According to Jean Phinney (1989), ethnic identity development is the process in which an individual achieves an understanding of what it means to be a member of an ethnic group as well as a feeling of belonging to that group. As both quotes above demonstrate, ethnic identity is a dynamic construct. Ethnic identity is multi dimensional, changes over time and context, and is achieved through the exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic group (Phinney 1990; Waters 1990). For some, the exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic group occurs during adolescence (Quintana, Castaneda-English, & Ybarra 1999) wher e factors such as family environment and school context can play influential role. While the exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic group can occur throughout oneÂ’s life span causing a fluctuation in ethnic identification, I am particularly interested in ethnic identification during the stage of young adulthood. The exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic group during young adulthood can take place in response to the diverse ethnic and racial groups one encounters in the workplace, residential neighborhood, school, religious congregations, etc. The environments in t hese particular settings are marked by a greater level of contact with people f rom different ethnic groups (Waters 1990) which can lead people to contrast oneÂ’s group (ethnic or
racial) with other groups and as a result self-identify and claim member ship with their ethnic group. A change in school environment or residential neighborhood can lead to a change in ethnic identification or an increase (decrease) in oneÂ’s associa tion and identification with their ethnic group. But this process is not limited to just a change in environment, it can also occur in response to a significant event. A significant event ca n entail a political, historical, or cultural event. Political events such as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s have resulted in the resurgence in ethnic consciousness and ethnic pride among black people (Maultby 1983). Types of significant events are natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. The aftermat h of natural disasters such as those mentioned above have the ability to spark resurgence i n ethnic pride in individuals. Several scholars have examined the influence of significa nt events on the ethnic identities of immigrants (Roehling, Hernandez, Sprik & Campell 2010; Portes & Rumbaut 2001; Nagel 1995). Generally, studies that have examined the role of significant events on ethnic identities involved prejudice and discrimination towar ds oneÂ’s ethnic group. But, must a significant event be discriminatory in order for i t to have a perceived influence on the ethnic identity of an individual? The studies on the influence of natural disasters on ethnic identities have foc used on the native individuals who experienced the disaster firsthand. Few scholars have examined how a natural disaster in the home country of an immigrant influences the lives of immigrants living abroad. More specifically, how does a natural disaster affect the lives of second generation immigrants, who are even more removed from the home country compared to the first generation? The limited studies on the influence of natural disasters on ethnic identities have focused on how significant events can influenc e the
ethnic identities of an ethnic group. But, in my quest to add to the existing literatur e on natural disasters and ethnic identities, I want to examine this relationshi p through the lens of organizational involvement. One factor that is important is the influence of ethnic organizations on the ethnic identities of second generation immigrants. Research has shown the role of ethni c organizations in helping foster ethnic pride in immigrants (Smith 2008; Foley & H oge 2007; Sidanius, Levin, Van Laar, & Sinclair 2004; Sears, Fu, Henry, & Bui 2003; Kibria 2002; Yang 1999; Ethier & Kay 1994). Involvement in ethnic organizations (e.g. campus student organizations, churches and worship centers, political organizations) for immigrants is a way to build a stronger tie to their ethnic group. For second-genera tion immigrants, worship communities can play a key role in helping strenghten ethnic identities through language preservation during worship services, fellowship wi th similar people, and preservation of cultural traditions (Foley & Hoge 2007; Yang 1999). While researchers have examined the role of those various ethnic organizations on the e thnic identities of immigrants, little is known about how immigrants foster an accept ance and internatilization of their ethnicity without the support of ethnic organizations. In addition, what role can ethnic organizations play in relation to natural disasters and ethnic identities? Is it possible that involvement (or the lack thereof) in a Haitian or ganization influenced how second generation immigrants responded (e.g. monetary donations, volunterism, relationship with family in Haiti) to the earthquake that struck on J anuray 12, 2010? It is this understanding that calls for the examination of the role perceiv ed of HaitiÂ’s earthquake on the lives of second-generation young Haitian adults. In thi s study, I
will explore the ethnic identities of second generation young Haitian adults living in Tampa, Florida. Specifically, I will demonstrate how ethnic identity deve lopment continues on into young adulthood by examining how and why the second generation young Haitian adults choose to self-identify. I will also examine what the second generation young Haitian adults I interviewed report in terms of how Hai tiÂ’s earthquake influenced their ethnic identities, family loyalties, and desires to visit or help in the relief efforts of their parentsÂ’ homeland. In addition, I will explore if involvement in ethni c organizations played a role in how these respondents talked about their responses to the earthquake. Specifically, I examined the following questions: How are second generation young Haitian adults self-identifying in terms of ethnicity? How does ethnic identification differ within this group? What fac tors do they perceive influence their ethnic self-identification? Why do second generation young Haitian adults choose to become involved in ethnic organizations? How has involvement in an ethnic organization influenced their ethnic identity? Does involvement in an ethnic organization appear to influence: 1) what they say in terms of how the earthquake has affected their ethnic identity, loyalty to fa mily, desire to visit Haiti, etc.; and 2) what they report in terms of their response to the earthquake? In order to examine my research questions I conducted in-depth interviews, exploring the ethnic identities and ethnic organizational involvement of second generation young Haitian adults. I examined how HaitiÂ’s earthquake af fected the way in which young Haitian adults talked about their ethnic identities, family loya lty, desire to
go to Haiti, etc. This study takes on a comparative approach by interviewing y oung adults involved in ethnic organizations as well as those who are not. In doing this I was able to explore the ethnic identities of both groups and gain a better understanding regarding t he importance of ethnic organizations for second generation immigrants.
Chapter Two: Literature Review Ethnic Identity Development Ethnic identification involves an application of a label to oneself through a cognitive process of self-categorization. One claims membership in a group and cr eates a contrast between oneÂ’s group or category with other groups and categories (Port es & Rumbaut 2001). Commitment, a feeling of belonging to an ethnic group, is perhaps one of the most important parts to the development of oneÂ’s ethnic identity (Phinney & Ong 2007). But, developmental models on ethnic identity point out that commitment alone does not classify an individual as having a confident, mature identity (Phinney 1993, 1989; Macia 1980). Commitment alone can be a result of identification with oneÂ’s parents or other role models, which can make self-identification a precarious l abel. An ethnic identity based on messages received by family members and the communi ty is considered an unexamined identity which is the first stage of PhinneyÂ’s pro posed three stage model of ethnic identity development (1993, 1989). In order to move past the first stage to the second stage of the model, an exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic group is necessa ry (Phinney & Ong 2007). This stage entails intense immersion in oneÂ’s culture throu gh several avenues such as reading, participating and going to cultural events and interacting with people. The second stage takes place in response to a significant experience that forces awareness of oneÂ’s ethnicity. For some it may al so involve rejection of the values of the dominant culture. The third stage of the model, achieved status, involves an individual showing evidence of exploring what their ethnicity mea ns
to them coupled with a sense of acceptance and internalization of their ethnicity as an identity. Individuals who reach this stage have achieved a secure, positive ide ntity. The three-stage model generally applies to adolescents, especially since the second stage typically occurs in the earlier years of high school partly as a result of c oncurrent advances in cognitive skills (Quintana, Castaneda-English, & Ybarra 1999). But e thnic identity development is not limited only to adolescent life. Waters (1990) contends that young adulthood is a time of ethnic fluctuation. She claims that young adulthood is marked by a greater level of contact with peopl e from different ethnic groups. It is through meeting people who are different from onese lf, particularly different in approaches to life, values, food, and personality, that oneÂ’s ethnicity becomes clearer. Self-identification and commitment are importa nt elements in the formation of a secure, mature ethnic identity; however, without exploration oneÂ’s commitment may be vulnerable and subject to changes in response to new experiences i n life. As the literature on ethnic identity illustrates, ethnic self-identific ation is a complex process that varies over time and/or by place and surroundings (Barri ngton, Herron & Silver 2003; Landale & Oropesa 2002; Kinket & Verkuyten 1997; Kvernmo & Heyerdahl 1996). More importantly, the complex process of ethnic self-identifi cation entails a multitude of experiences that impact ethnic identity. Ethnic identi fication for second generation immigrants is influenced by several factors such as fam ily context, school context, and religious context among others. And these influential factors during adolescence can have a major impact on how an individual identifies as a young adult
n Adolescent Ethnic Identity: The Role of Family, School, and Religious Participation The development of a secure, positive ethnic identity for second generation immigrants can be attributed to several factors. Previous research on the r elationship between ethnic identity and family socialization has shown a strong correla tion between family and parental practices and ethnic self-identification (Costigan & Dokis 2006; Umaa-Taylor, Bhanot, & Shin 2006; Killian & Hegtvedt 2003; Umaa-Taylor & Fine 2004 Phinney, Irma, Nava, & Huang 2001). For example, Jimnez (2004) examined the ethnic identity of children of Mexican/Non-Hispanic intermarriages or mult iethnic Mexican Americans and found that respondents who had frequent interactions with Mexican American immediate and extended family members tended to gravita te toward their Mexican American ethnicity compared to those who did not have repeate d exposure to family members with Mexican backgrounds. The study demonstrated how frequent exposure to the ethnic culture for adolescents can influence ethnic identity deve lopment. One of the ethnic groups (Armenians) examined in a study by Phinney et al. (2001) revealed a correlation between cultural maintenance and ethnic identity. In countless immigrant homes, parents work on cultural maintenance through the promotion of native language and strict gender roles (Williams, Alvarez, & Hauck 2002; Zhou & Bankston 2001; Sarroub 2001; Wolf 1997). Scholars have also explored the role of school context in helping develop the ethnic identities of second generation adolescents (Gonzlez 2009; Sabatier 2007; Jimnez 2004; Umaa-Taylor 2004). Stepick et al. (2001) examined the shifts in self-identification of Haitian youth in Miami, Florida. Results from the first part of the study showed ninth graders had difficulty labeling themselves. They were aware t hat others in
the United States frequently labeled them as Black, but the students consider ed themselves as individuals foremost. As they grew older, the adolescents began t o identify with more national, less assimilated ethnic identities depending on the racial a nd ethnic composition of the school they attended. Haitian adolescents who attended predominatel y Black schools were more likely to self-identify as either Haitian Amer icans or Haitians. In comparison, Haitian adolescents who attended predominately white schools we re more likely to adopt a mixed or African American label. Stepick et al. (2001) do not expli citly state if the different identity labels by the Haitian students were attr ibuted to how their peers referred to them. But, the representation or the underrepresentation of oneÂ’s et hnic group in a given setting such as schools can also lead to the exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic group. The school environment for adolescents, and even young children (Van Ausdale & Feagin 1996), can play a crucial role in how individuals view their ethnicity in rel ation to other ethnic groups. The ethnic diversity or the lack thereof in student populations at schools can either foster a need to affirm oneÂ’s ethnic identity or leave student s less aware of ethnic and intergroup issues. In addition to the family and school context, religious participation in an ethnic congregation can contribute to an intensification of ethnic identification in adolesc ents. Bankston and Zhou (1995) addressed the role of religious participation on the ethnic identities of Vietnamese adolescents in a heavily Catholic community in Ne w Orleans. The data drawn from a survey of Vietnamese high school students revealed that relig ious participation (frequency of church attendance) contributed to mature, secur e ethnic identities of the students. According to the authors, religious participation appear ed to link the students to the larger Vietnamese community thereby acting as a cultural
resource for individuals. Ethnic organizations such as ethnic congregations can play a vital role in helping second generation immigrants explore their ethnic group and fe el part of a community. Second generation immigrants are exposed to environments in the home, school, worship communities, etc. that can help foster secure, mature ethnic identiti es as they move into young adulthood. These different social environments help second generati on immigrants explore their ethnic identities and move away from a foreclosed (unexamined) self-identification, one in which the individual typically has an unclear understanding of the meaning and implications of their commitment to their ethnici ty (Phinney 1993). Forging a secure and mature ethnic identity for second generation immigrants can be difficult due to an unwelcoming reception by neighbors, classmates, et c. (Valdivia, Dozi, Jeanetta, Flores, Martinez, & Dannerbeck 2008; Portes & Rumbaut 2006; It zigsohn & Saucedo 2002; Stepick et al. 2001; Menjvar 1997). But, acts of prejudice and discrimination can also incite the exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic heritage and identit y (French, Seidman, Allen, & Aber 2000, 2006). While the development of an ethnic identity for adolescents is influenced by different factors, the same holds t rue for young adults. Young adults encounter different people and are placed in different environments (e.g. college campuses among others) that present opportunities for them to expl ore their ethnic identities. Trajectories of Ethnic Identity during Young Adulthood The development of an ethnic identity varies among minority groups as a result of different levels of acceptance by classmates and community members and the
availability of ethnic activities promoting oneÂ’s ethnic group in the community, et c. In an ethnographic study of urban high school adolescents (African Americans and Puerto Ricans) by Way, Santos, Niwa, and Kim-Gervey (2008) variations in the sources of adolescentsÂ’ pride in their ethnic group were found. The Puerto Rican adolescent s relied upon the Puerto Rican Pride parade for their source of pride but they were completely unaware of historical knowledge. The African American adolescents relied he avily upon the history of slavery and civil rights. Both groups demonstrated a level of comm itment to their ethnic group and had opportunities to explore their ethnicity because of community activities and the availability of information about their ethnic group Research on the trajectories of ethnic identity during adolescence suggest that ethnic identity development occurs primarily during mid-adolescence and by late adolescence individuals have essentially achieved a mature and secure ethnic identity (French, Seidman, Allen, & Aber 2006; Pahl & Way 2006; Altschul, Oyserman, & Bybee 2006). But this is not necessarily the case; the dearth of research conducted on post-adolescent individuals indicates that ethnic identity development is not primaril y a task for mid-adolescence, it continues on past adolescence. Several studies on the traj ectories of ethnic identities among college students have illustrated that college student sÂ’ ethnic identities are contextually situated and still unresolved (Syed & Azmit ia 2009). Syed, Azmitia, and Phinney (2007) conducted a longitudinal study investigating ethnic i dentity development among Latinos during the first year of college in two contexts (concentration of ethnic minorities and Latinos on campus). The ethnic identitie s of the freshman students were analyzed by examining both the change in strength of ethnic identity and change in ethnic identity status from fall to spring semester s. One of the
major findings from the study demonstrated individual shifts in ethnic identity stat us (unexamined, exploration, achievement) from fall to spring semesters. Many of t he students who had unexamined ethnic identities moved to an exploration stage and students who were in an exploration stage moved to an achieved status. Studies conducted by Syed et al. (2007) as well as other scholars (Syed 2010; Syed & Azmiti a 2009; Juang, Nguyen, & Lin; Phinney & Chavira 1992) show evidence of the development of ethnic identity past adolescence. The various social contexts that young adults encounter, such as college campuses, can influence ethnic identity developm ent. The fluctuation in ethnic identification, even in young adulthood, makes exploring the ethnic identities of second generation young Haitian adults important because i t presents an opportunity to build upon previous findings. The experiences in America for many second generation Haitians have been unwelcoming but, at the same time this groupÂ’ s experiences are multifaceted and must be explored. Second Generation Haitian Identity The experiences of second-generation Haitians during the late 1970s and early 1980s in America were plagued with blatant discrimination and prejudice. Haiti ans had a bad reputation, and stereotypes about Haitians were predominately negative ( Waters 2001, Zephir 2004, Stepick 1998). According to a study on second generation West Indians, all of the different groups described Haitians in the most terrible ways (Waters 2001). Haitians were described as not dressing well, smelling bad (Waters 2001), and being carriers of tuberculosis and AIDS (Stepick 1998). The level of harassment a nd discrimination second generation Haitians met in school was unparalleled. The hosti le
environment Haitians encountered in schools such as bullying and physical attacks m ade it difficult for some students to express their cultural roots (Stepick 1998). For some Haitians covering up oneÂ’s Haitian identity was the only plausible solution amid the unreceptive environment. Ethnic self-identification for a rare f ew was an issue of life and death, as Stepick (1998) revealed a story of a young boy who committed suicide over the revelation by classmates of his Haitian identity But for other Haitians, rather than denying their Haitian heritage they made attempts to embrace both Haitian and American cultures (Zephir 2004; Stepick 1998). The experiences of second generation immigrants today may not be as discriminatory compared to in the 1980s due to a greater sense of community among the Haitian people and a stronger presenc e of HaitiansÂ— Wyclef Jean 1 Garcelle Beauvais 2 and Edwidge Danticat 3 Â— in mainstream society (Zephir 2004). However, for the millions of second-generation Haitian youn g adults who grew up in such hostile conditions, forming a secure and mature ethnic identity was difficult (Pierre-Louis 2006; Zephir 2001). For Haitian youth who mi ght have been exposed to a hostile environment at school and/or neighborhood, a reluctance to self-identify as Haitian may result from such interactions. Hostile and w elcoming experiences by Haitian youth can play a crucial role in how they identify i n young adulthood. Because of adolescent experiences, an examination of ethnic identities of young Haitian adults can provide important information on how these experiences influenced how they presently ethnically identify. Wyclef Jean is a popular musician who first received fame as a member of the hip-hop group Fugees. Garcelle Beauvais is a model and actress who played on a popular sitcom The Jamie Foxx Show. Edwidge Danticat is an acclaimed author and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Brother, IÂ’m Dying.
The Complexities of Ethnic Identification The complexity of ethnic identification is one of many themes explored by Kasinitz, Mollenkopf, Waters, and Holdaway (2008) in Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age which looked at children of immigrants in New York City. This research provided an in-depth and unique perspective on how second generation young adults racially and ethnically identified. The complexity of racia l and ethnic identification was marked by immigrant parentsÂ’ origins, birthplace, rac e and proximal hostÂ—the racial category that immigrants approximate following immigra tion (for example the American Jewish community is the proximal host to Israeli im migrants) (Mittelberg & Waters 1992). In the study, the respondents had to grapple with Ameri can racial and ethnic groupings imposed upon them and decide whether to distance oneself from the label. For example, many South Americans and Dominicans found themselve s struggling to decide whether to identify with or distance themselves from Puerto Ricans. WatersÂ’ (2001) examination of black identities found that West Indian blacks with a significant African heritage were taking on a national identity in hopes of disa ssociating from the negative stereotypes associated with African Americans. In attempts to develop a secure ethnic identity, certain ethnic groups adopted a pan-ethnic identity rather than the identity of their proximal host which is at times associated with negativ e stereotypes. For example, Dominicans may decide to adopt a Latino identity rather than identif ying with their proximal host Puerto Ricans, or Haitians/Jamaicans can adopt a We st Indian/Caribbean identity rather than identifying with their proximal host African Americans.
FelicianoÂ’s (2009) research on education and ethnic identity formation among children of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants found nearly half of the respondents changed ethnic self-labels from adolescence to early adulthood. Adol escents who identified in plain American or racial/pan-ethnic terms shifted their identities the most, often towards using hyphenated labels as adults. For example, pan-ethnic ter ms such as black, Latino, or Hispanic were shifting to hyphenated identities whic h typically referred to their own or their parentsÂ’ home countries in conjunction with an Ame rican identity: Cuban-American, Jamaican-American, and Dominican-American Feliciano also examined predicators of ethnic identity in early adulthoodÂ—ethnic identity during adolescence, demographic characteristics, life experiences, and educationa l attainment. Such factors are important in determining how an adolescent will self-identi fy in early adulthood. While these factors are important, shifts in ethnic self-labels can als o be attributed to other factors such as a significant experience. FelicianoÂ’s st udy illustrates that shifts in ethnic identification can occur in young adulthood and Phinney and Ong (2007) point out that exploration of oneÂ’s ethnicity takes place in response to a signif icant experience. So, with respect to a significant event like HaitiÂ’s earthquake is it possible that there was a change in status (unexamined, exploration, achieved) of ethnic ide ntity among second generation young Haitian adults? Influence of Significant Events on Ethnic Identity Historically, many studies illustrate the shifting and emerging identi ties of different ethnic groups (Feliciano 2009; Min & Kim 2005; Jimnez 2004; Stepick 2001 Kibra 2000; Waters 2001; Hinojosa 1997; Nagel 1995; Espiritu 1992; Waters 1990). More interesting is the shift or renewal of an individualÂ’s ethnic identity in response to
significant events, whether political, historical, or cultural. The fluidity of ethnic identities allows for second generation young adults to explore or even re-e xamine their ethnic identities in response to a significant event in oneÂ’s life. The resurgence of importance of oneÂ’s culture has been seen in several ethnic and racial groups in America. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, for instance, African Americans experienced a resurgence of ethnic consciousnes s and ethnic pride. Slogans such as Â“IÂ’m Black and IÂ’m ProudÂ” became popular among the Black community (Maultsby 1983). The resurgence of American Indian ethnic identity du ring the 1970s and 1980s was strongly attributed to the activism during the Red Power Movement (Nagel 1995). In California in 1994 a significant event occurred, the passi ng of Proposition 187 which proposed to deny public benefits to undocumented immigrants. In reaction to the measure, Mexican immigrants as well as other immigra nts around the U.S. joined together forming an anti-187 movement and asserting an ethnic identit y that may or may not have existed in response to the hostile environment (Portes & Rumbaut 2001). Natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes c an also be considered significant events. Research on how communities cope with the aftermath of natural disasters has shown a difference in coping methods of diff erent ethnic groups (Fothergill, Maestas, & Darlington 1999; Davis 1986; Puller; 1992) DavisÂ’ (1986) study on two villages (Kaguyak and Old Harbor) on Kodiak Island that suffered an earthquake and two subsequent tsunamis found that as a result of the rehabilitation agents and processes offered to the villagers there was a n enhanced sense of ethnic identity. Also, in both villages, the disaster led to a reaffirmation, an a ssertion of
religious identities that already existed. In the case of the earthquake tha t struck Haiti, is it possible that the natural disaster had an influence of the ethnic identities of second generation young adults in the U.S.? Scholars describe the heightened awareness of ethnic identities by ra cial and ethnic groups during certain periods in history, particularly the 1960s and 1970s, as ethnic revival (Jacobson 2006; Fisherman 1986). In Roots Too Jacobson (2006) described how certain white groups in America-the Jews, Irish, Italians -were rediscovering their ethnic heritage and forging a new sense of identity. Et hnic revival is one way to describe the drive for a specific ethnic group to learn about their own cult ure (Jacobson 2006; Fisherman 1986). Nagel (1995) proposed the resurgence of American Indian ethnic identity during the 1970s and 1980s as ethnic renewal. Nagel describes ethnic renewal to be marked by the Â“reconstruction of oneÂ’s ethnic identity by reclaiming a discarded identit y, replacing or amending an identity in an existing ethnic identity repertoire, or filling a personal ethnic voidÂ” (Nagel 1995: 947). Ethnic renewal can occur in two different ways: a) resurgence in ethnic pride which does not involve taking on a new ethnic identity but rather a reaffirmation, reconstruction, or redefinition of an individualÂ’s ethnicity, or; b) resurgence in ethnic pride involves an individual self actually identifying wi th the ethnic group (Nagel 1995). The definition of ethnic renewal allows for a comprehensive approach to understandin g the reconstruction of oneÂ’s ethnic identity. However, the two definitions used to characterize ethnic renewal by Nagel are problematic because they a ssume that ethnic
n pride within an individual was lost at one point and later recovered. How can we explain individuals who never explored their ethnic identity or individuals who possess ethnic pride and see it intensify after a significant event? NagelÂ’s definiti on of ethnic renewal excludes both these types of individuals mentioned above. Resurgence in ethnic pride or reaffirmation in oneÂ’s ethnic identity assumes an individual possessed a cultural connection prior to the significant event. If a connection was not established prior to the significant event then one could say exploration is taking place in response to the event. According to Phinney, individuals who have not explored their ethnic identity are in an unexamined stage and a marked experience can spark an individual to move to the exploration stage of the model. The exploration stage of the model which entails an intense immersion in oneÂ’s culture could be seen as a satisfactory substitution for the definition of ethnic renewal that captures the response of individuals to a signifi cant event. However, exploration typically occurs in adolescence in response to act s of prejudice and discrimination and a continual process of examining oneÂ’s ethnic identit y persists through young adulthood. The exploration definition, too, falls short because it is a developmental model that focuses on identity formation rather than on how people respond to identity challenges. More importantly, the use of exploration as a substi tute does not take into account individuals who are already exploring their ethnic heritag e and individuals with a secure ethnic identity. Both definitions for ethnic renewal and exploration do not allow for an all encompassing definition of an individualÂ’s respons e to, for example, a significant event. The concept of ethnic affirmation e ncompasses both an assertion in ethnic pride which can involve taking on a new ethnic identification or an intensified feeling of belonging to oneÂ’s ethnic group and a change in ethnic i dentity
status (unexamined, exploration, achieved). In short, this concept can serve as a bridge between PhinneyÂ’s exploration and NagelÂ’s ethnic renewal. Ethnic identification among second generation young adults can be complex and fluctuate as a result of different experiences and often dictated by st ages in oneÂ’s life. As several scholars point out, the college experience can play a crucial role in hel ping second generation young adults develop a mature ethnic identity (Kibria 2002; Levi tt & Waters 2002). For example, one of the respondents in Kazinitz et al. (2008) study revealed she was half Dominican and half Chinese but identified more with the Chinese side ever since she was exposed to an Asian film in college. Specifically, the rol e of ethnic organizations on college campuses for second generation young adults can provide a stepping stone for those who have not explored their ethnicity in-depth. However, the influential role of ethnic organizations can also be found outside of college campuses, from local ethnic community organizations to religious organizations. Influence of Ethnic Organizations on Ethnic Identity Participation in ethnic organizations has long been a crucial aspect in the lives of immigrants. Since the pre-World War I, European immigrants that came to the United States from Poland, Ireland, Italy, Greece, etc., formed organizations a nd mutual aid societies in order to keep their cultures alive while away from their homelands ( Portes & Rumbaut 2006). Alba recognized that, Â“Avowedly ethnic organizations presumably come into being to service ethnic purposes, which frequently include the preservation of et hnic identities and cultures and the representation of ethnic interestsÂ” (1990: 239). Studie s on mutual aid societies and hometown associations illustrate the importance of bei ng a part of an organization in the lives of immigrants (Smith 2008; Smith 2006; Greenbaum 2002)
and in particular second generation immigrants (Sidanius, Levin, Van Laer, & Si nclair 2004; Saylor & Aries 1999; Espiritu 1994; Ethier & Deux 1994). Ethnic Organizations on College Campuses Espiritu (1994) acknowledges that supportive institutions such as ethnic clubs, ethnic studies programs, and affirmative action services play crucial roles i n the process of ethnic identification. Involvement in ethnic organizations allows individuals who wer e once unaware of their ethnicity an opportunity to claim their cultural roots. Accor ding to Crocker and Major (1989) the formation of support groups with similar stigmatized peers, allows minorities to focus on their own positive characteristics and transf orm Â“the Â‘stigmaÂ’ from a drawback to an assetÂ” (p. 622). As Espiritu points out, institutions such as ethnic clubs, which are typically found on college campuses can play crucial roles in the lives of young adults. Inkela s (2004) examined the relationship between Asian Pacific American (APA) undergra duate involvement in Asian ethnically focused student clubs/organizations and studentsÂ’ awareness and understanding of Asian Pacific American community interest s. Using secondary data collected from 1990 to 1994, surveys in four separate waves, the authors followed the class of 1994 from their freshman year to senior. The first wave of t he survey was administered to all incoming freshman and the next three survey wa ves were administered to all students of color in the class of 1994 as well as a large repr esentative sample of White/Caucasian students from the entire campus population. A sample of 184 APA senior students agreed that they gained awareness and understanding of Asi an Pacific issues after four years of college in comparison to Whites (30%) and Hispanic/Latino (38%), but African American students had a stronger perception ( 81%).
The study revealed that participation in ethnic clubs or even diversity-rela ted activities (significantly intergroup dialogues and various heritage month activities) inc reased awareness and understanding of Asian American issues and interests. Sidanius et al. (2004) explored ethnic organizational membership and levels of ethnic identity am ong white and minority students (Asian, Latino, Black). The data consisted of a fivewave study that began in the summer of 1996 at the freshman orientation program and ended the spring of 2000. While the first wave of the study used written questionnaires, al l subsequent waves of the study were conducted by telephone interview. Some of the questions posed in the questionnaire consisted of the kinds of courses taken each year, the campus organizations they belonged to, and the nature of the extracurricular activi ties they were most actively involved in. An important aspect to this study was the examination of two particular types of student organizations: minority ethnic organizations (e.g. African Student Union, United Cambodian Students) and Greek organizations (e.g. fraternities and sororities). Results from the study re vealed that membership in ethnically oriented student organizations among minorities further increased their ethnic identity and their drive to be politically active on beha lf of the ethnic group. On the other hand, Greek organizational membership for White students increased their identification with the university as an institution, but it als o increased their opposition to an ethnically diverse campus and their belief that ethnic organizat ions promote separatism. Both of the studies discussed above illustrate the role ethnic organizations on college campuses can have in helping to foster young adultsÂ’ ethnic identities. These longitudinal studies also demonstrate how ethnic organizati ons can act as avenues for ethnic identity development for young adults regardless of w hat stage they
are at in life. It cannot be expected that all the freshman students entered college with an unexamined ethnic identity, so ethnic organizations can help students who have not examined their ethnic identity become more aware of their ethnic group and move forward to the exploration stage. And for students who are in the exploration stag e, it can help them achieve a mature, secure ethnic identity. Ethnic Organizations Outside of College Campuses The college campus is an optimum place for young adults to explore and forge a stronger connection to oneÂ’s ethnic group. The availability of ethnic studies progr ams, ethnic organizations and activities promote cultural awareness for minorit y students in an enclosed space. Ethnic organizations outside of college campuses which cater t o a specific ethnic group and promote cultural awareness are less exclusive t han college ethnic organizations; they also provide an opportunity for the exploration and maintenance of the ethnic culture with individuals of a heterogeneous mixture, diff erent immigrant statuses (1 st generation, 1.5 generation, and 2 nd generation immigrants), socioeconomic status, and education level. For example, Smith (2004) explored how membership in Irish organizations contributed to the maintenance of ethnic identi ties in members of 10 of the 11 Irish organizations in Savannah, Georgia, ranging in ages of 23-85. Interviews with the members of the Irish organizations revealed the signi ficant role the organization played in maintaining the ethnic identity of the members. One of t he respondents, a 69-year old man, expressed the benefits of having a range of ages in the organization, Â“when you become a memberÂ—and one of the thrilling things about it is some of the older guysÂ—that you finally get to sit with them and listen to them Â—you wouldnÂ’t be associated with them otherwiseÂ” (pg. 66). In addition, as Smith state s, Â“these
organizations provide a means of perpetuating friendship, neighborhood, church, school and family connections, and serve to inculcate Irish identity in succeeding g enerations as men and women recruit their sons and daughters and nephews and nieces to these groupsÂ” (Smith 2008: 69). While ethnic college campuses do provide means of building friendships, ethnic organizations situated in communities serve ethnic groups b y building a sense of community with others and setting a precedent for successive gener ations to follow. Religious organizations that cater to a specific ethnic group are of p articular interest because maintenance of a strong ethnic tie can also be facilita ted by these types of ethnic organizations. In studying second generation immigrants, religious organizations are of importance because they provide a great avenue for this group to stay connected to their cultural roots (Bankston & Zhou 1995). According to Marty (1972: 9), Â“ethnicity is the skeleton of religion in America .Â” How ethnic groups self-identify religiously and ethnically in the United Sta tes is at times inseparable. Greeley states: A more fruitful way of viewing the situation is to acknowledge that rel igion and ethnicity are intertwined, that religion plays an ethnic function in A merican society and ethnicity has powerful religious overtones (Greely 1971: 82) Religious organizations, such as churches, worship centers, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc., serve as both avenues to learn about mainstream culture and support f or preserving traditional culture (Yang 1999). For second generation immigrants who a re faced with pressures to assimilate into mainstream society (Portes & Rumbaut 2006), the upkeep of the original language, customs, and values by religious organizations ca n serve important functions such as cultural preservation.
Min and Kim (2005) examined Korean Protestant immigrants in the United States and the extent to which this group transmitted their religion and cultural t raditions through religion. The study, based on a survey of 1.5 and 2 nd generation Korean adults and a survey of Korean Englishlanguage congregations in the New York-New Jers ey metropolitan area, revealed the transmission of Korean traditions was not taking place due to the congregationsÂ’ almost entire elimination of Korean cultural components during worship. Interestingly, Foley and Hoge (2004) who studied the role of local worship communities in the lives of new immigrants found that worship centers that were more ethnically mixed were more likely to promote markers of ethnic identity. For e xample, the African churches, multiethnic churches and parishes sponsored more events celebrating the ethnic heritages of its members. While homogenous schools acc ording to Stepick (1998) promote ethnic identity, heterogeneous churches seem to do the same. But, a possible key difference between heterogeneous churches and homogenous schools is the promotion of different ethnic heritages. As the literature points out ethnic organizations can play vital roles for second generation immigrants who are atte mpting to maintain strong ties to their cultural roots. More importantly, they can serve a s links to a larger community of people who are a part of oneÂ’s ethnic group. This organizational li nk for members in hopeless moments such as HaitiÂ’s earthquake can serve as a ce ntral point for much needed information on how and where one can go to help with the relief effo rts. The purpose of my study is to explore the ethnic identities among second generation Haitian young adults in relationship to involvement in ethnic organizations and a significant event such as HaitiÂ’s earthquake. Based on the literature, invol vement in ethnic organizations can positively influence the ethnic identities of second g eneration
immigrants by helping them preserve their culture. Also, significant ev ents can enhance a sense of ethnic identity, or form one where there is none, among the groups affec ted. Based on this information I will address three central questions: How do sec ond generation young Haitian adults identify and what factors appear to inf luence their self identification? What factors are reported to influence the desires of second generation Haitians to join an ethnic organization and how does their involvement influence their ethnic identity? Lastly, how does involvement in an ethnic organization appear to influence how they view their ethnic identity, family relations in Haiti, desir e to go to Haiti, and response to helping with relief efforts after the earthquake.
Chapter Three: Research Methodology Background For the past six years I have been a member of a student Haitian organization a t the Florida University called Konbit Lakay (KL). The purpose of KL is to dispel the negative myths about Haiti and its people through cultural events and meetings. All of KLÂ’s events and meetings are open to the public. Members and non-member are educate d about the history and beauty of the country through all types of events. Events such as the Miss Haiti Pageant help inform Haitians as well as non-Haitians about the dy namic personalities of Haitian women and educate the people in attendance about the diffe rent cities of Haiti and different aspects of HaitiÂ’s culture. The impact of the or ganization on the ethnic identities of the members has always been an intriguing aspect to me. As a Haitian-American who grew up in an ethnic enclave surrounded by Haitian immi grants and attended a church with a predominately Haitian population, I always knew I was Haitian but I never felt I knew enough about my culture. My involvement in Konbit Lakay for the past six years has allowed me to increase my knowledge about the Haitian culture immensely and because of my tenure in the organization I have witnes sed the growth in knowledge of the Haitian culture occur for countless members. After t he earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12 th 2010, my interest in this topic grew even more. As I volunteered during the relief efforts for Haiti, I could not help but notice an increase in new faces at certain organizations to which I frequently donat ed my time tutoring and packaging items to send to Haiti. Such an observation was expected because
the devastation that struck Haiti stirred many Haitians and non-Haitians to ta ke action and help out in some way. During my conversations with second-generation Haitia ns during my volunteer activities, the topic of wanting to helping Haiti and even go to Ha iti to help with the relief efforts kept coming up. Many expressed a need to reconnect to the country of Haiti and/or to their Haitian roots. I was hearing these sentiment s from individuals who were involved in Haitian organizations as well as individuals who were not. As I reflected on the comments that were being made, I wondered how my involvement in a Haitian organization influenced my level of response to the earthquake I wondered if I would have been as involved if I was not affiliated with KL. It was through this thought process that I decided I wanted to learn more about how second-generation immigrants were reacting to the earthquake. Research Design For my study I utilized in-depth interviews. The data for this study were de rived from digitally recorded interviews with 20 second-generation Haitian young adul ts (ages 18-30) in the Tampa Bay area. The duration of the interviews ranged from an hour to two and half hours. The study was limited to second generation Haitian immigrant men and women. Participants had to have at least one parent who was born in Haiti and they themselves had to have been born and/or raised in the United States. If the individual wa s born in Haiti, they had to have migrated to the United States before the age of 7. Other scholars have used different ages of arrival in the U.S. to define who is consider ed a second-generation immigrant in America. Ellis and Goodwin-White (2006) define immigrant children who migrated by the age of 10 as second-generation. As for Portes and Alba, (1993) children who migrated by the age of 12 are considered to be second
n generation immigrants. I use age 7 to define second-generation immigrants because formal schooling in America starts at the age of 6 years old for children. Si nce several of the interview questions comprised of asking information about participantsÂ’ chil dhood experiences (e.g. elementary, middle, and high school experiences), formal schooling in the U.S. was necessary. In addition, I did not want to include individuals who experienced issues learning the English language and fitting in once they ent ered the school system in the U.S. My definition allows me to examine participants who shar e the same experiences as second-generation immigrants on the level of Â“secondar y socializationÂ” in the United States (i.e. school, peers, and the mass media) (Bar tolomeo 2009). In addition to the birthplace criteria, I also recruited respondents who were currently members of a Haitian organization and respondents who were not members of a Haitian organization in order to better understand how both groups responded to the earthquake. For this study, Haitian organizations consisted of an organization that promoted and/or educated their members about their Haitian culture through music, foods, dance, etc. This included cultural, political organizations and Haitian churc hes in the Tampa Bay community. I used a sample of convenience in order to recruit respondents for my study who were involved in a Haitian organization. Due to my involvement in the Haitian organization, my position as the interviewer may have influenced the respondentsÂ’ responses. But, it also allowed me access to the study Â’s population. I recruited individuals who attended the general body meetings, cultural events, religious services, and rallies put on by the organization or church they we re a part of on a regular basis (several meetings and events a month). Respondents labe led
non-members are comprised of individuals who had never been a member of Haitian organization as well as individuals who have been members of a Haitian organization in the past. I used a snowball sampling method in order to recruit these participants Most of the participants in this study were recruited through the referrals made b y people who knew of individuals who met the criteria of being a second generation Haitian young adult and who were between the ages of 18 and 30 (Biernacki & Waldorf 1981). This method was most helpful because, outside of the KL organization, the only place one ca n find an aggregate of second-generation Haitians at a given place in Tampa is on Sunda y at churches with a significant Haitian membership. Since I do not attend a Hai tian congregation, this method allowed me to get in contact with individuals that potentia lly would have been difficult to find on my own. Information about respondentsÂ’ involvement level was obtained during the interviews. Interviews were utilized in order to allow for a better understanding of how individuals define and redefine their ethnic identities. In order to understand if when, and why ethnic changes occur, one needs to listen to peopleÂ’s own interpretation, defini tions, and perceptions of their ethnic experiences. Rather than using a survey with limit ed categories, I utilized in depth interviews because they allow the resear cher to capture the voices of people. By implementing this research method, I bypassed the limi tations to written questions where penmanship can be problematic and probing is impossible (Patton 2002). In-depth interviews allow the researcher to gather participants Â’ perspective on an issue and probe about a variety of things that may or may not be a part of the questionnaire. The interviews allowed me to listen to the stories of my part icipants and
gain a better understanding of how they interpret, define, and perceive their mult ifaceted ethnic experiences. The interviews were conducted from a list of open-ended questions. Even though I had this list, interviews resembled a conversational format. Questions prob ed background information about the participants, such as where they were raised, respondentsÂ’ relationship with parent (s), and linguistic preferences. These quest ions were posed in order to gather information that would allow the researcher to put the participantsÂ’ experiences as young adults into context. Gathering these da ta was based on the assumption that the historical and cultural context in which each participant was raised played a major factor in understanding their experiences. Moreover, the experiences of the participants during adolescence allowed me to better unde rstand their young adult life (LeCompte & Schensul 1999). I asked questions about adolescent life, for example: Â“Describe in detail the middle school you attended.Â” I probed for information on the schoolÂ’s makeup (public/private, racial/ethnic composition, geographical location). I aske d questions about participantsÂ’ adolescent identities; for example, Â“How did you identify in middl e school,Â” and Â“Describe your circle of friends in middle school.Â” Also, questions were aske d about their experiences as Haitian students in their schools and in their neighborhoods w ith respect to treatment by students based on their ethnic identity. The same questi ons were asked about experiences in high school as well. The questions on adolescent identity we re asked to better understand how adolescent experiences influenced the development of ethnic identity in transition to young adulthood.
The young adult identity questions provided a range of information about the participants. Questions relating to young adult identity were as follows: Â“ How would you identify yourself?Â” Â“Do you attend events around the community or outside the community promoting the Haitian culture?Â” and Â“Do you speak Creole with your friends?Â” These questions were asked in order to reveal how the participants identi fied themselves ethnically and how they expressed their ethnic identity on a dail y basis. Specific questions within the section on young adult identity addressed organiza tional participation, particularly in Haitian organizations. Questions such as, Â“Are y ou involved with any associations, organizations, etc.? What are their names? How long di d you belong? Why did you join?Â” And, Â“Are you involved with any associations or organizations that promote the Haitian culture in some way? How long have you been involved? Why did you join? If no, why not? Did you belong in earlier years?Â” I al so asked questions about the racial/ethnic composition of the church they attend and the reasons why the respondents do or do not attend a Haitian church. These questions were asked to find out if participants were affiliated with any organizations, how long they have been involved, provide the information needed to compare participants based on participation in Haitian organizations and help answer the major research quest ions. Most of the questions in the section on young adult identity were also used to determine if there was a shift in identity after the earthquake. The que stions that were posed to the participants in reference to their identities are as follows: Â“Ar e there aspects of the Haitian culture that you embrace? Has this always been that way? Are there aspects that you reject? Why? Has this always been the case?Â” Lastl y, questions were
asked about participantsÂ’ reaction to the earthquake and involvement with Haiti reli ef organizations. The questions relating to participantsÂ’ reaction to the earthquake were for example, Â“Do you have friends/family/business connections in Haiti?Â” Â“If y es, how often to you speak to them?Â” and Â“Do you send money or any types of things to them?Â” Â“How often?Â” Â“If not, why not?Â” Â“Have you taken on any responsibilities for family m embers or friends?Â” Respondents were also asked, Â“Did you make any monetary donations to any organizations?Â” Â“Which ones?Â” Â“Did you have a preference?Â” Â“If no, why not?Â” Â“ Did you donate other things?Â” And Â“Did you volunteer for any organizations helping with the relief effort since the earthquake?Â” Â“If yes, which one(s)?Â” Â“How long?Â” Â“ What did you do?Â” Â“If no, what prevented you from volunteering?Â” Â“Are you currently volunteeri ng now?Â” Questions from this section were asked in order to gain insight into part icipantsÂ’ behavior before and after the earthquake. Also, questions from the Â“earthquake react ionÂ” section were posed to participants in order to find out if the extent to which they hel ped out with the relief effort in the U.S. or in Haiti was mediated by past trips to the country, and/or family or organizational connections? As a second-generation Haitian young adult who has familial ties to the co untry of Haiti and an involved member in a Haitian organization, I was particularly i nterested in learning more about the relationship between the significant event, the eart hquake, and second-generation HaitiansÂ’ ethnic identities. My own volunteer experience with the relief efforts and informal conversations with other Haitians in the community revealed an eagerness by many individuals to gain a deeper connection to Haiti and learn more about family members and the Haitian culture. My personal and cultural experie nces
granted me an opportunity to illuminate the lives of second-generation Haitian youn g adults by presenting their shared and unique experiences and show the importance o f their experiences using my sociological lens as a guide (Hill Collins 1986 ). My own background as a second generation Haitian young adult gained me access to this group and the ability to not be viewed as an outsider. In fact on several occasions throughout interviews, participants would attempt to bypass Â“understoodÂ” information becaus e of my background. Whenever this happened I encouraged the participants to elaborate on their comments even if I did believe I knew what they were implying. My involvement in the Haitian organization granted me easy access to a huge pool of second-generation young adults. However, due to my extensive involvement (I have held several positions on the Executive Board of KL) and close personal ties to a number of members in the KL organization, I deemed it necessary to branch out of this group in order to conduct this study. I obtained referrals from several members of t he KL organization and individuals I knew casually, some of whom are members of a Haitian congregation in the Tampa area. After receiving the contact information of my pot ential participants, I contacted them all by phone to set up the interviews. Before set ting up an interview, I reiterated the purpose of my study, provided each participant wit h a thorough overview of the interview process, and asked them if they had any questions. If the participant still agreed to be a part of the study an interview was scheduled at their earliest convenience. Interviews took place at several locations; some were conducted in the Soci ology Department patio area, and a few interviews were conducted at my residence or t he residence of the participant. The data collection of 20 interviews took place between
September 9 th and October 31 st 2010. The interviews were transcribed verbatim with the omission of verbal fillers (e.g. Â“um,Â” Â“you knowÂ”), as well as false sentence st arts that are common in speech. The interviews were conducted in English, but Haitian Creole was sporadically spoken throughout the interviews by some of the participants. Respondents would name the types of Haitian foods they liked in Haitian Creole as well as when reiterating the aphorisms by their parents growing up. The translation of Haitian Creole to English was done by me. The data were coded by hand using general themes of intere st, some which were the influence of Haitian organizations on religion, ethnic ide ntity, young adult identity, etc. Interview Data The study consisted of 20 respondents (10 females, 10 males) ranging from the age of 18 to 30 years old. Most of the respondents were in their mid-20s. Several of the respondents were currently enrolled at a college ranging from freshman to se nior status. Two of the male respondents were in graduate school. At the time of the intervie ws all of the respondents held a degree higher than a high school diploma except for one of the male respondents; all were single except for two of the female respondents who are married (See Table 1). As for involvement in a Haitian organization, 10 of the respondents were currently involved in a Haitian organization while the other 10 were not members of a Haitian organization. Most of the respondents have been a member of their respect ive Haitian organization for about a year or more. Two of the respondents who I categ orize as being involved in a Haitian organization are members of a local Haitian church i n the
Tampa community called L'eglise de Dieu de la Foi 4 The respondents have been attending the church for more than ten years. Aside from the Haitian church membership of the two respondents, all of the other organizational respondents are members of a Haitian student organizati on (Konbit Lakay and Gason Vanyan: Home Community and Valiant Men). The non-organizational respondents were not currently members of a Haitian organization but some of the respondents were involved in non-Haitian organizations. Table 1. Demographic Characteristics of Sample Age Gender Occupation Marital Status Education Organization Anne (KL) 20 Female Student Single Sophomore Ashley (KL) 18 Female Student Single Freshman Isabelle (church) 23 Female Student Single Junior Michelle (KL) 21 Female Student Single Senior Rose (KL) 22 Female Student Single Senior Jada (church) 28 Female Healthcare Manager Married Technical School Isaiah (KL) 25 Male Construction worker Single 1 yr of college Fritz (KL/church) 23 Male Student/Sales Acct Manager Single Senior Rick Ross (KL) 19 Male Student Single Sophomore Samuel (KL) 26 Male Graduate Student Single B.B.A NonOrganization Dana 30 Female Registered Nurse Single BSN, RN Daphnie 22 Female Student Single Bachelors (Finance) Ivy 19 Female Student Single Junior 4 For the purpose of maintaining anonymity, all name s and identities were changed.
Jenny 28 Female Case Manager Married M.S.W Danny 28 Male Accountant Single Bachelors (Accounting) Leslie 25 Male Graduate Student Single Bachelors (Civil Eng.) Jean 25 Male Student/Admin. Clerk Single Junior Marc 26 Male Student Single Sophomore Timothy 27 Male Student Single Bachelors (Finance) Tony 24 Male Student Single Sophomore
Chapter Four: Identities and Culture Overview Research has shown that ethnic identity development can continue into young adulthood (Azmitia 2009; Syed et al. 2007; Syed &; Juang et al. 2006). For young adults, ethnic organizations can play a key role in helping individuals re-connect or stay connected to their cultural roots (Espiritu 1994). Second generation immigrants ma y choose to participate in ethnic student organizations or attend ethnic churches tha t promote their culture in hopes of learning about cultural origins or staying r ooted in the cultural practices (Altman et al. 2010; Min & Kim 2005; Inkelas 2004; Sidanius 2004; Bankston & Zhou 1995). While in college this same group may also join an ethnic student organization in order to find out more about their cultural roots. However, as my study will show the experiences of Haitian young adults vary due to their expe riences growing up which influenced their young adult lives as well as their knowledge of t he Haitian culture. A significant moment in a second generation Haitian young adult life such as HaitiÂ’s earthquake can serve as an impetus to strengthen oneÂ’s connecti on to the Haitian culture and Haiti (Nagel 1994; Davis 1986). Using the in-depth interviews I conducted in fall 2010, I will discuss three main themes that emerged from this stud y. First, I will focus on how second generation young Haitian adults identify in ethni c terms. I will explore the complexities of the second generation respondentsÂ’ ethni c identities with respect to the differentiations in self-identification and the factors tha t influence how they self-identify. Secondly, I will discuss why the respondents chose to bec ome
n members of a Haitian organization and how they perceive their involvement has influenced their ethnic identity. Lastly, I will explore if involvement in an e thnic organization influenced how the respondents perceived the earthquake affected their ethnic identity, loyalty to family, and desire to visit Haiti, as well as the nature of their response to the earthquake itself (volunteerism, monetary donations). The Complexities of Ethnic Identity Many first generation immigrants are emigrating from nation-state s that have strong national identities (Portes & Rumbaut 2006). First generation immigr ants come to America with strong ethnic identities and holdfast to these identities. Howe ver, the children of immigrants are placed in the middle of two cultures (mainstream cul ture and their parent(s)Â’ culture) which allow them to identify in a myriad of way (Kasinitz et al. 2008). In this section, I will present the complexities of ethnic identity express ed by the respondents. How the respondents self-identified was influenced by several fac tors such as the level of connection to the Haitian culture and ethnic labels by outsiders All but one of the respondents was born in the United States but interestingly oneÂ’s connection to an ethnic group was more important than oneÂ’s place of birth when examining the ethnic identities of some of the respondents. With regards to the respondents who identified as Haitian-American, a strong connection to the Haitian culture played a g reater role in ethnic identification than place of birth (U.S.A). In order to find out how the respondents identified I asked the question, Â“How do you identify yourself?Â” One of the respondents Fritz, a 23-year old male college student answered the identity question by sa ying: I identify myself as a Haitian-American, IÂ’m Haitia n first and then AmericanÂ….soÂ….what I mean IÂ’m Haitian first is thatÂ…I speak Creole, born from two Haitian parentsÂ….I love the culture, I love some of the aspects, not most but some of the thing s that we do as a culture. My last name is
Joseph that says it all, IÂ’m Joseph that means IÂ’m Haitian. IÂ’m not no American, the only reason why IÂ’m American cause I was born here, If my paren ts didnÂ’t make that decision to come to America IÂ’d be a Haitian citizen, IÂ’m Haitian first and then IÂ’m American, I see myself as someone that loves some of the culture aspects. FritzÂ’s hyphenated identity was influenced more strongly by his connection with the Haitian culture in comparison to the American culture. He claims a HaitianAmerican identity; however, his only connection to the American identity was based solel y on his birthplace. FritzÂ’s connection to the Haitian identity was much stronger and played a major role in how he ethnically identified. He listed several cultural as pects that connected him to the Haitian culture such as his common last name and his language competence. A strong connection to the Haitian culture also held true for Tim othy, a 27year old man who grew up in a migrant, farm community of South Florida with heavy Haitian and Mexican populations. He, too, adopted a Haitian-American identity but expressed that his American identity was more so representative of his bir thplace. When I asked Timothy how he identified now he responded: I find that to be a question that can be answered i n many different ways depending upon whoÂ’s askingÂ…Â…I actually identify myself asÂ…Â…Â…..( long pause )Â…Â….I would say I identify myself as a Haitian-American, second generation Haitian thatÂ’ s how I really do identify myself. ItÂ’s because I was born in the United States but pretty much rai sed in an American culture but at the same time that Haitian culture was very dominate in my life s o I have that mixture. I mean I speak the language, I know the traditions I know the history that blood of the people runs through me every single day. I have the high cheek-bones. You name i t I pretty much have it. The strong presence of the Haitian culture in TimothyÂ’s life growing up inf luenced how he ethnically identified presently. His knowledge of the Haitian culture, his l anguage competence, and the self-identified physical features that made him Haitian connected him on a deeper level to his Haitian identity in comparison to the American cult ure. It is necessary to point out that this connection to the Haitian culture that both respondents fe lt was facilitated by the environment in the home growing up. The findings from Jim nezÂ’s (2004) study on the ethnic identity of offsprings of Mexican/Non-Hispanic interm arriages
or multiethnic Mexican Americans demonstrated how frequent exposure to the ethni c culture for adolescents can influence ethnic identity development. For both Tim othy and Fritz the frequent exposure to Haitian Creole, Haitian food, and traditions growi ng up helped foster a mature Haitian Â–American identity as young adults even t hough they were surrounded by American culture. Both Timothy and Fritz were confident in expressing how they ethnically identified and in what ways they felt connected to the Haitian culture. However, t his was not always the case. As the literature points out, ethnic identity is dynamic, multidimensional, and changes over time and context. How some of the respondents ethnically identified were not influenced by birthplace or connection to the Haiti an culture, but rather it was influenced by others. Anne is a 20-year old college stude nt who grew up listening to Haitian music and watching carnival videos in her home and lived in predominately Haitian communities all her life. AnneÂ’s response to the identity question is interesting because it presents a conundrum that second generation immigr ants face in relation to ethnicity and nationality. AnneÂ’s response to my question of identity i s as follows: R: Sometimes I just be like IÂ’m Haitian, people be lik e you were born here, IÂ’m like no IÂ’m Haitian-American. Sometimes I donÂ’t know why bu t I really ( laughter ) donÂ’t feel like putting that American part ( laughter ) I : Why ? R: I donÂ’t know itÂ’s just I donÂ’t feelÂ…I just feel like IÂ’m Haitian and thatÂ’s it, I donÂ’t need to be American but IÂ’m Haitian-American I guess, I ha ve to put it that way. I: Why do you have to put it that way? R: Cause, just to not confuse people... like you were born in [Haiti], naw IÂ’m Haitian-American so it can make it easier so I donÂ’t have to expla in Â“I was born here but my parents were born in HaitiÂ”Â….or sometimes I say IÂ’m Haitian descent I: Which one do you prefer? R: Haitian I: And which one do you normally say you are? R: Haitian descent.
Anne was born in America but by identifying as Haitian, the assumption is ma de that she was born in Haiti. In order to avoid the confusion and questioning that follows whenever she identifies solely as Haitian she prefers at times to ident ify as HaitianAmerican. While Anne would prefer to identify as Haitian only, the pressure of ha ving to identify with her birthplace in relation to her ethnicity limits her ethnic opti ons. At times ethnic identification can be influenced by labels outsiders place on individuals. For example, panethnic identities such as Â“African,Â” may stem from outsidersÂ’ and t he nationÂ’s homogenization of diverse groups (Nagel 1994). On the other hand others may assert a national identity (even if they were not born in the country of origin) in order to resist outsidersÂ’ categorizations of them (Waters 2001). One of the conseque nces of ethnic identification being imposed on an individual is the inability for an individual t o freely choose an identity. Ethnic identification was imposed on several of the respondents while in middle and high school and these identities carried on into young adulthood. For example, throughout middle school and high school Jenny self-identified as Haitian. She attended predominately white schools, but she was antagonized by African-American students while in middle school. Jenny was told she smelle d and ate cat. She pointed out that she could not hide her Haitian identity because she displayed ethnic markers such as ribbons in her hair and had an ethnically sounding last name, Pierre. Even though Jenny identified as Haitian throughout her adolescent life, she had a hard time giving a clear response on how she identified now as a young adult: Do I consider myself Haitian-American or Haitian? I canÂ’t decideÂ….when I go on interviews or when IÂ’m talking to people, sometimes I hear, Â“Oh w hereÂ’s your accent coming from?Â” or in an environment where thereÂ’s all Haitian people, who g rew up in Haiti, they tell you, Â“Oh your Creole is kinda funny.Â”
Whereas AnneÂ’s response to the identity question was influenced by others, JennyÂ’ s identity was contextualÂ—meaning it depended on the surroundings. Kasinitz (2008) points out during the interviews with Asian Americans that some of the respondents would label themselves as Â“AmericanÂ” or Â“Asian AmericanÂ” depending on who is asking. They may label themselves American in order to contrast themselves from im migrant family members. However, when around whites or blacks they are Asian Americ ans, and around other Asian Americans they take on a national identity such as Chinese, Japane se, etc. For Jenny, language played a key role in how she identified in certain surroundings. In an environment with native born Haitians, claiming a Haitian identity can be problematic because such a claim while possessing a non-native accent all ows for the authenticity of her ethnic identity to be challenged. Rather than identif y with an ethnic group, she preferred to be seen as an individual who does not fit into a box. But further along in her response she says: I guess I would call myself Haitian-AmericanÂ…Â….itÂ’s a mixture, IÂ’d like to say I take whatÂ’s good from each thing and then combine themÂ….thatÂ’s what I would like to think but then again if IÂ’m talkingÂ….having a conversation with my husband heÂ’s like where were you born again, some of the ideas that I have are so enriched in the cultur eÂ….again sometimes it can just depend on the environment in which I am at, sometimes like I said I think I take both sides. JennyÂ’s statement contradicts her previous statement regarding being see n as an individual. But, her final statement asserts her ethnic identity as being Hai tian-American. Based on both her statements, her ethnic identity is situational and she is still ex ploring what it means to be Haitian-American. She embraces both sides of the Haitian and American culture. She acknowledged the influence of both cultures in her life and both of these cultural experiences have impacted her ethnic identity.
While Jenny seemed to have no problem acknowledging the American side of her identity, some of the respondents chose a foreign-born national identity even if they were not born in Haiti. Some of the respondents expressed how their experiences in school growing up influenced their ethnic identities. The school context signifying the racial and ethnic makeup of the middle and high schools played a major role regarding acceptance or rejection of the respondentsÂ’ Haitian identity. The experiences in middle and hi gh school influenced the respondentsÂ’ ethnic identities in young adulthood. Rose, a 22-year old college student, went as far as elementary school in recollecting her identities during adolescence. She admits in elementary school she would try to hide her Haitian identity because Haitian students were getting har assed and beat up in West Palm Beach. But, Rose laughed at how impossible it was to hide her Ha itian identity because her mom would dress her up in a dress with puffs, stockings with so cks, and put ribbons and barrettes in her hair on the first day of school which at that time marked her as a Haitian. RoseÂ’s experiences growing up and the desire to cover up her Haitian identity is not unique to Haitian students in South Florida during that time. In Pride and Prejudice: Haitians in the United States Stepick (1998) highlights the extent that countless Haitian students took in a Miami-Dade county high school in order to cover up their Haitian identities in efforts to avoid the verbal and physical abuse associated with identifying as Haitian. While at Riverside Middle School a predominately black, public school with a large student population, Rose self-identif ied as Haitian. RoseÂ’s decision to freely claim her Haitian identity in middle sc hool can be attributed to her not allowing outsiders label her. Rose recalled how in 6 th grade on Haitian Flag Day she saw students displaying cultural pride with Haitia n flags and
thought it was cool to be Haitian. She elaborates on how she identified in middle school by saying: Haitian, but my mom always said two Haitians donÂ’t make a Haitian-American. What American blood is flowing through my veins? The only thing A merican about me is through my experiences..Â…because I was born in America, I happe n to be American but if I was born in Japan that wouldnÂ’t make me Japanese, you get what IÂ’m sa ying. So, IÂ’m still Haitian regardless of where I am, IÂ’m Haitian. So I consider myself to be just Haitian in America. RoseÂ’s Haitian identity carried on from high school into her young adult life. Whe n asked how she identified herself she responded: Haitian, I donÂ’t even add the American part on it c auseÂ…..living in America every Haitian in America had the identity crisis becauseÂ….Haitians in America is kind of a brand new thing until now people are starting to find out what Haitian is so IÂ’ve always had the mentality especially in elementary school I was around a lot of Black Ameri cans, IÂ’ll try to hide my Haitianess, theyÂ’d beat you upÂ….it didnÂ’t become cool to be Haitian unt il I was in middle school. Even though she was born in the United States she feels no connection to the American culture and fully embraces her Haitian identity. Rose expressed a disassocia tion with American culture. According to Rose, her distance from American culture, in par ticular African American culture stems from the negative treatment she experi enced while in school. As French et al. (2000, 2006) point out, acts of prejudice and discrimination can motivate the exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic heritage. RoseÂ’s school experiences coupl ed with her exposure to the Haitian culture through the Haitian Flag Day celebration sparked a desire to explore her ethnic identity. In addition, before 2004, RoseÂ’s month-long summer vacations to Haiti with her family helped keep her rooted more so in her Haitian cul ture rather than the American culture. The American racial and ethnic categorizations imposed on immigrant grou ps put them in a precarious situation because they have to decide whether they should diss ociate themselves from the label (Mittelberg & Waters 1992). For countless immi grants the adoption of a national-origin identity is enacted in order to resist outsidersÂ’
categorizations of them (Waters 2001). A dissociation with the proximal groupÂ—Afri can AmericansÂ— by Haitians was expressed by a few of the respondents. Jada, bo rn in Brooklyn, New York, is a 28-year old married woman and the mother of a 2 year old g irl. She recalls her days in middle and high school vividly. In middle school she identified a s black American, as she attended a school with predominately black and Hispanic students. Most of JadaÂ’s friends were black and Hispanic students but a handful of students knew she was Haitian. She does recall being made fun of, albeit infrequentl y, at school because of her Haitian identity. The discrimination she was subjected to in mi ddle school did not persist into high school. However, she still identified as black Amer ican but would say her parents were Haitian. She attended a public school with a predominantly black and Hispanic student population. She did not have many Haitian students to speak Creole with except for this one Haitian girl whose father was a pastor as well. Jada expressed a love for the African-American culture, especially the Civil Rights movement in high school. However, this love was not present in her young adulthood. When I asked her how she identified now as a young adult she replied: I: ItÂ’s so funnyÂ…..( laughter ) this is what I say, I say Â“Well my family is from Haiti [shyly Â“thatÂ’s what I sayÂ”] and then I break it down, well my m om and dad are from, my sisters and brothers are from Haiti, but I was born in the StatesÂ” an d thatÂ’s exactly how I answerÂ…Â….IÂ’m Haitian, I speak Creole, I donÂ’t even say IÂ’m HaitianÂ…. R: Every time? I: Never failsÂ….honestly noÂ…to a black personÂ…..thatÂ’s a lieÂ…no no thatÂ’s how I respondÂ….Cause I donÂ’t get it, I guess I would be Haitian-AmericanÂ…( thinking )Â…because IÂ’m from America and my parents are Haitian, is that why people say theyÂ’re HaitianAmericanÂ….because the thing is I donÂ’t consider m yself as an American, even though I know I am..even though I know IÂ’m born in New YorkÂ… R: You donÂ’t consider yourself American because? I: Because of my parents being Haitian, I consider mys elf HaitianÂ…itÂ’s like I would rather say that IÂ’m Haitian than to say IÂ’m AmericanÂ….I donÂ’t kn ow maybe IÂ’m still trying to find myself. I get offended when people think IÂ’m black Ameri can. I: Because? R: I donÂ’t want them to think IÂ’m black American ghett o I guess, maybeÂ….I just yeaÂ…
Jada shifted her ethnic identification from her adolescent life to her young a dult life. She transitioned from a full association with her proximal host, African-Ameri cans, to a desire to disassociate with the group by young adulthood in order to stay clear of the negative stereotypes associated with African-Americans. Jada express ed a yearning to learn more about her Haitian culture during her early 20s. JadaÂ’s husband, who immigrated to the United States in his early twenties from Haiti, has been a huge asset during the process in which Jada was learning more about her culture. She talks to her husband constantly about the Haitian culture. Currently, her drive to stay rooted in the culture comes from wanting her daughter to know the culture and speak Haitian Creol e. According to these respondents, the school context provided an avenue for affirmation or rejection of oneÂ’s ethnic group. But, more importantly, the experi ences at school influenced the ethnic identities of the respondents during adolescence whic h either did or did not transfer into young adulthood. RoseÂ’s discriminatory environment at her elementary school coupled with the strong expression of culture at her middle school generated a passion in her to connect to her Haitian culture which persisted into adulthood. On the contrary, JadaÂ’s lack of Haitian representation at her middle and high school limited her connection with the Haitian culture. However, her drive to lear n more was sparked in her 20s which marked a shift in identification from adolescence (this occurred prior to meeting her husband). Based on the responses provided by Rose and Jada, it can be said that Rose has a mature, secure ethnic identity. Rose was adam ant in claiming a foreign-born national identity, Haitian. On the other hand, Jada has not f ully committed to her ethnic identity; she is exploring what it means to be labeled Hai tian or
Haitian American. JadaÂ’s case supports studies on ethnic identity development and how it continues into young adulthood (Syed et al. 2009; Syed et al. 2007; Juang et al. 2006) While some of the respondents expressed a need to distant themselves from African-Americans, very few of the respondents identified with the label b lack or African American. Rick Ross, a 19-year old freshman student, lived in North Miami Beach mos t of his life. Both of Rick RossÂ’ middle and high schools were predominately black and public. He identified as black throughout middle school and high school and had several friends from different ethnic backgrounds. Rick RossÂ’ admiration for the Black P ower Movement carried on into young adulthood: R: Well... generally I'll say I'm Black and if you ask me whatÂ’s my background, because everyone is a different background or like where their ancestors are from, I'll say Haitian American. I: Why do you identified with being black? R : Yeah and thatÂ’s because I respect I guess the mo vement that was earlier I guess like the Martin Luther King kind of thing, like black is prou d, and I feel that having dark skin, I should be proud of it. So when they say black is beauty thatÂ’s how I feel. Rick Ross identifies in both ethnic and racial terms. He respects and understa nds that as a black, Haitian man, without the Civil Rights Movement many things would not be possible for him. His embrace of racial pride started during his adolescent yea rs. According to Rick Ross he never felt discriminated against due to his Haitian i dentity while in middle or high school. Rick Ross was surrounded by black students while in school and even witnessed a racial war at his school between the black students and t he Hispanic students. Rick RossÂ’ experiences coupled with his amicable encounters with black students could be the reason for embracing a black identity. The excerpt provided above from Rick Ross not only offers a possible reason for his ethnic identification but also illustrates the role of the school context and pee r groups in helping to foster a mature, secure ethnic identity. While the school environm ent played
n an important role in helping establish the ethnic identity of Rick Ross which carrie d on into young adulthood, he seemed confident in how he ethnically identified. According to Phinney (1993, 1989), an unexamined ethnic identity is marked by the adoption of oneÂ’s ethnic identity based on messages received by family membe rs and the community about being a member of their ethnic group. Interestingly, while s ome of the respondents ethnically identified as Haitian based on their connection to the H aitian culture, a few of the respondents chose to identify as Haitian based solely on the nationality of their parents. Ivy, a 21-year old college student attended a s mall SeventhDay Adventist private school with an array of Caribbean students until the 10 th grade. Ivy has always identified as Haitian and most of her friends at her school were H aitian, Jamaican and Trinidadian. When asked Ivy how she identified, with no hesitation she replied, Â“HaitianÂ….well my parents are from Haiti soÂ…and theyÂ’re Haitia n so IÂ’m Haitian.Â” Ivy ethnically identified as Haitian based on her parentÂ’s birthpla ce rather than a connection to the Haitian culture. The same response was given by Isaiah, a 25-year old construction worker who has identified as Haitian since his adolescence. Both his middle school and hig h school were predominately black and he labeled himself a loner. His circle of friends dur ing this time of his life consisted of his cousins and brothers who were Haitian. When asked how he identified he replied, Â“Haitian-AmericanÂ…..to me IÂ’m just straight Hai tianÂ….cause my mom and dad were born in HaitiÂ….I got a older brother heÂ’s 30-years old, he got a daughter and heÂ’s married. My sister sheÂ’s 29, sheÂ’s married. Those two were born in Haiti plus my mom and dad, me and my twin brother were the only ones born in the United States. I consider myself straight Haitian.Â” IsaiahÂ’s res ponse may seem
contradictory at first, but as mentioned earlier some of the respondents identify a certain way due to an imposed identification and a desire to avoid in-depth inquiries and confusion related to oneÂ’s identity. Because Isaiah was born in America, he may feel pressured to identify as Haitian-American. However, from his perspective he feels he is Haitian based on his parentÂ’s birthplace and familial ties. The responses provide d by Ivy and Isaiah, demonstrate how ethnic identification was based on their parentsÂ’ bir thplace and familial ties; but they do not express a connection to the Haitian culture. Based on t he responses provided by the two it can be inferred that they are still in the unexamine d stage of PhinneyÂ’s (1993, 1989) three stage model. There was one respondent who was a native-born of Haiti and immigrated to the United States when he was 5-years old. Leslie, a 25-year old graduate stude nt has always identified as Haitian. Leslie describes his days at the public and ethnically diverse middle school he attended as a constant battle. Leslie recalled his middle school experie nce as a time where he did not spend a month without fighting because he was Haitian. He fought the same group of African-American and Hispanic boys every other week unti l 8 th grade and it restarted in 9 th grade until 11 th grade. Even with all the turmoil Leslie faced during his adolescence, he never covered up his Haitian identity. When asked how he identified now he noted: Â….IÂ’m HaitianÂ…because I was born in HaitiÂ….IÂ’m full bl ood Haitian right, my momÂ’s Haitian, my dadÂ’s Haitian, I was born there so I consider my self HaitianÂ….rightÂ….IÂ’m just telling youÂ….and plus we live our Haitian culture at homeÂ…bas ically Haitian, I canÂ’t call myself American, I just speak English, IÂ’m not AmericanÂ… Leslie attributed his ethnicity to his nationality. As the only native-born respondent he made it a point to say he is a Â“full blood Haitian.Â” LeslieÂ’s comment presents an issue of ethnic authenticity among ethnic groups. Does an individual have to be born in the land
of their parents in order to identify Â“fullyÂ” with the culture? For some people the ans wer is Â“yes,Â” while for many of the respondents the answer is Â“no.Â” The interview data on how second generation Haitians self-identified illus trated the complexities of ethnic identification and how it is fluid, changes over time and context, and is multidimensional. How the respondents talked about their ethnic identit ies highlighted how ethnic identity development continues on into young adulthood. The respondents were in different stages ethnic identity development; some expres sed an unexamined identity, others were still exploring their cultural heritage, and some of the respondents expressed a mature, secure ethnic identity. More interesti ngly, the information provided by the respondents demonstrated how ethnic identification differed within the group and how different factors influenced how they ethnically identifie d. The respondents ethnically identified in a myriad of ways and the justifications for their labels varied. One way in which ethnic identification was influenced was through the labe ls imposed by outsiders; respondents felt the pressure to make the distinction between t heir nationality and ethnicity in an effort to avoid questions about their ethnic identit y. The labels imposed on some of the respondents created an issue of self-identification t hat was also related to the context of the situation. The issue of outside labels can be att ributed to an overarching theme that emerged in the study, ethnic authenticity. Some of the respondents expressed a desire to claim a national identity but because they did not possess certain ethnic markers (native accent), they found themselves se lf-identifying as Haitian depending on the context. For some of the respondents in JimnezÂ’s (2004) study, an awareness of ethnic boundaries and what makes an individual Â“MexicanÂ” was
reinforced by family members and peers who made fun of the respondents if they lacked characteristics associated with being of Mexican descent (e.g. dark ski n and ability to speak Spanish). For some of the respondents in my study, being Haitian meant you wer e born in Haiti and know how to speak Haitian Creole. The issue of authenticity at times limits their ability to claim a solely Haitian identity because they w ere not born in Haiti and proficiency in Haitian Creole was not up to par with native-born immigrants. For the respondents who were born in the U.S., their Haitian and Haitian-American identifications could be seen as being influenced by their level of c onnection to the Haitian culture as well as parentsÂ’ birthplace. They did not allow the label s imposed by outsiders to dictate how they identified. As second generation immigrants, t he responses provided by the respondents illustrated how within a group of people ethnic identification varies and is influenced by different factors. In addition, an inte resting finding was an issue of ethnic authenticity for some of the respondents. The question of who is allowed to claim a foreign identity by second generation immigrants ca n be contested in many circles. The findings from this section demonstrate the compl exity of ethnic identification and the factors that influence self-identification di ffer for respondents.
Chapter Five: Organizational/Community Involvement In exploring the organizational involvement of the respondents I incorporated a comparative analysis by interviewing second generation Haitians in Haiti an organizations and those not in Haitian organizations after the earthquake. Ethnic organizations can pla y a crucial role in helping foster oneÂ’s ethnic identity. Ethnic organizations on col lege campuses for young adults can help them explore and forge a stronger connecti on to oneÂ’s ethnic group (Kibria 2002). Ethnic organizations outside of college campuses, such as ethnic congregations, can also promote cultural awareness, but the less ex clusive manner of non-college ethnic organizations allows for exploration and maintenance of the ethnic culture with individuals of different socioeconomic, educational, and immigrant statuses. A majority of the respondents are currently in college or have obtained a college degree. Because many of the respondents attend or attended colle ge in the Tampa Bay area many of them had the opportunity to join a Haitian organization. In addition, aside from opportunities to join a Haitian organization such as Konbit Lakay, opportunities were available to join volunteer, political, and religious organizati ons on college campuses as well. Involvement in organizations such as ethnic organiza tions and volunteer organizations was prevalent among the respondents. Most of the respondents who are involved in Haitian organizations were members of the student organization Konbit Lakay (Home Community) at a Florida universi ty. Some of the respondents held or currently hold leadership positions in the organization. The purpose of Konbit Lakay is to provide an avenue where members and non-members
can learn about all aspects of the Haitian culture through the general body mee tings (topics such as Haitian proverbs, HaitiÂ’s elections are discussed) held every Fridays and numerous events held on campus. The impetus to join an ethnic organization varies across the board for second generation immigrants. In joining an ethnic organization, one theme present in my s tudy was the desire to obtain more knowledge about the Haitian culture. Some of the respondents had a difficult time expressing where the desire to learn more a bout the Haitian culture emerged. Many of the respondents found themselves on a college campus where ethnic pride is vehemently expressed. Even though most of the respondents expressed a Haitian/Haitian-American identity, an exploration of oneÂ’s et hnic group may not have taken place in many cases. In line with PhinneyÂ’s (1993, 1989) three-stage model of ethnic identity development, the next stage that follows an unexamined identi ty is the exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic group. An exploration can entail involvement in cultural practices and activities. In joining a Haitian organization for some of the res pondents, it marked a shift from an unexamined identity to an exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic group which involved participation in cultural events and activities sponsored by Konbit Lak ay. The two trips to Haiti for Michelle, the twenty-one year old sophomore in colle ge, were not enough when it came to learning about her culture. Michelle joined Konbit Lakay in Fall 2009 and at first felt awkward being around so many Haitian people. Michelle felt awkward because she did not fit in with the members, particular ly the native-born members. The native-born membersÂ’ lack of acceptance of members who do not speak Creole well and the strict gender role perceptions expressed by these members did not sit well with Michelle. But she stuck through the awkwardness because she
wanted to learn more about her culture after her last mission trip to Haiti. Ever since joining, Michelle has been involved in several committees such as the Miss Ha iti Pageant. Michelle joined Konbit Lakay because she wanted to connect eve n more with her culture and the people. She proudly boasts about the new knowledge she obtained and even shares the information with her parents who are astonished by the amount of information she knows. MichelleÂ’s mother has actually told her that she knows more about the Haitian culture than she does. When I asked Anne why she joined, she echoed the same sentiments as Michelle: I feel like I can learn more about the Haitian cult ure, feel more educated. Sometimes IÂ’ll feel kind ofÂ….if some people are having a conversation about H aiti or my family have conversations about Haiti, I wouldnÂ’t know that much information. All I know is what IÂ’ve experienced in Haiti or what IÂ’ve seen. But, I would like to be more educat ed about where my parents are from, the history of Haiti.Â” Anne grew up in a home with sisters who migrated from Haiti at an older age and even lived in Haiti as a young child before the age of five. But, even with that cultur al exposure Anne did not feel knowledgeable about the Haitian culture. Michelle, on the other hand stopped attending a Haitian church at a very young age, so her exposure to the Haitian culture was intensified during her trips to Haiti and it was after those trips that she felt a desire to learn more. So both respondentsÂ’ exposure to the Haitian culture varied but before joining Konbit Lakay they had an unexamined ethnic identity. Even for Michelle who went on mission trips, her first time interacting with Haitian people on a consistent basis and participating in cultural activities was through Konbit La kay. By joining the Haitian organization, however, they are able to explore the different as pects of the Haitian culture and become more educated. Ethnic organizations which are typi cally found on college campus can help students build awareness and understanding regarding their ethnic group. As InkelasÂ’ (2004) study demonstrated, the involvement by Asia n
Pacific American undergraduates in Asian ethnically focused student clubs/organi zations helped foster awareness and understanding of Asian Pacific American issu es. For a few of the respondents joining a Haitian organization was sparked by an invitation from a friend or in DanaÂ’s case a circumstance drove her to become a member. Dana, a vivacious 30-year old, visited Haiti, after 18 years, and six months af ter the earthquake on a relief trip with a Christian organization as a nurse. Before comi ng to Tampa, Dana was in college in Orlando but left for reasons she did not want to disclose. DanaÂ’s reaction to seeing the Haitian Student Organizati on (HSO) revealed an unexamined identity on DanaÂ’s part. DanaÂ’s exposure to the Haitia n organization HSO in Orlando created a shift in her ethnic identification. Before joi ning Dana identified as Haitian-American but shifted to a Haitian identity Dana explained: When I came to college, I used to say yea IÂ’m Haiti an but IÂ’m Haitian-American. I was all into my American music, my American culture. I was pro-Amer ica and I got around HSO in OrlandoÂ…..and these people made Haiti seem like the most beautiful thing. When I tell you the way they danced, the way they carry themselves, the se meetingsÂ….they made me love Haiti. ThatÂ’s when I ran for Miss Haiti. I want to be Miss Haiti, I was excitedÂ…..I like how they make Haiti seem like itÂ’s the best. The passion Dana had for the Haitian culture while in Orlando was transmitted to Ta mpa when she joined Konbit Lakay. While a member of Konbit Lakay she was involved with several committees, helping the chair of the social committee coordinat e cultural events such as Konbit Night (a Â“nightÂ” in HaitiÂ—in which people play dominoes, card games tell stories and jokes, and eat a variety of fried foods). DanaÂ’s passion for the Ha itian culture was sparked when she was introduced to the Haitian organization in Orlando; before that moment she was unaware of her culture. Ethnic organizations provide an avenue for individuals who are unaware of their ethnicity an opportunity to get introduced and claim their cultural roots. Jenny, too, was unaware of her Haitian cult ure
until she attended a Konbit Lakay meeting with a friend who had previously joined; f rom that moment on her involvement in Konbit Lakay increased. I think being a part of that organization exposed m e to a different side of the culture that I was not aware aboutÂ…because I grew up in a very Southern Bap tist, very religious family, very ingrained in the church and things like that, I really didnÂ’t know there were other types of music except for the gospel. I honestly thought all Haitian music we re hymns so it exposed me to learn about the other types of Haitian music, the KompaÂ….I didnÂ’t kn ow music like that exist. It opened doors to really learn about the other things. Growing up in a religious home left Jenny isolated from the many aspects of the Haitian culture. While she did attend a Haitian Baptist church which helped reinforce the Haitian language and some of the traditions, Jenny was left unaware of the other aspect s such as the music. JennyÂ’s involvement in the Konbit Lakay provided a way for her to learn about the different aspects of the Haitian culture such as music and become more awar e about current events and gain cultural knowledge. Dana has not been a member of a Haitian organization since 2008 because she feels she is getting too old. Also, she wants to refocus her life and pursue her dr eam of starting her own publishing company. DanaÂ’s primary focus has changed since e ntering college which is not surprising. In Mexican New York: Transitional Lives of New Immigrants, Smith (2006) presents the transitional life courses of the second and 1.5 generation Mexican immigrants. He points out that the life coursesÂ—passage t hrough life stagesÂ— of the Mexican immigrants influenced their level of participati on in transnational life. Life courses can also impact the level of involvement i n organizations due to new responsibilities such as jobs, children, spouses, etc. Some of the older respondents were not as involved in a Haitian organization or any other organization due to their responsibilities. Jenny, who is now married, finds her time very limited ba lancing two jobs and spending quality time with her husband. JennyÂ’s work responsibilities and her desire to spend time with her husband take precedent in her life which leaves l ittle
time to participate in organizational activities. While in college Timoth y was active in Konbit Lakay, participating in everything he could be a part of in the organizat ion. Even after finishing college he would still attend meetings and events sponsored by K onbit Lakay as well as other Haitian events in the community. Timothy was also invol ved in other organizations such as mentoring young black children in the community. But, currently Timothy expressed a lack of involvement in any organization a s a choice in order to focus on different projects in his life such as his vision to transform Haiti t hrough his mission trips to Haiti. For the respondents who were members of a Haitian church, participation in weekly services, bible studyÂ—even leading bible study, lead singing, and ot her modes of participation facilitated an environment where the Haitian culture was tr ansmitted. The reinforcement of the Haitian language as well as the constant transmis sion of cultural traditions is shared among the church members. As Yang (1999) points out religious organizations, such as churches, worship centers, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc ., can serve as both avenues to learn about mainstream culture and more importantly support the preservation of traditional culture. I was able to attend two Sunday morning servi ces conducted by the church in October. On both visits I walked in during the Praise and Worship 5 portion of the service. The Praise Team 6 consisted of four young ladies and in the background was the band, all men, playing different instruments such as the keyboard, bass guitar, ashiko drum, drum set on stage. The Praise Team led the members in singing, both in English and Haitian Creole. On my first visit the sermon was de livered 5 A team of singers who lead the church service in s ongs. 6 A section in the service dedicated to singing.
n by the assistant pastor and it was predominately in Haitian Creole but he used E nglish sporadically. The reading of the scripture from the bible was read in French. On m y second visit there was a guest speaker from Haiti named Pastor Joseph. Pastor Joseph was a young looking man with amazing charisma. As he preached he switched from English and Haitian Creole, appealing to both the older and younger generation at t he church. Overall, both services were conducted in English and Haitian Creole and it w as apparent LÂ’eglise de Dieu de la Foi promoted the Haitian culture through their w orship services. The respondents who decided to attend a Haitian church expressed a desire to stay rooted in the Haitian culture. While in elementary school, FritzÂ’s parents we re in nursing school so English was predominately spoken in the house in order for his parents to learn it. As he got older he consciously told himself he needed to improve his language proficiency in Creole. So, he started listening more intently to what his parents w ould say in Creole. Fritz attends L'eglise de Dieu de la Foi in order to stay rooted in hi s culture: ThatÂ’s the only way IÂ’m gonna keep my Creole, be ar ound people I can easily associate myself withÂ…Â… IÂ’ve been going to a Haitian church my whole life, so for me to go to an American church itÂ’ll feel like IÂ’m out of placeÂ…I feel like IÂ’m not connected, yea weÂ’re going for one thing, weÂ’re following one thing, but the differenc e is weÂ’re speaking Creole. Fritz wants to keep his proficiency in the Haitian language and fortunately he a ttends a church whose services are predominately in Haitian Creole. The preservation of the Haitian language is very important and one way in which second generation immig rants can do this is by attending a Haitian congregation. But, in order for the prese rvation of the native language to take place, it should be incorporated into the services. Min and KimÂ’s (2005) study which surveyed Korean English-language congregati ons revealed that the transmission of Korean traditions was not taking place due to the entire
elimination of Korean cultural components during worship. Min and KimÂ’s study illustrate the importance of cultural preservation in ethnic congregations.T he benefits of attending an ethnic congregation were acknowledged by the respondents. For Isabe lle, the transmission of the Haitian culture at L'eglise de Dieu de la Foi was the main reason why she attends the church. I love how we stick to our roots with the Haitian m usic and everything because I donÂ’t like to go to a Haitian church and then all IÂ’m hearing is Am erican music. If thatÂ’s the case I woudÂ’ve went to an American church. So, I love the fact we still use our Chan DÂ’esperans [Haitian hymn book] once in a while. I love the fact we sing in C reole, the fact that we remix our songs too. When Jada was pregnant the ladies at her church gave her extensive advice rega rding her pregnancy before and after. She was thankful for the valuable knowledge that emphasized her cultural background. In comparison to an ethnic organization on a college campus, non college ethnic organizations, such as the Haitian church, consists of all types of people. As one of the respondents in SmithÂ’s (2004) study points out, members in ethnic organizations outside of college campuses meet individuals the y would not associated with otherwise. In JadaÂ’s case, the demographic composition of he r church consisted of older immigrants who previously lived in Haiti and are knowledgeable about the cultural practices. The knowledge Jada received, she beli eves, would not have been the same at an American church. By being a member of L'egl ise de Dieu de la Foi in contrast to a non-Haitian church, Jada is able to stay connected to he r culture and learn different cultural traditions and practices. For example, t he traditions that are performed after childbirth differ between cultures. So, the informati on that was passed on to Jada from the church members was invaluable to her. The cultural environment in which Jada is surrounded by at L'eglise de Dieu de la Foi helps foster her
Haitian identity. A positive attitude is being cultivated and a feeling of bel onging motivates Fritz, Isabelle, and Jade to stay members of the Haitian chur ch. The reason for lack of participation in a Haitian organization varied among the non-involved respondents. For some of the respondents an active choice was expressed. Daphnie is an involved college student, volunteering at the Veterans Hospital since t he summer of 2010 for about five hours a week and attends lectures and volunteers with the Public Health Association of Students. However, she has not joined Konbit Lakay because she does not feel the members are her type of people. She elaborates even fu rther by saying, Â“I feel like some of them are so fake sometimes and I feel li ke a lot of them kind of mimic a lot of things that African-Americans doÂ…..use the N word, dress the way they dressÂ….thereÂ’s no connection there for meÂ” ( laughter) Daphnie prefers to just be herself rather than feel like she has to be connected to solely one cultureÂ—Haiti an culture. She does not feel connected to every aspect of being Haitian or Americ an. DaphnieÂ’s rejection of the members of the Haitian organization who demonstrate or represent African-American culture shows her rejection of this cultur e. More interesting is DaphnieÂ’s expressed attitude of not feeling obligated to one culture. She lives in between two worlds but does not feel fully connected to either. Daphnie faced racial discrimination at the hands of African American students and her friendship cir cles in middle and high school were predominately white students. The lack of exposure to Haitian students at her schools left Daphnie with little exposure to Haitian c ulture which can account for her attitude of not feeling connected to either Haitian or Afric an American culture fully.
Tony, also a non-member, would rather not be associated with anything and just keep to himself because he feels labels, in particular cultural labels, se parate people. Tony has been to Konbit LakayÂ’s meetings a few times due to him wanting t o encounter different people in college and hearing people talk about Haiti. However, that was a year ago. When I asked Tony about his experience while at Konbit Lakay his answer ref lected a feeling of rejection by the members because he did not possess certain cult ural markers. R: I went to Konbit Lakay a couple of times here and s o I sat in there and then I was like I donÂ’t want to be around all these Haitians ( laughter ) I: You donÂ’t feel comfortable or? R Yea, because a lot of Haitians would be like oh you Â’re not Haitian because you donÂ’t speak Creole and IÂ’m like wow whateverÂ…Â…so I had to de fend myself and be like I have family membersÂ…. I: How does that make you feel? R: My friend would say Â“YouÂ’re not Haitian-American, y ouÂ’re American-HaitianÂ…but I was like you know what IÂ’d rather not be associated wit h anything, I just want to be. The issue of ethnic authenticity is illustrated in TonyÂ’s response. TonyÂ’s e xperience at Konbit Lakay illuminates a point expressed by Jimnez (2004) with respect to negotiating ethnic boundaries among multiethnic Mexican Americans. While organizations that celebrate Mexican and Mexican American ethnicity are important places for ethnic expression, membership does not necessary mean acceptance by Mexican Americ an peers. A feeling of rejection or a feeling of being an outsider at gathering s made some of the respondents in the study doubt their own right to be members. TonyÂ’s inability to speak Creole played a major role in the members not accepting him as Haitian. In Becoming Asian American, Kibria (2002) studied second-generation AsianAmericans and their lack of involvement in Asian American organizations. One of t he themes expressed by the respondents was the sentiment that being part of an ethni c community at times can limit oneÂ’s freedom of choice and promote group conformity. Group conformity can entail behaving like the members of the organization or possess ing
the same Â“Haitian cultural capital.Â” Tony preferred not to be associated wit h anything and just have the freedom to be himself. But, it would be interesting to see if Tony would express these same sentiments if the topic of authenticity was not a major is sue in claiming a Haitian identity. The issue of authenticity expressed by the respondents played a role in their decision to not join a Haitian organization. This barrier of authenticity experience d by second generation Haitians in Haitian organizations poses a major problem. Where a re second generation Haitians who want to immerse themselves in the culture and int eract with other Haitians suppose to go if they do not feel accepted in Haitian organizati ons? An important aspect to achieving a secure, mature ethnic identity involves immer sing oneself in oneÂ’s culture. So, individuals who are deprived of this experience are not g iven an opportunity to explore their ethnic identity which leaves them stuck in a precar ious, committed stage. Another group of respondents were not involved in a Haitian organization or any other organization for that matter due to lack of opportunity and time constraints with jobs and school schedules. Jean currently attends a community college where there is not a Haitian organization; however, he plans on joining Konbit Lakay when he transfer s to the local university. Also, because Jean does not have a car, proximity plays maj or role in the things he can participate in. While Jean is not a part of a Haitian organization, he is a member of a local bible study club for Baptist students called Christian Mission. Jean is involved in this organization because he gets to talk about the spiritual aspects of i ssues and bond with fellow Christians. Marc, a 26 year-old college student, is not involved in a Haitian organization but he does volunteer once a week with the organization Feed
America which makes and delivers meals to feed the elderly. When I asked Marc why h e started working with this organization he responded: Well one thing that I do love is old people. I love talking to old people, I just think they have so much to say. Also, just to keep busy and be involve d, just to make a difference. So that when I die people come to my funeral. Just to feel needed. As the analysis shows, the respondents chose to become members of a Haitian organization or not affiliate with a Haitian organization for different reasons The college experience definitely facilitated an opportunity for a majority of the mem bers to get involved. Being a part of a Haitian organization was perceived by the respondent s as an avenue to build a committed ethnic identity and increase their knowledge base of the Haitian culture. Respondents chose to participate in a non college ethnic organizat ion such as a Haitian church because it allowed them to stay rooted in the Haitian cultur e through the preservation of the Haitian language during worship services and cul tural practices such as singing in Haitian Creole. As for the respondents who are not members of a Haitian organization, a choice was exercised. An issue of authenticity among other second generation Haitians and a need for individuality are factors that influe nced why the respondents did not choose to be members of a Haitian organization. However, one can also argue that learning more about the Haitian culture is not of concern for the m at this moment in their lives, particularly, for the respondents who are currently focusing on school and meeting financial responsibilities.
Chapter Six: Earthquake Reaction Historically, significant events have played a crucial role in helping indi viduals foster a connection to oneÂ’s cultural heritage or strengthen oneÂ’s sense of bel onging (Roehling 2010; Davis 1992; Fothergill 1999) r During the Civil Rights Movement countless college students joined organizations such as Black Student Union in order to stay connected to the Black culture (Maultsby 1983). A significant event such a s HaitiÂ’s earthquake was an event that received worldwide media coverage and imme diate relief response. How each respondent heard about HaitiÂ’s earthquake differed; many f ound out through a text message or through social network sites such as Facebook. A ma jority of the respondentsÂ’ initial reaction to the news of the earthquake was a feeli ng of shock and disbelief. After the initial shock, the respondents made phone calls to parents and fr iends in attempts to find out how they were doing and how their family members in Haiti w ere doing. Two of the respondents were especially worried after hearing about t he earthquake because their fathers were in Haiti at the time. Luckily, both respondents Â’ fathers were not near the epicenter of the earthquake at the time so they were unharmed. All of the respondents have family members living Haiti. In exploring how the respondents r eacted after the earthquake, it is important to understand their connection to the country of H aiti. Even though all of the respondents have family members living in Haiti, the manner in which they keep in touch with them varies. A majority of the respondents keep in touch with family members in Haiti by wa y of their mothers who relay family news. Some respondents even talk to family members
in Haiti but that is typically whenever a parent has initiated the call. The indirect nature of communication between the respondents and family members in Haiti is a result of unfamiliarity. Leslie, who left Haiti at the age of five, used to keep in contac t with family members in Haiti, more specifically his cousins who are around his same age. But when those same cousins moved to the United States his calls to Haiti ceased. Leslie Â’s unfamiliarity with the family members who are still in Haiti causes him to communicate with them through his mother: Do you initiate the calls? ItÂ’s when my mom makes the call because I donÂ’t kno w who IÂ’m calling so basically my mom makes the call and she gives me the phone and IÂ’ll talk to them but I donÂ’t know who IÂ’m talking to. They give me the nam e of the person but itÂ’s like you talking to a perfect stranger... Even when Leslie is aware he is talking to a family member on the phone, the lac k of face-to-face contact with family members in Haiti makes him feel l ike he is talking to a perfect stranger. The unfamiliarity with family members in Haiti ma kes initiating a call intimidating and leaves respondents feeling disconnected to the country itself. Ma rc, a 26-year old college student, last visited Haiti 13 years ago. MarcÂ’s len gthy hiatus from Haiti is attributed to the disconnection he feels for the country. I: So you havenÂ’t been back since [last trip]? R: No I havenÂ’t been. I: Is that your choice? R: Â…Â…Â…IÂ’d say that it is mostly my choiceÂ…Â…and just the fa ct that IÂ’m not really that close with too much family down the re. Just more so like my immediate family like my grandparents, my immediate cou sins. Those are the people that I really communicat e with. I: Do you want to go back? R: [laughs]Â….I donÂ’t knowÂ…. I: If I had asked prior to the earthquake would you ha ve been more willing to go back? R: I meanÂ….I wouldnÂ’t mind going to Haiti, I mean I wo uldnÂ’t but I really canÂ’t see the reason for me to go because like I said, IÂ’m really not too close with the family that I have down there. So other than that, I donÂ’t really kno w what I would go down there to do. Like I would go probably just to go or to see the country and visit. But other than that, I donÂ’t see a reaso n. Well the motivation for now. Unless maybe if I have a death in the family or something immediate that needs me to go, IÂ’ll go otherw ise, not now. MarcÂ’s disinterest in visiting Haiti and his feelings of disconnect to the count ry can be attributed to his unfamiliarity with family members in Haiti. The lack of vis itations to the
country for Marc and Leslie do not allow them to foster a relationship with fami ly members in Haiti or a connection to the country due to unfamiliarity. A feeling of disconnection between family members in Haiti and respondents w as prevalent, but there were respondents who did have relationships with family membe rs prior to the earthquake, who after the earthquake saw their relationships intens ify. The family relationships of these respondents after the earthquake can be att ributed to both a personal desire and the level of connection to family members in Haiti pri or to the earthquake. Being the youngest and the only child born in America in comparison to he r three brothers who were born in Haiti, DanaÂ’s connection to her family members in H aiti prior to the earthquake was made possible through her siblings who visit Haiti often a nd who are very close to family in Haiti. The closeness displayed by her sibling s with family members in Haiti pushes Dana to be more close to them as well. After 18 years Dana finally visited Haiti six months after the earthquake on a relief trip wit h a medical organization volunteering as a nurse. DanaÂ’s connection to Haiti was strengthened dur ing her first trip and subsequent trip in July with a for-profit organization educating t eens about leadership in Cap Hatien. As far as her relationship with family in Hai ti, before the earthquake Dana talked to her family in Haiti sporadically but that changed af ter the earthquake, now she talks to them all the time. R: Well I stayed in contact with them off and on, I al ways sent money and things there but I became more into their life, into doing stuff for them after the earthquake, after....going over there and seeing how bad the situations were a nd it hit home. I was like if IÂ’m going to help other people I might as well help my family as well. And of course you have to naturally help your family but I wasnÂ’t born in Haiti. T he person thatÂ’s really close to them is my siblings and so its push me to be more clos er to them I: More so now meaning? R: Highly involved, call them all the timeÂ…we talkÂ… She also used to send money to her family before the earthquake, but after personall y viewing the situation in Haiti she has decided to help out even more. She wants to be
closer to her family in Haiti which is why she calls them more now. More inter estingly, before the earthquake Dana would send her two goddaughters toys mainly on Christmas. However, now she has taken up the responsibility of funding their education. The response to the earthquake by Dana was marked by a greater push to get close r to her family members in Haiti. She exhibited her desire to be more involved by an increa se in phone calls to Haiti and taking on the responsibility of her goddaughtersÂ’ educ ation. While Dana is currently not involved in a Haitian organization, her love for the country of Haiti and her passion for the Haitian culture was fostered years ago when she was involved in a Haitian organization. DanaÂ’s past involvement in Konbit Lakay coupled with her familial ties made her response to the earthquake resemble that of the respondents who were involved in Haitian organizations. Timothy talks to aunts, uncles, and cousins once every month and prior to the earthquake would send money to support individuals with events such as weddings or education expenses. However, things have changed for Timothy since the earthquake: Prior to the earthquake the money thing was always there but after the earthquake it became more of an initiative rather than something that was not reallyÂ….more so a plan and just something I just do but now it has to be something that has to be consistent. So, now itÂ’s more so consistent with me and it has become a part of my budget, not just something I just did every once and a while so itÂ’s more so consistent. Both Dana and TimothyÂ’s remittances to Haiti increased after the earthqua ke. Dana was able to view the destruction of the earthquake in person and felt moved to increase her remittances. Timothy, on the other hand, because of his established relationships w ith family in Haiti prior to the earthquake coupled with his understanding of the dire situation after the earthquake increased his remittances. Taking responsibil ity for family members in Haiti after the earthquake was only expressed by Dana and Timothy who not surprisingly are among the older respondents. The respondentsÂ’ stage in life ca n
n contribute to a feeling of obligation to support family in the U.S. as well as in H aiti. In addition, due to Dana and TimothyÂ’s stage in life their job stability afforded t hem the resources to send remittances. Aside from significant events having the potential to influence the ethnic identities of individuals, the findings from this study also highlight how significa nt events have the possibility of influencing the transnational ties of second generation im migrants. Studies by scholars on transitional ties of second generation immigrants show a minority of individuals send remittances, show an interest in and are involved in home-country politics, and make visits to their home country (Kasinitz, Waters, Mollenkopf, & A nil 2002, Ueda, 2002, Rumbaut 2002). While increased transnational ties cannot explicitly be attributed to involvement in a Haitian organization in the past for Dana and Timot hy, their prior organizational involvement according to the respondents did help spark a passion for the Haitian culture which has continued on after discontinuing their membership years later. Inkelas (2004) points out in her study on Asian Pacific A merican students that one of the implications of involvement in ethnic-specific and multicult ural diversity activities appears to be heightened sense of engagement with their APA community in the long run. A majority of the respondentsÂ—who were college studentsÂ—did not send money to family members in Haiti prior to the earthquake or even now due to their financia l circumstances. As college students, the respondents adamantly expressed the di fficulties in taking care of themselves at times. Even though the respondents who are in college do not send money some of them send other stuff such as clothes and school supplies with family members who travel to Haiti yearly.
In response to the earthquake, the avenues through which each respondent made donations varied and were influenced by convenience and credibility regarding the organization providing relief to Haiti. Because the Red Cross was viewed as a credible organization, a majority of monetary donations given by the respondents were mad e to the American Red Cross. In addition, the convenience offered by the American Red Cross to make donations through texting contributed to respondents predominately donating to this organization. All of the respondents made monetary, clothing, and/or food donations to the Red Cross, another non-profit organization, or a Haitian church (most were affiliated with the Red Cross). While a distinction was not found in donation patterns between the respondents involved in a Haitian organization and those who were not, there was a difference in volunteer patterns between the two groups. Of the respondents who were able to volunteer with an organization helping with the relief efforts, most of the respondents were involved in a Haitian organization. Isabelle started a relief drive col lecting money at her local community college which she attended at the time for about two weeks. She also helped pack donations made to the Red Cross at her local Community Center. Rose helped organize and fold clothes at a local church for a few weeks. I: Were you able to volunteer with any organizations th at were helping out with the relief efforts in Haiti? R: Oh yeaÂ….there was this church that was collecting cl othes so yea I worked over there. I worked with them when they were organizing stuff and like folding and cleaning and stuff like that. I: Why did you pick that? R: I didnÂ’t know of anywhere else but Konbit Lakay was already doing the clothing drive with them and it was the last day and I guess nobod y was willing to go, well nobody else had time and there was a lot of clothes still left so I was just like okay I didnÂ’t have class that day. So, I just kept going back over there and I saw the y needed a lot of help and so from then on I started working with them. The respondents mentioned above are involved in a Haitian organization. Both respondents volunteered on behalf of the Haitian organizations in which they held
membership. The Haitian organizations served as bases of information for member s who wanted to get involved with the relief efforts in Tampa as well as a network t ool for those who wanted to travel to Haiti. Interestingly, while Dana and Timothy are not currently involved in a Hait ian organization they did volunteer their time during the relief efforts. Timothy vol unteered his service with the Haitian Coalition and other faith-based organizations in Tam pa. He helped transport all types of items that were being donated at the local Community Center. Dana took her volunteer efforts abroad by actually going to Haiti wi th a medical organization. She translated for doctors and nurses during their visits to orphanages and hospitals. For Dana it was a very emotional trip and she found herself crying ever y day. While Dana and Timothy are not members of a Haitian organization, they used to be members. So, their level of involvement during the relief efforts resembl ed the respondents who identified with a Haitian organization. Moreover, they still have socia l ties to the Haitian organization in which they were involved in as well as others i n the local community which allowed them to stay informed about the relief efforts in Ta mpa. This continual connection was expressed by Timothy who shared how he found out about volunteer and missionary opportunities after the earthquake through the various organizations he once was a member of. I discovered the opportunities through the various community organizations such as The Haitian Coalition, several Haitian churches, and [Florida U niversity]. The Haitian Alliance communicated with me through text messages and email. The Haitia n churches gave announcements during church service on the various missionary efforts. [ Florida University] put the message out through email and announcements through various student org anizations such as Konbit Lakay. For the respondents who were not able to volunteer during the relief efforts a majority of them were not members of a Haitian organization. They commonly sta ted
work/school schedule as a reason for not being able to volunteer during the relief e fforts for Haiti. In the case of Ivy, a non-member, she did not feel a connection to Hai ti because she does not know anything about the country. IvyÂ’s parents never took her to Haiti and she does not have a desire to go herself even after the earthquake. While Ivy di d donate clothes to her church back home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, she did not volunteer with any organizations helping with the relief efforts: I: Were you able to volunteer with any organizations du ring the relief efforts? R: No, I probably was but I didnÂ’t. I: Is there a reason why you didnÂ’t? R: No, I just donÂ’t usually volunteerÂ….I know thatÂ’s ba d. I: You donÂ’t usually volunteer because? R: Â…Â…no, justÂ….either busy or doing something elseÂ…..nothi ng against volunteering, itÂ’s all good. But IÂ’m usually caught up, busy doing somethi ng else and yea I didnÂ’t even donate to the Red Cross thatÂ’s so badÂ….but I did watch the special s on t.v. Ivy had a nonchalant attitude when she expressed her reasoning for not volunteering The lack of connection to the country of Haiti and the culture can be seen as contributing factors to her lackluster attitude especially since she noted she probably co uld have volunteered. Based on her response the opportunity was there but not the desire. The argument could be made that if she was involved in a Haitian organization the desire t o help may have been greater since she more than likely would have felt a connect ion to the country through her involvement. While only two of the respondents intensified their contact with family members in Haiti after the earthquake, two of the respondents, including Isabelle, expres sed a desire to go to Haiti after the earthquake. Isabelle, an active member a t L'eglise de Dieu de la Foi, has never been to Haiti. Most of her family members live in the United S tates. At first she did not want to step foot in Haiti because she knew she was going to be labeled an American and she does not speak Creole very well. However, ever since the
earthquake she wanted to go to Haiti especially to help out. IsabelleÂ’s reasoni ng for not going yet is the fact that she does not have a passport. Anne expressed a constant desire to go to Haiti in order to see her fatherÂ’s gra ve; however, her desire intensified after the earthquake. Yea, after the earthquake I really wanted to go see how it look like with my own personal eye and see where my mommaÂ’s house was originallyÂ…..and if a nything I can help her with getting things back together or selling stuff or anything like tha t cause all my siblings are here. The only person she really has in Haiti to help her is my aunts. An increased desire to go to Haiti was expressed by respondents who were membe rs of a Haitian organization. Both Isabelle and Anne continue to explore their ethnic identi ty through their involvement in their Haitian organization and are pleased to learn mor e about their cultural heritage through the organizations. IsabelleÂ’s intensi fied desire to go to Haiti after the earthquake was fostered by her emotional reaction to t he earthquake. As a student majoring in public health, she desires to help others. The combination of IsabelleÂ’s passion to help and a strong sense of connection to the Haitian culture contributed to her wish to go to Haiti. In contrast to Isabelle, Anne has been to Hai ti twice but has not been back since 2000. Her intensified desire to go to Haiti after the earthquake was attributed more so to helping her mom rebuild her home and finally vis it her fatherÂ’s grave. In response to the earthquake a desire to connect to their par entsÂ’ native land was expressed. In response to a significant event, ethnic affirmat ion can take place where an individual explores their cultural roots for the first time or an i ndividual reconnects with oneÂ’s ethnic group. In the case of Isabelle and Anne, ethnic affir mation in terms of exploring her parentÂ’s native home for the first time is taking plac e for Isabelle; Anne, on the other hand is reconnecting to a country she once knew.
In response to the earthquake, a shift in ethnic identification was not expressed by any of the respondents. However, the actions and desires of a few respondents did transform. For the respondents who had relationships with family members in Haiti prior to the earthquake, they increased their remittances and phone calls to famil y members after the earthquake. However, for the respondents who had not established a relations hip with family members in Haiti prior to the earthquake, a relationship was not cult ivated after the earthquake. In fact, a majority of the respondents expressed an ind irect form of communication with family in Haiti by way of parents. Many of the respondents Â’ unfamiliarity with family members in Haiti prior to the earthquake did not spark a longing to reconnect after the earthquake. Unsurprisingly, one feature that all the respondents (members and non-members of Haitian organizations) did share was a willingness to help out during the relief efforts, particularly with monetar y and clothing donations. However, a distinction was made between members and non members of a Haitian organization or even past involvement. Respondents who were able to volunteer with an organization during the relief efforts were mostly individuals who wer e members of a Haitian organization. Active involvement in a Haitian organization provided members with an avenue to stay informed about volunteer opportunities in Tampa for the relief efforts in Haiti. Ethnic affirmation was expressed by a few of t he respondents, as the respondents talked about a desire to visit Haiti after the earthquake.
Chapter Seven: Conclusion The goals of this thesis were to examine the ethnic identities of second genera tion young Haitian adults, specifically looking at how and why they chose to ethnica lly identify. Secondly, I examined why second generation Haitians chose to be involved i n a Haitian organization and how they self reported their experiences had influenc ed their ethnic identities. Lastly, I compared second generation Haitians involved in a H aitian organization and the respondents who were not and examined how they described the effects of the earthquake on their ethnic identities, loyalty to family, desi re to visit Haiti, and how they responded to the earthquake. My findings on the ethnic identities of the second generation Haitians contribute to the existing literature on ethnic identity development in young adulthood. My an alysis of the self-reported data provided by the respondents illustrated that the developm ent of a mature, secure ethnic identity is still ongoing even in young adulthood. In line with the literature on ethnic identity development in young adulthood, my findings showed ethnic identities can be contextual and still unresolved (Syed & Azmitia 2009; Syed et al. 2007) Ethnic identification among the respondents varied and different factors influenced the ir self-identification. The respondents were in different stages in terms of ethnic identity development; some expressed an unexamined identity, others were still exploring their cultural heritage, and some of the respondents expressed a mature, secure et hnic identity. Rumbaut (1993) identifies four ethnicities that immigrants can adopt: pan-ethnic, foreign national, hyphenated American, or American national. These identities we re
adopted by the respondents for different reasons. A hyphenated-American identi ty (Haitian-American) was adopted by several of the respondents but the ethnic label had different meanings within the group. Some of the respondents talked about a strong presence of the Haitian culture in their lives growing up, specifically in the home, w hich influenced how they ethnically identified as young adults. Prior research on fa mily context and ethnic identity development supports this finding (Jimnez 2004; Umaa-Taylor & Fine 2004; Phinney, Irma, Nava, & Huang 2001). The Haitian-American identity was also adopted due to the labels outsiders placed on the respondents. Whi le Nagel (1994) points out, pan-ethnic identities such as West Indian or black ca n stem from outsidersÂ’ and the nationÂ’s homogenization of diverse groups, my findings also suggest that labeling can also take place by members of oneÂ’s own ethnic group but in relat ion to foreign-born national identities (Haitian). Respondents who reported a Haitian -American identity claimed this identity in certain situations. Kasinitz et al. (2008) found that around other Asian-Americans, Asian Americans self-identified on a national leve l (Chinese, Japanese) and around blacks and whites they were Asian-American. My findings revealed the same trend, but interesting, claiming a foreign-national ide ntity (Haitian) when one was not born in Haiti or does not possess a non-native accent brings up an issue of authenticity. This finding is an area that the literature on ethnic identity n eeds to further address. Even with the issue of ethnic authenticity, some of the respondents did selfidentify as solely Â“HaitianÂ” due to a resistance to outside labels, past ac ts of prejudice and discrimination, or a desire to disassociate with their proximal group (Afric an Americans). Waters (2001) points out that a national identity (even if they were not born in the
country of origin) may be adopted in order to resist outsidersÂ’ categorizations of t hem. French et al.Â’s (2000, 2006) studies illustrated that acts of prejudice and discri mination can motivate the exploration of oneÂ’s ethnic heritage. For the respondents who adopted a pan-ethnic/foreign national identity (black, Haitian) they acknowledge d the role race played in their lives. Even though how the respondents ethnically identified differe d, based on the stages of ethnic identity development outlined by Phinney (1993, 1989), the respondents overall were in the exploration stage of development. Based on the reports a few of the respondents seemed to possess mature and secure ethnic identities. Howe ver, a few of the respondents reported ethnic identities that they solely attributed t o the nationality of their parents. According the PhinneyÂ’s (1993, 1989) ethnic identity development model, the respondents who chose to identify as Haitian because their parents were Haitian can be seen as still in the unexamined stage. The finding s on ethnic identity development among the respondents were supported by past research, especia lly with respect to ethnic identity exploration being present in young adulthood. Some of the findings add to the existing literature on ethnic identity development among young adults. The second goal of my study was to examine why second generation Haitians chose to be involved in Haitian organizations and how they reported their experiences had influenced their ethnic identities. The perceived influence of being invol ved in Haitian organizations, more specifically on a college campus, on the ethnic identi ties of the respondents aligned with the research on ethnic organizations (Inkelas 2004; Sidani us 2004). While some of the respondents could not pinpoint where their desire to join a Haitian organization came from, they had no problem expressing how their involvement
(learning about different aspects of the Haitian culture) helped build awarenes s and understanding of the Haitian culture. For the respondents who joined a Haitian organization based on a desire to learn more about the Haitian culture, the way i n which they talked about how their involvement influenced their ethnic identity illustra tes the movement from an unexamined stage to an exploration stage. Exploration, the second stage in PhinneyÂ’s (1993,1989) three-stage model, entails an intense immersi on in oneÂ’s culture through several avenues such as reading, participating and going to cul tural events, and interacting with people. Respondents involved in a Haitian organization outside the college campus reported their participation in a Haitian congregat ion. Past literature on religious organizations in relation to ethnic identity points out how these organizations support the preservation of traditional culture (Yang 1999; Bankston & Zhou 1995). My findings support previous literature on religious participation and ethnic identity. The respondents who were members of the Haitian church, LÂ’eglise de Di eu de la Foi, attended because of the preservation of Haitian language (through songs and sermons). In comparison to ethnic organizations on college campuses where the demographic composition is typically homogenous, the heterogeneous demographics at churches allows for the interaction of individuals from different backgrounds and a wealth of cultural knowledge to be disseminated between generations. The distinct ions in ethnic organizations represented in this study highlight how these organizations ca ter to different cultural needs for second generation immigrants, but both types of or ganizations serve an important purpose. The lack of involvement in a Haitian organization by the respondents was mediated by different factors. In her study on second generation Asian Amer icans and
n their lack of involvement in Asian American organizations, Kibria (2002) found that involvement in an ethnic organization at times can limit oneÂ’s freedom of choice and promote group conformity. One of the respondents expressed an attitude of not feeling obligated to one culture (Haitian or American); she preferred to be herself Another reason respondents did not join a Haitian organization was due to an issue of ethnic authenticity which is highlighted by Jimnez (2004) in his study on multiethnic Mexic an Americans. Another group of respondents were not involved in Haitian organizations or any other organization for that matter due to a lack of opportunity and time constrai nts with jobs and school schedules. My findings on organizational involvement were supported by the existing literature on this topic and more importantly they reinfor ced the significance of ethnic organizations in the lives of second generation immigrant s. An interesting group within the non-member group involved respondents who were in a Haitian organization in the past. SmithÂ’s (2006) work on the life course of transitional second and 1.5 generation Mexican immigrants informs my findings. S ome of the older respondents were not as involved in Haitian organizations or any other organization due to their new responsibilities as spouses, in addition to having careers In comparing the respondents who were involved in Haitian organizations and those not involved, I explored if involvement in an ethnic organization appeared to influence what the respondents said in terms of how the earthquake affected their ethnic identities, loyalty to family, desire to visit Haiti and what they reported in terms of their response to the earthquake. Involvement in a Haitian organization did appear to influence what the respondents said about their loyalty to their family. The respondents who intensified their connection with family members in Haiti were past member s of a Haitian
organization. The respondentsÂ’ past involvement in the organization cultivated an awareness and understanding of the Haitian culture that stayed with them even af ter they discontinued their membership. In comparison, the way in which the rest of the respondents described their loyalty to their family members in Haiti aft er the earthquake illustrated relationships that did not change. A feeling of disconnection between f amily members in Haiti and respondents was prevalent due to unfamiliarity. HaitiÂ’ s earthquake presented an opportunity for the respondents to learn more about and connect to family members in Haiti. However, the unfamiliarity with family members in Haiti left a majority of the respondents less inclined to establish relationships. While the literature on ethnic renewal does not address its influence on family relations, I believe t his finding contributes to the literature on significant events. The focus on ethnic identity i n response to a significant event neglects to address other aspects of oneÂ’s life that c an be influenced. This finding I believe draws attention to the group I focused on for this study, second generation immigrants; I will revisit this point further along in this sec tion. In terms of transnational ties, significant events, specifically natural disasters, can intensify transnational ties. Based on my findings those ties would have to have bee n established prior to the disaster. All of the respondents found a way to make monetary or clothing donations to the relief efforts. However, the difference between the two comparison groups was their volunteer efforts. Involvement in a Haitian organiza tion or even past involvement provided an avenue for individuals to readily volunteer with the relief efforts. Ethnic organizations according to Smith (2008) Â“provide a means of perpetuating friendship, neighborhood, church, school and family connectionsÂ…..Â” (pg. 69). My findings support SmithÂ’s assertion; connections fostered in ethnic organiza tions
n help individuals stay connected to the ethnic community they identify with which was the case for some of the respondents after the earthquake. Non-members blamed school and work schedules for their inability to volunteer after the earthquake. But, this fi nding can also account for the reason some of the non-members were not involved in Haitian organizations. In terms of how the respondents described the effects of the earthquake on their ethnic identities, ethnic affirmation with respect to a shift in identifica tion was not expressed, but ethnic affirmation in terms of a desire to explore Haiti for the first time was expressed by one respondent and reconnecting to the country by another; both w ere members of Haitian organizations. It should be pointed out that the literature on ethnic renewal in relation to significant events typically focuses on political events ( Roehling 2010; Portes & Rumbaut 2001; Nagel 1995; Maultsby 1983) rather than natural disasters (Davis 1993). More importantly, the research on ethnic identity and natural disast ers focuses on the people directly affected by the disaster in the home country. My re search is unique in that it adds to the existing literature on significant events beca use it focuses on second generation immigrants. But it also speaks to the need for scholars to furthe r explore Diaspora populations in response to significant events, more specificall y natural disasters. The limited amount of respondents that expressed ethnic affirmation can be attributed to my attention to second generation immigrations. The respondentsÂ’ distance from Haiti leaves them shielded from the harsh reality of survival many of the Haitians in tent cities have to face. Another reason can be attributed to the timing of the study which also speaks to one of the limitations. The data from the study by Roehling et al. (2010)
n which examined ethnic identity development among Latino and White youth, was collected during the height of the national debate about immigration policy. The tim ing of my interviews may be seen as a limitation. The earthquake occurred in the month of January and I interviewed my respondents from the beginning of September until the end of October leaving a seven month gap in which the enthusiasm and concern surrounding Haiti might have diminished drastically. If I had a chance to conduct the inter views immediately after the earthquake I may have obtained different findings. But would such findings illustrate a change in ethnic identities of the respondents or would I obta in artificial responses? I witnessed countless individuals express a desire t o go to Haiti after the earthquake, but the number of individuals who actually took the trip was limited. So, this disadvantage could also be seen as an advantage. Because respondents were rem oved enough from the initial event, it allowed me to capture the long term effects of a significant event on ethnic identity. Another limitation to my study was the predominance of college educated respondents. The college environment provides a unique opportunity for individuals to explore their ethnic heritage. The college campus is inundated with student organiza tions such as ethnic organizations for minority students. In addition, diversity on college campuses allows for the exploration of all types of cultures and the affirm ation of oneÂ’s own culture. How might the experiences of a high school graduate in comparison to a college graduate differ? Would interviews with non-college graduates highl ight other modes of socialization (e.g. workplace, neighborhood) in helping cultivate ethnic identities?
n I had no issues recruiting individuals who were members of a Haitian organization; however, the more challenging part to my study was recruitin g individuals who were not members of Haitian organizations. The label non-member and member of a Haitian organization was given to the respondents based on their status during recruitment. Consequently, by using this method of labeling, the current status of involvement for Â“non-involvedÂ” respondents negated prior involvement in a Haitian organization. I found this issue both a limitation and an advantage to my study. A limitation was that Â“non-involvedÂ” respondents shared experiences that were s imilar to the involved respondents which limited my ability to compare the experiences of both comparison groups. For example, the volunteer efforts demonstrated by Â“non-involvedÂ” respondents who had past involvement with a Haitian organization were similar to Â“involvedÂ” respondent. However, by having Â“non-involvedÂ” respondents who did have prior involvement in a Haitian organization it allowed me to illuminate the shift i n involvement in relation to transitional life stages. For the respondents who used to be involved, new responsibilities and desires to pursue new goals influenced their involvement in a Haitian organization. The impact of Haitian organizations in the lives of the young Haitian adults wa s undeniable. The organizations helped the respondents connect to their heritage and maintain cultural practices and traditions. At LÂ’eglise de Dieu de la Foi, the respondents were able to maintain the Haitian language by singing hymns every Sunday. For the respondents involved in Konbit Lakay, singing the national anthem every Friday and learning about HaitiÂ’s election helps them stay connected. Unfortunately, fo r the respondents it was not until college that this cultural information was discove red. Even if
n an individual claims a Haitian identity that does not necessarily mean they ha ve committed an explored their ethnic identity. Ethnic organizations are spaces whe re individuals can explore unexamined identities through the sources of information provided by the organization. They can also provide individuals who are exploring their ethnic identities a space to be around individuals from their ethnic group and move towards secure, mature identities. For individuals who have a mature, secure identit y, ethnic organizations can also provide a space to be around individuals from the same ethnic group and help maintain their cultural roots. A major implication of my study would be the implementation of more ethnic organizations in middle and high schools. A majority of the respondents were active in several organizations in middle school and high school but no one mentioned an ethnic organization. The desire to learn more about the Haitian culture was the motivating factor for most of the respondents to join Konbit Lakay. But, why must students wait until college in order to gain this information? More importantly, not all high school students attend college so organizations and programs promoting different ethnic groups should be put in place earlier in the lives of young adults. Rather than have high school Haiti an students show symbolic ethnicity by expressing pride for their culture onl y on HaitiÂ’s Flag Day, May 18 th by having Haitian organizations in the schools they would strengthen their pride in the culture through knowledge rather than symbolic means. An increa sed presence of ethnic organizations in middle and high schools could possibly buffer the progression of assimilation by second generation immigrants. Also, the sense of pride and knowledge expressed by the respondents in this study would be well established prior to young adulthood thereby diminishing the issues of authenticity faced by many.
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