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I will breathe - Part I (1996)

Written on May 29, 2020


As a child, my parents used to send me and my brothers to my aunt’s house in Maryland where we would spend the whole summer. In 1996, I remember the months June and July as the most memorable ones mainly because of the Olympic games that were being held in Atlanta at the time. I sat in the basement at my uncle’s house in Silver Springs and watched the Canadian track team snatch the gold medal away from team USA. Bruny Surin was part of that Canadian team. As a Haitian kid from Montreal, I could not be any prouder to be represented on such a worldwide scale sporting event. I jumped on that opportunity to nag my cousins and tell them ‘’Canada just kicked your butt’’. There I was, in the United States, celebrating black Canadian excellence. That same year, The Fugees came out with, what many consider to be a classic Hip-Hop album: The Score. My cousin Ralph played that cassette at full blast in his car with the windows rolled down as we drove all around Washington DC. Wyclef Jean, leader of the Fugees, is a Haitian man who put his native country on the map through his music. 1996 was a damn good year to be Haitian. However, many Haitians told me that despite having the same skin color as black Americans, their relationship with one another was not that cordial in the 90’s. My cousins, better known as The Haitian Brothers, needed to display strong affirmation of their cultural heritage and got into a few scuffles in order to be respected. I could not understand it. It was frustrating to me because at the end of the day, aren’t we are all black?


Picture by Helena Vallès

''1996 was a damn good year to be Haitian.''


- 7 in the AM

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