Anonymous said: How is colorism in Haiti today? Are there still mulattoes who treat the blacks like garbage or things are changing?
Hmmm. I believe we ought to be careful here. I think it’s imperative to look at colorism historically. I made a long post about it here, so I won’t repeat myself. Also, we should always be careful not to impose our “dissatisfactions” to history. (I mean by this that, you should not try to understand colorism to see if there are “still mulattoes who treat the blacks like garbage”. How we feel personally and how we look at history need to be separated as much as possible.)
Now, to answer your question about modern-day Haiti, I think the landscape has changed considerably since Duvalier, as “mulattoes” were “officially” targeted by the state (but this was largely in appearance, since political violence spared no one).
As much as I stress that it is important not to project understanding of race and color from one country/community to the next, I doubt anyone would make the case that in regards to colorism Haiti is that different from most black countries. There is a strong sense that it’s important to celebrate Haiti’s past and the fact that it is the first modern black state, born out of the a successful slave rebellion, but, I think the phrase “lighter is better” applies to Haiti as well. It’s not rare to see people, who normally speaking, hold a strong dislike against “mulattoes” as they “are the reason why Haiti is poor” (pure Duvalier logic operating here), yet, when those very same people have children, they end up saying things like “this child is a white angel!" not so much because the child is light, but because the child is attractive. I let you make your own conclusions about the implications of that kind of thinking.
As for people who would be considered “mulattoes,” most of them know better not to be too open about their prejudice towards people of dark complexions. They are often the ones who speak for the need to “unite” and “move on from the past.” Yet, even today, it’s always a little controversial when a “mulatto” from a well-known and respected family marries someone much darker.
That being said, I don’t think we should understand all of Haiti’s history as a “clash” between “mulattoes” and “blacks,” as you called them, because embedded to this question of color, there is also a question of class. Being a rich black and a poor “mulatto” play very much in one’s status. But class is not limited to wealth, formal education is also very important, so are family connections and general decorum in society. Therefore, “mulattoes” don’t constitute a single elite in Haiti (unlike what people on tumblr seem to think), there has always been a black elite. I also think that on more than one occasion, people have been able to put those color differences aside and work together. I doubt people would stop seeing Alexandre Pétion as a “father of Haiti” or “Bon Papa Pétion,” as he was called, because he was a mulatto (regardless of his rivalry with Henri Christophe). I also doubt people would stop reading Jacques Roumain because he came from a well-to-do elite family. On the opposite side, who would make the case that Jean-Prince-Mars was not one of the most important intellectuals of Haiti? I think most Haitians are extremely nationalistic, and the love for Haiti often transcends other considerations. I don’t think anyone would seriously make the case that everyone is going to be holding hands tomorrow and sing “Kumbaya,” but there is more to this color question than an eternal divide between two groups, and therefore none of this can be seen as being linear.
So, this question is multilayered and very complex. It has to do as much with history than sociology, which is not my area of expertise, I’m afraid. I’ve therefore tried to paint a portrait of what I see in modern Haiti. I strongly believe that when classism and inequality are tackled, color may become less of an issue.
I hope this still helps.
- Good day. :)