Papa Loiseau. Correction. Gesner LeGrand LaCroix Loiseau. AKA the Haitian of all Haitians. AKA The descendant of Toussaint L'Ouverture, Jean-Jacque Dessalines and Boukman. Yes all of them. Ladies and Gentleman, I introduce you to....(drum roll please)...my Father. Me, born and raised in the non-Haitian suburbs of Chicago, Illinois anything related to Haiti came from my father, which means it came with:
"When I came here I didn't speak a word of English, and now look, I speak better English than those Americans."
"I left my home at 16 with every obstacle against me when I arrived. And I made it. You have no excuse."
Now these words are a resounding echo of inspiration. Then, a major annoyance. May 2005. I was planning a trip with the girls to DR. My father happened to have been in the bathroom mirror shaving or saying "I love you" to his reflection (as he told us to do every morning). I stop by to tell him the birthday plans. And here it comes: “They don't like Haitians." My inner response: “I don’t like you either.” I smile instead. He continues, "In the sugarcane fields..." I jump up abruptly, make a mad dash for the door and avoid a Papa Loiseau lecture. Fast forward to my trip. A wonderful time. Two years later I move to New York and see the following documentary: I google Trujillo for the first time. (25% Haitian Trujillo). I learn about the Haitian Massacre at my kitchen table that very day. And then went on my sugar strike. Since that moment at my kitchen table, I have never opened a packet of sugar. Ever. I will eat a variety of desserts made with sugar. I just can’t open the packet myself. We all have our ways of dealing.