Until recently, no one has ever heard of any Haitian-American involvement in local politics. Meanwhile, other Caribbean nationals, particularly Jamaicans, have held many public offices ranging from City Council member to Congressional representative. From Una S Clark, former long term member of New York City council to her daughter, Yvette Clark of Jaimacan-American background, now on her 3rd term in the U.S. Congress, the Jamaican-American Diaspora has always played an active role in politics in the New York area. In fact, many of these candidates have embraced the numerically superior Haitian-
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Amercian community as the stage setting for the popular relevancy of their campaign propelling them to these high political offices.
One of our rising stars in the local political arena of Brooklyn is a young electrical engineer with an MBA who has given up her job as an investment banker to tackle the world of politics. Presently, she is a New York State Committee woman District Leader, chosen to represent New York as a democratic delegate for the Obama camp at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Ms RODNEYSE BICHOTTE, one of our own Haitian-American political leaders. For the past few years, she has been an active voice in the Brooklyn community, defending the right of our children to a free and good education, the right of the illegal
Last Update 02/16/12
Carries Solages , a young political activist, a lawyer of Haitian descent, recently won a bitterly fought race for the 3rd district in Nassau County. The slim margin by which he won in a district with a substantial number of Haitian families attests to how new and inefficient we are as an organized political force.
America is a large ethnic melting pot. In New York City, like anywhere in the world, the power of an electorate is not only in numbers, but in the organizational effectiveness of its political base. Having more voices to echo our concerns at
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Matthieu Eugene, a physician and a then neophyte in the complex and expensive game of playing American politics became the first Haitian-American to be successfully elected City Councilman representing the 40th District in Brooklyn, a neighborhood with a large component of Haitian-American residents. In part, he was able to successfully motivate his local constituency thanks to the backing of the highly efficient Jamaican political machine in Brooklyn, through the tireless effort of Mrs Una Clark, a 3-term City councilwoman herself. A debt of gratitude to Mrs Clark is definitely in order, but we cannot expect the same
support against a challenger that shares her same ethno-cultural interests in the future. We have to be able to take care of our own. We have the power, the will and the means. We just need the commitment to win it all.
high level of government is the main factor behind the success of a particular community. For example, in Brooklyn, a borough with 39.9 African-Americans of which West-Indians form the greatest components and 19.9% of Hispanic origins, the total minority make-up of the Brooklyn population is
60% as compared to 28% of minority on the national scale. As a result of this numerical advantage, we should be in a position to enjoy the benefit of an overwhelmingly superior political force as a minority-dominated town. Yet, the powerful ethnic machine of the Brooklyn Jewish-American and Italian-American communities has maintained the progressive growth of their communities through their collective effort in keeping their elected officials constantly at the table where the major community projects are being decided. From regular street cleaning, added security and more resources to public schools and health facilities, these decisions favored not necessarily the most populated districts, but the best organized ones with the most convincing voices at the legislative table. In fact, the existing socio-economic situation of our largely minority population has not improved despite our numerical superiority. We desperately need to get organized and use our only ticket to ethnic empowerment: our right to vote in office representatives who truly understand our cultural idiosyncrasies.
immigrant for a fair hearing before resorting to automatic deportation.
We need to continue building our political framework by supporting our young community activists' desire to join this exclusive political club that controls all aspect of our life. We, as Haitian-Americans, are part of the new majority population in Brooklyn. So far we have very little representation at every level of the political spectrum. We have Ms Pierre- Louis, a lawyer, at the Borough level as Deputy Manhattan Borough President level, Mr Eugene, a doctor, at the City council level, and now Ms Rodneyse Bichotte, an engineer and Investment banker hoping to represent us at the New York State level as Assemblywoman.
Josue Pierre, another rising star in the political arena is officially a candidate for District Leader in New York State's 42nd Assembly District, joining the young Haitian-American team ready to do battle in order to preserve our share of the American pie as the fastest growing ethnic community in Brooklyn, New York. Pierre holds a BBA in Accounting with a career background in finance and commercial real estate. Pierre's political resume includes leading the Haitian American Association for Political Action PAC's (HAAPA PAC) efforts in supporting Rodneyse Bichotte and Carrie Solages electoral victories over the past
two years, as the PAC's Political Director. Now he seeks to be a voice for the community in the political arena as well.
Election date has been moved up to late June 2012. They will both need our collective support to represent us in Albany this year.
Let's get organized politically here. Only then can we make a difference in Haiti economically.
Now that we are facing the challenges of a bad economy, it is imperative that we focus on building our own political block to defend our interest as tax-paying citizens. Our community is now at the crossroad of a generational shift. Our aging population of naturalized American citizens is being surpassed by the growing number of their siblings, born and raised as bona fide Americans with strong Haitian cultural background. We need to support them. Their ascent to the American political ladder can be facilitated if we willingly take part in the political process by supporting them with your financial contribution and more importantly your presence at the poll on election day. They are making personal sacrifices, some of them have abandoned their high-paying jobs as doctors, lawyers and engineers and go through the grueling process of pro-bono community services, political activism for the collective good of their community.
THE HAITIAN-AMERICAN ELECTORATE:
A Powerful, But Yet A Faintly Heard Voice
By Lesly Kernisant, M.D.
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