Pierre-Louis Jr., Francois, Haitians in New York City: Transnationalism and Hometown Associations.

Author:Roopnarine, Lomarsh
Position:Book review

Pierre-Louis Jr., Francois, Haitians in New York City: Transnationalism and Hometown Associations, Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2006. 157 pp.

Since the 1960s, out-migration from the Caribbean to North America and Europe has produced three fundamental realities.: (1) many Caribbean Nationals left their homeland permanently; (2) Caribbean Nationals left their homeland but expected to return some day; and (3) although many Caribbean Nationals left the region they have maintained meaningful transnational links between their new destinations and departed nations of birth. Author Pierre-Louis Jr.'s book Haitians in New York City: Transnationalism and Hometown Associations, captures the latter category of Caribbean out-migration dynamics. The central thesis is that substantial numbers of Haitians fled their homeland, particularly during the vicious dictatorial Duvalier regime (Papa and Baby Doc), and settled in Flatbush, Brooklyn. These Haitian immigrants left their homeland with little economic resources and entered New York City as triple minorities: immigrants, non-English speaking and black. Such a multidimensional identity did not only set them apart from other immigrant groups in New York City but also placed them at a major disadvantage in their new society (pp. 16-17). Haitian immigrants encountered and experienced bouts of racism, stigmatization, and marginalization. Nonetheless, these very negative characteristics brought them closer together and provided the bases for the formation of a Haitian-American identity through hometown associations in New York City. From this platform, Haitian immigrants developed meaningful and constructive political, economic, social and religious ties with Haiti. The end result was a remarkable level of growth and development not only for Haitian-Americans (segmented assimilation, integration, economic betterment, language proficiency and self-worth) but also for Haiti in terms of infra-structural development, remittances, restoration of democracy, etc. Equally significant is that the author analyzed how hometown associations were formed, developed, faced challenges, received support, and made achievements and accomplishments in New York City and Haiti.

Chapter 1 and 2 showed how hometown associations were established and eventually evolved among Haitian immigrants in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The first immigrants (1960s) to form the Haitian hometown associations were exiles from the Duvalier...

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