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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I have read that skin color and hair type is a great interest in Haiti. So, there are many terms for such things: milat, grimo, marabou. I know that there are many more words because I had encountered them in a Creole dictionary But can't remember.

Although this business of social class and color has been abolished in Haiti a long long time ago, some people  live as if they were still stuck in those times.  They don't talk about it, but it's like one of those unspoken rules.
My mother, I regretfully must say, is one of those people.  I didn't know how strongly she felt about this until I brought the man I would marry home to her.  Her reaction was a total surprise to me.  Now, if you must know, I am black, my mom is black, and my dad is black.  So I was confused :)    When I asked, my grandmother who was alive at the time told me that I needed to bring up kids that would have a chance at a "better future".  Needless to say that at the altar, on that April 20th, it was just me and that beautiful black man - no family : -\
Whatever my grandmother had seen, suffered, or heard when she was a child during those trying times in Haiti, she has kept with her always.  She's planted fears, like fertile seeds, in the mind of her own children.  And one can see the fruits today.

Unfortunately,  you'll still find a good number of people in Haiti who still think like that.  But, thank God, this is not the general Haitian population's belief. We believe black is beautiful, strong, and made to equally share all of life's joys, struggles, and rewards :)

Anyways, the terms that you have cited here are pretty much what the general population in Haiti use these days.
milatrès, grimèl, grimèl chode (female light skin, and maybe the milatrès will have silkier hair than the grimèl)
milat, grimo (male, light skin)
marabou, nègès (black woman)

The other terms that you had found in your dictionary might have been some of Moreau de Saint-Rémy's classification of a person based on percentage of black or white parts in their blood: quadroon, metif, mamelouc, sacatra, etc... These terms are not used in Haiti today.

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  1. Mandaly,

    From the above post, I take it that your grandmother would have preferred you marry
    someone who was of a lighter complexion rather
    than a Black gentleman? Is it that way today
    in Haiti and within the Kreyol Ayisyen community in the United States and Canada to that extent?
    Forgive my ignorance of things Haitian, as I
    have never been exposed directly to the Haitian
    Creole community; just what I have read about


    1. You will still find a small group of Haitians who discriminates against their own race. But as Haiti is transforming into a nation victorious over its many struggles, this mentality is changing into one of unity and moving forward to be a better nation and a competent people.

  2. Mandaly! Zanmi mwen! Istwa ou a ban m yon kè kase!!! M swete kounyeya tout bagay anfòm ak relasyon ant manman ou ak ou.

    Adye. Aba vye lide sa yo.

    1. Wi mezanmi, ou byen pale. Lide sa yo se pwazon.

      Men ou pa bezwen enkyete. Mwen menm ak manman m se trè bon zanmi kounye a. Li se bon zanmi mari m tou. Nou kase fèy kouvri tout sa ki te pase. Ou konnen... fanmi se tèt chaje, men fanmi se fanmi.

      After our secret April marriage in spite of objections, when it became clear that I wasn't going to back down, my mom did finally ask that I, at least, let "society" know about this before we move in together. And about two years later, in July, my family granted me a "public" wedding.

      My husband and I always celebrate our wedding anniversary in April, never in July.