|Regions with significant populations|
|French and Haitian Creole|
|Voodoo with Roman Catholic|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other Afro-American peoples of the Americas (particularly Francophones)|
The Haitian people (Haitian: Ayisyen) are a nation and ethnic group, mix of different ethnic groups from West Central region of Africa, with French and Taino Indian influences who are native to the country of Haiti, in the west of the island of Hispaniola. Their language is Haitian Creole, (kreyòl ayisyen), which is a dialect of the French Language. Haitian people also speak French.
The Creoles of Sonya Haiti and Haiti's Creole culture originate from a number of ethnic groups and social classes dating back to colonial times. French pirates, hunters, buccaneers and habitants made up the European component and as France made moves to colonize this part of the island Both Frenchmen and black Creoles (free and slave) settled on the Island coming from nearby Saint Christophe. These early settlers often intermarried forming Creole families with the pairings of a French father and a (free) Creole woman as the mother who bore mixed raced Creole children. The people of this time spoke a dialect of French referred to as patois (later créole) and often worked the land of Haïti (then Saint-Domingue) to produce things like indigo and cacao with which they had great success. The success of these industries attracted more colonists from France to cross the Atlantic and settle in Saint-Domingue. It also opened up trade with foreign powers. As less Europeans desired to work and instead preferred to take part in the success of the colony's industries the French turned towards importing slaves from Africa; something they learned from the Dutch. Even in these times successful Creoles of color flourished in some cases they fared even better than White Creoles. Racial tensions developed between these groups of people as Creoles of color fought for even more rights but white Creoles felt that their connection to France made them better than the Creoles of color who were connected to the people they imported from Africa to work as slaves. Despite racial tension and the Code Noir French Men continued to have sexual relations with women of color (both free and slave). Frenchmen slept with many of their female slaves most of them formed relationships with certain female slaves (who they often made housekeeper) and the man usually took responsibility for the children he fathered with this kept woman eventually freeing her and their children. The contrast of the two types of sexual relationships that occurred between the French colonists and his female slaves are that often the man had sex with his slaves simply for sexual pleasure due to the lack of French female colonists during that time or for the production of more slaves. In the case of the kept woman, the Frenchman was often attracted to this woman.
Under the harsh living and labor conditions slaves in Saint-Domingue rarely survived more than ten years. Because of this the French were continuously importing African slaves to work the land and to learn various other crafts, adding to the luxury of slave owners who were mostly Frenchmen or white Creoles but many Creoles of color too owned slaves during these times; These free Creoles of color where often the offspring of Frenchmen or white Creoles and the kept or ex-kept black Creole women of these men. Slaves (both African & Creole) greatly outnumbered Frenchmen, white Creoles and free Creoles of color who were the next rising majority. The majority of Haitians today are the descendants of these slaves who became Creolized and bore Creole children. Mixed race Haitians are typically descended from White Creoles and Black Creoles. They are often of French and African descent but some may also be descended from the various other Europeans who settled in Saint-Domingue to take part in Saint-Domingue's wealth as well as from the Polish soldiers who were allowed to stay in Haiti after the revolution in reward for helping fight the French (Polish soldiers fought on both sides; those who fought for Haiti were granted this privilege). A small and unknown number of Haitians are descendants from African maroons and Taino Indians. Maroon slaves often fled to the mountains to escape Europeans and there they were welcomed by the some of the remaining Taino Indians. The Africans passed down the culture of the Tainos to the Haitians of today from their interaction with them and some of them intermarried creating a new race of people known as marabouts.
60% Percent of Haitians are of African descent. Sacatras, also known in Creole as ‘’brin’’, are heavily of African descent. They have a dark brown skin complexion and heavy African features. ‘’Griffes’’ are the offspring of ‘’Mulâtres’’ and ‘’Noirs’’.They may be marked by brown or chestnut skin color lighter than that of a ‘’Sacatra’’. They may have African features that may have been smoothed out a little. ‘’Griffes’’ are known in common Creole as ‘’Marron’’. During colonial times when races first began intermixing in ‘’Saint-Dominque’’ labels where given by exact genetic make-up but in modern Haiti many mixed raced people intermixed over generations so the exact genetic make-up of a person is often hard to keep track of. Racial labeling is often designated by skin color and hair type. 25-30% of Haiti’s population is of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The majority of this population is of mixed race, these Haitians have heavier European features. Racial groups that carry such features in Haiti are: ‘’Mulâtres’’ (‘’Milâte’’ in Creole), ‘’grimauds’’, ‘’jaunes’’ and ‘’roses’’. ‘’Mulâtres’’ vary in skin color. The defining features of a ‘’Mulâtre’’ is his or her loosely coiled or straight hair and their fair skin complexion (although a dark skinned person who has loosely coiled or straight hair may also be called milâte). ‘’Grimauds’’ are solely marked by their fair skin while ‘’jaunes’’ have a fairer complexion than the ‘’grimauds’’. ‘’Roses’’ have the fairest complexion of all people of African descent and look mostly European. The only thing that separates ‘’grimauds’’, ‘’jaunes’’ and ‘’roses’’ from being ‘’mulâtre’’ is that they do not have loosely coiled nor straight hair. 20-30% are the ‘’marabouts’’ and their descendants. ‘’marabouts’’ are the descendants of African maroons, Taino Indians and/or East Indians. Their descendants may also have European blood. They are marked by Dark skin and long black loosely coiled or straight hair as well as European and/or Taino facial features.
- Blanc adj./n. A white person (this term is also used on a non racial basis to refer to foreigners)
- Brun adj. to have a brown skin complexion
- Grimaud adj./n. a faire skinned
- Jaune adj. to be “yellow skinned” (fairer than a grimaud)
- Marabout n. a person of mixed African and Taino descent or African, European and Taino descent (typically dark or brown skinned with loosely coiled or straight hair)
- Marron adj. to have a brown or chestnut skin complexion
- Mulâtre n. a faire skinned Negro who has loosely coiled or straight hair
- Nègre n. A black person
- Négresse n. a black female
- Noir n. A black person and all mixes of black
- Rose adj. to be “pink skinned” (fairer than a jaune and very faire in complexion)
The two official languages of Haiti are French and Haitian Creole. All Haitians speak Haitian Creole, while only about 30% of the population can be considered bilingual in French and Haitian Creole. About 70% of the population speaks Haitian Creole only.
Traditionally, the two languages served different functions, with Haitian Creole the informal everyday language of all the people, regardless of social class, and French the language of formal situations: schools, newspapers, the law and the courts, and official documents and decrees. However, because the vast majority of Haitians speak only Creole, there have been efforts in recent years to expand its uses. In 1979, a law was passed that permitted Creole to be the language of instruction, and the Constitution of 1983 gave Creole the status of a national language. However, it was only in 1987 that the Constitution granted official status to Creole.
Attitudes toward French and Haitian Creole have been slow to change, however. Ever since colonial times, fluency in French has served as an indicator of social class. Since only whites and educated mulatto freedmen spoke French in colonial times, knowledge of French became the distinguishing trait between those who had been free before the Revolution and those who had only recently acquired freedom; and it ensured the superior status of the mulattos.
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