Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Until earlytwentieth century was the overcrowding of Haitian cities.

Until I took this course and had to write this essay, I had not thought very much about myfamily’s migration to the United States and why we migrated here. Because I, my mother andmy grandmother were born in Chicago, IL it is difficult to pinpoint the origins of my family’smigration. All that I have ever known was that I was Black or African-American. Additionally,I have never known my biological father, so I do not know the origins of his family. However,before my great-grandmother on my mother’s side passed away, I had conversations with herabout where she was born. She told me that she was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, her maidenname was Trudeau, and that she was Haitian Creole. She told me that she and her sistersmigrated to the United States from Haiti in the early 1900’s.Haiti became the world's first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean statewhen it threw off French colonial control and slavery in the early 19th century. Despite this fact,many black Haitians, like my great-grandmother, chose to flee Haiti in order to live in othercountries. One push factor that caused Haitians to move to the United States in the earlytwentieth century was the overcrowding of Haitian cities. During the early twentieth century,many rural Haitians began moving to the cities, which caused overcrowding and other issues.Some of the cities were so overcrowded that there was not enough housing and other resourcesthat people needed to survive. Therefore, many city residents sought better living conditionsabroad. Some went east, to the Dominican Republic, and some went to French-speaking Africancountries and to French Canada. Many others immigrated to the nearby United States.┬áBesides the overcrowding of Haitian cities, another push factor was the instability of theHaitian government. After a 1697 treaty between France and Spain divided HAiti into Frenchand Spanish colonies, France began developing its western portion as the colony of Saint-Domingue. Saint-Domingue began to be a dangerous place for European settlers, but over thecourse of the next century, African slave labor made it a rich colony that produced sugar andcoffee. During the 1790’s, the black workers defied the government and rose up in revolt. After adecade of bloody wars, the slaves ousted the French and established the independent nation ofHaiti in 1804. However, over the next two centuries, Haiti never really gained political stabilityand eventually became one of the poorest countries in the world, which cause families like mineto flee in search of a better life.The major pull factor in the Haitian migration to the United States was the opportunityfor work in order to take care of their families. The main cities where Haitian immigrantsresided include the greater New York, Miami, Boston, Atlanta and Orlando areas. In these andother areas, Haitians have set up many businesses that cater to the special needs of their fellowHaitians. Along with barbershops and car services, they operate restaurants that serve Haitianfood. Haitians that have been able to support themselves and their families in America do notforget their relatives that they have left behind in Haiti. They are estimated to give back as muchas 600 million dollars a year to relatives in Haiti. This money has become an important part ofthe Haitian national economy.Although I have always identified as Black or African-American, I have always knownthat my mother’s side of the family was from Louisiana by way of Haiti. This is as far back as Ican go. From my reading, I have learned that although there were several push and pull factorsthat caused us to migrate here, we have not always been treated well in the United States. While Ido identify with Haitians or know much about the traditions and culture, I hope that America’streatment of Haitian immigrants improves.

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