Lekòl, legliz, lakay is a dogma that has been instilled in Haitian children from a young age. When translated into English, the three words mean school, church and home. These three words also represent the values that Haitians regard as the most important: education, faith, and family. As society continues to evolve, these values have started to conflict with the values of gen-z Haitian-Americans.
Many Haitians immigrated to the United States in pursuit of educational opportunities. In Haiti, financial barriers made education inaccessible, so when a child was able to go to school, they would often take great lengths to receive an education. Like many Haitian parents, my parents believed that education was the gateway to a successful life, which is why academic excellence was an expectation. At times, these expectations can be demanding. For example, some parents want their children to become either a nurse, doctor, lawyer, or engineer, which stems from the belief that these are the only fields that will provide a sustainable and financially stable life.
But as technology has developed, it has created new opportunities for gen-z to pursue nonconventional careers in the social media, and entertainment. To many parents, the educational and career achievements of their children show how well they were able to raise their children in traditional Haitian values.
Faith is arguably, the most contentiousof the three values. Many Haitians families dedicated at least one day in theweek for religious observance, and some made going to church mandatory. Thereason why many Haitian families are heavily involved in church, derives fromthe fact that Haiti is highly religious country. Faith has caused gen-z HaitianAmericans to develop a complicated view on religion. Many children havedeviated from their traditional religious upbringing and have resorted to creatingtheir own belief system that aligns with their views on what faith should looklike. But what cannot be ignored is the fact that faith fosters community.
Family plays a crucial role in ensuring that traditions are passed down to future generations. Haitians have had to assimilate to the American culture, which has made it difficult for younger generations to preserve elements that are paramount to Haitian culture.These elements include recipes, home remedies, and holidays. What some Haitian children view as a value system that kept them sheltered also serves as a way to preserve Haitian traditions. None of the three values mentioned supersede one another but work together to create a value system that is revered and upheld by Haitians everywhere.
Thajhea Desir, is a senior at Howard University, majoring in political science and minoring in broadcast journalism.
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