OPINION: The time for Little Haiti Brooklyn has come
There are 190,718 Haitians living in New York state, 156,000 of whom live in New York City. Outside of Haiti, New York possesses the highest concentration of Haitians in the country. Therefore, it is time we as a state recognize our Haitian community and create a Little Haiti cultural and business district designation in Brooklyn.
The Haitian contribution to the United States of America and the wider Western Hemisphere cannot be overstated. It was the Haitian Revolution that served as an inspiration for every people trying to overthrow the yoke of colonialism throughout the Caribbean, the Americas and even the globe.
During the American Revolution, volunteer soldiers from Haiti — Les Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue – fought and died for the revolutionary cause. A monument in Savannah, Georgia, commemorates their sacrifice.
The victory of the Haitian armies over the mighty Napoleon Bonaparte forced him to sell the Louisiana Territory to President Thomas Jefferson. Thus, without the Haitian Revolution, there might not have been a westward expansion in the U.S.
The proposed Little Haiti BK district would be bounded by E. 16th Street, Parkside Avenue, Brooklyn Avenue, and Avenue H and will also include Church Avenue between Brooklyn and Albany avenues.
The district would bring tourists to cultural institutions and businesses in an area of Brooklyn that desperately needs an infusion of economic investment. My vision, is a Little Haiti that enriches the lives of everyone in the area.
Additionally, my calls for a Little Haiti BK should not be interpreted as an effort to position Haiti ahead of other Caribbean countries. I would be thrilled if the designation of Little Haiti BK led to the creation of a Little Trinidad, a Little Pakistan, and a Little Guyana. There is no need to limit ourselves.
The model I wish to base Little Haiti on is Little Italy, an area of this great city that is now an institution. Like in Little Italy, I want Haitian restaurants to dot across Little Haiti, and for every tourist coming to New York to jockey for our traditional culinary delights such as Poulet Aux Noix (chicken and cashew nuts) and Griyo (fried pork).
Tourists from around the world would be introduced to Haitian music like rock kreyol, rap kreyol and zouk-love. A Cultural Center would feature marches (Haitian markets) as well as performances of traditional Haitian dances, a style that incorporates African, American, and Latin influences. The district will also feature work by Haitian artists such as Patricia Brintle, whose work will be exhibited at my district office this Saturday.
Perhaps most importantly, visitors to Little Haiti would leave with an image of Haiti that was not one of poverty and despair but of hope, good cheer, great people and great food.
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte’s 42nd District includes parts of Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, South Midwood and Ditmas Park.
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