September 03, 2012


This details the similarities between Haiti and New Orleans, from disaster zones to food, voodoo and ethnic background of inhabitants.


An excerpt:

New Orleans and Haiti were profoundly connected long before their dual disasters. Nowhere else in the U.S. has a longer, deeper relationship with Haiti than New Orleans. Their histories crisscross: Both suffered colonization and enslavement by the Spanish and French. Louisiana even came to be part of the US because of Haiti: France sold the Louisiana Territory -- approximately one-third of the current U.S. land mass -- to the U.S. in 1803 to recoup some of the financial losses it incurred while trying to defeat the Haitian revolution. (France also wanted to create a "maritime rival," as Napoleon called it, to England.[i]) Blacks, mulattoes, and whites, free and enslaved, moved back and forth between the two places so much that, by 1809, one in two of New Orleans' inhabitants was from Haiti.[ii] Today, the populations share gene pools and names via the same French, Spanish, and African ancestors.
They have similar cultures, with connections between the music, the living French language and slightly overlapping Creole ones, Carnival and parading (rara, musical troupes in Haitian streets, and the uniquely New Orleans street traditions of second lines and Mardi Gras Indians), Creole food and Creole architecture, and the religion spelled Vodou in Haiti and Voodoo in New Orleans. Both are rich in laid-back and highly interactive communities, and keeping them strong is what underlies a lot of the traditions, like courtyard- and stoop-sitting, "speaking to" your neighbor, and communal street reveling.