African American and Haitian Heritage and Healthcare

History of Haitian Cultural Group

The natives of Haiti mainly comprised of Taino or Arawak Indians. The area was used as a slave route to Europe. The slaves who escaped mixed with the natives resulting into inter-tribal marriages. Such marriages resulted in the emergence of the Haiti cultural group. The community is largely composed of blacks including the runaway African slaves who intermarried with the locals (Leyburn 58).

Haitian Values

Most of the Haitian morals are conformist and traditionalists. Good behavior is very essential in Haitian communities. Salutations are traded when one enters a public place. Unlike in the mainstream society, Haitians will greet people when they enter a store, an office or even a means of public transportation. When exchanging salutations with pals, males are expected to greet one another by shaking their arms. Conversely, ladies exchange a couple of kisses while men may also kiss female friends. Kids are trained to welcome visitors with greetings. They are expected to respect anybody older than them. It is common for men to call each other using the last name. Children and women are not allowed the same privilege. People in the same age group call each other by nicknames. In a family setting, it is common for the firstborn son to be referred to as Fanfan.

Haitian Worldview

Haiti is a poor country according to the global society. Poverty that the population endures is evident in the health statistics of the country. The country has the highest infant death rate in the entire America. It has a lifespan projection of 56 years, which is the least in Caribbean. Starvation is prevalent in the country among children and the extremely poor citizens since a larger population lives in remote areas. The country is often hit by natural disasters that require international intervention.

Haitian communication and language patterns

The commonly used languages are French and Haitian Creole. The entire country communicates in Haitian Creole while only twenty percent of the entire population communicates in French. Haitian Creole was officially integrated in 1987. The individuals fluent in French in the Haiti society are held in high esteem. Failure in speaking, reading and writing French in Haiti denies one the opportunity to work in government or conduct meaningful business. The Creole is a combination of African language, indigenous Amerindian, royal and Norman French.

Haitian art and expressive forms

The Haitian heritage is articulated uniquely in the creativity of its narrative content, songs and works of art. Works by renowned Haitians has been displayed in malls found in France and the United States. Music in Haiti includes ‘rasins’ and ‘kompas’, which appear to be the universal melodies in the contemporary Haitian communities. The country holds annual carnivals where groups compete. In the latest decades, music played included integrated rap and reggae songs. The country boasts of a variety of globally known bards and authors. There were attempts in the early 18th century to write in Creole (Leyburn 55). However, the down status of the language meant that most of the literature had to be written in French. Currently, more scripts are being written in Creole upon the inauguration of the language as an official language.

Haitian norms and rules

The Haitian community holds family life in high esteem irrespective of social status. The Haitians consider family with higher status than work or any other responsibility. All individuals are expected to perform their duties as husbands and wives can work. However, men are expected to provide financial support to their families. Women are allowed to work away from home but are expected to take care of household chores. Children are regarded as gifts from the Supreme Being and they are required to guard the family confidentiality and structure. They are to extend absolute reverence for the elders. The inheritance rules require parents to give equal inheritance to their children irrespective of gender. In return, children are supposed to take care of their ageing parents both bodily and monetarily.

Haitian lifestyle characteristics

The majority of the Haitians reside in the rural areas and they are known to be peasant farmers. Foods grown include avocados, mangoes, rice, corn and vegetables. The usual food comprises of rice cooked with black beans. Virtually all cooked foods comprise of plantains, which are akin to bananas. Families that can afford a meal have pork as a popular meal when deep-fried or barbecued. Poverty levels of most Haitians mean that a majority of the population does not receive higher education. All learners don uniforms whereas very few people receive higher education. This results in the population sinking deeper into poverty.

Western clothes are common among the Haitians. Guayabera is common among men and it incorporates a loose-fitting shirt. The community allows females to put on pants while in the countryside females persistently dress in full clothes and kilts. The country experiences serious sanitation issues given that there are few toilets. There is acute lack of medical services, which contributes to the high number of sicknesses that afflict the population including malaria, tuberculosis and parasitic infections (Mintz 75).

Haitian relationship patterns

The social basis in the rural Haitian families is the extended family. Civilization that led to the migration of individuals to urban centers in search of employment resulted into nuclear families groupings. Husbands and wives contribute to the financial obligations. In the contemporary families, men assist women in carrying out household chores. Generally, the Haitian setting does not condone gender discrimination. The popular and ordinary bylaw nuptial amongst the underprivileged is plasaj. However, it is not acknowledged as lawful by the state administration. In the community setting, it is viewed as a normal and appropriate form of marriage. Interestingly, an individual irrespective of gender may have a variety of affairs in lifetime. Offspring sired by the same parent from different relationships consider each other’s sibling during marriage. They reside in the same household while children have the freedom to take any of the parent’s names when parents separate.

Haitian common rituals

The Haitian culture recognizes the main life transitions including birth, marriage and death. They are marked through sacred rituals such as Voodoo and Christian practices. Inherently, sacred rituals are essential elements of the community life and culture. Catholicism, Voodoos and Christian morals appeared as the most popular spiritual practices. However, several groups practice Protestantism. Contrary to the ‘black magic’ repute in books voodoo in the Haitian context is a religious practice founded on familial force, ethnic divinity and mythic symbols. During burials it becomes apparent for the voodoo rites to be conducted to the relatives and after them sacrament is offered by the Catholics from Rome. The majority of the populations practice both voodoo and Roman Catholicism simultaneously. The authorities do not require religions to adhere to any specific guideline in conducting their activities (Mintz 78).

Haitian assimilation

Similar to the African and India counterparts the Haitians have been assimilated into the mainstream society. They are found in almost every global location. In the United States, the Haitians form a significant percentage of the minority population.

Haitian health behaviors and practices

Considering that the community practices voodoo and other folk medicine, traditional healing is common. When a person is ill (possessed by spirits in voodoo context), drumming and chicken sacrifices are common to heal the sick. Herbalists are popular among the Haitians if the illness is believed to accrue from a natural cause (Veeken 312). They treat natural illnesses believed to be an imbalance with nature using herbs. Most Haitians are convinced that some conditions are unnatural. They may believe that illness results from withdrawing favor by God. They also have practices such as placing a knife beneath a bed to diminish labor pain.

Professional approach for Haitian health care

Health professionals working with the Haitian Americans should maintain a non-judgmental approach towards non-traditional health beliefs. The assessment of health practices that result from the beliefs is fundamental given that the practices and beliefs may be detrimental to the health of individuals. It has been suggested that nurses should integrate folk practices including the use of herbs in the treatment plan. Professional caution should be taken to ensure that the incorporation of herbs is not harmful and the client must have accepted such treatment. Practices such as placing a knife beneath a bed are un-harmful to the client if the client accepts the conventional treatment.

Non-traditional health convictions and practices are strappingly entrenched in the Haitian Americans. Nurses should identify therapies and management as they eventually add value to the application of traditional treatment. Typically, the traditional illness explanation of a condition will not automatically match with the Haitian worldview of similar condition. When a patient believes that the condition is a punishment from God, such a patient may refuse to abide by the treatment routine (Holcomb, Parsons, Giger and Davidhizar 257). Therefore, nurses should cautiously try to dismiss such beliefs if the patient is to receive effective treatment. The involvement of the family is essential if the traditional explanation is to be valid.

Works Cited

Holcomb, Lygia, Lynn Parsons, Joyce Giger, and Ruth Davidhizar. “Haitian Americans: Implications for Nursing Care.” Journal of Community Health Nursing 13.4(1996): 249-260. Print.

Leyburn, James. The Haitian People. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1966. Print.

Mintz, Stephano. “Can Haiti Change?” Foreign Affairs 74.1(1995): 73-87. Print.

Smolowe, Johnson. “Shadow Play.” Time 1(1994): 32-34. Print.

Veeken, Hermann. “Hope for Haiti?” British Medical Journal 307.20 (1993): 312-313. Print.

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NursingBird. "African American and Haitian Heritage and Healthcare." May 24, 2022.