I was actually preparing a different post when I came across this story about Samyr Laine, the Haitian-American Olympian who is representing Haiti rather than the US. This story moved me as I imagined what it must be like for the parents of this young man to know that they raised a son lot bo who has such prove for and allegiance to their native land. I thought of my parents, who often marvel at my own passion for Haiti despite the fact that I was not born or raised there. I thought of my sons and how my husband and I have joked about whether they would represent Haiti or Ghana in the World Cup. Once I emerged from the fog of my emotions I began to think about Haiti and the Olympics in general and the questions of who represents where and why. Then I discovered that of the 5 Olympians representing Haiti only 1 currently lives there or has Haitian citizenship. This is, according to some, problematic [NB I found that article to be very troubling in its tone myself...]. How do we understand the involvement of Haitian-Americans who represent Haiti in the Olympics? Is there some way to think about their participation that isn't just about identity politics? Does citizenship matter as much in a worldwide event such as the Olympics?
What also struck me about these articles is how each one seems to link the Haitian-American athlete's desire to represent Haiti to post-earthquake Haiti. To "lift the spirits of Haitians" as one article puts it, or, "to give hope to the people who have none." It seems sometimes like another path to a familiar storyline. Regardless of how the story is spun, the fact is that those participating are proud to represent Haiti in the Olympics and will stand united together as they do. Here are their names and their events:
Jeffrey Julmis--100-meter dash
Moise Joseph--800 meters
Samyr Laine--triple jump
Marlena Wesh-- 200 & 400-meter races
Some of these events have already happened, did you follow and who were you rooting for? Did you root more passionately for Linouse Desravine in judo than you will for those in the other events? Will you be paying attention to the Haitian representation in the Olympics?