I was thinking today about my post of yesterday (see below: “Globalization and the Little Haitian Chair”), about the chubby little rough-hewn Haitian chair and its cheap, comfortable smooth plastic Chinese replacement. Even more, I was thinking about secondhand U.S. clothing that comes in to Haiti.
And I was thinking, in sharp contradistinction to what I wrote yesterday, that maybe Haitians, especially young people, prefer the secondhand clothes from the U.S. to the handmade stuff of the homeland.
I remember that one of Aristide’s street boys, a beautiful kid called Ayiti, loved to pick through pepe (the secondhand clothing that is sold strewn on the ground near the waterfront in Port-au-Prince), and would find amazing things that made him look like a fashion model.
Ayiti — whose name means Haiti in Creole — liked those tee-shirts and jeans more than pressed Haitian trousers and a homemade Haitian shirt, and probably there are thousands of kids like him who would rather appear in the clothing of global youth rather than the old-fashioned national homespun. I don’t know a young woman in the U.S. or Haiti who would prefer the blue, broad-skirted, rough-cloth, knee-length traditional dress of the Haitian countryside to a nice pair of secondhand jeans and a tight white tee-shirt.
So maybe the global product and the global import is more to most people’s taste, since the global culture has influenced everyone’s eye.
But still we are losing old authentic things. Maybe it’s only outsiders, like me, who care.