The Stigma of Being "Haitian" in The Bahamas




Haitian nationals have been migrating to and settling in The Bahamas for hundreds of years. However the presence of Haitians in The Bahamas has been an ever-increasing cause for concern. In 1963 the Haitian community accounted for 3.2% of the population; in 2000 it represented 7.1% and was numerically the largest migrant group in The Bahamas. The relatively high numbers of Haitian migrants on some Bahamian islands have raised fears that The Bahamas is being overwhelmed by this group; in some enumeration districts Haitian nationals account for more than 20% of the population. In common with migrant groups elsewhere, a stigma has become attached to being a Haitian migrant in the Bahamas. Primarily through the use of census data and newspaper articles, this paper attempts to explain this stigma. Haitian migrants are associated with illegal status, poor education, and poverty. Language is a barrier which prevents Haitian migrants from fully participating in society and makes them distinct from the general population. First-generation migrants may face the prospect of being state-less. The paper stresses the need for the resident community to ensure that the stigma does not result in marginalization and lead to a breakdown in relations between the Haitian and non-Haitian groups.

Author Biographies

William J. Fielding, The College of The Bahamas

Director, Planning

Virginia Ballance, The College of The Bahamas

Nursing and Health Sciences Librarian Libraries and Instructional Media Services

Carol Scriven, The College of The Bahamas

Lecturer School of Business

Thaddeus McDonald, The College of The Bahamas

Dean of Education & Liberal Arts

Pandora Johnson, The College of The Bahamas

Vice President, Research, Planning & Development Office


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