Thursday, January 14, 2010

Amidst the Tragedy, Some Fascinating Numbers

As we watch the horrific tragedy unfold in Haiti, I came across a staggering statistic that I thought was worth looking at in the context of this blog. During one of the news stories last night, it was reported that Brooklyn contains roughly 100,000 people of Haitian descent and that over 200,000 Haitian Americans live in the broader New York area. While we know how much of a melting pot New York is, this number really jumped out at me. This story from a few years back gives some specifics. A while back I did a post on the micropolitics of these ethnic communities throughout the city so its worth revisiting this topic.

The Haitian community in NYC is most prevalent in the Flatbush and Crown Heights neighborhoods In 2007 Mathieu Eugene became the first Haitian American elected to the New York City Council, representing the 40th District which is bisected by Flatbush Avenue. The New York Haitian community is served by the Haitian Times, the Bedford Haitian Community Center, and Radio Soleil, which has been broadcasting continuously in the midst of the earthquake crisis.

The number of elected officials of Haitian descent is relatively widespread across the United States although Florida and New York tend, unsurprisingly, to be best represented. Interestingly, President Obama's former Illinois State Senate seat is currenly held by Kwame Raoul, whose parents immigrated from Haiti. A further Obama--Haiti connection is provided by his Political Director, Patrick Gaspard, who is Haitian born.

For information about how to donate to the relief efforts in Haiti, click here.