Archive for the ‘An n’ Pale’ Category

An n’ Pale | I became known as the tall lady wearing the headwrap! – by Tassiana Larochelle, HCX Fundraising Intern



Various adjectives come to mind when attempting to describe style maven Paola Mathé,  the multi-talented tour de force behind Fanm Djanm and her personal blog Lost in the City.  Bright, arresting, intelligent, supportive, confident and inviting are just a few. The stunning Haitian beauty and founder of Fanm Djanm joined HCX at Kinanm Lounge & Bar in Brooklyn on Thursday, March 19th for our An n’ Pale series with HCX Director Régine M. Roumain.

The evening opened with a special poetic performance by Schneider Laurent and Marc Henry Valmond.  Theirs was a thought provoking, passionate, and seductive piece performed to an imagined beloved and paying tribute to such greats as Frankétienne.

When asked about the genesis of Fanm Djanm, Mathé beamed excitedly.  “I wanted to have a platform to tell stories about different women, their strength and showcase African beauty and culture.”

One of the most insightful moments of the evening came when Mathé reflected on her time in Haiti. “My most vivid memories of living in Haiti were of the “machann“, the street merchants, who I wish I got to hug and got to know.  I remember how strong they seemed and how colorful their head wraps were because they were always carrying a load on their heads. I realize that their loads weren’t only physical; most of these women were poor, many were single, working various jobs, taking care of family members, and most likely had no time to take care of themselves.  I wanted to honor that.”

As to where the idea for the head wraps came from? “I had always worn head wraps and then at some point, I just became known as the tall lady wearing the head wraps! She joked.

Mathé seemed as fascinated and inspired by her followers as they were her.  “I also think of the strong women I’ve gotten to meet here in New York.  It’s important to have a platform for sharing their stories and a supportive network where we could empower each other.”

The evening appropriately ended on a fun note with an impromptu head wrapping session. We thank Paola for a wonderful night of dialogue.

Click here to look at photos of this An n’ Pale.

Click here to purchase a beautiful headwrap.

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An n’ Pale | It’s not THE violin, It’s MY violin! – by Tassiana Larochelle, HCX Fundraising Intern



My name is Daniel. I come from a small town called Morgan, not famous. By famous, I mean real, by real, I mean relevant, by relevant, I mean a connection to you.”  Daniel Bernard Roumain believes in declarations, in fact, one the highlights of our An n’ Pale | Café Conversation came when Daniel had us all declare our names in unison. The HCX community braved the cold and mighty wind for a moderated discussion with the acclaimed composer and violinist on Friday, February 20. Moderated by HCX Executive Director Régine M. Roumain, Daniel intimately connected and engaged with the crowd, speaking of the inspiration for his art, his childhood, his mentors, the need for music in schools and his cultural identity. “There’s a rhythm to everything” said Daniel, who has played the violin since the age of six. “I found rhythm in my mother cooking at 2:37 in the morning!”.

After the conversation, the audience was treated to a veritable feast of a performance. “My violin can be anything” declared Daniel, “I want my violin to breath, cry, laugh, sing, I want to play with my whole body!”  The audience was captivated by his eclectically fused soundscapes that incorporated everything from Hip Hop to psychedelic funk. His final piece ‘Bridge’, a haunting lamentation played over an instrumental arrangement of America (My country, ’tis of Thee), invited listeners to meditate on the meaning of being Haitian in America. “I come from a small town called Morgan, Florida” Daniel reiterated at the end of his performance “but my heart, my soul, belongs to Haiti“.

Click here to view photos of this An n’ Pale.
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An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with Michele Montas-Dominique – by Lashawn Garnes


Michele montas

As the bright lights dim low, graciously enters Michele Montas-Dominique, a well respected Haitian journalist with a long and impactful legacy centered around the need for transparency in journalism. Madame Montas-Dominique makes her way to the front of the room as the crowd take their seats. Accompanying Madame Montas Dominique is Jocelyn McCalla, the moderator for this addition of Haiti Cultural Exchange’s An n’ Pale| Café Conversation series, welcomes Michele Montas Dominique to discuss the importance of free speech and the role of journalism in Haiti.

Madame Montas-Dominique started the conversation by reminiscing about Haiti as the audience wanted to know more about her work at Radio Haiti Inter.  She began by highlighting the uniqueness of Radio Haiti and how it was the first independent radio station in all of Haiti to broadcast entirely in Krèyol.  She reminded us that at that time, all radio and media outlets were published in French, yet the people were speaking Krèyol.  The use of the Krèyol language as the tool, in which the Haitian masses were able to receive and report local and international news with no filter, was viewed as a threat to the political and status quo order of the day.  Montas-Dominique wanted a station that was for the Haitian people, by the Haitian people.  And thus, Radio Haiti Inter was born.  Founded by her late husband Jean Dominique, Radio Haiti shed light on the political corruption during the period of the 1960’s through the year of 2003. The thick political and economic climate at this time brought about the assassination of Jean Dominique and her forced exile from Haiti.  Radio Haiti’s transparency in dissecting the politics, economic and cultural conduct can now be heard online for scholars, historians, students and anyone who has a passion for Haiti’s 20th century political climate.

“We were all dreaming out loud about changing things” said Montas-Dominique.

The influence of Radio Haiti was important because people became more involved in what was going on within their country.  She remembers times when there were protests happening right on the street in front of her house, and having to go through barricades and angry Haitians to make it to their station in order to report what was happening.  The Haitian people were supportive of Radio Haiti and gave them the utmost respect.

Before Madame Montas Dominique exile, she took meticulous care in preserving and safeguarding the program recordings broadcasted on Radio Haiti Inter. Now, she has partnered with the Human Rights Archive at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library in providing digitized audio recordings that showcases Haitian society, culture and politics during her and her late husband’s reign.

One question that resonated with the crowd was about how the Haitian Diaspora could get more involved with what was going on in Haiti.  Montas-Dominique reminds us that the by knowing how powerful our voice is and sharing our stories and history through media, is one of the best ways to get involved.  Sharing our experiences and our families experiences can help negate the negative connotations that surround Haiti and the Diaspora.

We thank Michele Montas-Dominique and Jocelyn McCalla for coming out to speak on this cold January day, and thank everyone who came.  HCX appreciates the support and hope to see you at the next An n’ Pale | Cafe Conversation with Daniel Bernard Roumain on Friday, February 20th.

Visit for more information on Michele’s projects.

Click here to view photos from the event!

This An n’ Pale took place on January 29th, 2014.

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An n’ Pale | Café Conversation with Manbo Dòwòti Desir


Dowoti Alice Ann palePlaces of forgetting, places of remembering. These were the focus of the An n’ Pale|Café Conversation with Manbo Dòwòti Désir on Thursday, October 23, 2014. The talk highlighted her new book, Goud kase goud: Conjuring Memory in Spaces of the AfroAtlantic. The special event, organized by Haiti Cultural Exchange and moderated by Advisory Board member and Kiskeácity founder Alice Backer, was an opportunity to explore the connections between sacred space and public discourse. Those gathered at FiveMyles Gallery enjoyed wine and other refreshments as they awaited the arrival of the guest of honor. Some spoke in hushed voices about the preservation of African culture in the Diaspora, which had been the topic of Manbo Dòwòti’s appearances on Backer’s radio program, Legacy of 1804. Others talked about their travels in Africa and throughout the Diaspora, and wondered aloud at what insights Désir would offer up during the conversation.

As a light rain began to fall, she arrived to hold court. After a brief welcome from HCX Executive Director Régine M. Roumain, Ms. Backer and Manbo Dòwòti took their places in the front of the room. Alice first introduced the speaker, highlighting her extensive work in academia as well as in the cultural sphere, and underscored her participation in the UN’s commemoration of the International Decade for Africa. An extremely regal woman with a warm presence, members of the audience were invited to share in an exchange of ideas as Manbo Dòwòti and Ms. Backer began. In the course of her research for Goud kase goud, Désir completed a multi-year journey to 16 countries, visiting places imprinted with the energy of the Ma’afa. The images and words that she brings together capture the pain and longing of separation, the suffering of oppression, the hope of salvation, and the sweet confidence of liberty.

The author presented a slideshow of the sites detailed in the book. Some are places of forgetting, like the well at Elmina castle in Ghana. The Manbo explained that captive Africans were made to walk around this well several times, reciting incantations that severed their connection with the Motherland. She said that this was as much a show of mercy as it was of brutality. The captors understood that the separation would have been too great, too generationally scarring, without some form of ritual passage. Other sites were places to allow remembrance and reflection, like the “Redemption Song” sculpture in Kingston, Jamaica’s Emancipation Park. The figures, a Black man and Black woman, rise serenely from the water, their faces to the sky. Just as places like Elmina and Goree Islands mark where captives left Home, sites such as Emancipation Park and Manhattan’s African Burial Ground National Monument speak to the ways in which they and their children pursued freedom, dignity, and a new sense of home on the other side of the Atlantic.

During the question and answer session, Manbo Dòwòti spoke of how her journey into AfroAtlantic religious traditions and her experience as an artist in the public domain informed the project that became Goud kase goud. As a vodouisante, she understands how public space and spectacle serve as vehicles for addressing social issues. She conveyed the importance of ritual, of psycho-spiritual healing, in movements for social justice. The evening closed on a high note, with Manbo Dòwòti taking time to speak individually with members of the audience and sign copies of her book.

To see pictures of this event, click here!

To purchase your copy of Goud kase goud: Conjuring Memory in Spaces of the AfroAtlantic, visit the HCX Boutik at 558 St.John’s Place | Brooklyn, NY.

By Gerard D. Miller, Jr., An n’ Pale participant

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