Chances are if you’re a music fan, you know that former Fugees Wyclef Jean and Pras are both of Haitian descent. After the earthquake Wyclef has been leading the relief efforts, raising money for his charity Yele and trying to gain support for relocating 2 million Port au Prince residents. But what other celebrities have Haitian heritage? Plenty. Take a look at the following list.
If you think we just came up with this list to help raise money for earthquake relief efforts, you’re definitely on to us. You can send $10 right now to help the American Red Cross effort in Haiti by texting “Haiti” to 90999 (a charge will be added to your phone bill). For those who want to give more, please donate to Hope for Haiti Now. And don’t forget to watch tonight’s telethon: Hope for Haiti Now.
10. Maxwell — While the neo-soul crooner was raised in Brooklyn, his mother was from Haiti. He recently attended an emergency meeting organized by former President Bill Clinton to develop ways of helping the impoverished people of Haiti.
9. Arcade Fire’s Regine Chassagne — The singer for indie-rock group Arcade Fire recently wrote a piece for The Observer about her ancestral ties to the island and how she is desperately trying to find out about friends and family. “Everybody I talk to says the same thing: time has stopped. Simultaneously, time is at work. Sneakily passing through the cracks, taking the lives of survivors away, one by one.”
8. Jason Derulo – The man who went platinum with the hit “Whatcha Say” was born in Miami to parents who are Haitian immigrants. He recently told MTV News: “I’m really proud how the celebrities have kind of come together, especially Wyclef. I mean, he’s always been very, very instrumental in charities for Haiti, but he has really, really stepped up.”
7. Jean Michael-Basquiat — By combining elements of graffiti and African and Caribbean culture in his paintings, Basquiat brought street culture to high society in the ’80s. His father was Haitian and his mother was Puerto Rican. Although Basquiat died in 1988 of an overdose, Andy Warhol helped make the artist’s tortured work internationally famous. Celeb fans include Metallica’s Lars Ulrich and Russell Simmons.
6. Jonathan Vilma — The New Orleans Saints’ linebacker is the son of Haitian immigrants and he still has aunts and uncles who live in the country. He just released a newly designed T-shirt that celebrates the Saints’ success (they’re in the playoffs this year) and raises money for victims.
5. De la Soul’s TruGoy the Dove — While he grew up on Long Island, David Jude Jolicoeur, one-third of the consciousness-expanding rap trio De la Soul, is Haitian-American (as well as hilariously abrasive).
4. Garcelle Beauvais — Born in St. Marc, Haiti, Garcelle’s mother, Marie-Claire, moved the seven children in the family to Massachusetts after divorcing their father. Garcelle is best known for her roles in “NYPD Blue” and “Barbershop 2.” In this clip, from early in her career, she’s strolling along the beach as Luther Vandross sings “Take You Out.”
3. Tony Yayo, DJ Whoo Kid and (possibly) 50 Cent — G-Unit members Tony Yayo and DJ Whoo Kid recently spoke to MTV News about their concerns for their ancestral homeland. “It’s confusing, man,” said Tony. “It shows you how life is — Haiti lost everything in 30 seconds.” While 50 Cent has not widely mentioned a Haitian connection, his mother, who died when he was 12, was reportedly half Haitian (making him one-quarter).
2. Pierre Garcon — Haitian-American wide receiver Pierre Garcon was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2008. He spent his first year as a backup and moved into a starting position after other members of the team were injured. During the 2009 season, Garcon became a star with 47 receptions for 765 yards and 4 touchdowns.
1. W.E.B. Du Bois – You may not know who W.E.B. Du Bois is, but you should. The Haitian-American activist wrote many influential works about racism in America, including “The Souls of Black Folk.” One of his most famous works, “Credo,” begins:
“I believe in God who made of one blood all races that dwell on earth. I believe that all men, black and brown and white, are brothers, varying, through Time and Opportunity, in form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and in the possibility of infinite development.
“Especially do I believe in the Negro Race; in the beauty of its genius, the sweetness of its soul, and its strength in that meekness which shall yet inherit this turbulent earth.”
If there’s anyone you think we should add to this list, drop the name in the comments section.
Don’t forget: You can send $10 right now to help the American Red Cross effort in Haiti by texting “Haiti” to 90999 (a charge will be added to your phone bill). For those who want to give more, please donate to the American Red Cross International Response Fund.