ATLANTA, Georgia, USA (sentinel.ht) – Carline Smothers prides herself as a mother and “businesswoman with a higher purpose”. She started Zoe Beautee in 2011, offering a line of t-shirts that sport the Creole phrase Bèl Fanm (Beautiful Woman) to celebrate Haitian beauty and language. “My goal is to help build confidence and self-love,” says Smothers.
And being the mother of three young Haitian American children (a nine-year-old son and two daughters, ages seven and three), Smothers says she was moved to create and self-publish two children’s books that highlight their Haitian heritage: “Fanmi Mwen (My Family),” written in Haitian Creole and English, and “Mmmmm! Soup Joumou”.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel, Mrs. Smothers was asked, “what are African-Americans missing about the Haitian culture?” To which she responded:
There are so many negative stereotypes about Haitians. When I was younger, my family and I were constantly teased for being Haitian in school. As I would look at the American children who teased us, their skin, eyes, and hair looked like ours. I did not understand why we were treated so cruel. Some kids would even fight and throw things at the Haitian students. They told us we ate cats and dogs. That all Haitians are dark-black, ugly, and dirty.
I would get offended when I was told I did not look Haitian, which insinuated that Haitians are not beautiful people. Of course, everything stated above is completely false. We are beautiful people who come in all shades, as everyone else around the world. I had no idea where these kids were getting their information from, or if that is what was being taught in their homes.
My parents are immigrants from Haiti and instilled in my siblings and me values, empathy, respect, and compassion. They came to America to give us a better opportunity to grow and prosper. I do not see it being any different from others who move from state-to-state, for such growth. My parents did not leave Haiti because they didn’t like it there; in fact, they told us all the time how beautiful Haiti is, with amazing beaches and mountains. Haitian culture is rich in food, language, music, art, and so much more. If we all took the time to learn about other cultures, this world would be a better place!
Read more of Carline Smothers’ interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel.