Folks watch and comment on her videos know her as the bold and outspoken voice behind The Frustrated Haitian. They often wonder about the young woman who is a one-stop soap box for social topics about Haiti. Where does all that boldness come from? How does she decide what to discuss?
Here’s one question they won’t have to wonder much about: Why are her videos so popular? She speaks her mind in a way that some of her viewers wished they could. And there’s the authoritative way she expresses her views when she’s discussing everything from the exorbitant price of living in Haiti, to corporal punishment to single motherhood in the Haitian-American community, to language use among Haitian-Americans—among other topics. What started as personal outlet has grown into a respected brand with 2K Youtube subscribers, and with Olina Brice—better known as The Frustrated Haitian—as head-vlogger-in-charge.
Kreyolicious: Tell us about The Frustrated Haitian.
Many think I’m just a little girl behind the camera. However, I’m 34 years young. I born and raised in Little Haiti, Miami Florida. I’ve seen the up’s and downs of the Haitian Community. I feel we should be so much further, one of the most progressive Caribbean countries but we are like an expensive car with a great engine that’s isn’t moving although we’re pressing the gas pedal. What is the missing link?
We have millions of people that are available and eager to work but with no true job creation plans and the constant interference from the Haitian elite, the United States government, the poor infrastructure and education system many days are lost and so is the opportunity to improve the country. The leaders of the Republic of Haiti have kept the citizens generationaly uneducated—which have also led to many other issues within the country and our community today.
Kreyolicious: What made you decide start a vlog?
I wanted to vent my frustrations and find a community of people that may feel the same way. I wanted to connect with the under 50, and get them thinking and talking. My motto is you cannot talk about all the great parts without talking about the bad parts. I wanted to be the grey area that can actually look at the Republic of Haiti for what it really is. Many from the diaspora want to disregard the true issues and only talk about the beauty of the country and or talk about who is Haitian in Hollywood. However, I wanted to be different.
When I started in 2008, Haiti was going through a food crisis. My mother called me with panic and distress in her voice. She was calling me about Haiti. She told me, “Timoun yo grangou”—the children are hungry. Have you been watching the news? There is mayhem in the country?” At that moment, I knew the stress of Haiti was about to be pass down to me like a trust fund…That phone call is what changed my life and I still think about it today. So, when I turn on the camera i’m hoping to connect with other people from the diaspora that is going through the same thing.
Kreyolicious: Girl, how do you get the gumption to put yourself on a platform like YouTube and speak your mind like you do?
I’ve always been comfortable speaking up when I needed to. However I’m an introvert, but I was born a fighter. I’ve gone toe-to-toe with people since grade school. I think those experiences made me stronger. I do understand that we live in a time of political correctness. However Haitian and/or Black issues is our responsibility…so staying silent will not get us anywhere. Remember Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” So, I speak up not to offend but to let people know that as a Haitian born in the USA that we’re not ignoring the issues that are going on in Haiti.
Kreyolicious: Out of all the videos you’ve made, which one are you most proud of? Why?
Well, all of the videos I’ve done are my babies. However, it will be Haitian Creole! Poukisa Ou Pa Pale Kreyòl. I was explaining the reality of First Generation American Haitians living in the USA. Communication is important, communicating with Natif Natals (Native Haitians) is a struggle that many go through.
It’s great that we have found an opportunity here in the USA but passing our culture and language to our children is important. We cannot let or our ancestral steps disappear because we’ve moved to another country. We should be building and growing a stronger community no matter where we go and yes, speaking the language is a part of that. If we do not, we are committing self inflicted cultural genocide.
Kreyolicious: What advice would you give to someone who’d like to start a vlog?
I wish I had this advice in 2008. [Laughter] One of most important things to do is evaluate; why you want to vlog? When you become comfortable with that reason. Do not allow anyone to deter you from that. Please understand you will have trolls—internet bullies— and they will say anything and everything to offend you. So, make sure you develop thick skin. You need to be consistent if you would like to build an audience. Your audience becomes really invested in what you have to offer so you cannot leave them hanging.
Become like a TV show and release your content on a schedule so your audience knows when to check your channel for new videos. Lastly remember your brand. Are you doing this for fun and game or are you serious? If so, develop your brand values, build your brand and protect it.
Kreyolicious: Have you been to Haiti?
Mewi, I am the Frustrated Haitian. Although I made a video called “Haiti is Too Expensive”, I think it’s very important that parents expose their children to their homeland. You can represent being Haitian all you want, but the true experience is visiting the Republic of Haiti.
Kreyolicious: Are the videos you make the primary way you remain connected to the culture?
I’m Haitian. My culture walks with me everyday. Being part of a big Haitian family, exposure to the Haitian Culture was non-negotiable especially growing up in Little Haiti. Almost everything I do comes from my Haitian Family. From speaking creole when I see Haitian elders to preparing food. When I need to relax I listen to Rasin music. When I need to get motivated I listen to Kompa and or Zouk. Daan Junior, Jacques Sauveur Jean and Coupe Cloue are a few of my favorites.
I make the videos really to explain what it’s like being born and raised Haitian in the USA. The things that many of us had to go through and still go through today. Also to express my frustration with Haiti and the Haitian Community and provide a platform for people to discuss not only Haiti but things that are going on in the African Diaspora.
Kreyolicious: What should we expect from you next?
Well when it comes to Haiti there are a few projects in the works. At the moment I can only tell you about the Frustrated Haitian T-shirts which will launch [this] summer. I’m building this brand and my exposure as the Frustrated Haitian to later help Haiti any way that I can. Lastly you can catch me on Naturally Olina where I talk about natural hair. Kreyolicious, thank you so much for the steps that you’re making within the Haitian community. It’s taking us a while but the keyword is unity. Thank you for giving your readers and my subscribers the opportunity to get to know me a little better. I really do appreciate it….
CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEOS ON THE FRUSTRATED HAITIAN YOUTUBE CHANNEL.