As Haitians continue to move to the United States in large numbers seeking economic opportunities and refuge from political repression and environmental degradation, their relationship with African Americans has also become more obvious. Haitians are settling in larger numbers in predominantly African American neighborhoods, and their U.S.-born children identify with African Americans and face many of the same issues as black youth in urban America. As Zéphir observed, Haitians remain an isolated group. This group centripetality greatly influences the relationship between Haitians and African Americans as well as how African Americans perceive Haitians as a group. This article examines the degree of group interaction between Haitians and African Americans in Mattapan, a neighborhood of Boston. It looks at the role that community-based organizations serving the neighborhood play in intergroup collaboration, and where and whether Haitians and African Americans actually interact. It further explores some of the group perceptions that influence Haitian and African American relations. The primary data for this analysis are based on 20 key informant interviews of Haitian and African American community leaders who have either lived or worked in Mattapan for at least three years. Data from the key informant interviews are supplemented with additional data from an assessment of the Haitian community in Boston that the William Monroe Trotter Institute at UMass Boston has conducted in collaboration with the Center for Community-Based Research (CCBR) at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. As part of the Haitian community assessment, the Trotter Institute and CCBR conducted: (1) 42 key informant interviews of Haitian religious leaders, business owners, social providers, health care professionals, and representatives of the Haitian media in Boston; and (2) nine focus groups with 78 Haitian participants. Data from the assessment interviews and focus groups provide valuable information about Haitians’ attitudes toward the concept of neighborhood and the “Americanization” of Haitian-American youths.


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