Haitian documentary portrays Brooklyn life in ‘80s

Cast members pose at the Kent Theatre in Brooklyn after a screening of “Haitian Polo” produced by DJ Scripz.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

A recent release of “The Haitian Polo Documentary” that chronicles gritty urban streets, discrimination, and a language barrier young Haitian faced when they arrived in Brooklyn with their parents back in the 1980s and 1990s, received rave reviews from a community audience.

The Red Carpet screening at the Kent Theater in Brooklyn, attracted a wide cross-section of moviegoers that applauded the compelling narration of events during the one-hour viewing of the flick.

Directed by Caged Cubez, and produced by DJ Scripz, the group of men recounted their journey through the violent streets and drug infested neighborhoods they had to endure while trying to fit into a society that was new to an influx of Haitian immigrants.

Showcasing images of schools they attended, and multilevel dwellings they called home back then, the friends recalled fighting with street-wise youths who were not accepting of the way they lived and dressed. This led to volatile situations and in many instances weapon violence.

The documentary traces a rebirth of the Haitians who created their sense of style to fit-in. They embraced Polo designs, moving away from the conservative Haitian garments of which they were accustomed, to standout in the neighborhood.

“When you dress in slacks, a tucked-in button-down shirt, white tube socks, and black shoes, it wasn’t hard to notice you were a Haitian, because the life of a young Haitian consisted of school, home and church,” said DJ Scripz.

During this era, even though many other popular brands were appealing, the Ralph Lauren Polo collection put the young men a class of their own. They used their minimum wage earnings to purchase the high-end clothing they said carried respect and admiration in the community.

One-of-a kind Polo by Ralph Lauren sweaters and jackets created a barrier from bullying on the streets of Crown Heights, Flatbush, and other parts of Brooklyn that became home to more than 600,000 Haitians in the ‘80s.

The documentary captures the generation that was determined to make their way in the community with inspired Ralph Lauren garments, one of the most recognized names in American fashion.

“Ralph Lauren managed to create an enduring empire, from the ‘pony’ to the ‘crest’ to the ‘teddy bear’ design, that the immigrants called his path to success and the American way,” argues cast members.

Stating that Haiti is ‘the pearl of the Caribbean’ and the world’s first Black Republic, and being Haitian carry a deep sense of national pride, it was their mission to shine, in Polo outfits.

The history of Lauren, a poor Bronx-born boy who sold clothes on the streets and who became world-famous, struck a chord with the Haitians whose vintage pieces are worth thousands of dollars in today’s market.

The stirring documentary film features cast members: Sadat X, Thirstin How III, Tyrone (Skeletor), Fabian Grant, Mesfin Tafari Savage, Kevin, Jean Rudy Masse, Prance-Lo, Dr. Ronelus, Wilson Jean, Adler Milord, Ed Michel, Ski-Black, Moise “Rafe” Vernau (From hit Web series Money & Violence), Parnel, Saif Abdul-Hakim Rose (Quan), Ralph Etiene, Beauval Aristide, James, Lance Gee, Billy Augmin, Duke Da God!! Music by Eddie Cleverhands.

“The Haitian Polo Documentary” is now out on DVD. To learn more, go to https://thehaitianpolodocumentarybydjscripz.vhx.tv and follow the film crew on Instagram.

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