Haiti in Context: Voices
“History is not a procession of illustrious people. It’s about what happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is about.” – James Baldwin
The partner post to this post, Haiti in Context: History gives you the long view of how we have arrived to the crises in Haiti. This post gives you the story of the people connected and concerned with Haiti. I’ll let people’s voices speak for themselves:
Jo Nubian penned a powerful and inspiring reflection on Haiti
My heart has many compartments, sacred spaces for sacred people, and one of those spaces belongs to the people of Haiti. I don’t love Haiti because I pity her, let me be clear about this so that there is no misunderstanding. Haiti suffers with more pity and inaction intertwined than possibly any other place on this planet and my revolutionary spirit does not care much for those types of bandwagons. My love for her sits beautifully, poised and majestic, eagerly recalling a freedom that somehow my heart knows more than two hundred years after she became free. Yes, I celebrate her sons Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Alexandre Petion, but also every slave, every overseer, every African spirit who decided that our people were not chattel and were destined for liberation. That spirit is still very much alive in her, despite and maybe because of all the hardship that she faces. When I ponder Haiti, I ponder her with these feelings of love, respect, and adoration.
A good and brilliant scholar friend of mine Ferentz Lafargue fills us in on Haiti’s progress, not just its peril.
In recent months there has been a spate of articles exploring different aspects of Haiti’s progress and progress of Haitian-Americans in the United States. These articles range from a gushing profile by Amy Wilentz in Conde Nast Traveler to a Wall Street Journal piecehighlighting a rise in Haitian American football players, titled aptly enough “These Days, Everybody’s All-American Just May Be a Haitian.” These come on top of feature articles about prominent Haitian-Americans such as 2009 MacArthur recipient Edwidge Danticat, White House Director of the Office of Political Affairs Patrick Gaspard and musician and activist Wyclef Jean. On the one hand, these profiles suggest that Haitian-Americans are taking another step forward in gaining recognition in the United States, much as our immigrant predecessors from Ireland and Italy did in the first part of the 20th century. At the same time, when read alongside glowing reports from Bill Clinton, U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti, about improved conditions for entrepreneurs and improved security on the island, it appeared, as one colleague recently put it, that Haiti was finally “open for business.”
I am not sure who to attribute this poetic reflection I Am H.A.I.T.I. but it is ripe with painful truth, hurt, and prospect.
I AM H.A.I.T.I.
The only time the world cares about me is when I rise up and bury my own children, when I eviscerate my offspring. I am H.A.I.T.I., you pay attention to me when my children are entombed by the shoddy concrete that is left over for me to house my family while the grade concrete is shipped off to Western cities and suburbs. I am H.A.I.T.I., you now cry for me, when usually you don’t give a shit about me.
Both TastyKeish and Southside Scholar have beautiful and painful insights into what is happening to folks in Haiti today as well as super informative links, please visit their sites and be enriched!!! Remember it is the elevation of these and your voices that let the world know that we care. Not just that we care about disaster relief, but that we care about the next steps, policies, and programs towards Haiti. A friend recently told me of a set of Black folks who talked about many reasons for giving, but came to conclusion that it didn’t matter. Remember your dollars not only help with disaster relief but send a message that there is a real connection and concern with Haiti and her people. To me, the past few days have been draining and renewing at the same time. I am humbled to be surrounded by such great caring and loving thinkers and doers, I pray that it is this energy that is carried forward in the resurrection of Haiti.
*please pardon me for not citing where all these pieces came from. Folks have forwarded me so many things. Charge it to my head not my heart.