ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
The corruption in the political system of Haiti pre-dated Aristide and is not reflective of some
innate Haitian character dysfunction. Your children sir have nothing to be ashamed about
that they are Haitian. The Haitian people are pioneers in the human rights struggle
Books on the Caribbean
Hubert Cole. Christophe: King of Haiti. New York: The Viking Press, 1967.
C.L.R. James. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938)
Josaphat B. Kubayanda. The Poet’s Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire (1990)
Paul Laraque and Jack Hirschman. Open Gate An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry (2001)
David P. Geggus, ed. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World. University of South Carolina Press, 2001.
Jean-Bertand Aristide. Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization
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Dialogue between Two Haitians
Ezili Danto Responds to EKL28
I believe it would do a great deal of good for you to reprint the following exchange between two Haitians which has just taken place on the Corbett list, an internet discussion group.
Nowhere else have I read such a clear exposition of the two sides in the Haitian debate, two sides which are represented in our debates here but with less information.
I really feel that Jamaicans need to understand how the pro-Aristide group feels, particularly since they have been subject to such an avalanche of negative propaganda re their President.
Ezili Danto explains who she is in the course of her reply. Regards, John
EKL 28 writes to Erzili Danto — /7/04 10:45:19 AM,:
I really do not think that you are honest about the assessment of the political arena in Haiti. He [Aristide] had created its own defeat in the political arena. He does not have the support that he had in 1991. You could see the crowd in the streets of Haiti being happy of its departure. I was one of his fans. I thought that he [was] a chance to do something great for Haiti. He lied so much that no government could trust him anymore. He had paid his “shemeres” to kill and destroy the people and you know.
I have [been] to Haiti a few time this year, and I live a few miles from his mansion. I could see for myself that He has electricity for his birds and a few miles away there is none. He had paid millions, millions of dollars to lobbyists instead of taking care of the people. We need to stop that motto in Haiti: “the winner takes all.”. All the sections in the country must be involved in order to change the landscape of the country. I’m sick in tired of traveling to Santo Domingo and see all this infrastructure and Haiti does not. We need to stop blaming other governments for our failure. It is about time for us to look at ourselves in the mirror and said that we failed as Haitian for the past 200 years. We need to move forward and do something for the country so our kids can see a better life in the country instead of being ridicule by the world.
Ezili Danto responds to EKL28:
Yes indeed, you, EKL28 may look at yourself in the mirror and say you’ve failed because all you are doing is repeating the racist U.S. State department’s refrain. I, on the other hand, work directly with Haiti’s grassroots, both in the U.S. and in Haiti, for decades now. I can’t be fooled or moved by lies or crowds in streets seemingly celebrating Aristide’s abduction.
I am a lawyer and stand for the principles of law, for the Constitution. There is a Constitutionally elected president in Haiti. He is the only legitimate Haitian leader and shall remain so until his term is duly served. He cannot simply be forcefully removed or abducted so that his people’s Duvalierist enemies may set up an illegitimate government. That is unlawful and in contravention of every civilized principle human beings worldwide have carved out during these last 2004 years of human history.
A crowd cheering doesn’t make this any less reprehensible. The fact that you were once one of Aristide “fans” also doesn’t allow you or anyone else to try and overthrow a duly elected government by violent coercion or at gunpoint. There are democratic ways of removing a President. If “fans” like you had the people-juice to have removed Aristide, then “fans” like you would have put together a platform of your own and built a constituency and gone to elections to counter the ruling party you now no longer like.
Indirectly supporting the U.S. with this “let’s move on” refrain is tantamount to collaborating in and approving the U.S/Euros arming and giving room to their old Tonton Macoutes-CIA assets (now called FRAPH) to kill Haitians while plying their Duvalierist-opposition candidates with tons of U.S. dollars and clout to foment violence and social conflict in Haiti. This is simply not the democratic way of doing things to understate the matter.
The corruption in the political system of Haiti pre-dated Aristide and is not reflective of some innate Haitian character dysfunction. Your children sir have nothing to be ashamed about that they are Haitian. The Haitian people are pioneers in the human rights struggle on this hemisphere. Teach them that. Don’t teach your Haitian children the lie “we failed as Haitian for the past 200 years.” Take off your rosy colored visors and take a good look at U.S. politics and the history of the U.S. in this Hemisphere and worldwide if you really want to talk about corruption and a blood-soaked history of violence. I can’t teach Haitians are corrupt like you can Mr/Ms EKL28. For I know how hard the Haitian people work to make an honest living, to educate their children, to contribute to world civilization. How honest they are and sincere about making Haiti a better place for all Haitians.
Yet we have a bunch of sterile Eurocentric Haitian “intellectuals” and businessmen ashamed of being Haitian and demonizing most of the population as thugs and corrupt, simply because they can’t get elected in a fair election, or because Aristide somehow didn’t give them the government post they wanted, or because they watch TV so much, they buy the lie a social revolution can occur in one generation, one administration, with one single Haitian President, or in two hours like on TV. Thus, these bitter, self-righteous Haitians with no historical perspective whatsoever and unhinged from Africa’s womb, must demonize Lavalas with class and race coded words like “chimere.”
I say, if a bunch of Nazis walked into a Jewish neighborhood taunting them, like Group 184 Duvalierist/FRAPH collaborators did at Cite Soleil, basically saying to the people of Cite Soleil, who know them, who have suffered under them for decades: “listen we will get back to power again and then we will take care of you.” What the hell do you think would happen?
Sure enough Haitians know what the Duvalierist, FRAPH and old guard are, look like and the State-terrorism, Black genocide, and social exclusion they sponsored between 1991-94 and before since Dessaline’s 1806 death. They respond to these taunts by throwing rocks, by getting violent. I’d throw a rock myself given the same scenario if I was put in the position of seeing my sister’s, mother’s, father’s murderers throwing their evil deeds back in my face with no fear.
Walking the streets in full view of their victims, like Toto Constant, Guy Philippe, Louis Jodel Chamblain or other Duvalierists like Apaid and DeRonceray. Showing me that they can sponsor or directly exploit, kill, burn, rape and rampage but won’t go to jail because they’ve got CIA connections and IRI/US Embassy dollars and clout at their disposal.
But allow me to tell you EKL28 that my people, Haitians, are flesh and blood, entitled to the same human feelings of grief, lost, outrage, and vengeance as anyone else. When you live in a country where the U.S. can escort out the Constitutionally elected president while simultaneously escorting in the old bloody U.S.-Haitian army and their tonton macoute FRAPH paramilitary, what do you expect the people to do? Bow down and say, sure I’ll accept the act of war without complaint. Why, just because scoundrel’s such as Guy Philippe had his own imbedded AP reporter on board as he terrorized Haiti’s villages and hamlets?
Can get to Wolf Blizer and FRAPH victims can’t? Just because they have U.S. media, diplomatic, financial and political clout behind them doesn’t make Aristide the culprit. So no, it’s not okeydokey, “lets all now get along and move on” that the Duvaliers, under whom 50,000 Haitians where killed, are back. It’s simply fiendishly evil to say “Let’s move on” now that fourteen years of work is being dismantled by the U.S./Canada/France soldiers protecting and maintaining this new power grab. No. It’s not Ok for the U.S./Euros to bring back dictatorship to Haiti. Those who think it’s perfectly ok to lets move on are unhinged sell outs.
Why? Do you believe Haitians are just wild seeds, less than 3/5th human? That we don’t have the brains to understand that on February 29, 2004, the Bush administration summarily executed democracy in Haiti and disenfranchised more than 8.5 million Black people in one fell swoop? What? That no red blood run in our veins? We have no feelings, no inalienable rights to be upheld? We are not sentient beings?
The old guard along with the U.S./Euros can launch an extermination campaign on February 5, 2004, and intensify it to cataclysmic levels on February 29, 2004, the likes of which Haiti has not seen since Napoleon sent his brother-in-law Leclerc to destroy every Haitian man, woman, and child?
EKL28, perhaps you’ve been lobotomized by your school-bought thoughts. But fool yourself with your own State Department, PR, EKL28. Haitians know they are at war. Such straight-up colonialism is an act of war. Ask George Washington? We will not live and work and sweat in Haiti without ruling ourselves. Haiti shall be a Black ruled independent nation. It’s people’s vote shall count and their right to choose their own leader respected by the old Haitian guard and the US/Euros or Haitians will die fighting for this. There can be no “moving on” until justice is done. Period.
We will not reconcile with this injustice. It’s never worked before. We take a stand now or generations of Haitian children to come will judge us for losing the little bit of democracy we’ve fought for and had, the day before the Marines landed in Haiti in 2004.
Thus, EKL28, if you and your other Haitian ilk are in denial sir and want to “move along” do so. Go and hide. But stay out of the way of Haiti’s Liberators. For the Haitian people’s dignity and self-respect requires that this power grab and denial of the People’s Will will not stand. That’s it.
With our souls and bare hands, wherever we are, Haitians will not let the old guard with the U.S. and Euros return us back to ground zero. It appears impossible to take on Goliath, but we shall step out and let our vision make a way.
So, if you are not ready for the war that’s here EKL28, back off. But Haitians have got work to be
Personally I don’t see anything more nobler to do with my work but to stand for the noblest people I know on earth. Don’t ask me to stop writing on this. That’s what I can contribute and I shall continue to do so. It’s not much, in view of the fact my people are being slaughtered right now. But it is what I see to do. So don’t preach to me.
I know what dictatorship and state sponsored repression is. And it wasn’t systematized either by Aristide nor Lavalas. Save your preaching for some Washington beltway Blan and noire already predisposed to believe all Blacks are naturally corrupt and in need of a “council of elders” to civilized them and show them whom to vote for and whom to bow down to. Just as they needed to save our souls by putting us in chains for 300 years of slavery.
Perhaps you EKL28 need a “Council of Elders” for yourself and your Haitian children, but ibo granmoun lakay ibo.
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The slave revolution that two hundred years ago created the state of Haiti alarmed and excited public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. Its repercussions ranged from the world commodity markets to the imagination of poets, from the council chambers of the great powers to slave quarters in Virginia and Brazil and most points in between. Sharing attention with such tumultuous events as the French Revolution and the Napoleonic War, Haiti’s fifteen-year struggle for racial equality, slave emancipation, and colonial independence challenged notions about racial hierarchy that were gaining legitimacy in an Atlantic world dominated by Europeans and the slave trade. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World explores the multifarious influencefrom economic to ideological to psychologicalthat a revolt on a small Caribbean island had on the continents surrounding it.
Fifteen international scholars, including eminent historians David Brion Davis, Seymour Drescher, and Robin Blackburn, explicate such diverse ramifications as the spawning of slave resistance and the stimulation of slavery’s expansion, the opening of economic frontiers, and the formation of black and white diasporas. Seeking to disentangle the effects of the Haitian Revolutionfrom those of the French Revolution, they demonstrate that its impact was ambiguous, complex, and contradictory.Publisher, University of South Carolina Press
David P. Geggus is a professor of history at the University of Florida in Gainesville and a former Guggenheim and National Humanities Center fellow. He has published extensively on the history of slavery and the Caribbean, with a particular focus on the Haitian Revolution. He is the author of Slavery, War and Revolution: The British Occupation of Saint Domingue, 17931798 and an editor of A Turbulent Time: The French Revolution and the Greater Caribbean. Geggus lives in Gainesville.
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By Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus
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Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”
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By Melissa V. Harris-Perry
According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless Mammys behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familys needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.
As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 6 May 2010