ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
The journalists are in Port-au-Prince, but here in the north no one is reporting
what’s going on, that the former Haitian military is killing people.
They are killing about 50 people a day in Cap Haitian.
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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Haiti’s Murderous Army Reborn By Jean Charles Moise
20 Mar 2004
I am the mayor of Milo, a district of about 50,000 people near Cap Haitian. When I was elected nine years ago, at the age of 28, I was the youngest to serve in that office in Haiti’s modern history. I’ve traveled in the United States on speaking tours, telling Americans about how we were building democracy in Haiti under the Aristide government. In late February my district came under attack by anti-Aristide forces and I fled for my life. From where I am now — hiding in the woods — I see the old Haitian army is back. Those they don’t kill, they lock up in containers, because they burned down the jails. The kind of containers you put on ships. The situation is different here from what I hear about in Port-au-Prince, where you have the multinational force of American, Canadian, Chilean soldiers. In Cap Haitian you have the former Haitian military. There are no police any more, so they are the ones who are law. They come into your home. They take you, they beat you up, they kill you. They burn down homes. They do anything they want, because they are the only law in town. The journalists are in Port-au-Prince, but here in the north no one is reporting what’s going on, that the former Haitian military is killing people. They are killing about 50 people a day in Cap Haitian. It’s happening not just in the northern department but also in the central plateau, in the Artibone region. Can you imagine that on Monday at 2 p.m. the former military declared a curfew that would start at 4 p.m.? The peasants, many of them are poor and do not have a radio, so how could they hear of this curfew? So what happened at 4 p.m.? The former military took to the streets and anyone they saw on the streets they shot. This is the kind of stuff that is going on. Can you imagine this? We have people like myself, mayors and other members of the municipal government who have had to flee and are now sleeping in the woods, and have gone to the mountains. We have church members and priests who have been beaten and whose cars have been destroyed. These people are also in hiding. We could never have imagined that we would be going back to this situation that existed before. It is intolerable. Since this whole thing started I haven’t seen my wife and my children. I have been in hiding. This cannot continue. This is a catastrophe for the north of Haiti and all the people of Haiti. One has to ask, why is all of this happening? Is this because we used to have only 10 public high schools but now we have over 150? Is it because we made a democracy where people could go in the streets, protest, and be free to say whatever they want? Is it because black people in the country now, people who were poor and always kept out of the political life of the country, they have come out and have been participating in democracy? Is that why they have unleashed this terror on us? Is that what we are paying for? We ask these questions: Is it because the United States blocked international assistance to Haiti to make people rise up against the president, but they never did? Is it because people here are continuing to support their president? Is that why we are getting all this repression? We have to ask those questions. We wonder whether it is because the army that used to exist before was disbanded by President Aristide. Instead of defending the people, that army used to carry out a war against us. Is it because that army is no longer there that someone has rearmed it and brought it back to Haiti with very powerful weapons? Now the old army is doing what they used to do before, except with more powerful weapons and with helicopters. They are drowning people in the sea. That’s what going on. The press is reporting the looting that is taking place in Port au Prince but they are not reporting about the police stations that were burned and destroyed here in the north. They are not reporting on the number of schools that have been destroyed. They are not reporting on the burning of the airport in Cap Haitian and all the other things that were built under the government of President Aristide for the Haitian people. I cannot understand how a group of disbanded military has access to such sophisticated equipment and heavy weaponry. They have two helicopters and they have two airplanes. They use the helicopter to transport their troops and they use them at night with spotlights to look for people in hiding. They are in the air and they have their troops on the ground. These are the questions we ask ourselves as we hide from those with the guns.
Mayor Jean Charles Moise spoke with PNS contributors Lyn Duff and Dennis Bernstein via cell phone. The interview originally aired on Pacifica Radio’s Flashpoints show (KPFA FM 94.1 in Berkeley, Calif.). Duff is a freelance writer who has reported widely on Haiti since 1995. Bernstein is the executive producer of Flashpoints.
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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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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