June 27, 2012
Haiti may get some attention from U.S. media during the 2012 election season. Utah mayor and Brooklyn-born daughter of Haitian parents, Mia Love, is supposedly on track to become the first black Republican woman in Congress. I say, supposedly, because even if the media and some Republicans are excited by the novel rising star, Love’s up against a six-term Democrat who’s also a fiscal conservative. Caution is in order, and definitely more than the media will exercise for a black, Mormon Republican woman who has said she wants to take apart the Congressional Black Caucus from the inside-out. Love’s politics aside, what caught my attention a couple of months ago was the extent to which her Haitian immigrant identity is integral to how she sells herself to voters. She mentions her parents’ influence quite a bit, specifically their aversion to handouts.
“[My father] said: ‘Mia, your mother and I never took a handout. You will not be a burden to society,’ ” she said with a stern smile. “ ‘You will give back.’ ”
I’m not taking a huge leap when I say that the subtext here is one with which Caribbean and African blacks are intimately familiar: “we” are not like black Americans.
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December 8, 2010
Fires are set in Haiti after the electoral commission yesterday announced the results of last week's controversial election. (Reuters/Allison Shelley)
Ed Note: Like most readers I’ve been receiving reports, rumors, online arguments, news, fearmongering, calls for calm, etc all day. This morning I received a letter from a Haitian-American friend who lives in Port-au-Prince. Unlike most readers this is my first time worrying for loved ones in Haiti.
As Haiti week begins I think its important to talk about what is happening right now. Many cities are burning today and no one can go outside. There are tires burning, Haitians being shot, wounded, gassed; manifestations, Aux Cayes is burning down, and essentially the country is burning down due to the presidential results announced last night. Everyone is hearing gunshots and seeing smoke above their cities, including myself. Right now its Cap, Leogane, Aux Cayes, and Port au Prince…for now.
I’m sure you all have been up on the news but as Haiti week begins lets put Haiti into perspective because so long as the people are not respected and their freedoms are not respected, there will be no peace, and the people will continue to suffer even more.
Things are developing minute by minute and we don’t know if it will be a turn for the worst or that the unrest will be scaled down. I pray for a resolution and hope that these events send some healing energy to our beloved Haiti.
December 5, 2010
Johnny Celestin, founding president, Haitian Fund for Innovation and Reconstruction
Editor’s Note: Concerned by Diaspora reactions to recent post-election unrest in Haiti, Johnny Celestin calls for order not chaos in his second post for DH.
I have been alarmed at the nonchalant ways in which observers from the Diaspora, especially friends whom I deeply respect have been bandying about the need for a revolution in Haiti. They argue that because of claims of election irregularities, Haitians must take up arms against the current government – one more time.
They write that it would be a tribute to our revolutionary ancestors who 203 years ago, on 29 November 1803 issued a preliminary declaration of independence through military force. Yes, Haiti is in the midst of yet another crisis. But rule of law, not more chaos and violence, is the answer that the Diaspora should seek.
For starters there is a tendency to over-simplify the Haitian revolution and downplay its impact on ordinary Haitians.
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August 19, 2010
Crowd of Cité Soleil residents trying to access aid back in January (Thony Belizaire, AFP)
Let’s assume from the outset that being illiterate means you don’t know how to read, not that you lack common sense. Let’s assume that before the printing press hit the scene in the 1400s, human beings had figured out that, say, being a priest and being a merchant required different skillsets.
I’ve just read the umpteenth U.S. article about Wyclef Jean, which suggests he has a good chance of becoming president. He might. I just haven’t come across any convincing evidence that a large swath of the Haitian population thinks about Jean nearly as much as his American counterparts do. Key words: large swath. Please tell me in comments if I am wrong.
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