Okay, okay it’s probably incorrect (at least I won’t embarrass myself by making an attempt at Haitian Creole). If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, I’ll be nice (for once) and bring you up to speed. A 7.0 earthquake ripped through the most impoverished nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti, on January 12. Today a 5.9 aftershock further devastated the nearly decimated capital Port-Au-Prince.
I have a question: can an already broken country be broken further? The answer is yes. Haiti’s history is colorful and complicated; once it was called the Pearl of the Antilles, a lushly prosperous colony of France built on the backs of black slaves, decimating the Taíno Indians, and ruled by whites with a privileged mulatto minority instituting a caste system of skin color racism that continues today. And sad to say not only in Haiti. But in 1804 when Toussaint L’Ouverture kicked the shit out of Napoleon and made Haiti the world’s first free black state, you’d think only good things were in store for the agriculturally rich Caribbean nation. Instead both internal and external conflicts cultivating a merry-go-round of corrupt political machines sending the country rocketing into the perpetual poorhouse.
Now I’m not going to go into the whole history so I’ll put up two links, one on Haiti and the other on the disaster: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Haiti_earthquake and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiti.
I first became aware of Haiti watching news reports about Baby Doc Jean-Claude Duvalier and seeing the infamous luxury car exit from the country with his family and entourage. Then there was Wes Cravens’ The Serpent and the Rainbow, which was an entertaining shitpile until I read Dr. Wade Davis’ book of the same title which helped me get a better understanding of a country that deserves both pity and scorn.
Now if you’re Italian you usually have two Godmothers: the first who baptizes you, and the second who confirms you. I happen to get along with both of them. This isn’t the case with my best friend. Kaye (who is a very Bajan chick) has a Haitian Godmother, and she can’t stand her. This provides an explanation as to why we have only two Haitian friends- and we make friends with every-fucking-body! If you go on vacation in your native land and have a motherfucker of a blast, I’m happy for you. Mom got cool trinkets from the Philippines and Saint Martin/Sint Maarten from her co-workers and got a whole slide show presentation which has made her rethink her philosophy on vacations (our “family” vacations always sucked ass).
BUT when you think that the whole highlight of your holiday isn’t getting pissed out of your mind on the beach, but getting “the perks” because your child has light skin, I think you need to check yourself into Bellevue!
Now I explained why I need to use skin whitener in a previous post, but I do understand why so many minorities use skin whitener (and not for actual dermatological problems) in order to have the skin color of preference. This isn’t prevalent just in Haiti, but throughout the Caribbean, South America, Africa, and Asia. Now I sent what I could to the Red Cross for Haiti, and Kaye looked at me like I was crazy. She understands that I’ve always wanted to work for the UN since I was a kid, and I want to take the Foreign Service exam (I have a 3 in 10 chance of passing) hopefully getting some kind of diplomatic mission in a challenging place like Haiti. But ultimately she’s right, why should she as a light-skinned black woman and me an (extremely) fair white woman get deferential treatment over dark-skinned women? And not just women, but dark-skinned people period!
If you don’t believe me (or choose to think I’m being racist) get your ass over to YouTube and go to the Journeyman Pictures or Al-Jazeera channels and do a search on skin color racism! Your ass will be blown away!
White people really do believe that Uncle Ruckus is just a caricature of Aaron McGruder’s, but this type of self-hate is very disturbingly real. This was ingrained into my father’s mentality as well, he married a white woman to escape the ghetto and have white children that he hoped would be accepted. Neither happened. And Mom’s Filipino co-worker who’s married to a crazy white hick and now pregnant is thrilled to fucking bits that she’ll have a “white” baby (which she’ll favor over her 3 other kids- the oldest ironically was from a Greek guy while she worked as a bargirl on a sex cruise line).
The state of Haiti is a question that will never be answered, yes you want to give so you can help these desperately poor people that are being victimized by the US and their own government. But where where does your money end up? Over the slums is a paradoxical playground for the affluent behind high walls, personal guards, attack dogs and security cameras. And how color-blind we’d be to say they’re just the mulattoes, Arabs, and whites. Dark-skinned blacks have made it into the Beverly Hills-wannabe Pétionville. You think they give a shit? They just put up more ribbon wire and step on the poor who are just as black as they are.
I recommend the following films and books on Haiti: The Agronomist, The Ghosts of Cite Soleil, The Zombie Curse: A Doctor’s 25-year Journey Into the Heart of the AIDS Epidemic in Haiti, and Fort-Dimanche: Dungeon of Death (a.k.a. Fort-la-Mort). What I do not recommend is you giving so fast to Wyclef Jean’s Yéle Haiti (and I am a fan) but I suggest you go here before you make any concrete decisions about Clef: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2010/0114102wyclef1.html.
So what a better way to kick off 2010 by having yet more bullshit happen.