What Haiti Really Is
I would like Donald Trump and all the people who think that Haiti is a “s***hole” to take a trip to Haïti. Go to Labadee, Bassin Bleu, Port Salut, Petionville, Jacmel, Île-à-Vache, Île de la Tortue, and Bassin Zim…just to name a few of our beautiful areas. I would like them to see the historic Citadelle Laferrière and Palace Sans-Souci.
I would like them to learn about our history and culture. Even try our cuisine before they open their mouths to speak disparagingly about us.
Know these facts before talking about Haiti’s poverty:
- Haiti was France’s richest colony and was known as “La Perle des Antilles” (The Pearl of the Antilles)
- Haiti was the first Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere and the second republic created in the Western Hemisphere (the first was the United States)
- It was the first country to abolish slavery (1804) and the first country to gain independence from a slave revolt
- Haiti simultaneously defeated the French, American, British, and Spanish armies
Know that Haiti has been the supporter of freedom:
- Haitians fought in the American Revolution in the Siege of Savannah in 1779
- The Haitian Revolution (led by Toussaint L’Ouverture) inspired the Latin American Revolution (1808-1826) and Haiti helped other Latin American countries gain their freedom
- After independence, Haiti’s leader Jean Jacques Dessalines offered enslaved Black people in the U.S. refuge in Haiti
- Haiti’s leadership was supportive of the Greek Revolution (1821-1832) and also was the first country to recognize Greece’s independence
Know that Haitians have been contributing to American society:
- Haiti made the Louisiana Purchase happen because it defeated the French army
- Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a Haitian pioneer trader, founded the city of Chicago. W.E.B. Dubois, a prominent civil rights activist and writer, and John James Audubon, an ornithologist, painter, and naturalist, both had Haitian roots. And there have been many other famous and not famous Haitian-Americans who contributed to American society after them
If you still want to talk about Haiti’s poverty, here’s some context:
- When Haiti became independent, France, U.S., Great Britain, and Spain did not recognize the country and also economically and politically isolated Haiti
- In 1825, France acknowledged Haiti’s independence after it agreed to pay France 150 million francs for France’s losses during the war (slaves and plantations). Haiti finished paying the debt in 1947
- U.S. refused to recognize Haiti until 1862. And in 1915-1934, the U.S. occupied Haiti; they controlled the economy and brutalized the Haitian people. After this, Haiti’s leadership was still in disarray and this led to the brutal Duvalier dictatorship (1957-1986; François Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier) which was backed by the U.S.
- After Jean-Claude Duvalier was ousted in 1986, the country continued to be in political turmoil. In the late 1980s-late 2000s, the U.S. continued to interfere with the leadership, placed embargoes, and made deals with the leadership that helped to ruin Haiti’s agricultural economy and make it dependent on foreign aid
- The UN occupied Haiti from 2004-2017 (which hasn’t helped the country improve as an independent nation). There have been reports of sexual abuse by UN soldiers and their role in causing the cholera outbreak that happened after the 2010 earthquake
- In 2010, a 7.0 earthquake killed more than 300,000 people and ruined the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew ravaged southern Haiti and killed more than 500 people.
Haiti was once a promising new nation and was never given a chance to develop mainly because the idea of a prosperous and free Black nation in the era of American and European imperialism was totally unacceptable. Decades of interference from outside forces have compounded the the internal issues in the country. Even during the country’s turmoil, the Haitian people have found ways to move forward and create their own successes as best as they could. Some brought the spirit and determination of Haiti to other places around the world and contributed heavily to their new countries i.e. the United States.
Haiti is not the “s***hole” that Donald Trump stated and never has been. We have our struggles as a nation; however, that doesn’t make us inferior to any country or other people. And it doesn’t mean that the country can never change and we can’t ever be the Pearl of the Antilles again.
The Haitian people are hard-working, innovative, and resilient. And we do not deserve the constant disrespect. We have paid our dues in America and in the world.