Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Most Unhappy Man of Men


Sent to you by moya via Google Reader:


via my best friend gayle by summer of sam on 1/20/10

Haiti means Katrina in French.

What are Wordsworth?
Toussaint, the most unhappy Man of Men!
Whether the whistling Rustic tend his plough
Within thy hearing, or thy head be now
Pillowed in some deep dungeon's earless den; -
O miserable Chieftain! where and when
Wilt thou find patience? Yet die not; do thou
Wear rather in thy bonds a cheerful brow:
Though fallen Thyself, never to rise again,
Live, and take comfort. Thou hast left behind
Powers that will work for thee; air, earth, and skies;
There's not a breathing of the common wind
That will forget thee; thou hast great allies;
Thy friends are exultations, agonies,
And love, and Man's unconquerable mind.

My suspicion grows when the media covers devastation involving people of color.  If Anderson Cooper is called upon as an expert, if he is outfitted in safari gear by Banana Republic, if his silver hair moves like grass blades in the breeze, if I can barely hear his voice over the motor moving him and his camera man from point A to B, if 360° warrants an extra hour, I know there's trouble.

(Can someone kindly define the terms refugee and looting so that the pundits can employ them correctly?)

So, I read.  I read all the things the television won't tell me.  I read the things that can't be whittled down into media-friendly morsels of minutiae for the masses who exercise neither body nor brain.  And I learn all the things I should've learned in school.  Maybe I re-learn all the things I can't remember or was trained to forget.

What does it mean for Haiti to survive?
Nothing exists with out context, without precedent.  Haiti was born of a slave revolt.  They didn't seek or wait for permission.  No one wrote a speech declaring their freedom.  They claimed it for themselves. They were their own saviors.  Their own, I suppose, personal Jesus.  (All those white men they killed, must have been a deal with the devil.)  And so, Haiti couldn't survive or be successful.  Haiti concerned Thomas Jefferson--and rightfully so.  Can't have those kinds of examples floating around the Caribbean circa early 19th century.  What kind of message would that send to other enslaved people on this side of the Middle Passage?  Haiti fought the law and won.  That couldn't have been good for business.  So the powers meddled with the land until the seeds sprouted nothing but "flimsy" stalks, ushering in the refrain "Haiti is the most impoverished..."  Straight dissonance to my ears.  

A flourishing Haiti is white supremacy's greatest fear.  Haiti cannot survive. If Haiti endures, if it succeeds, then the slaves win, right?  Haiti's continued endurance would proce that everything they've ever taught us is false.  If we only understand Haiti as a perpetually impoverished nation, and have no comprehension of Haiti as symbol of black resistance and survival then what have we learned?  We will have learned that Haiti is poor because its citizens are lazy, culturally backwards, wary of outsiders, lawless, lascivious.  What we should know is that even in these dark days of desperation, Haiti has survived, despite even the most powerful acts of a most angry God and world powers that imagine themselves in His likeness.

They don't like the message, so they don't want Haiti to survive--but it will.

They know who we are.


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