Opinion: Haitians and African Americans ‘Trapped in the Same Story’

Waving a Haitian flag to show support for protesters during "Millions March." (Photo via Haitian Times)

Waving a Haitian flag to show support for protesters during “Millions March.” (Photo via Haitian Times)

To the Haitians that joined the NYC protests over police brutality in December, the act of protest is nothing new, at least to those who have lived much of their lives in Haiti. In a piece published in the Haitian Times on the anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, Jean McGianni Celestin draws similarities between the struggles of Black communities in the U.S. and those faced by Haitians in a country ravaged by a natural disaster with 200,000 deaths, followed by a cholera epidemic and a tourism and economic resurgence that never came.

The Haitian proverb “Beyond the mountains, more mountains” continues to be the script for Haiti. Life since the quake has been an aftershock of injustices.

The troubles faced by Haitians are of a different nature than those faced by African Americans but, the author writes, the desired values remain the same.

Unlike the fight for racial justice in America, the Haitian struggle can seem more complicated. On the surface, it’s a black country governed by black people, so Haitians fighting Haitians reads like a self-defeating prophecy. But at the core, the fight is about the same: the pursuit of justice and equality.

McGianni Celestin faults how some outsiders frame the causes behind the problems plaguing Haiti.

Corruption is rife at every level of government, but most narratives around the issue are voided of Haiti’s historical context in the Western Hemisphere. The consequences of that context shaped its political culture.

Visit the Haitian Times to read more on the argument and the author’s assertion that whether considering police violence in Staten Island or corrupt government in Haiti, “the world sees us all the same. We are trapped in the same story.”

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