Why Young African Americans Should Travel to Haiti

Haiti for an extended period is known for its political instabilities, poverty you name it, the country become the hub of international NGOs after the earthquake that happened in 2010, and seven years later people have the difficulty to talk about Haiti without associating it with the earthquake. I was born and raised in Haiti, I only left the country after high school, it is hard for me to accept how the rest of the world perceives it. I know most people form their opinion based on what they hear on the radio or what they see on TV, and the truth is, it is not something that will change overnight; however, I still believe any perception can be reverted as long as people are exposed to the right information.

If you live outside of the United States, and you follow the news you might see the same thing is happening with the black community. The way media treats a story when a white person is involved, is very different when the same story is involved a black person. Black folks who face prejudice are often told to go back to Africa, referring to their continent of origin. I was often confused by people calling a black person African American;  in Haiti, we have Haitians, it does not matter if you are black, white, or yellow. That probably explains my confusion, but I’m always wondering what if more Black people in America start to connect more with the Haitian culture and history. I Believe that will probably make a difference in the way they perceive themselves and their contribution to humanity. I might be wrong, some might argue they have black heroes like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King to look up to, but Haitian History also inspired these heroes, Malcolm X even visited Haiti and was received by Baby Doc, president of Haiti during this period.

Like many developing countries, Haiti also shares its part of world issues; nevertheless, the country is a friendly place with plenty of natural resources ready to be enjoyed. On top of that, it is a source of inspiration for many countries around the world, with a rich history to be told. Many black communities in America, Europe, and even in Africa can relate to the Haitian history. But the primary reason is the fact that Haiti is the Diaspora of Africa and its Revolution helped shift White American views of slavery. From 1791 to 1804, the uprisings of Black slaves in the colony put the fear of Black rage into U.S. slave owners. The cry of “koupé tèt, boulé kay” (cut off the head, burn down the house) against White French colonizers fomented unease that the same could happen in the American South. In a backward way, it cemented racist ideology of inherent Black violence and the superiority of Whites. Slave owners tightened their grips on the peculiar institution as a social need–rather than an unfortunate reality– for the U.S.

Many might not know it, but the Harlem Renaissance had a vital connection to Haiti according to Dr. Hyppolite. One of the most famous black artist in Harlem, Aaron Douglas, who was initially known for painting with an Art Deco style, had studied under European painters. After receiving a Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship, he traveled to Haiti and studied art there. This trip greatly informed his later work, as seen in his painting Haitian Street Scene.

There are plenty historical reasons why young black folks should visit Haiti. But I would say a visit to Haiti will help change their perception not only about Haiti but also about the black community in the United States. In November 2018, Haiti Tourism Inc., The Haitian-Benelux Chamber of Commerce, and the Minister of Tourism are launching the first tourism Innovation event in the Caribbean, and we are looking forward to welcoming different delegations from the black community in the United States

 

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  1. Karen Anglade Reply

    Great article, there are a few things you could have added to make the connection between African Americans and Haiti. For example, Frederick Douglass was the 1st U.S Ambassador to Haiti, Haiti had not been recognized until then by the U.S due to them defeating the French, a U.S.ally. 2) Zora Neale Hurston also traveled to Haiti and wrote about it. One inaccuracy i noted, Malcolm X died in 1968, if he traveled to Haiti, he met with Papa Doc, Baby Doc became president in 1972.

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