Monday, May 31, 2010

Go #85

Nine-year-old Ruben St. Hilaire, Jr., who lives with this mother in a homeless shelter in New York City, sent a letter to his favorite football player, Chad Ochocinco, formerly Chad Johnson, and received an autographed jersey from Ochocinco for his efforts. He then sent a second letter thanking #85. The letter read in part:

"...Mr. Johnson, you really make me happy. One of my goals in my future life is to be just like you when I grow up. I wonder who was your role model when you were little? I have three role model(s) in my life that's my mom, Mr. President Barack Obama and my favorite football player Mr. Chad Johnson. To me you are the best football player in the NFL. May God bless you and your family..."

Ruben's dream was to go to a football camp. Then at the annual gala fundraiser for the Children Mending Hearts organization in Hollywood, young master Hilaire was surprised when he received a certificate to attend Deion Sanders' camp. And unbeknownst to Ruben, his hero, Chad Ochocinco stepped onstage to present the certificate. An added bonus, was that it was Ruben's birthday and #85 led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday”. (Well I was kind of hoping the surprise was that he game them a house – but I like to dream big).

It was a pretty amazing day for young Ruben, who said it was the happiest day of his life. Although it was a happy occasion, I hope someone helps him and his mom find a home.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Haiti's Connection to Louisiana

Like everyone else, when the earthquake hit Haiti, I watched hours of news coverage. And like everyone else I saw the horrifying scenes caused one of the most devastating natural disasters of our time. And like most of us I had never been to Haiti nor did I know much about this small Black nation in the Caribbean. So I, like everyone else immediately got on my computer and began googling - reading about Haiti's history.

We were taught about the slaves in the U.S., but we were never taught that the people of this tiny nation had defeated Napoleon's mighty army in 1803. That was the same year the French decided to sell their only other colony in the Western Hemisphere - Louisiana. Had the slaves, led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, not overthrown the French Army in Haiti, would the French have sold Louisiana to the United States?

The Louisiana Purchase instantly doubled the size of the U.S. I was born and raised in Louisiana, so I am interested in anything pertaining to the state, and I am a history buff. But I never linked these two events. I am sure the average U.S. Citizen does not know that the Haitian revolution possibly played a large role in the history of the United States of America. The question is, had Toussaint L'Ouverture not lived, would America be the America it is today? If his army and the slaves had not defeated the French, would the French have wanted to sell their only other colony, which itself had thousands of slaves?

So, major events like this earthquake influence us to read about history and look at events a little more closely. It makes you wonder how politically and historically events in other places on earth contribute to our lives. Why is it that a country so close to some of the richest economies in the world could be in this position. It makes you wonder how, Haiti's own government and those of nearby countries have shown no accountability.

Yes the world responds during moments of emergencies, but Haiti was dirt poor long before the earthquake. But we must be helpful to our fellow humans more than when disaster happens. We Black folk must not limit ourselves to only what goes on in our hood, but open our eyes to events and the plight of other Black people all over this world. The reason I don't use the term African-American is that it limits our thinking to what happens in the U.S. We have to broaden our thought to thoughts not only to Black people in Cleveland, Dallas and other U.S cities, but also what is happening in Kingston, London, Capetown and everywhere else, including Port-Au-Prince. It is easy to forget about what is no longer on the front page or the main story on CNN. We have to be effective in keeping the light on problem everywhere.

Haiti is in a state of emergency and it was in an emergency long before January 12.