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.

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