Behind Bars

Haiti’s Suffering

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

 As we near two weeks after the devastating earthquake and terrifying aftershocks in Port-au-Prince and Zacmel, Haiti, we face the inevitable media wall, that closes up, unless a story emerges of such surprise and delight that it’s able to shine through.

 For the media light, by it’s very nature, must move on—to the new, to the odd, to the freaky.

 A new al Qaeda tape, a new sex scandal, a new bimbo eruption for a prominent politician, and away we go. And away we go.

 But long before the earthquake of January 12, Haiti has been exposed to unique and vicious attacks for centuries, for daring to fight for, and win, Black freedom.

 Many people are amazed that Haitians are being found alive, after being buried under tons of rubble, for 10,11,12 days, with no food or water. I too shared that feeling.

 But we should not forget that poverty and food insecurity in Haiti has meant the average Haitian ate only one meal every two or three days!

 Think of this—with all the hours of live and taped footage of earthquake survivors—have you seen a chubby or thick Haitian? Especially when compared to Black Americans (or, for that matter, white Americans) Haitians, without Jenny Craig or Slim fast, are lean and sleek people. That’s because pay there is so low and survival is so difficult.

 For decades before the earthquake, Haitians have lived amidst political, economic and social chaos, often stoked and supported by the U.S., which supported dictatorships of theft, repression and torture for generations.

 Of the 20-year U.S. invasion and occupation of Haiti back in the 1920’s to the ’40s, Haitian historian and anthropologist, Ralph Troullot said the Americans “solved nothing and complicated everything.”

 Haitians are tough, smart and beautiful people, who did something 200 years ago that lit up the eyes and lifted the hearts of millions of Black people all around the world.

 It is not fair that they were punished for doing what the famed slave rebel, Spartacus, failed to do against the Roman Empire. They bested the French Empire, and forced one of the greatest military minds in history (Napoleon) to say “uncle” (or more properly, “l’oncle” in French).

 They’ve deserved far more than they’ve received. They breathed freedom into the lungs, not only of Blacks, but of millions of Latin Americans who chafed under Spanish colonial rule.

 They deserve wellness, health, self-determination, prosperity, justice and peace.

 For 200 years, they’ve received none of this., January 24, 2010