J’adore Haiti and the case for Universal Humanity
Haiti’s been on my mind alot lately. If I had to count, then we’re talking a year of waking thoughts where I never wanted to forget that there was a Haiti or a Haitian people at home and abroad.
My first post on Dasheen, a love letter to my own dear St. Kitts felt so right to me, and beyond that I just knew that the next needed to be post-marked directly to Haiti. I don’t know why I imagined that such a letter needed to come straight from the heart of a native Haitian. I guess you learn as you go.
Yet, this is not a love letter per se. This is just my heart and mind converging. I wrote down my thoughts yesterday during an all day Fundraising and Stewardship session (how apt) at my place of work. I didn’t know I would post it, but it feels right and timely.
Permit me, as this wants to go far beyond any kind of cultural conversation. It is a human conversation and as I listened to morning radio this week Jeffery “cousin Jeff” Johnson summed it up nicely as he stated matter-of-factly: “What we need right now is universal humanity.”
I’ve always heard that I’m part of the ‘me” generation. The connote is negative and I don’t subscribe. I don’t run in those circles and neither do the men and women who I studied with, who ran into the smoke and fire of a 9–11 without a clue or safety net. The latter in the face of NYPD and FDNY, and even those that with good reason were running for saftety in the opposite direction.
I’ve also heard that I’m a part of the “right now” generation. Also a negative campaign, but I’m about to turn a negative into a positive for the purposes of this post and wherever else it suits.
I AM SO SICK AND TIRED OF HAITIAN SUFFERING. Yes, I am aware that there are any number of causes and people and places that need ‘right-now’ attention. I am aware that the world over, including present home and hearth, there are preesing to overwhelming needs. Although nowhere, other than Haiti, do I sometimes hear and wonder if those needs are insurmountable. I am aware that there may be any number of referendums on the table (one can hope).
However, I am also aware that among other things, Haiti is not sexy.
That is not a slight. I’ve worked in and around the non-profit world more than any other industry, and it is a business, albeit one that gets the benefit of a supposed beating heart. So my work in the non-profit world has led me to one of many truths: in order to adopt a place and make its people and causes your own, in order to walk to D.C. and beat the pavement on any street, in order to get folks to move when they want to retreat, the coverage must be relentless, the youth must get loud and organized at the same time, and above all else the cause must be sexy. Sex sells and there is absolutely, unequivocally nothing hotter than a sexy cause that someone can wear emblazoned across a tee.
I am not figting mechanics here. I am working the system.
Africa is sexy. Whether that has ultimately worked to the good of those on the ground, I don’t know. I would direct any one atention to the insights of Author and Economist, Dambisa Moyo and her book Dead Aid. You be the judge there. But in my opinion, folks love African causes. For better or worse Africa is sexy.
Now, a very good friend, who is also not a Haitian native asked me one time: How can we make Haiti sexy?
I’m usually a quick draw, but I needed time to think on this, and then I realized I need to talk about it to myself in the mirror, and then I needed to talk and eat and chill with some young Haitians who felt that knot for Haiti in their verey stomachs, and then I needed to write about it and then and only then, I needed to get loud.
Haiti is my choice and not just for today.
We are a multi-tasking generation. We love to put that in our resumes, whether it is the case or not. We can walk and chew gum at the same time for whatever that’s worth. We’re all damned if as younng people we can’t figure out something for this sovereign island nation, that while in the pit has never begged for mercy or the executioner, but who deserves the first with our unmitigated fervor and undivided attention as if they were our babies, our mothers, our fathers, our sisters, our brothers…
I meet next week with a someone at my job who is proudly Haitian, and who has done much to educate internally and is also active externally to find out what she would have me do before I go out of my mind with Haiti.
Without a doubt, I need to do something!
Then maybe, after I have done all I can do, I can let Haiti go. Until then, bear with me, join me.
What can we do to impact Haiti immediately and longterm?
Below are some stories that helped me along today as I wrote this:
- Haiti 1 Year After the Earthquake
- Haiti: A Year Later; Children Still Suffering
- AJWS: On the Ground in Haiti (I’m partial, but I love an org that does what it says it will do and just tells it like it is)
This is why I KNOW and BELIEVE the YOUTH is where its at!