Sunday, March 21, 2010

ARTICLE:Haiti From The Perspective Of A Native

By Colber Prosper and Joe Fitzgerald III, Guest Column

Symbols of Haitian history represented on mural in Labadie, Haiti

His name was Cristoforo Colombo, but Americans know him as Christopher Columbus. During his time, it was commonly thought that the world was flat; However, many scholars believed that the world was round. Columbus was the one to prove it. He set sail to find a faster route to Asia and he found more than he was looking for. He landed on an island in the Caribbean that he described to be gracious and beautiful. A number of Historians believe that he landed on current day Haitian soil. Columbus informed the European powers of what he found and the potential wealth they could gain by coming to this new land.

European powers such as France, Britain, and Spain exploited the new found world for its commodities. To gain wealth, European authorities used slavery as a mean of income. In addition, the shipment of Africans to the Western Hemisphere became routine. Africans were brought to Haiti to cultivate crops, nevertheless, slaves fought against the French and Spanish to gain independence in 1804. Haiti was the first free black nation in the Western Hemisphere and their belief in freedom is also illustrated in American History by their contribution coupled with North America during the Revolutionary War.

Haiti has a rich history, on the contrary, seeing its present condition, many have a hard time believing its past. Haiti is a third world country and the recent devastation has worsened its condition. Prior to the devastation, this poverty stricken country would sometimes result to mud pies for nourishment. Popular belief may cause many to think that the Haitian people are to be blamed and deserving of their present circumstances. In some aspects this is true, but countries such as France and The United States have taken advantage of Haiti. The United States have aided in corrupting the Haitian government and its economical system. The recent earthquake further paralyzed Haiti as a nation.

These are the ways in which America has besmirched the Haitian government. It aided, sustained and expanded the presidential term of a tyrant leader, Francois Duvalier, (Papa Doc) who killed innocent Haitians under his command. The United States was also an influence in changing the Haitian Constitution and U.S. factories aided in the widen gap between the rich and poor.

Being Haitian-American, the struggles of Haiti aren't new to me. Family members struggled tremendously preceding to the recent destruction. Currently, the whole world is trying to help Haiti but it took hundreds of thousands to die for others to hear their cries. I am grateful and thank God for the help my people are receiving, but what is going to happen when the smoke falls and the rumble settles? Are we going to turn a deaf ear to Haiti like we do with other countries or like we do to ourselves example being New Orleans? Would Haiti be as bad as it is if richer countries did not take advantage of it? But what would be our result if God became indignant towards us and turned his back?

Colber Prosper currently is a Graduate Student and a Research Associate at the University of Tennessee. He is a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and has been in East Tennessee for 5 years. He and Joe Fitzgerald III are graduates of Maryville College both receiving their degrees in History.

Source: KnoxNews

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