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AfriGeneas Caribbean Research Forum

[HAITI] Haiti and its American Cousins: An Historical Disc

Haiti and its American Cousins: An Historical Disconnect

Hello Alva:

As Manager of the AfriGeneas Caribbean Forum, I hope you will join our researchers in documenting the historical and genealogical links between the people of Haiti and black Americans.

The aftermath of the Haitian earthquake is still in the news. All Americans, and countries throughout the globe have opened their hearts and given their support to the tragic earthquake victims.

Since the cataclysmic earthquake in Haiti, I started to research its history, looking for connections to its history and ours. Perhaps my research coupled with input from the AfriGeneas family, might bring us and our cousins of the Diaspora closer together.

But there’s an unfortunate historical disconnect between Haitians and Black Americans. We see Haiti as a place far removed from our American genealogical legacy. Haitians in turn, see black Americans as a totally separate people in the African Diaspora

If we’ve truly explored the existence of the African Diaspora, then we know that our cousins have influenced cultures throughout the world. It’s important that we study many cultures and not just our own. Because buried but not deliberately hidden throughout the globe are centuries-old records of people of the African Diaspora.

Too often we focus only on the history of our African American ancestors, and our possible African ancestors but no cultures in the African Diaspora. While we search for that illusive African griot, African prince, we ignore the 600 plus years of our cousins in the Americas.

The NY Times published an OP Ed piece by Mark Danner. He wrote so eloquently when he criticized the media’s portrayal of Haiti’s misfortunes as almost mystical. Danner reminds us:

“To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/opinion/22danner.html

My growing criticism is of the media’s unsettling one-dimensional description of Haiti’s history. They present and unfortunately we embrace their reporting on Haiti. It begins with slavery and ends with the revolution. Like lemmings we rush to accept the belief of the “noble slave” who rebelled against his master, who killed and destroyed every symbol of his oppression. And in the same moment we believe that during the Haitian Revolution every mulatto, or free person of color, would betray all dark skinned people. Were there no histories of people who “got over” in spite of slavery?

This shallow reporting reminds the AfriGeneas family researcher of the widely held belief that African Americans have only one legacy. Slavery. The pages of AfriGeneas.com document quite a different history.

Then there’s that historical disconnect which clouds so many historical links that Africans in the Americas have with black Americans, the Caribbean and Haiti.

What’s even more tragic is the unsettling distrust among Haitians and Africans in the Americas.

For this reason, I hope to share the many historical connections between African Americans and our Haitian cousins. Please let us describe and discuss our cultural and historical links. Just posting a url doesn’t contribute to an interesting discussion.

The url below from UNESCO features a geographical point of view of the island of Haiti. Be sure to move your browser over the various landmarks on the island.

K Wyer Lane


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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