By Special to the AFRO
Haiti has moved from one catastrophic event to another since winning its independence from France in 1804. It was the first and only independent, self-governed nation of Blacks in the western hemisphere. This posed a major threat to slave holding nations; America was no exception.
It seems that an independent self-governed nation of former slaves could not be allowed to succeed. Two decades after throwing off the yoke of slavery, France extorted payments from the nascent free country to remain independent. In 1825, a fleet of heavily armed warships delivered the demand. Haiti was to pay France for the loss of their investments as a result of the revolt. Haiti was encumbered with a debt that would take 122 years to pay off. The forty-nine million dollar annual payments were a milestone around the neck of the fledging nation and guaranteed perpetual poverty.
Today Haiti has a per capita income of $350, a power grid that fails on a regular basis, and a network of roads that are more than fifty percent unpaved. France is rated among the world’s richest nations, the $21 billion dollar – in today’s dollars – extortion of reparations for slaveholders, is a negligible percent of France’s national budget. However, the nation rich in resources and frivolity, has resisted returning the paid debt to the impoverished nation.
In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson sent Marines to restore order to Haiti after the assassination of the President. The American forces occupied the nation until 1934; the occupation was to maintain political and economic stability in the Caribbean. Concern for the welfare on the nation, concern for the conditions of the people was of the least concern, it was more so to protect the commerce of the sugar production. Haiti exported two-fifths of the world’s sugar.
Earthquakes and natural disasters have repeatedly knocked the nation, it’s struggling economy to its knees. Hurricanes and tropical storms are common to the Caribbeans nations; Haiti has been rocked by two major earthquakes in the twenty-first century; one, a 7.0 in 2010, and just recently, a 7.2 that has devastated the country still struggling to recover from the 2010 earthquake and successive powerful hurricanes.
Commenting on the divine cause of the 2010 earthquake, one renowned evangelical posits that Haiti is paying for its pact with the devil. Religious folklore feeds into a perverted perception of the judgments of God. There is no verifiable documentation that Haiti told the devil, “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.”
This misrepresentation emanates from the Bwa Kayimon Vodou ceremony that launched the revolution in 1791. Vodou is a creolized African religion that was formed on the colonial plantations between 1750 and 1790. Vodou is still practiced by some in Haiti today. The rituals of Vodou provided the spirit of kinship between the enslaved that fueled the revolt against their colonial masters. History records that the enslaved Africans were encouraged to dismantle the plantation system through the same types of violence that had been exacted upon them.
It was not uncommon for the slaveholder to hang a slave by the ears, mutilate a leg, pull teeth out, gash open one’s side and pour hot melted lard into the incision, or mutilate genital organs. Haitians endured 300 years of these atrocities.
If the African religious ritual was making a pact with the devil, the devil committed to fight against himself. The brutal atrocities exacted on the Haitians for three centuries flowed from the evil hearts of the French colonial enslavers; all evil is of the devil.
The history of America’s plantation system is replete with like accounts of brutal atrocious practices. The rape of mothers and daughters, fathers and mothers and children sold separately – destroying families, beatings and mutilations, lynchings and misrepresentation of the Holy Scripture. Selected passages thought to stir a spirit of liberation or encourage rebellion were omitted from Bibles used for proselytizing slaves. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free…Gal 3:28, was omitted. Ephesians 6:5, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters…. was misrepresented.
For another one hundred years after the defeat of the plantation system, its ideology, the injustices against the African American continued. The Tulsa massacre, and the Rosewood erasure were just two of the many destructions of African American communities in the early twentieth century. Lynchings, with impunity, were standard practices well into the 1950s.
Jesus confronted perverted perceptions of God’s judgments with the religious of His day. In Luke 13:1-4, there were some Galileans who postulated that the tragedy which happened to some worshipers was God’s judgment. “There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things.? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them; do you think that they were worst sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?”
There is no partiality with God. To presume that Haiti is under the judgment of God for pagan religious practices, places the evil deeds of slave owners in Haiti, and the evil practices of America’s plantation system, Black codes, Jim Crow and segregation above the judgment eyes of God.
America’s approach to recompensing for the evils of our past is counterintuitive to the Christian principles we profess. Enacting legislation that imposes impediments that lead to voter suppression and the denial of equal rights. God detests the unequal balance of the scales of justice. There are efforts moving forward in state legislatures to prohibit the accurate teaching of America’s history: slavery’s injustices and its generational influence in cultivating systemic racism; the pushback has been weaponized and is being used for political gain in the midterm elections.
“Today we are a divided country, and Satan is laughing at us because that is exactly what he wants. Dysfunction, mistrust, and hatred help his kingdom flourish. We have to realize we are not fighting against other people. We are fighting against Satan and his kingdom of spiritual darkness.” (Tony Dungy)
God has set a better course for humanity: “Mankind, He has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
But then, “can two walk together, unless they are agreed” (Amos 3:3)
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