Books on the Caribbean
Hubert Cole. Christophe: King of Haiti. New
York: The Viking Press, 1967.
The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution
Caribbean Doscourse (2004)
/ Barbara Harlow.
Resistance Literature (1987)
Josaphat B. Kubayanda.
The Poet's Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime
Paul Laraque and Jack Hirschman. Open
Gate An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry (2001)
David P. Geggus, ed.
The Impact of the
Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World.
University of South Carolina Press, 2001.
Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a
Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization
* * *
Education and the
Cataclysm in Haiti
Interviews Rea Dol
is the Director and co-founder of Society of
Providence United for the Economic Development of
a grassroots organization in Haiti offering
education for children and adults and a micro-credit
program for women. Her work in the aid effort
following the January 12th earthquake in Haiti was
the subject of a
New York Times documentary. While in Haiti in
July, Montreal freelance journalist Darren Ell asked
her about the impact of the earthquake.
Darren Ell: What happened to the community of
Morne Lazarre, where your school, SOPUDEP, is
Rea Dol: The community of
Morne Lazarre was devastated by the earthquake.
I was in the school when it happened and I cannot
describe the horror around me. The school was empty
and did not fall, but the neighbourhood collapsed.
Five people were crushed to death just meters from
me when one of the outer walls of the school grounds
collapsed. My first responsibility was to my family,
so I had to get home, but the streets were chaotic.
People were panicking and screaming. I had to run
home ten kilometres through those streets to find my
family. The phones weren’t working. It was horrible.
Morne Lazarre as in many areas of the city, it’s
hard to say who died and how many because in many
cases, the only people who knew who was in a house
were the inhabitants themselves, and they died. Many
are still under the rubble. Extracted bodies were
rapidly buried, and now people are displaced
throughout the city, so it’s impossible to get
accurate numbers. We know
Morne Lazarre intimately though. Three thousand
people lived here prior to the earthquake, and we
estimate that 65% of them died and 95% of their
homes were destroyed.
Darren Ell: How did the earthquake affect you
Rea Dol: On a personal level, when the
earthquake happened, I couldn’t understand why I
didn’t die. Where I was, many of the people around
me died. It affected my profoundly, but I knew I had
to overcome my feelings. I had to join in the
struggle. I understood quickly that I had a mission.
At first, I felt unable to offer support, but I had
to do something, so I got a gallon of Betadine
disinfectant and some gauze and went out into the
street. I cleaned wounds wherever I could. After
three months, I finally took a break. But during
those first three months, I had boundless energy. So
much needed to be done. I spent a lot of time in the
camps with my staff and students. They really needed
our solidarity. No other schools were doing this,
going out into the city to find their people and
reconnect with them.
I couldn’t have offered support to anyone with out
the support of the
Family Foundation (SFF), the
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (HERF), the
Haiti Action Committee, special friends of
SOPUDEP and individuals donating through the
SOPUDEP website. They were always there for us.
The work I did during the crisis built my
credibility in the city as well to the point where
people were consulting me on questions of the
credibility of various organizations. But it was
more than that. People began staying with me in my
home! They kept coming and we cared for them, and we
Darren Ell: What has been the impact of the
earthquake on education in Haiti?
Rea Dol: 25% of our schools were destroyed,
50% were seriously damaged and another 25% are
standing, but staff and students won’t work in the
buildings, so classes have resumed under tarps, but
at least 50% of the students haven’t returned. Many
died, and others have been dispersed throughout the
city now in the tent cities, often far from their
schools. It’s a very difficult time for education.
Darren Ell: How has the earthquake affected
the students and teachers?
Rea Dol: We did an assessment of students
after the earthquake. Some children who had an
average of 80% prior to the earthquake scored 40%, a
serious decline. There are several reasons for this.
One is the living conditions they now find
themselves in. When they had their homes, they could
find a place to study, but in the camps, it’s hot
and crowded in the tents. What’s more, kids are
running around the camps all day, so students are
distracted and can’t get their work done.
The trauma of the earthquake has diminished their
capacity to retain information and learn. In April,
when we reopened the school, we didn’t get into the
regular curriculum at all. We did some cultural
activities, sang songs and danced, but nothing else
until May. We asked students to write about the
earthquake. They all said it was the worst moment of
their lives. They said they’d never recover from it.
They added though that school was like medicine for
them. Coming back to school was like life beginning
again for them.
When we reopened, the teachers weren’t up to it.
They were traumatized and asked for psycho-social
assistance because they didn’t feel stable. Imagine
how awful the students must have been feeling if the
adults themselves needed help! We found a specialist
in the city to help teachers get back to work. The
assistance was successful, and yet when a truck
rolled by and the school shook, it was total panic
in the school and the teachers were the first ones
out. We told the teachers they were supposed to be
the last ones out of the classroom! They said, “We
like our life too!” But I understood. They had to
run. They were too traumatized. Everyone was.
After the quake, many teachers were living in very
bad conditions. Some were sleeping in cars or public
squares because they didn’t have tents yet. So we
got tents for everyone so they could have some
stability in order to work and prepare their
classes. Today, six months after the earthquake,
their situation has somewhat improved but it’s still
Many NGOs were criticized during the earthquake.
What was your experience of aid from large
Rea Dol: The number of NGO’s in Haiti has
ballooned again in Haiti. Are they going to change
things fundamentally? We don’t think so. Without
generalizing to all the cases, and without saying
they haven’t helped, we believe they could do more.
As far as organizations that could have helped
SOPUDEP, there is
Save the Children who sponsored a lot of
organizations. They’re located right next door to us
and they never helped us at all. They had a cash for
work program for rubble removal, but I had to pay
out of pocket to arrange rubble removal. When they
finally came six months after the quake, they asked
how they could help us and said they could fix the
roof and clean out the toilets. But we didn’t see
these as problems. We had more urgent needs related
to our classrooms, but that assistance wasn’t there.
What we really needed—financial
from our regular donors and via our website. The big
organizations offered only a small amount of
material support: 100 tarps from the
Save the Children eventually brought in some
chalkboards and other school supplies. But the
direct aid we gave to families, over 2957 families
in 32 areas throughout the city, came from the
SFF. It is the
SOPUDEP. With the
SFF, we have a
stable budget and we can plan. Teachers can also
plan their lives now knowing there is a paycheck
On a more global level across the country, aid was a
disaster in terms of helping families.
NGOs decided to disburse assistance to women
only. This led to the abuse of women. They would
wait four hours under a hot sun, they’d get beaten
by guards. This was shocking to us. They should have
chosen Haitians to manage this. The voucher system
for aid was abused. Vouchers were hoarded and given
to friends while others got nothing. In the camps it
was a mess. People with the vouchers were demanding
sex for vouchers. Women’s organizations were very
upset. Women’s desperation was being used as
leverage for sex. What’s more, in order to get help,
you had to demonstrate you were in absolute misery.
How poor do you have to be to get help? For example,
to get a tarp, you had to prove your ripped bedsheet
Darren Ell: What does the near and long term
future hold for
Rea Dol: Our current school building is
problematic. For years, we’ve received threats,
sometimes armed, from a corrupt mayor. For this
reason, we were already taking measures prior to the
earthquake to find another location for the school.
The earthquake made this move imperative. No one
trusts the old building and the community is in
ruins. We’ll be moving from Morne Lazarre to
Delmas 83, quite far away, and this will cause
problems for many of our students. Nonetheless, we
want to offer all the help we can to keep everyone
in our program.
We also want to help other schools in the area.
Whenever we receive support, we offer supplies to
other schools as well.
SOPUDEP includes our main K-12 school, adult
education, and a street children education program.
We are reflecting on the problem of access to
university as well, a huge problem in Haiti. We’ve
received a proposal on this matter, and it could be
an area for growth in the future. We have a larger
vision in the field of health. Anything that
represents a major roadblock for the population is
where we put our energies. Another problem is
unemployment, so we created a micro-credit program
for women. Not being able to help your children
yourself is awful, so we’re offering women the means
to generate income and feed their families.
When we began, we had a small group of adults. It
was a community organization that came together to
discuss the problems of the country. While doing
that, we saw more important problems. We started
with activities for children every Saturday. Former
President Aristide eventually integrated us into the
field of literacy. Today, we have 58 people running
our various programs. We are planning the
construction of a new school, but our teachers need
ongoing help for salaries. We also need
assistance integrating our other projects into the
SOPUDEP program: our micro-credit program and
the elementary school in
We have grown a lot, but always one step at a time.
It is very difficult to build organizations in
Haiti. There are few means and we can’t know if
we’re going to succeed. Things are shifting and
changing all the time, and now things have been
degraded to the lowest level possible. They say this
is the poorest country in the
Western Hemisphere. It doesn’t have to be that
way. If we unite, a lot can happen. Working only for
your own well-being will get us nowhere. Because of
the terrible things that have occurred in our past,
trust is an important issue. You absolutely need the
trust of those around you in order to accomplish
anything. What’s more, the systems in this country
are deeply problematic and we need support and
solidarity to change them.
Darren Ell: What are your feelings on the
reconstruction plan for Haiti?
Rea Dol: The
Government of Haiti should have taken the
responsibility to rebuild many of the affected
areas. Instead, construction was chaotic and
anarchic with no oversight. As a consequence, people
are currently living with significant physical
dangers and many have already been victims of these
dangers. The big question is: “Who is responsible
for the reconstruction plan and will ordinary people
be allowed to participate in it?” Thus far, we don’t
see this at all.
An example is what we see across from the National
Palace. This is the face of the country, a symbol of
Haiti. And what do we see six months after the
earthquake? Thousands of people living in absolute
squalor in tents. Many people believe that
reconstruction will not be possible with the current
government, and many are concerned about who will be
in the next government. Electing our own
representatives is a sacred right and part of the
solution we need. We are however in doubt about many
Lavalas is there as a popular organization but
there are several leaders, each one of them wanting
to become the leader.
Banning Lavalas from elections has only
complicated things. What’s more, past choices were
poorly done. For example, the people chose
René Préval as someone who could represent them,
but the opposite has happened.
Six months after the quake, nothing serious has been
done. The first phase is over: everyone has shelter.
We should have seen a second phase of more permanent
shelters, but this hasn’t happened. The third phase
should have been the rebuilding of the country, but
we don’t see how this can happen with the current
government. It’s abdicated its responsibilities.
We’ve seen no results and I’m very concerned. Haiti
needs to change. Otherwise, why would we keep
working? All Haitians need to be very conscious
right now, otherwise we won’t get anywhere.
Darren Ell—originally from Saskatchewan—is a
teacher, photographer and freelance journalist
residing in Montreal. Between 2006 and 2008, he
documented the legacy of the 2004 coup d’état in
online publication with the
The Dominion and
Haiti Action. His photographic installation on
was exhibited at Concordia University in Montreal.
Photo © Darren Ell 2010
* * *
UN probes base as source of
Haiti cholera outbreak—Jonathan Katz—Mirebalais, Haiti—27 October 2010—U.N.
investigators took samples of foul-smelling waste trickling behind a
Nepalese peacekeeping base toward an infected river system on Wednesday,
following persistent accusations that excrement from the newly arrived
unit caused the cholera epidemic that has sickened more than 4,000
people in the earthquake-ravaged nation.
Associated Press journalists who
were visiting the base unannounced happened upon the investigators.
Mission spokesman Vincenzo Pugliese confirmed after the visit that the
military team was testing for cholera - the first public acknowledgment
that the 12,000-member force is directly investigating allegations its
base played a role in the outbreak.
Meanwhile the epidemic continued to
spread, with cases confirmed in two new departments in Haiti's north and
northeast, said U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
spokeswoman Imogen Wall. At least 303 people have died and 4,722 been
International aid workers and the
United Nations are focusing their efforts on stemming the spread of the
outbreak, which was first noted on Oct. 20. But Haitians are
increasingly turning their attention to its origins: How did a disease
which has not been seen in Haiti since the early 20th century suddenly
erupt in the countryside?—HeraldOnline
* * *
Is Haiti's deadly cholera outbreak an imported disease?
by Ezili Dantò—A chilling video
testimony of brackish Red Cross water in Haiti—Cholera
confirmed in Haiti capital. For another compelling
testimony on Red Cross delivering filthy water to Haiti
victims since the earthquake, view also:
How did the Red Cross spend $106 Million Dollars in
Haiti: (Ezili Dantò's note: Amongst some of the
testimonies that's not clearly translated in this most
valuable video: a woman standing next to a small
child repeating "no, no, no," points to a water drum
with a "Red Cross" sign on it and says that even the
water they give is not treated. She explains that she
drinks it because she has no money to buy good drinkable
water but suffers right now from a stomach ache from
drinking the Red Cross' polluted water.)
Here's an example of
help Haiti could use that is beyond Clinton/CocaCola/Sweatshops/Monsanto
hybrid seeds/unregulated gold/copper and other foreign mining, and more
foreign toxins that further pollutes Haiti's ground water:
Communication, Water purifier, electricity and environmentally
conscious, all in one—
Containing Haiti Cholera: Lead role played by Cuban doctors (6 November
Health experts say UN troops could have caused Haiti cholera outbreak,
call for investigation—November 4, 2010
* * *
Hurricane swamps camps of Haitian quake refugees
November 6, 2010
“We have two
catastrophes that we are managing. The first is the
hurricane, and the second is cholera,” President Rene Preval
told the nation in a television and radio address.
Aid workers are concerned that the storm will worsen Haiti’s
cholera epidemic, which has killed more than 440 people and
sent more than 6,700 others to hospitals. Haitian
authorities had urged the 1.3 million Haitians left homeless
by the earthquake to leave the camps and go to the homes of
friends and family
* * *
is an award winning playwright, a performance poet, author
and human rights attorney. She was born in Port-au-Prince,
Haiti, and raised in the USA. She holds a BA from Boston
College, a JD from the University of Connecticut School of
law. She is a human rights lawyer, cultural and political
activist and the founder and president of the Ezili’s
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN).
She runs the Haitian
Perspectives on-line journal and the Ezili Dantò Newsletter.
Ezili’s HLLN is the recognized leading and most trustworthy
international voice in Haiti advocacy, human rights work,
Haiti news and Haiti news analysis. HLLN’s work is central
to those concerned with the welfare of the people of Haiti,
Haiti capacity building, sovereignty, institutionalization
of the rule of law, and justice and peace without occupation
Ezili Dantò is also an
educator who specializes in teaching about the light and beauty of
Haitian culture; the Symbolic and Archetypal Nature of Haitian Vodun;
the illegality and immorality of forcing neoliberal policies on Haiti
and the developing world . . . For more go to the Ezili Danto/HLLN
website at http://www.ezilidanto.com
* * *
just "gang leaders" in Haiti fought for Aristide to finish his
five-year term. The demonstrators are lifting up their hands to
indicate, five years, five years, five years—senk an, senk an, senk
an. No Bush regime change in Haiti! Most of the Haitian mothers you
see in this video, who were lucky enough to have survived the
2004-2006 Lavalas witch-hunt and US/UN guns from the 2004 Bush
regime change in Haiti, are suffering unbearable, some from grief,
humiliation, Clorox hunger, or worst, some on top of all this, from
traumatic rape and sexual abuse by the "peacekeepers," US/NGO/IFI
"saviors," and their Haitian mercenary arms, or as a direct result
of the opportunistic anarchy that landed in Haiti after this video
* * *
* * *
Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work
is an eloquent and moving expression of Danticat's belief
that immigrant artists are obliged to bear witness when
their countries of origin are suffering from violence,
oppression, poverty, and tragedy.
In this deeply personal book, the celebrated
Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and
exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist
from a country in crisis. Inspired by Albert Camus' lecture,
"Create Dangerously," and combining memoir and essay,
Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself,
who create despite, or because of, the horrors that drove
them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them.
Danticat eulogizes an aunt who guarded her family's
homestead in the Haitian countryside, a cousin who died of
AIDS while living in Miami as an undocumented alien, and a
renowned Haitian radio journalist whose political
assassination shocked the world.
Danticat writes about the Haitian novelists she
first read as a girl at the Brooklyn Public Library,
a woman mutilated in a machete attack who became a
public witness against torture, and the work of
Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists of Haitian
descent. Danticat also suggests that the aftermaths
of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States
reveal that the countries are not as different as
many Americans might like to believe..—CaribbeanLiterarySalon
* * *
* * *
The Last Holiday: A Memoir
By Gil Scott Heron
Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. —Jamie Byng, Guardian
* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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posted 27 October 2010