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Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
The new “Black Woman Is God” exhibit, curated by Karen Seneferu and Melorra Green, features the work of over 50 Black women artists in a variety of genres: film, mixed media installation, sculpture, paintings, photography – in a range of sizes covering entire walls to intimate corners. We travel below ground into spaces where lives are born and secret formulas are calculated … brews stirred.
By ourselves, we disenfranchised Haitians took down the fake elections and U.S. puppet president, Michel Martelly. He left on Superbowl 50, Feb. 7 – the day Beyoncé set off a politically charged “Formation,” unapologetically Black. America’s most powerful artist dressed her dancers in Afros and Black Panther leather outfits and got in (Malcolm) X formation, Black fists raised up. Banm sèt kout kouto – bring it! she said.
Haitian activist lawyer Ezili Danto speaks on the current state of Dominican apartheid and the denationalization of Haitians within its borders. “The Dominican Republic is the Israel of the Caribbean,” Danto says, noting that they sided with the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War. “Haiti is a sanctuary for freedom, a sanctuary in a world where, when the Africans liberated the island, it was the only place on Planet Earth where slavery of Black people did not exist.”
Lawyer, artist and activist Ezili Danto gives the Block Report audience a history lesson on the first republic to free itself militarily from slavery, under the direction of the first Pan African head of state, Dessalines. We are talking about none other than Haiti. She also gives us a little bit of the history of the Dominican Republic and its relationship with Haiti as well as the role that the mulatoes have played in Haitian history.
On Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2015, in the Dominican Republic, supposedly a paradise of European development, a Haitian man named Henry Claude Jean, known as “Tulile,” a humble shoe shine worker, was found hanging in a park in Santiago, his hands and feet bound. In Haiti, the U.S.-installed Martelly dictatorship and its controlled opposition remain silent about this atrocious lynching.
Five years ago, after the catastrophic Haiti earthquake, the international community – a self-defined “Core Group” under the leadership of former President Bill Clinton – took over Haiti recovery and reconstruction and announced they would “build Haiti back better.” But this was a euphemism for land grabbing, privatization, occupation and imperial plunder. Black lives don’t matter in the United States, much less in Haiti.
If Haiti had friends in the U.S. Congress, they would ask the Obama administration to support human rights for the U.N. cholera victims and to put an end to the fictitious elections, ever since the United States started its direct occupation of Haiti by disenfranchising 10 million Haiti voters on Feb. 29, 2004.
The Washington colonists are back in Haiti, re-enslaving. Bloodhounds have been set loose by the Washington puppet Haiti government on free Haitians at Île à Vache (Ile a Vache/Ilavach), who are fighting back. It’s 2014, not 1704, but a bloody manhunt with hound dogs and weapons of war is let loose on the unarmed Île à Vache Haitians. These Haitians are descendants of enslaved Africans and freed U.S. Blacks.
It is imperative to also lift up Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Madiba's former wife, who helped hold the anti-apartheid movement together during his unjust imprisonment for 27 years. When her husband’s image and voice were banned, she represented him to the world – and she suffered for her bold action.
Afrikan history is world history. World history is human history. And the Black Woman Is God. “The Black Woman Is God” exhibit is a continuation of great Afrikan thought, not solely an outstanding new work of collective and individual art. The closing reception is Thursday, May 30, 6 p.m., in the Sargent Johnson Gallery, African-American Arts and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St., San Francisco
On Jan. 9, MASSIVE demonstrations throughout Haiti supported former President Aristide after he was summoned to court on frivolous charges seen as political persecution. People say that putting Aristide on trial is the same as putting the Haitian masses on trial and that the charges are meant to divert attention from the third earthquake anniversary and the theft of billions in aid. Speak out against the Red Cross for building a luxury hotel with aid funds. Rally Friday, Jan. 11, 4:30-5:30 p.m., outside Red Cross headquarters, 3901 Broadway, near MacArthur BART, Oakland.
“Haiti may have many problems but until 2010 cholera was not one of them. In fact, the country had no known history of the disease at all,” the Al Jazeera host explains. In October 2010, the first of now 8,000 Haitians died of cholera introduced to Haiti by U.N. peacekeeping troops from Nepal and the U.N.’s negligence in allowing their untreated waste to poison a major river.
In 2012, the Maafa is a penal colony in U.S.-occupied Haiti – the national penitentiary. This image expresses a reality reminiscent of chained Africans in the hull of a slave ship bound for the Carolinas. In Haiti, prisoners without human rights are guarded by the world arbiters on human rights, the United Nations. This is how prisoners are treated. Forgotten and abandoned.
On Saturday, March 3, 4-6 p.m., Haiti Action Committee invites you to an afternoon of solidarity with the Haitian people to mark the eighth anniversary of the Feb. 29, 2004, coup d’etat, dedicated to the memory of Jean Ristil Jean-Baptiste, at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Jean Ristil lived his entire life in Cite Soleil. He was jailed, persecuted, beaten many times for his work as a photojournalist. He fought hard to give voice to the voiceless. He had stubborn determination. He hustled, he had game, he refused to be defeated. His work and courage remain to inspire us, to keep us going forward.
Leading members of Haiti’s bourgeoisie tried to turn the Haitian police force into their own private army, according to a secret U.S. Embassy cable provided to Haïti Liberté by the media organization WikiLeaks.
Aristide returned to Haiti today. I’ve not seen such genuine happiness on the faces of Haiti’s poor in over seven years. Welcome, President Jean Bertrand Aristide and family. Today is a good day for the poorest of the poor. Blessed be the endless Haiti revolution against the organized tyranny of the “civilized” and “schooled” peoples. On this day, we remember the sacrifice of the warriors who took up arms in self-defense against the occupation and coup d’etat. We recall the 20,000 slaughtered by the coup regime from 2004 to 2006, slaughtered with the complicity of U.N./U.S. firepower.
Today, Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, whose return to Haiti is demanded daily by his people – he was kidnapped Feb. 29, 2004, in a U.S.-engineered coup and has since lived in South Africa – wrote the following letter to the South African and Haitian governments seeking to return home. But, asks Ezili Danto, who forwarded his letter, “If Duvalier can, without trouble, travel on an EXPIRED Haitian passport, why can’t President Aristide do the same?”
One year after an earthquake devastated Haiti, much of the promised relief and reconstruction aid has not reached those most in need. Less than 2% of the $267 million spent so far has gone to Haitian firms, the rest to "masters of disaster," big U.S. firms that hire Haitians to do the back-breaking work for $5 a day.
John Maxwell is one of those rare human beings, one of those rare souls, and one of those rare minds whose death leaves us naked. Bare. Smaller.
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