Davey D interviews Minister of Information JR on his return from Haiti Feb. 16
by Minister of Information JR
Port au Prince, Feb. 13 – After I stopped writing yesterday (see Minister JR from Haiti, Part 1: Starvation and Jim Crow racism), there were a few more things that I felt I should document. The first is the eating arrangements. In the missionary house, a bell is rung for dinner. That is when the non-Haitian people, with a few exceptions, eat. The few exceptions are Haitian medics, who, in the houses, are few and far between.
After the bell is rung, people can eat as much as they want until the food is gone. We have eaten stuff like rice, egg plant, macaroni salad, cole slaw and bread. The Haitians living outside in the tent city eat a ravioli-like substance once a day that they are given to collectively cook. They are not permitted to eat in the house. The ones that we hung out with were constantly hungry. This place definitely has the feel of the plantations that I have only read about: loyal house slaves, rebellious field slaves and all.
The rules here are very interesting. Because we are in a “church” or missionary house, rap music is looked down upon because some artists use profanity. The “holy people” running the house drink beer at every meal – some even drink Babancourt Haitian rum – but when it comes to one Black group, Black people from the United States, having a musical exchange with our Haitian counterparts, it was frowned upon.
The nuns even went as far as to have one of the Black translators – or overseers in the nuns’ minds – tell us, instead of addressing the issue themselves. Because of that I kept playing music, inviting a confrontation. None of the higher-ups said anything to me, although they passed me many times during the evening and night.
One of the visiting white medics said I should play some Haitian music mixed in. I recognized the comment for what it was: It was a subtle way of saying that he doesn’t approve of the rap music – Mos Def, Tupac, M1 and Umi – I was playing or the “classics” like Bill Withers, the Isley Brothers and Nina Simone. I wonder if he would have made the same comment if I were listening to Green Day, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Nirvana or Fergie.
The missionaries, who are also nurses, and their team of medics hate the way that we are able to uniquely connect with the Haitian people across language barriers, using music and dance. In Haiti, the average white person, especially those from the U.S., displays a level of racism that is way more blatant. There is less accountability, oversight and media, which are contributing factors to prolonging this type of activity and keeping it in the dark.
It is an old school relentless plantation-style colonialism that is governing the country currently through mostly white non-governmental organizations just as well as through armies like those from the U.S., Italy, Canada, France and the United Nations that control the flow of resources. What is going on in Haiti is just as much about race as it is about class. Stay tuned …
Editor’s note: POCC Minister of Information JR and Chris Zamani, M.D., who were political organizing comrades years ago, have reunited to minister to the needs of the people of Haiti and tell their truth. Completing the team are Naseema McElroy, R.N., Angela Carroll and Siraj Fowler. They arrived in Haiti Feb. 11.