Contemplating a journey and a calling……….
Who is not Haitian?
Everywhere is Haiti.
Our past, present and future of catastrophe,
silenced screams of the poor dying beneath the rubble of hurricanes and earthquakes that are both weather conditions and the nature of the infamous who have ruled. They too cause tragedies.
Everywhere is Haiti.
Slavery, revolution, debt, corruption, exploitation and violence, poverty, illiteracy, overcrowding, no success at infrastructure, environmental disaster, sounds of familiar denial. Have we not seen the excrement, wherever we walk?
We turn away at the signing of lucrative contracts for corporations, supported on stilts by bankrupted governments that are slipping in the erosion of soil once feeding ground for trees. Inexpensive imports, we cannot feed ourselves. We too are beggars.
Haiti’s chaos after revolution, and land plotted out for the wealthy, is our own faces, blinking at the rise of death, drug dealing, weapons trading, gang membership, societies of supremacy, kidnapping and extortion at our own feet.
Poor, underfed, and underschooled, tens of thousands of children filled with nightmares, foraging life alone, thinking God is angry at them. Injured and sick without medical attention, they have been in pain so long they no longer cry.
Everywhere is Haiti, and not some far away place of unfortunate black people falling into the undertow in an ocean of blackness. Blinded by placebos given for incurable dreamers, we feel an imagined security, our attention turned away from the fear that we are those children with the empty eyes looking to see if anyone cares.
Our perpetual imaginations say we are not Haitian and therefore we can remain numb to them and to the parts of ourselves that are like them. And when we finally weep for Haitians, it is because we cannot cry for ourselves.
The indigenous wiped out, the turn toward sugar, planted and demanded while exploiting another, losing the forests upon which we once collapsed upon to rest, grasslands gone sparse and bald, our well-being as flat as the ravaged earth, who is not Haitian?
Haiti, a place, a sign, or an electrifying light that makes a ring around the world for us to see what we have done here on this planet but we do not want to see it. Haiti is a knock at the door we do not answer because we hope the knocking is for the neighbor, or for someone else. Haiti is the breaking down of a mold-ridden antique mirror we refuse to take care of.
A necessary amnesia to what we have destroyed, we cannot see the future is present, and the reforestation of a world and its people cannot sustain itself on artificial lakes.
Haiti is not only over there. It has spread to here and it doesn’t matter the name of the place in which the disaster arises, it comes without a name in a place that often remains nameless for the sake to sustain our blindness.
The anonymous or the impersonal does not last. What is ignored at the bottom of the water does not stay. It surfaces and smells like bloated whales.
—by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel