Port-au-Prince -- From here in the nation birthed by the world's only successful slave revolt, watching and reading about the events in Ferguson, Missouri, is far beyond bizarre. Yet the parallels between this African country in the Caribbean and it's history, and the history of Ferguson and countless towns and cities like it, are inescapable. For this island, and the 80 percent black island in Missouri, both are peopled by descendants of enslaved Africans who, despite more than 150 years of 'freedom,' are suffering as a consequence of their legacy.
From it's establishment as a nation in 1804, and the end of it's days as France's colonial crown jewel, Haiti and its people have never been able to get a break. First isolated by France, the U.S., and Britain, all three of which were terrified of the example a successful slave revolt set, Haiti was then economically raped by France at canon point, forced to pay staggering reparations that denied it economic solvency into the early 20th century. Couple that with the legacy of slavery -- and the not irrational fear the white man would return , leg irons in hand, the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a tiny elite, and ecological disasters including deforestation, hurricanes, and earthquakes, and Haiti's current sad state becomes instantly understandable.
And Ferguson? What's the question? The same legacy of slavery, historical and current segregation, lack of educational and economic opportunity, brutal and demeaning treatment by a white police army of occupation, socially and culturally isolated, and 'Good Morrrrnnning, Port-au-Prince!'
Until we as a nation, and as individual human beings, stop asking "What's wrong with those people, why can't they just get over it?" Until we acknowledge the damage that has been systematically done to the people of Haiti and Ferguson -- and seriously work to repair it, until we understand what 20 years of brutal occupation the U.S. Marines did to the Haitians, and what occupation by police and National Guardsmen are doing to the people of Ferguson, Haiti will continue to crumble and all the Furgeson's will continue to burn.
Fifty-one years ago, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X shocked and appalled most white Americans when he observed that the chickens of American violence and oppression had come home to roost. He may have been off by 51 years, for in this, the half-century anniversary year of the passage of the historic Civil Rights Act, the chickens have indeed come home -- and Ferguson, Missouri is their coop.
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