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"Haiti" by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

"Haiti" by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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Published by NYU Press
From the new book "Black in Latin America", the companion to the PBS Series.

Buy the book at NYU Press:
From the new book "Black in Latin America", the companion to the PBS Series.

Buy the book at NYU Press:

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Published by: NYU Press on Jul 27, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
“From My Ashes I Rise; God Is My Cause and My Sword”
Motto on King Henri Christophe’s Haitian Flag, 1811 – 1820
[Te rebelling Haiian slaves are] he cannibals o he errible re-public.Tomas Jeerson, February 11, 1791Teir slaves have been called ino acion, and are a errible engine,absoluely ungovernable.Tomas Jeerson, March 24, 1791 We receive wih regre daily inormaion o he progress o insurrec-ion and devasaion in S. Domingo. Nohing indicaes as ye hahe evil is a is heigh.Tomas Jeerson, January 5, 1792Never was so deep a ragedy presened o he eelings o man.Tomas Jeerson, July 14, 1793
landed a Por-au-Prince, my mind and my hear wereenguled by Haii by he counry’s incredibly complex, sill unoldingsaga o glory and shame, honor and suering. From he air, all I couldsee were checkered felds o blue and whie. I discovered, as all visiorso Haii do since he earhquake, ha hese were ens — ens housingan esimaed 1.2 million Haiians, ens ha will have o serve as homesor he dislocaed ciizens, some esimaes say, or he nex weny years.Haii is he poores naion in he Wesern Hemisphere. oday, is very name conjures up images o suering: o he massive earhquakeha devasaed Por-au-Prince, o brual dicaors and he onon Ma-
Gates_pp001-248.indd 146
Gates_pp001-248.indd 146
6/1/11 9:18 AM
6/1/11 9:18 AM
Haiti 147
coues, o miliary coups, rios, ood shorages, crowds o people liningup or inernaional aid, images o errible povery and unending po-liical unres. And, o course, “voodoo,” he sereoypical denigraion o he religion Vodou. Bu when I hink o Haii, I hink frs o is uniqueplace in world hisory, as he birhplace o one o he mos inspiringrevoluions in he eigheenh cenury, he Haiian Revoluion and is vicory over Napoleon Bonapare’s France, he mos powerul army inhe world. When Haii won is independence rom France in 1804, isslaves did somehing ha had never happened beore: hey overhrew heir European masers and esablished heir own naion, a republic, aleas iniially. I was, and should be recalled as, one o he mos hrill-ing momens in human hisory. When Haii was born, i was he frs(and only) black republic in he New World or in Arica (Abyssinia,now Ehiopia, was a monarchy, which Haii soon also became, bu i was no iniially); and heirs was he only ruly successul slave revol inhe whole o he New World.Moreover, as par o is hisorical origins and culural legacy, Haiiremains, o his day, an indispuably black culure, even i color en-sions beween mulatoes and is darker ciizens have been quie prob-lemaic over he enire hisory o he colony and he republic. In ac,in an atemp o speak o his issue o color as class, Haii’s very frsconsiuion Dessalines’s consiuion o 1805 declared, “Becauseall disincions o color among children o he same amily mus nec-essarily sop, Haiians will henceorh only be known as blacks.” Haii was keenly aware o is role as a puaive cener o wha we laer cameo hink o as Pan-Aricanism, as a ransnaional “black” poliical con-sciousness: indeed, Alexander Péion in his consiuion o 1816, in ar-icle 44, acually declared, “Any Arican, Indian or hose who carry heir blood, born in he colonies or in oreign counries, who come o livein he Republic will be recognized as Haiian.” Tis ac o welcomingall black people around he world o become Haiian ciizens — whichFrederick Douglass acually announced ha he was considering accep-ing on he eve o he Civil War — can be hough o as one o he earli-es, and perhaps he earlies, signal acs in he hisory o Pan-Arican-ism, he frs ime cerainly ha a governmen hough o all personso Arican descen posiively as “ciizens” or members o a unifed orrelaed group — he ip side o considering all Aricans as members o a single group o people who are poenially enslavable, even hough
Gates_pp001-248.indd 147
Gates_pp001-248.indd 147
6/1/11 9:18 AM
6/1/11 9:18 AM

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Kush Heru El liked this
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Laurette M. Backer added this note
“From My Ashes I Rise; God Is My Cause and My Sword” (Motto on King Henri Christophe’s Haitian Flag, 1811 – 1820)
Mitu-Creţu Gh. liked this
DrMoshood Rajah Oyeniyi added this note
This is a wonderful write-up. The phenomenon as observed by Henry L. Gates, Jr in black nations is the truth of inter-relationships among blacks all over the world. Of course, there are always few exceptions to every rule. The real CAUSE of the FATE of blacks world over is beyond what most people think, and lies within blacks themselves both as individuals and groups. Nothing happens by chance.
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