• William Mathis

GATHER UP THE FRAGMENTS - NOTES FROM PORT-AU-PRINCE/CAP HAITIEN, HAITI


Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise, I rise, I rise.

Maya Angelou


We all do “Do, Re, Mi,” but you have got to find the other notes yourself.

Louis Armstrong


People see God every day. They just don’t recognize Him.

Pearl Bailey



To live only in the realm of the natural can be deceptive of what the possibilities and potential there may be. It is in one’s rising that possibilities and potential is made visible. The lived experiences of our lives can and will be captivating, however, it is only when we access the spirit of the possibilities and potential within that caused us to see beyond what is to what can be. The lived experiences must be just that lived and as a result built upon in order to see beyond what is to that which can and shall be. The power of our ancestors is the spirit of possibilities and potential. Therefore, for us to know and embrace our history and value to the world, it is paramount in order for us to build upon our lived experiences toward the thriving of our possibilities and potential. Maya Angelou’s says, gifts; our offerings, sacrifices, struggles, mistakes, triumphs, including those of our ancestors is the fuel for our energy, our spirit to translate our lived experiences into greater possibilities and potential for our thriving and upon that spirit we rise beyond what is to what can and should be for our lives. My experience in Haiti made this understanding and direction real.


Haiti is a very beautiful place with beautiful people and a rich and proud history. However, the reality of present-day lived experiences of Haiti and the Haitian people clouds the possibilities and potential that is theirs, especially if there is blockage that prevents them from tapping into their true and genuine spirit, that of their ancestors. It was through the lens of Haiti’s rich history I saw the beauty, not just physical but also figuratively in their possibilities and potential. It was the Haitian spirit, a very proud Blackness, independence among the majority of the people seen beyond the poverty, corruption, and violence fueled by outsiders. I literally was forced to repent, as an African American and a person of the African and Africa Diaspora experience, because we have stood by and allowed what is the present continuous spiraling decline of Haiti from their authentic nature to one that is driven and sustained by Western-European dependency paradigms as well as “other” outsiders, leveraging their weight for their benefit and the detriment of Haiti snd the Haitian people. We have stood too long on the sideline as a global Black community while other world powers keep their feet on the neck of Haiti, preventing it from rising out of their lived experiences into their enormous and great possibilities and potential.


Recent world news events have shown that Hait is a country that struggles internally and externally to thrive, due to a number of variables, including natural disasters such as earthquakes and tropical storms ravishing the country. Haiti’s poor, if not lack of infrastructure has made what are natural occurrences even that more devasting. The lack of poor infrastructure is a direct result of a lack of economic means in order to build and sustain an appropriate infrastructure that is conducive to the geography and environment of Haiti. The lack of economic means is rooted in the unbridled corruption that exist within Haiti in its governmental and economic structures as well as the manipulation of its currency due in large part because of Western-Europeans powers, including the history of their debt loan payment structures, i.e., indemnity repayment to France because of the slave revolt which produced the independent country of Haiti which continued from 1825 until 1947, held in place by the consent of the world powers. Without question, the corruption is also one of the leading culprits, however, even if that was not in place, the domination of the world powers over their currency and the present-day loan repayment structures strangle whatever means Haiti has to get out of the indebtedness as well as the dependency on others who have inconsistent goals than that of the Haitian people and their beloved Haiti. This reality is neither new or hidden, it is in plain and we have chosen to ignore it which also hampers the spirit, and lived experiences of Haiti and the Haitian people.


The rich and colorful, I dare say Black history of Haiti was prevalent everywhere I went in Haiti, south and north, in the ascetics of its beauty as well as in the eyes and lived experiences and consciousness of its people despite their present reality, a hope with resilience. A very proud people borne out of their history as well as their resistance to the atrocities, within and without Haiti, yet they delivered a great contribution to the world as Black people. It was the Haitian successful slave revolt that defeated the world powers, the white collective, and established their own country in 1804, reclaiming the indigenous name given by the the Taino, ‘Land of the Mountains.,” people. Out of the lived experiences of those great revolutionaries; Toussaint, Dessalines, Christophe, and Pétion as both an oral and real history, spirit, affirmed their inner strength and determination to resist an oppressive state which sanctioned corporal punishment, i. e., the brutal Code Noir established by Louis XIV as well as the decisive and internal conflict created as a result of the semi-institutionalization of “plaçage,” creating a ”middle-class” of “gens de couleur” (people of color), mulattos offsprings of French plantation owners and their African slave concubines, it is in this sense of resistance I saw the Haitian resilience, a spirit, a pride that transcended the present-day lived experiences of Haitians into a pride and dignity despite it all. However, it has and is hampered not only by the reality of corruption within but the continued force of repayment, not just in money, but in actions the western world has imposed on Haiti because of their great history and revolutionary spirit. Just to note this has been led by the French who claim their motto: Liberty, Justice and Fraternity. (Please see my Gather Up the Fragments - Notes from Monte and Chateau Rogue, Paris, France). It is from this great history, lived experiences that presently are challenging and disheartening in which the Haitian people, and we in general, as Black people must unite to rise. Toussaint, Dessalines, Christophe, and Pétion, along with many others in Haiti and abroad, have given us a spirit, the spirit of our ancestors, to lead and guide us into the destiny of our greatness so very obvious from our past to thrive in our here and now as well as our destiny. However, the will must remain with us, not outsiders, that we must create spaces that releases us from our sense of displacement and as outsiders to our own authentic selves to arrive at our destiny of greatness causing us to rise. As Louis Armstrong said, “we can all do, Do-Re-Mi, but we have got to find our other notes; our ancestors have provided and we must claim their spirit to forge, create new notes, driving our own narratives.


The most recent catastrophic events; the earthquake in the southern region, the assassination of the President causing even more governmental instability, the gang violence and kidnapping in major urban centers, the economic depression and hardships felt directly by the people causing them to escape to other countries; often being turned away or returned, are all directly linked to the chaos and dependency created and sustained by the world powers as legacy the Haitians, Black people defeat of them and creating their own - they will never let us forget which must be used to field our resistance and resilience! It has not been enough to force Haiti to pay an enormous debt for their own freedom, but also they have chosen to manipulate the Haitian's freedom for choosing their own way, thus the white collective - the slave revolt against the masters - supposedly master race has and is a tool to teach other Black nations and people don’t do it to the advantage in which the white collective would look weak and Black people strong; ask Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwean independence, ask the ANC and South Africa related to the choices they made at the end of official apartheid. Yet, we the world, in particular the Black world have mostly stood by and let it happen taking the narrative driven by the white collective: Haiti and other Black nations are responsible for their difficulties, their corruption, ineptitude, and inability to rule and manage themselves is the sole cause, thus, creating a dependence on them to drive and sustain the narratives for our thriving. We all do Do Re Mi, but we must find the rest of the other notes for ourselves.

While watching CNN recently, I took note of a former United Nations employee working specifically on Haitian issues, a Haitian herself, indicated Haiti has a plan, created comprehensively by and for them, they do not need the USA or other nations creating a plan and executing it in Haiti, Haiti has its plan and what we need is the support of the world to execute our plan. One of the things I heard over and over again while in Haiti was the fact the world has tried to dictate its version of government and /or democracy, the narrative for Haiti yet it has not worked. Thus, my sister's call for the world to show your support by providing support of us executing our own plan, driving our own narrative, the way we feel it works best for us was her way of saying we can create our own notes, narrative, and thus, transformation of a nation into its legacy of greatness. Haitian are a proud people, with a rich and colorful history that promotes their greatness, if we would only ensure that the white collective would get out of the way and let Haitians do it, support in ways that do not overburden or force them into dependence and /or obedience to the Western European dictates. Let Haiti, Black people, figure out the rest of our notes for ourselves. The opportunity lies before us and we see our possibilities, the potential of greatest through the lens of our history and the spirit of our lived experiences, past, present, and future. Pearl Bailey said it this way, we see God - His opportunities of life and life more abundantly, everyday and everywhere, however, it is clouded by overburden-ness by and dependency on others so much so we cannot recognize God, our life and life more abundantly. Perhaps we as African and African Diaspora people can best support our Haitian brothers and sisters by forcing the world, in particular the white collective and it’s designs on and for the world, to get out of the way so Haiti and the Haitian people, I dare say all Black people, can see God for who God is and who we are, authentically. Perhaps we must face, as Black people, the reality, we are a threat to other’s version of the world order and thus they will never allow us to lead, execute, and sustain a revolt that shows, develops, and nurtures our greatness. We must demand it, revolt and make the rest of our notes ourselves, for ourselves!


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