“Shit hole” controversy: Haiti and the hypocrisy of our moral outrage

haiti flage arthquake
Despite its many setbacks the Haitian people are a proud people they nurse something in their bosom that can never be taken away, “we freed ourselves.”

Folks should save their outrage. President Donald Trump referring to Africans and Haitians as coming from “shit hole” countries is consistent with US policy, US attitudes and treatment of countries filled with People of Color in general and Black people in specific.

Trump and the thousands who agree that Haiti is a shit hole, have no sense of irony.

If the country is indeed a cesspool, it is because years of US and European interference have made it one. Condemning Haiti for the condition it finds itself in, is like shooting someone and then blaming them for bleeding!

Haiti has been treated as a pariah state ever since Haitian revolutionaries cut the throats of French Settlers, who thought it was a good idea to steal people to work for them. African slaves overthrew their masters and held off France then the mightiest empire in the world.  White “ruling class” blood is and was sacred; a price must be paid for spilling it, no matter how justified.

European and US ruling classes tinged with White Supremacy declared war on Haiti, because it dared to refuse to be enslaved, and they (European ruling classes) were no longer free to exploit it. And they continue to punish Haiti to this day for their crime!

After Haiti declared  independence in 1804, France sent the country a bill forcing  the new country to compensate,( that is make reparation) it for the loss of their slaves and their lost revenue. They imposed an embargo with the help of the US and other European powers that made it difficult for the newly freed slaves to trade. The paying down on this debt ($20 billion) has historically crippled the country’s efforts to thrive and was only recently paid.

The US has constantly interfered in Haitian affairs and helped install dictators including the Duvalier’s.  The US literally occupied Haiti for several years last century. It has bullied, expropriated, exploited and practically held the country down, making sure that it is never ruled by Haitians, for the benefit of all Haitians..

The list of wrongs done to Haiti is too long to list here, but it is indeed long.


Haiti is poor primarily because its economy has been undermined. Haiti used to grow most of its food, but the US dumped cheap agricultural products on the Haitian market,  undermining Haitian farming, putting its formerly thriving sugar and rice industry out of business, making it virtually impossible for Haiti to be self-sufficient.

In 1981 the US, the OAS and a group of international bodies, including health and aide agencies convinced Haiti to kill its pig population of over a million,because of the threat of African Swine Flu, in neighboring Dominican Republic, promising to compensate Haitian farmers for their loss and to replace the pigs. But compensation never materialized. Many Haitians still don’t believe the destruction of their poultry was legitimate but another outside effort to undermine the country.

When the Haitian government made laws in 2009, demanding  a little more from  American clothing manufacturers operating what amounted to “sweat shops”  exploiting Haitian labor, the US government  and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton blocked their effort  to raise the garment workers  minimum wage from 27 cents, to 61 cents per hour. According to news reports, the garment industry complained that it would hurt their bottom line and thus be bad for the US economy.

A representative of the US Embassy David E. Lindwall, said at the time that, “$5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”

After Haitians threw off the yoke of the last Duvalier (Baby Doc) dictatorship in 1986, they held the nation’s first real democratic election, choosing Jean Bertrand Aristide in 1991 to lead them. But Aristide was overthrown by a military coup, only months later reportedly with the help of the CIA.

Consequently, thousands of Haitians crowded on boats and ships heading to the US, to escape the violence and mayhem. Many who had backed the effort to democratize the island were running for their lives.  But the US refused to accept the refugees, claiming that the people escaping political repression were instead, economic refugees. The State Department said, “They don’t meet “standard criteria” for asylum.”

Most were shipped to Guantanamo Bay and were being held indefinitely because the US had determined that this pilfered piece of Cuba was not part of the provincial US, so technically, Haitians had no legal recourse and could not legally file for political asylum.

The vast majority of Americans kept their mouths shut, but a dedicated group of activists (human beings) continued to protest this policy. The protest was aided by a brave group of Yale law school students, who upon witnessing this travesty, were MOVED TO ACT, and impressed upon their professor Harold Coe, to help them do something about it.

As a result of their actions, several lawyers led by Coe, represented the detained Haitians and filed a lawsuit on their behalf. The lawyers were  able to secure their release and many were allowed asylum after courageous federal  judge Sterling Johnson Jr.  (despite enormous pressure from the US government) ruled that the laws of the US did indeed apply on Gitmo.

The US even tried to prevent entry of asylum seekers on Guantanamo, who had contracted HIV making them “indefinite” medical detainees before the US rescinded the policy,  after international outcry.


Today marks eight years since an earthquake struck Haiti  killing hundreds of thousands and devastating much of the country near Port Au Prince. Rather than aide, hustlers from the US and Europe led by “Colored Folks” (POC) favorite politicians, the Clinton’s, used the disaster to enrich themselves. Unlike George Bush, they “cared about Black people,” especially as long as they could exploit them. Houses and hospitals and other important infrastructure that were promised remain undelivered, or unfinished.

The UN added to the Haitians misery after the earthquake, by sending Peacekeepers infected with Cholera, which devastated an already vulnerable rural countryside. Just recently, this same supposed UN peace keeping mission reportedly slaughtered several Haitians supposedly keeping the peace.

Unfortunately, African American descendants of slaves have participated in this disparagement as well. They too have been guilty of looking upon their African and Haitian brothers and sisters with condescension.

As a native of South Florida, I recall to our everlasting shame, people using the word “Haitian” as an insult, a put down, a way of “throwing shade.” By making the word “Haitian” a pejorative, they were not only exposing their ignorance and lack of appreciation for Haiti’s historical accomplishment, but they were declaring that (though White Supremacists don’t differentiate), as members of the most advanced, most prosperous settler colony, they were better than their newly arrived Black brethren.

The real issue here is not whether ruling class white folks give a crap about Africans and Black people, whether they live in Africa, Haiti, the US or any other place on this earth, we know they don’t. Our challenge, our charge, as regular working folks, is to decide to reject and refute our brain washing and begin to see all human beings as just that, human beings, and decide to advocate for them and treat them as you would want to be treated.

justice then peace

3 Comments Add yours

  1. brothertoussaint says:

    You brought the heat with this one Mel! So much ignorance and hypocrisy in this world. More people have to change their mindset. The brainwashing is so deep. Thanks for another awesome post.


    1. Mel Reeves says:

      thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I am trying to do my part. Thanks for the support and pass the word about the blog


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