Time to push against Haiti hate yet once more, and learn some hidden U.S. history

Philip Bump documented the most recent outrage from the orange menace in The Washington Post. From my standpoint, describing Trump’s vile phrases about Haitians as “disparaging”—as Bump did in his headline—is way too gentle.

A couple of months after he took workplace in 2017, President Donald Trump was handed an inventory of visas granted by the United States that 12 months. He took the doc (helpfully offered by aide Stephen Miller) to a gathering with advisors on the White House the place, in accordance to New York Times reporting, he started insulting varied international locations as undesirable or disease-ridden.

“You know,” he stated to the community’s Sean Hannity on Thursday night time, “there’s one other thing that nobody talks about. So we have hundreds of thousands of people flowing in from Haiti. Haiti has a tremendous AIDS problem.”

“AIDS is a step beyond. AIDS is a real bad problem,” he continued. “So, hundreds of thousands of people are coming into our country. And if you look at the stats, if you look at the numbers, if you look at just — take a look at what’s happening in Haiti, a tremendous problem with AIDS. Many of those people will probably have AIDS, and they’re coming into our country. And we don’t do anything about it. We let everybody come in. Sean, it’s like a death wish. It’s like a death wish for our country.”

Trump’s resurrection of the Haitian AIDS stigma could not ring a bell with readers who weren’t engaged in combating the early HIV/AIDS epidemic right here within the U.S.—the place superstition, homophobia, and racism reigned with impunity over a illness that was not understood. As an HIV-AIDS activist on the time, I watched that full-blown ignorance take maintain and maintain sway.

In 1983, as Marlise Simons wrote for The New York Times, the stigma was devastating to the nation’s tourism financial system.

… for the reason that summer time of 1982, when American well being authorities linked Haiti and the so-far incurable dysfunction generally known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, this nation’s vacationer business has collapsed. They stated the biggest group of AIDS victims consisted of male homosexuals, and the second largest group of victims consisted of Haitians.

Since then, constitution flights and cruise ships have stopped docking in Port-au- Prince, the tropical verandas of the AIDS is now a worldwide drawback, scientists at a gathering in Geneva agreed, and there was a surge in circumstances in Europe.

Hotels stand empty and maids, waiters, guides and handicraft distributors have been laid off. Hoteliers, native officers and international diplomats complain that the entire nation has been stigmatized by AIDS. An American resident of Haiti stated that after touchdown at New York’s Kennedy Airport final month, he was requested by a customs official the place he had embarked. ‘’When I stated Haiti,‘’ the traveler recalled, ’’the customs girl instructed me: ‘Open your passport. I’m not touching it.‘’’

Julio Capo Jr. wrote about this in 2013 for HIVPlus journal. The headline says all of it: “Haiti has been linked with HIV for 30 years. Will the stigma ever go away?”

On March 4, 1983, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control listed Haitians as one of many 4 “high-risk” teams for AIDS. With a comparatively excessive variety of circumstances amongst latest Haitian immigrants, the CDC warned, “Physicians who care for Haitian patients should be aware that opportunistic infections may occur in this population.” The federal designation singled out Haitians as the one ethnic group believed to be inherently inclined to the then-mysterious illness. As such, they turned members of the infamous “4-H” membership that additionally included homosexuals, heroin customers, and hemophiliacs.

This sparked a brand new wave of discrimination. Many individuals of Haitian descent have been fired or denied employment, housing, and admission to faculty. Immigrants performed a essential position within the grassroots actions that combated HIV and AIDS. Activists cried racism and pseudo-science because the impetus for the designation. Meanwhile, many others shifted the dialog to different plagues that affected Haitian communities: poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, and discrimination.

Years later, right here we’re once more, listening to the identical racist bullshit from the lips of a person who will cease at nothing and use each software within the hater toolkit to proceed to get assist from these racists and xenophobes amongst us. 

But as Bump notes, one thing’s totally different this time.


When the media reported In 2017 that Trump had disparaged immigrants from Haiti, his workers denied the report and implied the press was mendacity.

In 2021, he simply says the identical factor on Fox in primetime and elicits shrugs. https://t.co/yFWecf4NXn

— Philip Bump (@pbump) October 9, 2021

There was a right away and fierce response from the Haitian Embassy.


Check out Haiti’s hearth assertion reacting to former-President Trump’s feedback on Fox News, a media org that devotes a not insignificant portion of its programming to white supremacist propaganda. Hannity unsurprisingly failed to truth test the dangerously false claims. pic.twitter.com/1RVC241lmI

— Ari Sawyer (@AriMSawyer) October 9, 2021

Here’s Ambassador Bocchit Edmond’s “fire” assertion in full:

The Embassy of the Republic of Haiti, on behalf of the Haitian Government, strongly condemns the racist and baseless assertion about Haitian migrants, i11 explicit, and the Haitian inhabitants, generally, of Donald J. Trump on Fox News Network, on Thursday, October 7, throughout Sean Hannity’s program. These vile feedback intention solely to sow hatred and discord against immigrants.

The Embassy of Haiti in Washington believes that civilized individuals, the media, particularly tv, and human rights organizations mustn’t stay detached to this umpteenth denigration of the Haitian individuals by former President Trump.

The Embassy would really like to level out that the Republic of Haiti, the second impartial nation within the Western Hemisphere, since 1804, has all the time been a staunch ally of the United States. As a historic reminder, to cite simply two references, from September 16 to October 18, 1779, a contingent of 800 troopers from the French West Indies, primarily Haitians, fought as reinforcements to the federal troops to protect the independence of the United States throughout the Battle of Savannah, Georgia, against British colonialist forces. Also, in 1943, the Haitian individuals contributed a million ($1,000,000.00) {dollars} to the United States’ conflict efforts against the Nazi allies.

Today, many Haitian nationals and their offspring, who, just like the Trump household, coincidentally, immigrated to the United States of America, contribute to the prosperity and protection of the American individuals. These historic and human ties should not be undermined by such unacceptable declaration.

Though I doubt many individuals right here noticed the response from the Edmond, I feel it’s essential to reintroduce the history that he highlighted. Though a monument to that history exists (in Savannah, Georgia, as pictured above), it’s a part of our history that I can’t bear in mind ever being taught at school—although I do bear in mind clearly being taught about help to American revolutionaries that got here from Prussians and the French.

Back in 2010 I wrote about that erased history, and the efforts of members of the Haitian American Historical Society (HAHS) to change that.

The monument to the Chasseurs Volontaires de Saint Domingue was devoted in 2007. It commemorates the braveness and dedication of the over 500 volunteers—free males of African heritage—who fought alongside the Americans within the Battle of Savannah in 1779 throughout the Revolutionary War.

At a time when slavery was a lifestyle within the Americas and within the Caribbean Islands, the truth that these free Black males would voluntarily journey to struggle is startling not solely to odd residents, however to historians as nicely. These males have been younger and inexperienced; 25 of their fellow troopers have been both wounded or killed. Their names seem on the monument.

One of the figures which dominate the monument is that of Henri Christophe. He is portrayed as a drummer, an essential position in battle, because the drummers give alerts and encouragement to the troopers. Henri Christophe would develop to turn into an essential General within the Haitian Army for Independence.

The HAHS celebrated the 14th anniversary of the monument’s unveiling final weekend.


On Saturday, Haitian American Historical Society celebrated the 14th anniversary of the revealing of the Haitian Memorial Monument in Savannah GA, that was devoted to the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue on October 8, 2007. Martine Marseille sang the Anthem. pic.twitter.com/mK45RXSKGR

— Lunionsuite 🇭🇹 (@LunionSuite) October 10, 2021

Melanie Ok. Jones’ Go South Savannah has extra particulars.

The Chasseurs-Volontaires was the biggest Black regiment to serve within the War of Independence and the biggest army unit to serve within the Siege of Savannah. 545 troopers landed within the metropolis for the 1779 battle, round a 3rd of the French pressure that sailed from the Caribbean to Savannah’s rescue.

They have been recruited as auxiliary troops, their major duties to be the assist work of digging the fortifications wanted for siege warfare and the motion of provides. In the tip, nonetheless, the Chasseurs did struggle on the entrance line.

Unexpected British resistance meant that the French troops weren’t in place when required; the troopers from Saint-Domingue took their place, offering important cowl for the French troopers’ retreat.

After the conflict was over, some of the Chasseurs-Volontaires turned essential figures in Haiti’s personal battle for independence over the subsequent 25 years.

Another key historic hyperlink to Haiti was Frederick Douglass. Though I did learn fairly a bit about  Douglass at my enlightened New York City highschool and at house, what I discovered was centered on his position as an abolitionist. I don’t bear in mind studying any particulars about his relationship to Haiti and his appointment as ambassador to the brand new republic till grad faculty.

Historian Brandon Byrd, writing in 2017 for Black Perspectives, the weblog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), tells that story. 

Byrd paperwork Douglass’ tenure as U.S. minister resident and consul common to Haiti, appointed by President Benjamin Harrison, and his response to U.S. “intervention” within the Haitian regime change in 1891, which historians have dubbed the “Môle Saint-Nicolas affair.”  

The Haitian authorities closed negotiations for the Môle on April 24, 1891. By that time, Douglass may hardly reconcile his accountability to the U.S. authorities and his respect for the desires of his Haitian brethren. The admission that the United States had affected regime change in a sovereign nation was repugnant. The hubris to count on to revenue from that interference was an excessive amount of. And so, Douglass wiped his fingers clear of the mess made by incompetent and immoral U.S. officers, saying that he couldn’t settle for imperialism “as a foundation upon which I could base my diplomacy.”

For Douglass, the teachings of this embarrassing episode in U.S. history have been clear. Enduring, even. In the summer time of 1891, Douglass resigned his diplomatic put up and returned to Cedar Hill House, his Anacostia house. There, in a library whose partitions quickly included portraits of Toussaint Louverture and Florvil Hyppolyte, Douglass crafted his response to white critics who blamed him for the failed negotiations for the Môle. First, Douglass identified, the United States had given Gherardi a job for which he had no preparation solely as a result of he was white and Haitians have been supposed to be extra prepared to defer to a white man. That assumption was laughable, Douglass recommended. It confirmed a surprising ignorance of Haitian history. Besides, he continued, even when a white diplomat may have exploited Haitians, a supposedly nice nation just like the United States ought to “ask nothing of Haïti on grounds less just and reasonable than those upon which they would ask anything of France or England.”

Put merely, Douglass reasoned, racism was unacceptable coverage. Whiteness was no substitute for competence. Historical information reasonably than various ones mattered. And the nation—the individuals—owed no allegiance to a state extra involved with flexing its muscle groups than admitting its ethical failings.

In January 1893, Douglass addressed the Chicago World’s Fair, reenacted right here by efficiency poet Nathan Richardson.  

“Haiti is Black … and we have yet not forgiven Haiti for being Black.”

This is a key excerpt from the transcript of Douglass’ lecture on the World’s Fair.

Now, however this plain chance, it’s a exceptional and lamentable truth, that whereas Haiti is so close to us and so able to being so serviceable to us; whereas, like us, she is attempting to be a sister republic and anxious to have a authorities of the individuals, by the individuals and for the individuals; whereas she is one among our perfect prospects, promoting her espresso and her different priceless merchandise to Europe for gold, and sending us her gold to purchase our flour, our fish, our oil, our beef and our pork; whereas she is thus enriching our retailers and our farmers and our nation usually, she is the one nation to which we flip the chilly shoulder.

We cost her with being extra pleasant to France and to different European international locations than to ourselves. This cost, if true, has a pure clarification, and the fault is extra with us than with Haiti. No man can level to any act of ours to win the respect and friendship of this black republic. If, as is alleged, Haiti is extra cordial to France than to the United States, it’s partly as a result of Haiti is herself French. Her language is French; her literature is French, her manners and fashions are French; her ambitions and aspirations are French; her legal guidelines and strategies of presidency are French; her priesthood and her schooling are French; her youngsters are despatched to faculty in France and their minds are crammed with French concepts and French glory.

But a deeper motive for coolness between the international locations is that this: Haiti is black, and we have now not yet forgiven Haiti for being black [applause] or forgiven the Almighty for making her black. [Applause.] In this enlightened act of repentance and forgiveness,  our boasted civilization is way behind all different nations. [Applause.] In each different nation on the globe a citizen of Haiti is bound of civil remedy. [Applause.] In each different nation his manhood is acknowledged and revered. [Applause.] Wherever any man can go, he can go. [Applause.] He just isn’t repulsed, excluded or insulted due to his shade. [Applause.] All locations of amusement and instruction are open to him. [Applause.] Vastly totally different is the case with him when he ventures throughout the border of the United States. [Applause.] Besides, after Haiti had shaken off the fetters of bondage, and lengthy after her freedom and independence had been acknowledged by all different civilized nations, we continued to refuse to acknowledge the actual fact and handled   her as outdoors the sisterhood of countries. No individuals can be doubtless quickly to neglect such remedy and fail to resent it in a single kind or one other. [Applause.] Not to accomplish that would justly invite contempt.

It has been heartening to see that within the final six months or so, the topic of some of the first the explanation why Haiti is so impoverished immediately have been raised. However, far too lots of our citizenry are nonetheless oblivious to and uneducated about that history. 

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