Ayiti Cherie: Post-Earthquake Blues
The first of the month marked the 211th anniversary of Haiti's independence. With the beginning of a new year, Haiti and Haitians celebrated a greater feat than ringing in the new year. In 1804 after years of battle, they declared independence and had beat Napoleon's army--yeah, that Napoleon. Haiti became the first Black republic and the only nation to ever win their independence as a result of a successful slave rebellion. They wasn't with the shits.
Today marks the fifth anniversary since this same Caribbean country experienced a devastating earthquake that shattered its already fragile infrastructure and did even greater physical and psychological damage to its inhabitants. We watched in horror five years ago while men and women were trapped under buildings and searched for family members in need of meaningful help.
It's important we remember the Black women abroad who are disproportionately affected by natural disasters by virtue of their existence as women. Haitians have paved a significant route in Black history and continue to serve as a model for personhood as they persist in revolt when they're wronged. The 2010 earthquake exacerbated an already unfair situation for women in Haiti. It created a "severe crisis of safety and security" worsening the pre-existing problem of sexual misconduct. In the first two months following the earthquake there were 230 reported incidences of rape in 15 camps in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti; a majority of the women living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps reported being raped by two or more individuals mostly at night while armed (Our Bodies are Still Trembling, 2010). Their unstable housing is one primary confounding variable in this atrocity. Despite the fear surrounding victims, they have spoken out against such behavior.
We are tasked with certain responsibilities as children of the diaspora--two of which include unity and support. Our complete freedom begins with the creation of opportunities for Black women around the world. Over the sea and through the mango trees there are Black women who experience a similar yet different fate than us and I ask that today be a reflection of this reality.
Ruth Jean-Marie is a recent graduate of New York University where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in human rights and international law. Dedicating her life to the alleviation of misery around the world, her greatest goal is to become a superhero. Her interests include fashion, equality for women and Black people--that real equality, not the surface level stuff, traveling around the world and writing. She's excited about life and intends on living it. She also has a mild obsession with shoes, shopping and sharing her opinion. You'll hear all about it. Catch up with Ruth, honoring Black History, past, present and future at @toharrietwithlove.