Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bishop Blake Says: "Haiti, You Are Not Cursed"--Antoinette R. Banks

The Rev. Pat Robertson, on his CBN broadcast, offered his own explanation of the earthquake in Haiti:

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," he said. "They were under the heel of the French ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.'
"True story. And the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal,'" Robertson said. "Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another."

If a televangelist comes on national television, with a following in the thousands, he or she ought to not offer insidious terminology about a country after a catastrophic natural disaster. How Pat Robertson knows such concrete terms of a demonic pack unless he had access to some ancient scroll in some private society somewhere is beyond me. (I’m not saying, I’m just saying).

When Robertson, with all genius, chose to describe a country blighted by devastation, “cursed” what images come to mind? The word “cursed” invokes images of voodoo and magic deified by an ethnic group. Language in itself can be confusing—what is the purpose of using misguided words? Did the “curse” take effect by a post-Colonial debt that no Western nation ever had to endure?

A free Haiti was hobbled economically from the start after not paying off their “independence debt” from France until 1947. After being defeated by Toussaint L’Ouverture, the French colonial powers who held Haiti demanded reparations in the form of 90 million gold francs for their freedom, (over $20 billion currently!) This ominous debt is what set the foundation for the massive poverty of the nation.

The recycling of Haitian francs between the French and the US is what paved the way for the Louisiana Purchase—otherwise known as the Vente de la Louisiane. The purchase included 14 states and 2 Canadian provinces which astoundingly expanded and enriched the United States. On the other hand, if the money was kept in Haitian hands instead of being thrown away as “reparation” I envision a more prosperous land.

What might have happened had the billions of dollars in gold not been exported out of Haiti but helped to build its infrastructure and education? What if the fallen buildings where built more sturdily, with earthquake defiant buildings, schools, and homes? What if Haiti was a country side with its forests intact ignorant to the term of deforestation? The current Haiti would have a substitute built on its hard-earned resources. A natural disaster could still strike, but the country would be equipped to survive nature’s blows and remain a land blessed by the fruits of the hard work of its people.

The most encouraging phrase I could hear was Bishop Charles E. Blake’s heartening words, “HAITI YOU ARE NOT CURSED.”