By Marjorie Calixte-Hallworth
On November 20, 2017, Trump announced that he would not renew the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 60,000 Haitians that were granted provisional legal residency in the United States after the 7.1 Earthquake that devastated the Island and killed more than 300,000 Haitians. Trump revealed that those Haitians had 18 months to pack up and go back to Haiti! Mind you, this is after countless people who had traveled to Haiti after hurricane Mathew in 2016 which virtually destroyed the South Haiti could attest that Haiti is in no way equipped to reinstate those earthquake victims of 2010 who had lost everything.
On December 23, 2017, The New York Times published an article about Trump’s policies on immigration. The article stated that Trump was given a list of immigrants who had been granted visas to the US. After he reviewed the list, he went on national television spewing derogatory remarks that “all Haitians have AIDS,” among other deplorable comments!
Fast forward to January 17, 2018, Trump barred Haiti from applying for Work Visa. This is following January 11, 2018 where one could say that Trump launched an “out and out ethnic cleansing” and referred to Haiti as a “Shithole”. When the story broke, U.S. Senators and top White House officials that attended the meeting where Trump spoke these words alleging that “they could not recall those specific comments from Trump.” However, the next day, Senator Dick Durban came forth in a press conference to confirm that Trump did in fact, refer to Haiti as a “Shithole”. Durban went on to say how appalled he and Senator Lindsey Graham were that the President of the United States made such vile and racist comments about, not only Haiti, but African countries also.
According to both Senators, Trump made it clear that he preferred immigrants from Norway over Africans. Interestingly enough, those people who did not recall Trumps comments in the meeting are now stating “emphatically” that Trump “did not” use that crass language. Trump’s vulgar language is not the point however! His reckless disregard for a disadvantage minority culture along with his inhumanity and anti-Americanism is what has the Haitian community and the world outraged! We all know what constitutes “racism” and Trump’s actions undoubtedly fit the definition of racism. It is absurd that those elected officials appeared on national television showing no moral compass to cover up for and to stand with a known bigot.
At this point Trump’s posture is clearly obvious and should be called what it is. Anyone condoning this behavior is very much a part of the problem. Trump’s lack of morality, character, and judgment to carry out his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief unfortunately, is having a devastating effect on many lives, not to mention or reputation as world leaders.
It is so unfortunate that most people only heard about Haiti during natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes or political instability. What is left out is the fact that freed Haitians had come to Savannah Georgia to help with the Americans Revolutionary war against the British. My Haitian ancestors have shared blood, sweat and tears to bring about Freedom of America in 1779. Haitians that were still alive went back home and fought for Haiti’s independence to become the first free Black Nation.
Haiti was the richest colony of the Caribbean with our abundant sugar, coffee and cotton; it used to be called “La Perle des Antilles” — the Pearl of the Caribbean. Everybody was fascinated by our culture and wanted a piece of it. So how could Haiti be so poor in the 21st century? Do your research and you will find blood on many hands that had to do with the poverty of Haiti.
Let’s face it, try to put yourself in a foreigner’s shoes having to (1) leave the only home you ever knew (2) travel across the ocean to start over in another country (3) face the challenge of learning the language and culture. “Believe me”, it takes courage, resilience and determination!
We as Haitians are black and poor in terms of money, but we are rich in culture, character and are not doomed! We like many other immigrants, came to America for a better life. Research shows, that Haitians have made many contributions to this country. One great example is none other than, Jean Baptiste Sable, the Founder of Chicago Illinois.
Trump was born of immigrant parents, has four kids by two immigrant women, how hypocritical is he, President of these United States, to insult the dignity of a whole nation in such a manner? That same someone during his bid for the White House who went to little Haiti and told the people that they share “ a lot of common values” that he was there to “listen and learn “ and “to build a new relationship with the Haitian community” and further told them that he will be their champions. Those were the words by Donald Trump in September 16, 2016. I bet if anyone repeats those words to him he will say that he never said them. I never expected Trump to apologize because it would not have made any difference!
Some of my good American friends have texted and sent me messages expressed their solidarity, which I sincerely appreciated. That Thursday, I was so hurt and so disturbed that I could not think of anything to say or do. I thought about my parents who have made so my sacrifices to bring my siblings and I to America for a better life. Thus, I called my Dad who has a business and resides in another, seeking comfort. I stayed on the phone for a while and could not say a word. My Dad understood, he told me not to let anything deter me and to stay focused on my dreams.
I smiled, and then began doing some research to clear my thoughts and this is what I got from the great Nelson Mandela: “The oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred; he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken away from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”