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5940: Matilda White - RE: 5915, 5914, 5901 ---and too many others , (fwd)

From: archim <archim@globelsud.net>
     This is about Haiti, so keep reading.....
        When I was a young junior high school chap of 14 or 15 years, I 
     attended Wagner Junior High in Philadelphia. One of my teachers, and 
     everyone's favorite, was Miss Matilda White, who was black! One of my 
     classmates in Miss White's class was John Black (now an Orthodox 
     Priest in Mexico) who was/is white. It was a fun class and Miss White 
     (who was black) did all kinds of activities with us, even taking us on 
     a class tour of Independence Hall; the Betsy Ross House; the Franklin 
     Museum...and we even got to touch the Liberty Bell! We loved Miss 
     White, who was black.
        At that time, my grandmother lived in Cape May, New Jersey and my 
     family had a summer home there. I spent every summer in Cape May at 
     the beach. Long ago (actually not THAT long ago!), Cape May was a very 
     segregated place. There was a beach for blacks; a first-aid station 
     for blacks; a black waiting room in the train station; black churches; 
     black schools, and even a black taxi service. (List member Richard 
     Morse will know this is true!)
        Well anyway, Miss White (who was black) also summered in Cape May 
     and we always used to meet on the part of the boardwalk in front of 
     the black beach because black folk were not welcome on the rest of the 
     boardwalk or beaches, but white folk like me could go in the black 
     areas if they wished. Blacks were also prohibited from walking on the 
     boardwalk after 6:00pm! 
        One summer,  my classmate, John Black (who was white!) came from 
     Philadelphia to spend a week with us at our summer home. We decided to 
     go to visit with Miss White (who was black) on the black part of the 
     boardwalk, even though we were white. It was a funny experience: there 
     we were, two white boys sitting on the black part of the boardwalk 
     with a black woman who was called Miss White.
        Now what's this got to do  with Haiti? Well actually it has a lot 
     to do with Haiti because had these experiences taken place in Haiti 
     they would have gone un-noticed. First of all there are no "black 
     boardwalks" or "black schools" or "black waiting rooms" or "black 
     churches" or "black taxi services" in Haiti. There is no segregation in 
     Haiti on the part of the Haitian people regarding race. Haiti is a 
     black republic...the first one in the western hemisphere, and the only 
     segregation I have ever witnessed here (and I've lived here for almost 
     15 years) has come from the rich toward the poor...the majority of the 
        If Miss White had lived in Haiti she would have been known as "Miss 
     Blan" (even though she was in no way a "blan") because that would be 
     the translation for White. And had John Black lived in Haiti, he would 
     have been called "Jean Nwa", because that would be the Haitian Kreyol 
     translation for his name.
        But Miss White would never have been callad "A BLAN" because she 
     was not one. As a matter of fact, they probably would have called her 
     "Miss Mathilde" in order to avoid any misunderstanding.
        John Black would never have been called "a blan" because he was not 
     one either. Yes, he was a white fellow, but he was NOT a "blan". A 
     "blan" in Haiti is someone who is not a part of the people; someone who 
     is profitting from the poverty or suffering which exists here; someone 
     who is taking away from Haiti in order to profit elsewhere. People have 
     been doing that for years: coming to Haiti and abusing the people and 
     the country in order to make lots of money elsewhere. Those persons are 
     "blans". Joe Smith from Central City who comes to Haiti and buys art 
     work for a pittance and takes it back to sell for 500% more than was 
     paid, is a "blan"...even if Joe Smith is white or Chinese! Jemmima 
     Johnson from Bumpus Cove, Virginia who comes to Haiti to buy hand-made 
     wooden artifacts for next to nothing and takes them back to sell for a 
     fortune, is a "blan", even though she might be black. Nigahoochi 
     Atsamari from Japan, who comes to Haiti to buy soy bean oil for 50 
     cents a drum and sends it back to Yokahama where it is sold for $500.00 
     a drum, is a "blan" even though she (or he...I'm not too sure if 
     "Nigahoochi"is a masculine or feminine name!) is Japanese.
        Yes, anyone can be "a blan" in Haiti if he or she does not wish to 
     be at one with the people. It matters not if one is white or black or 
     yellow or brown. "Blan" does not refer to color; it refers to one who 
     is an outsider.
        Our "peace and love" list member, Mambo Racine, appears to have had 
     a terribly unpleasant experience a few weeks ago in a cemetery in 
     Haiti while attempting to conduct some Voodoo ceremonies. I'm really 
     sorry for that. She was called a "blan" and refuses to understand that 
     the name does not imply any racist slur. Mambo Racine (who is white 
     and from Boston) was obviously in a curious situation here in Haiti 
     because most mambos are black, as is the case with most followers of 
     Voodoo. People who saw her doing her "thing" were obviously 
     bewildered. Here was a white mambo with white initiates doing what 
     most observers here would have expected to be done by blacks. 
     Additionally, those white folks were all foreigners, so the people 
     were really confused. Here were some "blans" doing what is usually 
     done by Haitians. Had they all been black folks from Boston, they 
     STILL would have been called "blans" because they were from elsewhere.
        Because of this unpleasant experience, Mambo Racine decided that it 
     was all the fault of Family Lavalas and Aristide. I doubt that 
     Aristide even knows who the perpetrators of the incident were, and 
     they probably were not even associated with Lavalas; but we can't 
     convince our "peace and love" mambo of that. She has decided to attack 
     Aristide no matter what, and that surely does not appear to me to be 
     the action of a "peace and love" advocate. Peace...and love cannot 
     exist in an atmosphere of disunity, and the accusations being made by 
     Mambo Racine appear to me as attempts to sow discord and disunity.
        Peace, dear Mambo Racine, will come to Haiti when Haitians unite in 
     a spirit of love for one another and for their country. Peace will come 
     when the advocates of disunity realize that strength and development 
     can only come when people are united in love. And love can be attained 
     ONLY when pride and greed and jealousy are overcome.
        I'm not a "blan" even though I'm white and originally from New 
     Jersey. If I was a "blan" I would not have been able to accomplish 
     anything in Haiti as a clergyman. Miss White (who was black...and not 
     a "blan") was my example. Would that all persons coming to Haiti could 
     have such a wonderful example.
       REAL peace and REAL love be with you all.