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5940: Matilda White - RE: 5915, 5914, 5901 ---and too many others , (fwd)
From: archim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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.