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9204: Restaveks, slavery, and race (fwd)

From: Racine125@aol.com

You know, here in Jacmel I can't get online every day, and so I am a little late with my comments, please forgive me, Corbetteers!
Jan Afrik writes:

<<... the nations that have built their fortunes primarily on racial slavery chose to cowardly run away from their legal responsibilities... an article published by the online magazine BUSINESSWEEK.COM with the suspicious title « Where Slaves Revolted, Slavery Thrives». This is indeed the right article for the right magazine, at the right time.>>

Oh, please.  Surely at this late date we do not need to be reminded that every ethnic group on the face of the planet Earth has committed slavery at some time or other.  It's not just white people, it's not just black people, it's not just Haitians in the time of Henri Christophe, it's not just U.S. Sugar in 1956, it is happening now all over the world.  Islamic Sudanese enslave non-Islamic Sudanese, Afghani mullas enslave women, Haitian families enslave restaveks...

It is indeed ironic that a nation which found it's freedom and independance in a revolt against slavery has tolerated and continues to tolerate slavery-like practices.  Why should a title which reflects this fact offend you?  Is slavery only offensive to you when it is committed by people of European descent?

<<In this last sentence, the word «slave» is not at all negligeable for, in my opinion, it is grossly misleading.  A Restavčk in Haiti is always poor, often exploited and in some instances the victim of sexual abuse. However, is a «restavčk» really a slave in the contemporary or any other sense of the 

If you work for no money, are beaten for failure to work, are fed inferior food, and can not leave your place of "employment", then in my view you are a slave. 

<<"99% of the people consider it normal."

This is a blatant LIE !>>

Oh really?  Are there laws against it?  There aren't even any truancy laws in Haiti requiring parents to send their own children to school, much less other people's children!  Are there organizations militating *effectively* against it, with the support of the general population?  It is indeed a "normal" practice in Haiti, in the sense of being widespread and widely accepted.

<<The article continues...

«So normal, in fact, that Haitian emigrants have taken the tradition with them: Several cases of restaveks have surfaced in Miami's large Haitian community in recent years.»  

It must be genetic or something!>>

What a hyperbolic and baiting response!  No one has suggested that the practice of keeping children as restaveks is genetically particular to the black race.  But there have indeed been really outrageous cases of child abuse against restaveks in the Haitian enclaves of Miami, and probably in New York and other places too.  Why would anyone think an exploitative practice common in a particular culture would disappear when people from that culture go abroad?

Neither has anyone suggested that other ethnic groups never abuse children!  White Americans in New England sent their adolescent daughters to work themselves to death in the textile mills, for example.  And even today child abuse is present among all ethnic groups in the USA.  But we identify it for what it is - ABUSE!   We don't claim that it is a "way out of poverty" because it is other people's children being abused, and not the biological children or step-children of their abuser.

<<Ms. Hoag's article also offers highly inspirational passages such as the following:

«..."We have followed the system of the colonialists because we don't know how to do anything else," says Father Miguel Jean-Baptiste, a Catholic priest who is crusading to end the restavek tradition.»

.. «We (as in «we negroes»?)>>

Jan Afrik, black people can be just as guilty of exploitation and abuse as anyone else; and it doesn't make a white person a racist to identify abuses committed by black people.

<<Can we safely conclude, along with you Ms. Hoag and your readership, that this neighbour is amongst that 1% of non-savage black Haitians who do not condone child slavery!!!??>>

No one has used the word "savage" but YOU!

<<No one can deny that several aspects of child abuse as it occurs in modern-day Haiti have their roots or are influenced by the tradition of racial slavery....However, it is wickedly disengenious to suggest that this form of child abuse is practiced in Haiti because, 200 years after fighting for and winning their freedom, the negroes who inhabit Haiti know not anything better than what the barbaric white slavers taught them.>>

You have just contradicted yourself.  Either these abuses have their roots in slavery or they don't.

<<...the fight against the practice of «restavčk»...should be for the most part managed by Haitians, for Haitians and, of course, with Haitians funds.  Otherwise, we run the risk of, once again, seeing the plight of the poorest of the poor among us be hijacked and exploited by those who have a hidden 
and most malicious agenda.>>

So if a white person wants to work to end restavekism, they have a "hidden and most malicious agenda", because they are not from the same ethnic group as the victims?  But when those "Haitian funds" end up evaporated in Haitian magouj, that is not a "hidden and most malicious agenda" of it's own?  You, Jan Afrik, are black and Haitian, you are not of the same ethnic group as the First Nation children oppressed by the Catholic Church in Canada, but you empathize with them and speak out on their behalf, do you have a "hidden and most malicious agenda"?  Or is it only white people who can have a "hidden and most malicious agenda"?  Or what?

<<I suspect that the following week's edition of businessweek.com may very well deal with the great efforts being deployed by brave «westerners» that are bringing freedom to poor black Sudanese enslaved by their own black people.>>

Should the non-Sudanese people working against slavery in the Sudan quit?  Give up and go home because they are not black? Or can they stay as long as they are African-Americans?  Bah.

<<Nonetheless, I encourage all peoples who are truly interested in freedom and justice (in particular my Black brothers and sisters)>>

Why black people in particular, when you have just proved by your own assertions that all peoples have the capacity for good or evil?  Either you want to end oppression, or you don't. What you seem to be saying is that only black people should work on black people's problems, and whites should not criticize evil acts perpetrated by blacks; and whites should work on white people's problems, but black people should be free to criticize all they want!  If that is the way you think, you are at least as racist as the people you condemn.  Those who want to end oppression are your allies, regardless of color, ethnicity or nationality. 

<<.... we run the awfully real risk of watching Tom Hanks play Sonthonax and Arnold shwartznegger play Arnold shwartznegger>>

Well, I'm with you here, I can't stand ol' Arnold no matter what!  :-)

Peace and love,

Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen

"Se bon ki ra" - Good is rare
     Haitian proverb

The VODOU Page - http://members.aol.com/racine125/index.html

(Posting from Jacmel, Haiti)