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449: Protecting the powers of white gods in Haiti (Saint-Vil addsto discussion) fwd (fwd)

From: Jean Saint-Vil <jafrikayiti@hotmail.com>

Dear all...

The discussion started on this list about the evolution of Haïtian attitudes
towards white representations of God has led to offline exchanges between
list members. And it is during one such exchange that I realised a need to
clarify a thing or two about my posts pertaining to the challenge of Global
White Supremacy in Haïti. Hence, my decision to share with you the

An honest letter to Mrs. White

Dear Mrs. White:

As promised, I am attempting to respond to some of the comments offered in
your thoughtful message dated January 9th, 2002

1. The color of Divine imagery

You wrote: «... I try to impress upon my students the limiting nature of
making images of divinity. I'm interested  to see how you would address the
overwhelming human need to have images of the Divine in tension with those
limiting factors. »

In «Viv Bondye ! Aba Relijyon!», I do not address the question of divine
imagery with a solution-oriented approach; At least, not with the aim of
satisfying a human need. Instead, I propose that Bondye (the Divine) is not
at all ours to define and describe in
any level of detail, since we obviously lack the necessary knowledge to do
so authoritatively. Furthermore, I do not consider the common human desire
to represent God with images to be a need but rather a want - thus, not an
essential element of spirituality.

In the glossary, I provide the following entry for Bondye: «We [author of
this book] cannot define God. We can only venture as far as saying that we
believe S/he has created us and not us Him/Her. We lack the knowledge
required to say anything further about the
nature of God. Religion, on the other hand, has provided all kinds of
definitions for God. In Vodoun, the name used for the ultimate Divinity is
«Granmèt» or «Mawou» - The One Spirit, the Supreme Being who is above all
other powers of the universe. Christianity says God is the Supreme Spirit
formed of three persons: God-the-Father; God-the-Son who came to the world,
died and resurrected; and God-the-Holy Spirit who inhabits the soul of true
Christians.  Within Christianity, there are several sects that refute this
concept of a three-headed God. They claim God is one, has only one head
named Jehovah, others say Elohim, and yet others say Yaweh. The Jewish
Religion has her own definition, Islam also has her own etc...»  (N.B.: The
gender challenge is solved in Kreyòl because
«li» is neutral but in the book we make it clear that we do not subscribe to
the sexist bias pervasive in Christian mythology).

Having admitted our limitations pertaining to defining God, we offered our
opinion that, according to current state of human knowledge, it is
non-sensical to refer to God as being either white, black, yellow or green.
Likewise, for any frivolous portrayal of the so-called «devil» as being
white or black, chinese or indian etc....

«Non, Bondye pa blan epi blan pa Bondye. Se Bondye sèlman ki Bondye. Konsa
tou blan pa dyab, dyab pa blan, dyab pa nèg, dyab pa chinwa, dyab pa endyen.
Poudayè pa gen anyen ki di gen dyab ni sou latè, ni anndan fon kè latè, ni
sou lòt planèt» (p. 157).

Many people will agree wholeheartedly with all this.  However, tensions
arise when the discussion shifts towards  analyzing why, to this very day,
Christianity still persists in representing God as a white man. The
socio-political, and spiritual implications of
such a powerful political statement can only be understood within the
overall history of  Global White Supremacy.  And, indeed, Global White
Supremacy is one of these dirty words which many have been conditioned not
to utter in public or analyze in private.

2.      White Supremacy, Racism and Racial Prejudice

Now, Mrs. White, let me try to adress another important comment  taken from
your message.

«I must say that I disagree with your  seeming  characterization of whites
as maliciously racist.  Certainly many of them are.  I think most racism in
the U.S. is more like my own - born from and borne by ignorance and shame.»

Please allow me, to attempt a very important clarification right away. I do
not believe nor do I wish to characterize «whites» as  maliciously racist.
For that matter, I would not characterize «whites», «blacks», «asians», or
any other human grouping as being
homogeneously «anything». If such a bent towards racial prejudice is being
perceived from my posts, it is a serious misinterpretation of my thoughts.
And, I thank you for the opportunity offered me to amend it.

So, I do not espouse racial prejudice against «whites». Then, why is it I
often refer to White Supremacy or Global White Supremacy in my posts dealing
with the current state of affairs in Haiti. What's up with that?

Before I proceed to elaborate on this matter, let me highlight a couple of
sentences you wrote which inspired me to respond in this manner:

« Every U.S. citizen of European descent I've ever talked to has a story
about how her first trip to Haiti changed their life. I've got my own story
that resonates with much of what you post to the Corbett list.  My trip to
Haiti forced me to recognize my own
racism.  It was a  difficult thing to do.  It's a constant battle to
recognize and fight it because of the racism built in to U.S. culture.  The
things you post to the list are often difficult to read and hard on my
heart.  Not because they are not true, but because they make me feel ashamed
and helpless.»

1) Let me assure you, Mrs. White, that the things I post on the list are
also hard on my heart. Therefore, I am not surprised but reassured when I
read that other sensible and sensitive human beings feel the same heaviness
of the heart about the works of Global
White Supremacy against Haiti.

2) It is my humble hope that the following comments and attached article
will convince you that neither shame or helplessness are appropriate
responses to this ugly reality.

You also wrote:

« I understand your rage at endemic racism.  I have my own rage about
endemic sexism (believe me,I'm well aware of the racist history of
feminism).  I think all of these "isms" stem from the same rotten place in
the human heart.»

I actually have another perspective on racism in general and on Global White
Supremacy in particular. I have come to conclude that most of the time when
we begin a discussion on racism (racial supremacy), it is often diverted
towards discussing personal or
individual racial prejudice which, in my opinion, is only a mere by-product
of racism. To illustrate this point, I will use the case I alluded to in my
latest message to the Corbett list: i.e.: the report of Black Haitians in
the village of Kanj insisting that they be treated by a white American
doctor rather than by his able black Haitian associates. We can note that,
in this particular example, the racial prejudice is that of the black
patients themselves against their own race (by the way the «white» doctor in
question, Dr. Paul Farmer, is a true friend of Haïti for whom I, and most
Haitians who've ever heard of his excellent medical and literary work for
Haïti have the utmost respect and admiration for him). So, this «belief»
that black doctors are inherently less competent than white doctors is
something that stems not from  a «rotten place in the human heart» but from
rottened spots of several human brains. In this instance, damaged black
Haitian brains. Racial prejudice, the expression of that generalized rot,
is a symptom or by-product of racism but not the beast itself. The power of
White Supremacy is that it manifests itself with the help of, and afflicts
whites and non-whites alike. This is why this highly pervasive virus must be
fought with the help of brave peoples of all races. As it is eloquently
demonstrated in the linked article, there are indeed very good reasons to
keep hope alive.

Once more, I thank you Mrs. White for your interest in «Viv Bondye ! Aba
Relijyon1 Your message has forced me to strive for a better understanding of
the delicateness of this issue and it has inpired me to begin writing a
piece titled: «The dirty fingerprints of Global White Supremacy on
modern-day Haiti». I will certainly send you a copy, as soon as it is ready.

On this note, let me close by sharing with you Dr. Clark's excellent article
which I found the other day on the internet @

May Bondye bless you abundantly !

«I use the term white supremacy ... I intend a latitudinarian conception,
one that encompasses de facto and de jure white privilege and refers more
broadly to the European domination of the planet that has left us with the
racialized distributions of economic, political, and cultural power that we
have today. We could call it global white supremacy. -- Charles W. Mills,
``Revisionist Ontologies: Theorizing White Supremacy,'' in Blackness

Quoted in «The Global Privileges of Whiteness» by Kendall CLARK, Thursday,
28 June 2001 see: http://monkeyfist.com/articles/764

«Depi nan Ginen bon nèg ap ede nèg!»

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