Sunday, July 30, 2006

Is Racism Behind Treatment of Haitians?

Is Racism Behind Treatment of Haitians? - AP

Are Haitians treated differently simply because they are black? It may seem so, but the answer upon review is no, and there is nothing simple, as the question suggest, about what has lead up to the way that would-be Haitian immigrants are treated by this country. To present the question this way begs a polarized conversation, with America’s treatment of its own Blacks as an emotional context, in place of one that recognizes the history and challenges of each country and the challenges of immigration.

The US can never deny its racist past and the fact of its continuing momentum that, while changing for the better, is yet complete. It is also undeniable that Haiti exists as the most challenged country of modern western history, separate from America, and by virtue of a history dating back to slavery, French rule, and a set of arduous development challenges.

“Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and among the poorest countries in the world. Two thirds of Haiti's eight million citizens live in poverty. Half of its adult population is illiterate. Only a quarter of its children attend school.” United States Institute of Peace (2006)

All causative arguments aside, the failure of US Blacks, 40 million in number, to fully assimilate the education and skills required by the US economy, cost this country’s economy, including Blacks, nearly $440 billion per year in loss gross domestic product (GDP) needed to help propel us. If we consider that the average Haitian, from a population 20% the size of America’s Black population, is significantly less prepared to transistion and contribute to our society and economy, the idea of immigration conjures devastating impact on the US.

The US would certainly do better to tackle the pressing problems with the existing Black underclass, regarding education, crime, and yes, racism and victim mentalities too. This needs to happen before assuming the challenges, through immigration policy, of the destitute Haiti.

Putting the complex question in simple terms of black and white is not helpful or fair to anyone, and 'stirs the wrong pot'.

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...


I agree with your argument to a certain extent. I understand there is hige cost attached in dealing with the social and economic issues of the underserved. and you are right, the United States needs to focus on "home" first, but time after time we see that other immigrants make it to the United States and they are offered health care, and other benefits.

I am not suggesting that we have to allow every Haitian into the country, but they don't even get a chance to hit Amercian soil before they are turned away. and then this ridculous agreement that the United States has entered with Australia makes no sense what so ever; swaping immigrants to countries they weren't trying to flee to, is no the the answer. Is this a color issue more then a social and political one? I am still not sold on that.

James C. Collier said...

Native Son:

Color is always an issue, but I think in this case it is trumped by the dynamics of the country. Things are so bad there, I fear that the loss of life from a mass exodus could easily and quickly be in the hundreds of thousands. The language, literacy, and cultural barriers seem nearly insurmountable. The fact that they are black is not enough.

Forgive me as I take liberty to say that I believe the cultural behavior of the Haitians would drive you absolutely crazy, even compared to many of the things I have previously enjoyed hearing you rant about. ;-)

Anonymous said...


I see your perspective but overall I am inclined to disagree.

Race is at the LEAST an agitiating factor in how the Haitians are treated as opposed to South and Central Americans of not African ancestry, it is disingenous, in my opinion, to posit otherwise.

But, I admire how well you state your position though I disagree with its overall presuppositions.