January 1, 1804 should be a date that lives in the mind of every Black person around the world. This date is important because Haiti declared its independence from the French after defeating Napoleon’s forces.
This is notable for so many reasons. The most notable reason is that an enslaved people rose up and defeated their oppressors to become the first free Black nation in the western hemisphere.
As the world is reflecting the year and planning for the next, Haitians around the world are celebrating freedom with loved ones and a bowl of soup.
Soup Joumou is a squash soup that was consumed by the French oppressors during Haiti’s time of slavery. This dish was kept away from the enslaved Haitians. The oppressors turned their noses up at these enslaved people with each spoonful of their forbidden soup.
After defeating both the French and Spanish forces Haitians embraced this once forbidden soup as their own. It now represents a symbol of freedom, strength and love.
“The same thing that you (French oppressors) thought was so uppity we took and made it better. We enhanced it and now we share and break bread with our families during this independence season to show people that not only are we resilient and fighters but we are crafty and we are able to show love and humility” said Brooklyn born Haitian-American Chef Claudy Pierre.
My mother cooks the soup in the kitchen. The sweet scent of squash and fresh vegetables float through the house and signals a new year and a reminder of where my ancestors are from.
As the ball drops in Time Square, or as you are enjoying your black eyed peas take a moment to acknowledge the strength of Black people. Haiti’s freedom is a representation of what can be accomplished and soup Joumou brings us all together in remembrance of our freedom.
L’Union Fait La Force translates to The Union makes us Strong. We are stronger together.
President Trump just commuted the 14 year prison sentence of former Governor of Illinois Rod R. Blagojevich.
Blagojevich was convicted for trying to sell Barak Obama’s vacated Senate seat. He was trying to make some coin off of it.
Blagojevich was sentenced for his crimes on August 17, 2010 after an investigation that lasted over 2 years. Blagojevich had a retrial in 2011 but he was not successful. Many of Blagojevich’s supporters felt his sentence was too high.
It seems as though Trump felt the same way and he did something about it. While boarding Air Force One on his way to a four-day trip to the west coast Trump simply stated “Yes, we commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich.” Trump continued “He served eight years in jail, a long time. He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him.”
Illinois is no stranger to corruption. Four of the last seven governors went to prison. Rod Blagojevich (Governor 2002-2009), George Ryan (Governor 1999-2003), Dan Walker (Governor 1973-1977) and Otto Kerner (Governor 1961-1968) all share this distinction.
I’m curious to know what Blagojevich is feeling right now. What do you think is the first thing he will do upon his release?
O.J. Simpson is a free man after serving nine years in a Nevada prison. Simpson was arrested and jailed because of a kidnapping and armed robbery in 2007. He was caught trying to reclaim items that were initially his. He was the only individual out of five who was jailed because of his involvement.
O.J. was released just 8 minutes after he was officially eligible for release. His release was quiet and happened without the presence of paparazzi and press.
In July of 2017 the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners voted unanimously to release Simpson on parole. O.J. will be monitored and he is not allowed to consume large amounts of alcohol or spend time with convicted felons.
The life of O.J. a storied NFL athlete took a turn in 1994 when he was named a suspect in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Ultimately with the assistance of his team of lawyers lead by Johnny Cochran, Simpson was acquitted. The United States was split down racial lines and as the verdict was read live reactions between black and white citizens were extremely different.
The trial was dubbed “the trial of the century” and left the nation polarized. Different stories of what actually happened surfaced everyday. The way that the trial was covered was deemed by many as a circus andlaunched many careers of those involved into the spotlight. That trial happened on the heels of the LA riots that were a result of Los Angeles police officers being acquitted for the beating of Rodney King in 1991.
Even after Simpson was acquitted of murder the victims’ families filed a wrongful death suit and Simpson was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages.
It will be interesting to see how Simpson lives his life after this release. One thing is for certain, his life will never be the same.