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.
As fireworks and gunshots fill the air to bring in a New Year I need for the world specifically Black people to understand the significance of this day with regards to our freedom.
On January 1st 1804 Haiti became the first and only Independent Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere. The Spanish and French armies were defeated handily as slaves armed themselves ready to die in order to realize freedom. Great Haitian leaders like Toussaint Loveture and Jean Jacques Dessalines are celebrated but not as they should be.
Since reclaiming their freedom Haiti has descended into third world status. They have been paying a debt to France because of it. In the 1824 Franco-Haitian Agreement, France agreed to recognize Haitian independence if Haiti paid a large indemnity. This kept Haiti in a constant state of debt and placed France in a position of power over Haiti’s trade and finances. Almost every nation has set up some type of post there. Since America’s occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934 the country has remained destabilized. America has always had an interest in Haiti even before the occupation. The earthquake in 2010 and the essential robbery by the Clinton’s and Red Cross has added even more despair. All of this has happened under the nose of the diaspora. Let’s be clear, there is no diaspora without a free Haiti.
Haiti, often described as the poorest country on this side of the earth is also one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The resilience of the Haitian people serves as an example that even when the world continues to turn a blind eye to your suffering our dignity will not be erased.
Black people all over the planet should take notice, and honor the contribution Haiti has made to their lives and then do something about changing the circumstance of the country that opened up the door to the idea and reality of being free.
White supremacy can and will be defeated. Haiti has already proven this by defeating two world powers in order to reclaim their freedom. Check the records.
2017 is here and you can feel the shift in the air. People are preparing and planning, resolving and recalibrating. It’s especially poignant this year because in less than 20 day the United States will have a new president. It’s sobering news for some and inconsequential to others. One thing for sure is that this is the moment to get free. The time has come where the oppressed must galivanize and affect change directly.
On this day in 1804 Haiti claimed it’s independence. After ousting the French and the Spanish from the island the first independent Black Country was established in the Western Hemisphere. This is important to recognize all the time because it shows what can be done when a people have a resolve and one goal. The courage, bravery and orginazation it took for a group of slaves to overthrow their rulers should not be overlooked. There is power in the collective. A focused determination can and will shift the tide.
In the spirit of Dessalines, in the spirit of Toussaint in this moment we claim our freedom and expect the best for our existence. Happy New Year and Happy Haitian Independence Day!!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be 86 years old today, had he not been assassinated in April 4,1968. Dr. Kings life has been examined and studied extensively by academics, scholars, politicians and social activists around the world. The world speaks highly of Dr. King and his accomplishments. Today we celebrate his birth and his work on a nationally recognized holiday.
As I write this blog, my mother calls me and informs me that my uncle Victor Benoit has just been appointed as minister of Social Affairs and Labor in Haiti’s political cabinet. I am so very proud of him. He has worked hard for the Haitian people all of his life and this appointment is well deserved. This news immediately causes me to draw parallels.
There is a certain type of boldness and audacity that would allow someone to believe that the work that they do can affect change. Everyone does not have this type of courage; however when one does have this type of courage they can change the world.
I just watched Selma recently and what I appreciate most about the film is the human perspective that was given. From the time I was a child up until my adult years Dr. King always had this iconic persona that almost made him seem infallible. The director of the film Ava DuVernay showed Dr. King as a human being, someone who had faults and fears and doubts. Take a moment and think about what it took to challenge the status quo in the sixties. His life and the lives of others who were associated with him in any way were always in danger, but they stayed the course. The issue at hand at that time and even now is our FREEDOM. The ability to be who we are without any apologies.
Socially we are at a tipping point in the world. Uprisings worldwide have challenged political norms and changed lives. The United States is currently in the midst of this kind of change. Let us channel the spirit of Dr. King and others who had the courage to fight and bring about the necessary shift in our reality.
Congratulations Uncle Victor!!
Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King and Thank You!
Along with a New Year…We also celebrate Haitian Independence.
The Haitian Revolution was the only slave revolt that led to the the slaves creating there own republic. The Haitians defeated both the French and Spanish military.
Soup Joumou is winter squash soup, it is symbolic because the Slaves were not allowed to eat it. So it is served every year in Haitian households as a reminder of this revolution and our ancestors.
Nothing brings the season of spring in like Mothers Day. I’m not usually a fan of all these corporate driven holidays because of how they basically create this excitement around one day pretty much for the purpose of getting your money, but Mothers Day is different.
The past few years of my life have been a journey of change and inconsistency. Experiences and people come and go. Many times during this change it has been a challenge to develop a true foothold just to get centered and affect change the way that I would want to see it. People that I thought were in the supporting cast of my life were just passing through.
The only individual who has ALWAYS been there for me has been my mother and I feel extremely blessed because of it. When I think about my mother being sent to this country by her father from Haiti, meeting my father, learning a new language and earning a living to support a family it never ceases to amaze me. I love my mother dearly.
At a time in my life when I had no one to turn to she was my rock. I am so grateful and appreciative for her. I know without her this life would be different so every moment I am with her is cherished.
I have many friends and family members who have lost their mothers. I know they miss their moms. I am one who believes that our ancestors never leave us and continue to guide us through our lives. Our mothers are always with us.
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL THE MOMS OF THE WORLD!!! We honor respect and LOVE YOU!!!!
Feel free to leave a comment and say Happy Mothers Day to Your Mom!!