Saturday, December 6, 2014

Have Haitians Declared War with The Bahamas?

By Andrew Burrows 242
Nassau, The Bahamas:

When the young man we now know as Anson Aly said the words “they don’t want to start something they can’t finish”, a lot of Bahamians were up in arms. We got angry, we went to Facebook to vent. We called the radio shows. Everyone had their say.

Anson Aly
The “fire starter” Anson Aly - AKA Mr. Colombian Necktie

Then we calmed down and went back to being typical Bahamians. Nothing mattered again until the November 1st Immigration Policy changes kicked in. By now, we’ve all see the images of immigration officers doing their duty and the negative spin put on it by Haitian activists Jetta Baptiste and others. We’ve also seen the “lurkers” assist in stirring up the “us against them” discord. I have very little doubt that Special Intelligence Branch officers are tuning in and taking notes because the rhetoric and tone has become increasingly hostile.

So much so that you had Ms. Baptiste stirring up the pot with what appears to be the most corrupt politician in south Florida calling for a boycott of the Bahamas. Mind you, she’s seeking economic sanctions on a country where a significant portion of the population are her people. Haitians. What does she think will happen? A boycott of The Bahamas means those menial jobs that Haitians risk life and limb for will evaporate. The poor will become poorer in that community. It was clearly a stupid thought by a stupid person put into words for the benefit of a camera. But it was also a very beneficial thing for Bahamians who seem too comfortable flinging the doors open to whomever and allowing anyone to carry our name, our passport and our patronage.

How was it beneficial? Well, I can speak for myself and say that it exposed the deep rooted resentment many in the Haitian community appear to harbor towards this country and it’s people, although few of the Haitian leaders have been courageous enough to explain why. Why do they hate us so when we’ve given them our hospitality, our concern, our friendship, our country? Why? This series of events have pulled a scab off of a wound that can only be a case of coveting thy neighbor. We all know the problems that country has faced since fighting for it’s independence. Many say it is a cursed land. No need to go there. But the history of our two countries has always been intertwined with this country offering it’s all to the beleaguered who would end up here, even if their ultimate destination was somewhere else.

For me personally, it’s left a very very bitter taste in my mouth. You see, I have always been open minded about the plight of the Haitian people and how integration and assimilation by them into this country could be a good thing if they went all in. I now suspect going all in has not been the case in many in whom I’ve trusted. I’ll tell you a true story about Louby Georges to illustrate what many Bahamians in my position are calling a betrayal.

Louby Georges
Louby Georges' Betrayal
I hired Louby many years ago to do a job. He had braids, the gold tooth, the Sentra with the Haitian flag on it. It didn’t matter to me after the second day on a difficult job when he showed up on time, worked hard and never really complained. I liked him. He put in the work and he earned every dollar he was paid. I hired him again a few weeks later for the same kind of work and once again, he proved himself a hard worker. He brought his older brother, who was also a serious worker. His brother didn’t last as long but still, I was impressed. Fast forward a couple of years later and I’m watching Cable 12 thinking, ‘let me see what folks are putting on TV as shows. ‘

I had not watched local television for years because, let’s face it, it sucks. Imagine my surprise when I saw Louby hosting a kreyol language show on Cable 12. I found him on Facebook and I sent him a note. I told him I would have no problems helping him make his show better and for a few months, we worked on it. We even shot a pilot. For whatever reason, things did not work out but I kept encouraging him to become a voice for his people and those in the position he was in at the time having been born here but had to wait until 18 to apply for citizenship and then wait yet again for it to be approved. As far as I am concerned, we are cool.

I invited him on my show Unscripted on Island FM. We were supposed to do a regular thing and he was eager but that didn’t quite pan out.

We were cool even when he called me and told me he was gearing up to do the radio show. I gave him some advice again. I told him to own his show. Be a partner with the station and to not back down on percentages of ad revenue. I’m quite proud of him.

But a funny thing happened when the Anson Aly incident happened. My other Haitian friends would call and say “if you are not listening to Louby’s show, you should. He’s dissing you.” Being the loyal person I am, I’d say, yeah right. Not my Louby. When Steve McKinney decided this whole incident was an opportunity for him to get more than a dozen people to listen to his lies, he called me “irresponsible”. My other Haitian friends said “he’s joining the bandwagon with Steve. You should call him.” I did. We didn’t get to do the interview however. I know he’s read this blog and I hope he reads this because I feel the community, Bahamians and Haitians, are being misled by people with agendas unknown. I feel that they are being mislead by people with no business seeking to lead them anywhere. My other Haitian friends says he’s one of the leaders.

I don’t draw any conclusions but the evidence is mounting. I’ll leave that there.

There is no problem between us as people. There is, however, a spirit of disrespect that has been fermenting and has been obviously fertilized by people like Jetta Baptiste. What my friend Louby risks is being lumped in in that grouping of angry Bahamian hating Haitians who have now suddenly found a cause to celebrate. They are aggressively patriotic to Haiti but will quickly say “we don’t know that country” when the prospect of being sent there looms. They see Bahamians as the enemy. I’ve read countless posts on Facebook attacking me, my country, my people by folks who live or have lived here. One poor lady prayed for a tsunami to destroy the Bahamas. Two days later, flash floods struck Haiti and 6 died. I’ve had my reporter and myself threatened when we attempted to cover a meeting of Haitians. I’ve had people deny it, even though a camera was in fact rolling.

Jetta Baptiste hates The Bahamas
Hater Jetta Baptiste
The distrust has deepened between our people and I think the aggressors in this are the ones with the most to lose. The Haitians. This is OUR country and by OUR, I mean Bahamians. There will come a time when the hospitality will turn to something else. When that happens, thousands of desperate Haitians will have nowhere to go. They will have no landing point, no second choice if America isn’t the first dry land they touch when they set out on those rickety boats. For them, where disease, starvation and death is a daily struggle, it will be a horrible thing. For them, this country offers hope. For many I am sure, they would trade this country for theirs in a heartbeat. In my heart, I know they don’t support Daphne Campbell, Jetta Baptiste and all the other angry Haitians who hate The Bahamas and it’s people. I know they would take whatever opportunity to be in our country legally seriously and not say the things that Jetta has been saying or doing the things that she and others are doing.

You see, those ones, those are the ones you call the “good Haitians”. This crew? Well, you can judge for yourself.

December 06, 2014