Our Black Futures Are a Mirror
By Mina Remy | Updated August 10, 2021
Earlier this year at the BOLD National Gathering, we discussed parallel movements and grassroots uprisings around the world–including in Haiti. In that context, we talked about our shared need for collective protection, security, mutual aid, and self-governance.
Despite its problems, we had no way of predicting that Haiti would find itself plunged into the unimaginable crisis that it faces now. Following the assassination of the former President, Jovenal Moises, there has been a two-time change of leadership. Armed control of the country’s ports has led to food insecurity of historic proportions, with up to 4.4 million people without access to food. It has created unprecedented levels of insecurity and migration, with as many as 18,000 people displaced. And while all eyes are looking ahead to a free and fair election, it seems highly unlikely that one will be held before the end of this year.
This entire saga is a cautionary tale highlighting why good, inclusive governance, responsive leadership and accountability matters so much. Even if we suspend judgment on everything else, there’s no reason why the death of a president should catapult a country toward disaster. That’s where the line of succession kicks in: where Haiti’s Constitution (or whatever mechanism detailing succession) is applied. But the fact that the process has not been dictated by the customary rules of constitutional succession has created questions of legitimacy and a dangerous battle for power.
By dissolving parliament, not holding parliamentary elections, and failing to replace the deceased Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court who would’ve served as interim president of the country in the situation Haiti faces now, the Moise administration has undermined judicial power and Haiti’s entire political infrastructure. It’s a sad state of affairs. Moise came into power amidst chaos and left the country in chaos. But his failure to serve as an adequate leader must be examined alongside the longstanding pattern of foreign intervention in Haiti’s domestic affairs and its dismal results.
The Haitian people and their movements have made clear again and again; they want NO FOREIGN INTERFERENCE. It’s no revelation that foreign powers protect foreign interests – not the needs and interests of everyday Haitians.
They are the ones who are being forced to flee Haiti by planes, boats, and trucks in search of something incrementally better. The ones who cannot leave. The farmers, laborers, drivers, seamstresses, market women, students, teachers who form the backbone of the country’s social movements – and who cannot keep up with inflation, or live “lavi a che.” They are ones who find moments of joy and respite amidst the relentless daily struggle. The road may be messy, but Haiti must work through this on its own.
Civil society continues to offer alternatives that center Haiti’s unconditional sovereignty on all fronts. In many instances, local leaders were already filling the gap left by government neglect – providing people with basic services and accompaniment. Haiti’s crisis and the impending democratic changes could be a pivotal moment for the grassroots, which has been building the people’s power through consistent organizing and political education.
If we imagine our Black Futures as a mirror, we know that the coming months will be critical – not only for Haiti but for Black people around the world. We stand in solidarity with our Haitian family who have always stood firm in their bold, unapologetic Blackness, despite the cost. It’s imperative that we not only offer support to Haiti, but that we use our voices to uplift a process led by and for its people.
Haiti’s majority has flexed their power three times over the last 217 years: to liberate themselves from the shackles of slavery and transform for self-determination and freedom for Black people in the “new world”; to rid themselves of a U.S. occupation; and, to end a brutal 30-year, dynastic dictatorship. Perhaps the majority will take this opportunity to flex their power again: to reset their Black Future to Thrive.