Mar. 19th, 2010 02:43 pm

The total amount raised (so far) for the Haiti earthquake: US$60.79.

I was...not quite on the verge of total panic ^___^, but apparently Cafe Press sends out its payment checks fairly late, because the customer has about 45 days to return the merchandise for a refund if they choose. So that's all right, then.

Heading out to mail this baby off right now, via Priority Mail. Whee!

Thank you so much to everyone who bought a shirt or mug. I hope you like them! Depending on the design (male vs female, etc.) either $5 or $6 went to the fundraiser -- for mugs, either $3 or $2 (lower commission on more expensive items, so as to not discourage people with prohibitive costs!). The rest went to Cafe Press for production costs, etc. (Please comment if you would like more specific info?)

Thank you as well to everyone who decided to donate directly to OXFAM or another charity.

I don't have any personal stories to essay about, regarding the Chile disaster, so what I'm doing instead is matching the funds raised by you and donating (again to OXFAM to World Vision -- just found out that according to the Huffington Post, OXFAM ended its presence in Chile recently...) for relief in that country.

Again, thank you, thank you!
Part the first: Appx $50 for OXFAM so far! You are all lovely and amazing and thank you so much!

Part the second: I have an update! My friend's baby sister is, right this minute, just outside of Port-au-Prince with her husband and with medical supplies, providing relief and raising funds. I am so proud. ^______^ (And also I feel very old; in my brain she is still a three-year-old with pony-puffs on top of her head. But proud!)

Oh, and!

Jan. 22nd, 2010 05:51 pm
A Special Edition Haiti Tee on CafePress!
(NOT my tee.) On this one, 100% of the purchase price ($15) goes to UNICEF, not just the proceeds! I guess CafePress is eating the production costs on it?

You guys! All of you!! Thank you so much!!

Addendum: Can I please point out here that CafePress is also offering its own selection of shirts, their top picks from their original design solicitation, and a variety of messages. Proceeds to UNICEF.
From the time I was 12 years old to the time I was 23, my best friend was K. (Heh — all right, there are a lot of K’s in my life, apparently. You haven’t heard about this one before.)

I spent the majority of those years in a kind of benign yet profound envy of her family, to the point where I’m pretty sure I hurt my own mother’s feelings. To my earliteen mind, she had, I dunno, something like the Platonic ideal of “the family” going on. I’m sure a healthy percentage of this adoration was simply experiencing a new way to do old things, but it was adoration, pure and complete. I loved that she had sisters, and rituals; I loved the way her family’s evening worship made sense, happened regularly and followed patterns that did not depend on patriarchal whim, and ended swiftly; I loved that they made dinner together; I loved the way she knew who her grandmother was, grandparents in fact, all four of them, and had met them; it was beyond fantastic that she knew three languages by osmosis.*

(*This was not quite true. She learned Kreyòl at age 12 because her friends would make fun of her in it and she wasn’t having it, and because she wanted to talk to her grandmother and this was the only way, but I didn’t know that right away.)

These people fed me and took me with them on vacations, had me call them Mamí and Papí alongside their daughters, made me speak French on the phone avec une discipline ferme and welcomed me into their home, often, for extended periods of time (I'm sorry, Mommy!!), helped me move house in college and part of grad school after my father died, and made me feel like a fourth daughter** for the whole of my adolescence.

(**Papí went and fooled some people, yo. He had, I think, a mischievous streak. Dear any parishioners who recognize this story? I am not Pastor's daughter from a previous clandestine marriage, I swear! It is not my fault, he said things in languages I did not know!)

(EDIT, 2001/1/21: I wasn't sure whether to leave this out, but it's true: They were there for me the day my father died, literally -- well, closer to literally than "figuratively" -- at a moment's notice, and her father -- again at a moment's notice -- conducted my father's funeral.)

I was exceptionally jealous of how, in this family, these girls never had any doubt about who they were and where they came from. They’d tell stories about cousins of nieces of nephews of aunts, complete with colorful Caribbean details and hand motions. I’d sit at the dinner table eating vegetarian food and listen to them debating the finer points of Haitian history and politics. (Because of them, I knew all about Boukman way before Pat Robertson and his ridiculous and erroneous take on the matter.)

Efforts to get my dad to similarly verse me in Jamaican studies...were not successful. Daddy was not a talkative guy, God love him, and the one time I asked him and a tableful of his friends what the Jamaican national anthem was, they kinda looked at one another sheepishly and said... “Um... ‘God save the Queen’?” (Aw. I miss my dad.)

I remember, during one of these discussions, Mamí once wagging her lovely, slender finger at the youngest girl and telling her, “That’s right. That’s why you must always remember that first you are Haitian.”

Well, my overly idealistic, overpious, know-it-all 14-year-old self didn’t quite approve of this (although I was silent about it, thank goodness). Surely we were all human beings first, brothers and sisters in the eyes of the Lord, and then SDA, black, and then American, and then our various and sundry hyphenates, or some such? (Actually, I’ve completely forgotten the order I put them in, but the Jesus-related aspects were way up there, I'm pretty sure. :-D)

But no, my misgivings aside, there was never any question that my friend was, first and foremost, a Haitian girl.

I didn’t realize until much later in my life how very important that was, how much it was not a given, how much Mamí and Papí were battling against when they said these things.

As I got older, I began to witness and absorb. Haitians in boats turned away from the Florida coastline while boatloads of Cubans were brought onshore (not welcomed exactly, but not nearly as often kept floating until they sank). Mass ejections from the Dominican Republic in the '80s (we watched it on TV: chaos at the border, people fleeing with only what they could carry in their hands, a man holding his newborn baby -- who, barely months old, had never seen Haiti -- and crying because he could not find his wife and so had no way to feed his child, begging the cameramen to help him find her before his baby starved). Huge protest marches in New York City in 1990, when I was a senior in high school, when the U.S. Government banned Haitians, all Haitians, U.S.-born or not, from donating blood. Meeting a few, and hearing about so many more, young Haitian people who would learn Spanish and outright lie, claim to be from any other plausible country, to be able to travel or work in the Caribbean — or even in certain areas of my own city (legality or illegality notwithstanding) -- unharassed, never admitting that they were Haitian even to other people of color.

Being Haitian, to me, had always meant...having my best friend there to translate in my ear and explain to me what was going on. It had always meant family, meant people who welcomed, people who taught, had always meant something good and enviable and rooted in history and love.

I’d had no idea.

I figured it out, though, the first time a dark-skinned, Francophone man responded to my eager question: "Vous etes haïtien?" with angry eyes and a steely "No!" well before I could get to the gleeful "You sound just like my best friend's dad!" part.

(Or the time the high-ranking minister refused to come be a guest preacher at their church -- same religion, same geographic area, a sister church -- because he "feared voodoo." Way to be strong in the Lord, bub.)

Or (more recently) when I sat on the bus next to the pretty round-faced girl with teak-colored skin and light hair, speaking créole francisais into her phone, who told me, once she'd determined that I was not hostile, "how shit people treat you when they find out."

It’s crazy how people can hate each other. It’s crazy how nobody can hate like people who are closely related. It’s not sane. Today I am reading about hope and human kindness, but today I am also reading lies. I am reading lies from people who are pampered, protected, and oblivious, but I am also reading lies from people who should know better. I am reading lies from people who have suffered much the same, but who build themselves up by having one convenient, perpetual, scapegoat nation to look down upon.

I am reading the words of people who suggest that a nation ripped apart by natural disaster should be cordoned off and left to die, assisted to die, some even propose, for (they accuse) overbreeding like the subhumans they are. I am reading victim-blaming from people who are warm and safe, who can cross the street in front of their homes without fearing the earth dropping out beneath them, without fearing listening to their babies and grandmothers die, unable to reach them in the rubble. I read people accusing this nation of being in the grip of the devil, or more mundanely, being a nation of lazy bastards who absorb goods like leeches on “better” nations and resell them. I am reading into the hearts of hateful anonymous people who do not know and do not care to know (or who know too well, and see themselves reflected, and are trying to hide from this, but cannot truly hide) about a nation of people who work in factories to provide Westerners with baseballs with just the right amount of stitches and layers so that these people of richer nations can watch grown men who dedicate their lives to expendable pastimes for millions of dollars, a nation of people forced to repay -- for about a hundred years -- a “debt” (a "reduced" rate of 90 million francs) to the very nation that held them in slavery for hundreds more; who suffered under dictators propped up by the West; who are (like much of the rest of the Caribbean) locked into narrow, proscribed industries, to the point where instead of being allowed to diversify and become self sufficient, they are forced by U.S. and E.U. protectionism to grow maybe two or three major crops and otherwise simply be of service in the tourist industry to wealthier outsiders.

Haiti is the first republic ruled by people of African descent and the second nation to claim independence via successful revolution in the Western Hemisphere, and it seems no one will ever forgive them for it.

I’m nobody. I’m not a spokesperson. I’m not brave, I don’t have any “nobility of suffering,” and I don’t have any lessons to teach anybody -- I don’t even know that I’ve properly conveyed here what I’m trying to say. I’m just an American woman in a safe place, looking on, waiting for payday so I can give a few dollars to a few organizations and beyond that, I don’t really know what to do.

So in the interim, I, uh, made a shirt.

The text reads: "TODAY, I AM HAITIAN" in Kreyòl. (Smaller text reads "Today, we are all Haitian" in French and English.) All proceeds are going to OXFAM America (For the benefit of anyone who doesn’t know me from Adam or Eve: I’ve gotten CafePress to put the organization's name, not mine, directly on the checks. So, no shenanigans here. :-D Alternatively, you can give directly: Please consider sending a donation by check to: Oxfam America, Haiti Earthquake Response Fund, P.O. Box 1211, Albert Lea, MN, 56007-1211. Other good methods for giving: go to oxfamamerica.org, doctorswithoutborders.org, or worldvision.org. There is also ADRA International (Adventist Development and Relief Agency). Be sure to select "Haiti Earthquake Relief" on these websites if that's specifically where you want your money to go. They're going to need it for a long time yet.)

Seriously, people -- to be Haitian should never be a thing to be ashamed of. There is no justice in that.

By the way — the text of the supposedly evil prayer that is ascribed to Boukman (a Jamaican!):

“Bon Dje ki fè la tè. Ki fè soley ki klere nou enro. Bon Dje ki soulve lanmè. Ki fè gronde loray. Bon Dje nou ki gen zorey pou tande. Ou ki kache nan niaj. Kap gade nou kote ou ye la. Ou we tout sa blan fè nou sibi. Dje blan yo mande krim. Bon Dje ki nan nou an vle byen fè. Bon Dje nou an ki si bon, ki si jis, li ordone vanjans. Se li kap kondui branou pou nou ranpote la viktwa. Se li kap ba nou asistans. Nou tout fet pou nou jete potre dje Blan yo ki swaf dlo lan zye. Koute vwa la libète kap chante lan kè nou.”

"The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man's god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs. It's He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It's He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men's god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that sings in all our hearts."

(Bon Dye/Bondié/Bon Dje*** = “bon Dieu” = "Good God." YEAH, REALLY SATANIC, PAT.)

***I've seen this spelled several ways

(And yes, maybe pig’s blood was tasted. In quite a few societies, this sort of blood ritual is or was practiced, often to settle blood debt between people without actual human bloodshed, to bring about peace, or to cleanse a sin. Anyone who believes in literal Transubstantiation at Communion -- or eats steak rare -- should shut up right freaking quick.)

Ross Campbell of "Wet Moon" fame is auctioning a print of his character Kinzoku (click on picture) on eBay for Haitian Earthquake relief.

I love this guy's art, so, so much. He draws such a variety of body and ethnic types, and in such a way that... hmmm, how can I put this. They are sexualized women (he is a dude after all ~__^), but not in such a way that privileges one type of sexuality over another? Or... it's quite obvious that he finds all these women way hot and is not just exaggerating the "weird" ones. His girls look like real girls that you know: plump, skinny, medium, muscular or soft, small or big chested, dainty and "butch." Big and small in a variety of bignesses and smallnesses, and ethnicities (and mixtures thereof) that often get overlooked. And he gets the bone structure right! They have different noses! They have tummies! Their thighs touch each other!

It makes me feel pretty. :-D

So, yeah, check out the auction, but also, check out Wet Moon. (There are five volumes out now, and the art has definitely evolved with time, as is normal.)

ADDENDUM: I've completely forgotten to mention that I like the STORY, too. It's got an oddly rare realism to it. And it's inclusive, in many ways, not just visually. Plus it's gotten all gripping and heart-tuggy on me.


Jan. 20th, 2010 10:29 am
My friend wrote me!

However, she has not put anything in the letter but a number and a promise of a mass e-mail later, which makes me think that there will be reports of casualties. I know it is unrealistic and maybe kind of selfish to hope her extended family came out completely unscathed simply because I know/know of them, but that doesn't really stop one from hoping, y'know?

I have this fairly harmful habit of convincing myself that I have no right to feel the things that I feel, and so I have not yet allowed myself to cry, but this sort of thing is very nearly beyond my personal strength. Look at that last picture. Look at that smile.

Nicked sans shame from [livejournal.com profile] ladymako71 -- if the previous is too rich for your blood, this one hasn't broken $400 as of this post. Vive Haiti!


Bidding already up to $1,025! Awesome item, awesome cause -- this has cheered me up IMMENSELY.
If I stay on the Internet much longer I will allow myself to be convinced that the majority of humankind is purely, solely, irredeemably evil. I'm on a website reading rich Westerners of many lands arguing fun things like that since Haiti is overpopulated everything is their own fault and the country should be isolated and allowed to die out a bit perhaps with the aid of bombing, and such comments not only getting approved for publication but getting higher "recommended" check marks than any other.

I'm going away for a bit to calm down now.


Jan. 15th, 2010 02:48 pm
HA HA HAHAHA AWESOME -- My coworker has pledged to buy a mug!

(I'm in the middle of a ridiculously busy day, with some travel on the side, and I have to leave early -- I'll do my "testimonial" thing tonight when I get where I'm going.)

(Also, Rush Limbaugh is dumb. 1. Black people do not have a hive mind 2. Lots of people, including far too many who are quite black, have treated Haitians fairly shittily. Or at least haughtily. No, no it's not true, he's too right; I personally make an effort to plug into the hive mind before I go to bed every night and partake in black group dreaming where we all plot the massive conspiracy to leave white straight guys with no money at all ever. And Obama knows this, of course, which is the only POSSIBLE motivation the U.S. Gov't could have to send blankets to disaster victims -- to impress black U.S. folk. Whoo, that was soul-cleansing and I feel refreshed.)

(Oh god, that was too easy. Why did I fall for it?)

(Also, Craig Ferguson rocks. Read his autobiography. It's funny.)
So... I created a shirt. *blush* CafePress got so many designs that they couldn't use them all, and mine was not picked, which is not exactly a shocker... but I wonder if it would be ridiculous if I put up my design personally and donated $$ that way? It's terribly simple, but a couple people at my office seemed to like it. :-)

Opinions? (I feel silly, but then I always feel silly about everything so that's neither here nor there.)

There's a story behind it; I'll post it later.
Evan Narcisse: "It's chilling to watch the news reports with their constant mentions about Haiti's poverty (which ain't nothing new). That meme-true though it may be-doesn't do any justice to the island's cultural significance. From the revolution that made it the first free black republic to the great intellectual and spiritual movements, Haiti represents a vital example of black diasporan will and creativity. It's a hotbed of fusion and syncretism, a place where art forms, musics and religions go and get mixed up with other things. Arawak and Taino meets West African and European, jazz meets drums, mushrooms meet rice. The results come out in new, nearly unrecognizable forms and that's what beautiful about Haiti. Haiti's a shining example of the processes that have enabled black communities all around the world to survive and thrive. We need to remember why it's important to help Haiti recover.

"Everyone reading this, do what you can, even if it's just sending positive thoughts."

(from Ta Nehisi Coates' blog)
The Center for International Disaster Information has established a dedicated page to coordinate Haiti support at: http://www.cidi.org/incident/haiti-10a/
Do please look into how you can help Haiti, which has just suffered the largest earthquake ever recorded in that area. (My cousin just reported that her brother felt it in his living room in Jamaica. Which is not exactly close, so to speak.) (I can vouch for World Vision, and I'm pretty sure the Red Cross will be doing something.)



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