By Rev. Myrlande DesRosiers and the Everett Haitian Community Center
The rude comment allegedly made by President Donald Trump and the outcry over those comments overshadowed the 8th year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that ravaged Haiti. It’s an anniversary that the Haitian community, in particular our senior citizens, had the opportunity to commemorate with their Mayor – Carlo DeMaria, Jr. that the EHCC organized at the La source Adult Day Center, barely one day before the alleged statements were made. The comments were not only hurtful to our children and our entire communities, but also they create an atmosphere of fear and incite hatred.
The Everett Haitian-American community in Massachusetts and its allies are deeply concerned and condemn those alleged racist remarks in the strongest terms.
It is particularly painful to face these insults as we commemorate the anniversary of the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 230,000 Haitians. We had to console and reassure our children, our senior citizens who deserve to feel proud of coming from the world’s first Black republic.
The President cannot claim to have a “wonderful relationship with Haitians” when within a few days, he has not only allegedly insulted our people, but also propagated ugly and long-debunked bogus studies about Haitians pertaining to AIDS.
Haitians have made their mark in many communities in the U.S., as professionals, politicians, entrepreneurs, and key parts of science, the health care industries, automobile and other business sectors.
This is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, numerous governors, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, and more than 100 mainstream media outlets have issued statements, backed by data, in support of Haitians with Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Haitians are also voters and elected officials. As of 2015, 57 percent of Haitians in the U.S. were naturalized citizens, and Haitian immigrants and their children are now represented in legislatures in many states, including Massachusetts, Utah, Florida, Washington, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, California, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, to cite a few.
In light of the horrific slur and its aftermath, what do well tell the kids? What will we have to do to rebuild their self-esteem that has been impacted so they can heal and move forward with dignity?
We must be clear, while we condemn those hurtful alleged obscene slurs used to describe Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries in the Oval Office meeting with members of Congress, and grieve with our fellow Americans when we witness such degradation of the political discourse, we also understand that we as immigrant communities in unity with our local cities and town officials must organize and unite more concretely. We must develop more self-determination, and in the case of Haiti and the Haitian communities throughout Massachusetts, we must do more to better that country; we must do more to uplift our communities in the U.S. EHCC/the Everett Haitian Community Center is calling on all partners and allies to stand with the Haitian community and to denounce the alleged statement, and we ask Congress to lump the TPS issue to the Bill to be presented to the President for permanent residency for the estimated 58,000 Haitian TPS beneficiaries. We also ask that our public officials demonstrate that they do not share the marginalization of immigrants through actions, and not just by words. Their commitment to diversity, equity and love and compassion must move from words of solidarity through to the budgets they create, the economic opportunities they create, through commissions they develop, through jobs they create, through a seat at the table at all levels of government. This unfortunate occurrence is an opportunity for all of us to search deeply and clench our souls. We can do more, we deserve more, we want more, we need more.