In the face of tragedy, Facebook you have made your mark. When ISIS attacked Paris, you were there with the profile picture filters in support of those affected by the crisis. When Belgium was attacked, same thing. When a deranged man decided to kill 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando, you supported them. When the riots took place in Charlotte following the killing of Keith Scott, you made it possible for people to check in with loved ones, so we knew they were safe. These are all great things, and I think I speak for my generation when I say that, we truly were grateful that you allowed us to show our support through an alternative means and it helped to connect us all during each tragedy.
On October 3rd and 4th, Hurricane Matthew hit the Caribbean as a category 4 hurricane. On October 7th, Hurricane Matthew was expected to hit Florida and it was anticipated to do a lot of damage. Florida escaped the wrath of Matthew that Haiti, Cuba and other islands in the Caribbean are suffering through, for the umpteenth time. But the problem is not the fact that we had it easier here in America. Nor is it the fact that Haiti has suffered through several natural disasters in the past 10+ years. The problem is how Haiti is reported on, and subsequently supported, in the face of disaster.
When natural disaster strikes, no one really wants to point the blame. It is incredibly insensitive and frankly, slightly out of order. Yet it is still difficult to ignore the facts. As I listed above, we have seen many tragedies this year and each time Facebook was there for support. But where was Facebook when the death toll in Haiti hit 250, or 400, or even 500. But the fact that there were more than 1,000 deaths is staggering and scary. I don’t like to make comparisons but I think it is effective to do so here. The ISIS attacks on Paris killed 130 innocent citizens, the attacks in Brussels killed 31 innocent people, the hurricane killed 1000+ people in Haiti. Its shocking how Facebook has not shown any overt support and it leads me to wonder why.
I’m aware that Facebook doesn’t owe anyone anything, but if you are ready and willing to give support to one country and not ready and willing to give support to another, one must call that into question. So I bring you more facts, hopefully it’ll bring the issue into clear view. Haiti has had some pretty hard times for a really long time. Major storms were suffered each year from 2004-2010. After 2010 there hadn’t been another event until 2016. I cannot cover Haiti’s misfortune in its entirety, so I’ll pick a year and start there. Starting in 2008, Haiti suffered through Tropical storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike. There were 690-800 deaths from those storms alone, in the year 2008. In 2009, they experienced heavy rains and flooding in October. No deaths reported. In 2010, the catastrophic 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti, with several aftershock earthquakes over the next few days. The death toll ranged between 100,000 and 160,000. It doesn’t end there, because what followed that year was a cholera outbreak with 3,597 deaths and another hurricane a month later in November with 10 more deaths. I think it’s safe to say, Haiti got dealt a bad hand.
Haiti has suffered many losses, and the more research I do, the more I learn that this country just cannot catch a break. This beautiful country is constantly under attack by mother nature, and struggles to recover or prepare for these disasters because of their unstable government, corruption, and poverty. The country is the poorest in the western hemisphere and has had an extremely difficult time getting back on their feet, when there was often another storm on its way. It’s terrible and my heart aches for them. Let’s get serious though, why haven’t we made sure our neighbors are okay? I’m not saying it is always our job to bail out our neighbors but, what if it were us and Canada was in a position of power? What if Canada was always giving their time and resources to Ireland, and the Czech Republic but never to Jamaica, Mexico, or the US? I’d wonder what caused them to sit back and not take action to help their neighbors, when they were so quick to help those all around the world.
Sometimes you have to take an honest look at why certain things have happened. As a person of color there are certain tragedies that the world likes to ignore. You may not notice, but that could be because you haven’t seen the injustice that people of color have endured. There is warring, mass death, genocide and disaster all over Africa, and we hear of almost none of it. I have recently started to become aware of this. Recently, I learned of an event in history that I had never been instructed on in high school or college. I found it quite interesting that we learned about the Holocaust but not about this event. His name was King Leopold II of Belgium. He wanted to colonize the Congo in an effort to develop the Congo River Basin. What resulted was Belgium’s annexation of the Congo and it becoming the Belgian Congo in 1908. He turned the entire country into a slave operation and benefited from its resources. He solidified his dominion through work camps, body mutilations, executions, torture, rape, beatings, starvation and village burnings. 10 million Congolese people were killed as a result of his enslavement and cruel mistreatment. A monster named King Leopold turned a country into a plantation/concentration camp/Christian ministry and we have never heard of his name. I find this problematic, but not surprising. Throughout my life, I have seen examples that support the narrative that most of white society does not care about the plight of people of color. The stories of our struggle have been hidden, lied about or completely ignored as if they had no significance. Ask yourself honestly why that is.
How to help Haiti:
Many Haitians ask you to support their local aid organizations, not the American ones that we’re familiar with. I found the link below if you want to donate.