Editor’s Note: Rapper/activist Immortal Technique (nee Felipe Coronel) has composed a lengthy editorial dissertation on the present chaos in Haiti, which has graced headlines since the 7.0 earthquake on January 22, 2010. From the First of the Blacks to the First of the Whites – Reflections on the Haitian Revolution and Present Condition” is a delicate mixture of opinion and history. Furthermore, Immortal Technique addresses why Haiti has been perceived as cursed or that there was some “deal with the Devil” in the past. This is a two-part write up that is informative and captivation for those interested in unearthing the truth.
From the First of the Blacks to the First of the Whites – Reflections on the Haitian Revolution and Present Condition”
By Immortal Technique
PART 2 – For Part 1, click here.
It was the Haitian Revolution that challenged the very idea of slavery and the existence of a lesser man. It put the enlightenment of Europeans on trial, and forced America to confront what she was becoming as opposed to what she was supposed to be. The usage of concepts like the Mulatto were necessary for late 18th century white society to put institutionalized racism on life support for another 150 years, and create a violent split in the psychology of Mother Earths first children.
They had used a traditional stratagem inherited from the Romans/Byzantines of understanding an empire’s limited capacity for multi-dimensional warfare on a global scale, and employed the service of a smaller state to outflank its opponents in conflict. Only this time it was not using the Visigoths to fight the Huns (Battle of Chalon, 451 A.D.) or the Cumans to fight the Pechenegs (Levonium, 1091 A.D.). Napoleon and those that served his court were innovators of the worst kind. They perfected what other colonial powers beforehand had only begun. They created virtual new age foederati for their designs by ripping a subsection out of the very people they sought to subjugate. In return for cooperation, the French promised the desperate Mulattos more rights and more privileges in what they painted as a new Saint Domingue. Effectively this action created a safe haven for racism that is even now nestled like a neonate Viper storing the poison of generation after generation. The idea built itself within the conscious and subconscious mind of an enslaved people, to keep them in bondage psychologically even if they found themselves physically free. This is evident not only in the continued degeneration of Black and Mulatto relations well into the mid 1800s under Jean Pierre Boyer, but in present Black & Latino societys obsession with skin color.
In other words, the French colonization efforts efficiently solidified adding dimensions to racism and the notion of racial superiority by creating a different race in our own minds. It was wicked and brilliant in its service to the cause of reducing man to property as it was to being duplicitous to the so-called Mulatto himself. For in the end he was closer to his Master in his eyes only. To the French he was still little more than an animal, subject to an active and de-facto Code Noir.
(The cruel logic of the seemingly schizophrenic reflections in King Louis XIVs Code Noir of 1641, is regarded as a predecessor to the U.S. Black Codes, which shaped the legal standing of former African slaves in the post civil war Era. It covers everything from the immediate persecution and expulsion of Jews, to laws concerning a slaves position, methods of torture and capital punishment that could be implemented.)
Click to read the Code Noir http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/335/
Tricknowledge, is a late 20th century Harlem terminology for an old cosmopolitan strategy. It is used to describe an imperial power not having the physical force to conquer a people, and therefore resorting to the art of deception to achieve victory. Calculating lies are used to manipulate the target into compromising positions before it is attacked. Yet even with all of her elegantly worded deception, sweet-accented mandates, and counter-mandates, France would only hold the beautiful island prisoner for a few more fleeting moments of history. Once the Revolution was set into motion there was no opposing inertia capable of stopping it. Toussaint may have been taken under arms to France, where he lived incarcerated in a frozen fortress near Bensancon (eventually succumbing to pneumonia although some suspected poison), but the Revolution rolled on. In fact, right before Toussaints death, a perhaps karmic parting gift of yellow fever swept Saint Domingue weakening the French garrison and even claiming the life of Charles LeClerc.
Napoleons Saint Domingue police state barely lasted a year, until it became blatantly evident that slavery was to be reinstated just as it had been on Guadeloupe. In the end, after watching the brutal conflict and horrific mistreatment of his own people, it was one of Toussaints young Generals, Jean Jaques Dessalines (who had ironically allied himself with LeClerc when Toussaint was captured), who decided to emerge as the leader that would avenge his people. Truthfully though, and perhaps more important to his own soulful vanity, he really sought to avenge himself. To hear him described by the contemporary European authors of his time, he sounds like the very manifestation of chaotic violence. But every scar has a story, and Dessalines had many scars. In fact a large percentage of his body was covered in painful grooves, partially healed lacerations and whip marks that made some of his skin look like it had melted over itself. He had received some of these in very visible places, and even the most sensitive areas of a man, for his perceived insolence as a slave.It is said General Dessalines would look upon his scars in the mirror and cry out in rage before battles. Then crashing into his enemies he fought with the valiant nature of a man seeking freedom, and persistent fury of a heart that would only be quenched by vengeance. His aim became to ensure the small Revolutions continued success at any military cost. He was determined to maintain it by implementing the same campaigns of terror that the slave owners had recently utilized on him and his people. And this is what terrified white Europeans to the core of their being. Provoking most landowners and slave masters to flee. Some of them though, daring to look, must have surely seen a piece of themselves in him and been rattled. This is thought to be what initially led to the invention of stories about his pact with the devil and deals with voodoo spirits, as these then served the impertinent need to differentiate his actions from theirs.
To better understand how the slaves were treated and what exactly he sought to repay his former masters for, I chose this famous quote from Henri Christophe’s personal secretary. He, who was once a slave, describes in sick details the daily torture inflicted on the enslaved Africans of Saint-Domingue by the French.
“Have they not hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars? Have they not forced them to eat s**t? And, having flayed them with the lash, have they not cast them alive to be devoured by worms, or onto anthills, or lashed them to stakes in the swamp to be devoured by mosquitoes? Have they not thrown them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup? Have they not put men and women inside barrels studded with spikes and rolled them down mountainsides into the abyss? Have they not consigned these miserable blacks to man eating-dogs until the latter, sated by human flesh, left the mangled victims to be finished off with bayonet and poniard?”
His preferred mechanism for punishing European colonials, many of whom were former slave masters, was indeed ruthless. He implemented Black Rage as both his foreign and domestic policy, which meant the absolute destruction of the white colonists, soldiers, and civilians. Before him others had angrily suggested this sort of retribution but none had the gall to carry it out. After all, ideologues may design a Revolution and dismantle an empire verbally, but ideas are powerless without the hand that wields them mercilessly. In the end a combination of this, and allowing remaining whites to live without owning any property and having little say in government, was the result.
Jean-Jacques Dessalines (seen below) was one leader of the Haitian Revolution and the first ruler of an independent Haiti
I make no attempt here to justify the actions of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, but a person cannot be made a slave unless they are terrorized and de-humanized. Unless they are mentally, spiritually and in many cases physically castrated, unless their women are raped before them and children are sold and tore from the womb in front of their eyes. He did in essence what he was taught to do by those that shaped his world.
His collective punishment & scorched earth policy frightened the remaining white colonials to such a degree that most migrated en masse to the other side of the island or to the mainland. General Dessalines fought many battles and eventually claimed the independence of Haiti on January 1, 1804. During this time period he had ravaged the Eastern side of the island and having swept away all opposition, made himself Emperor in 1804. His absolute rule inspired anger and resentment, and only 2 years after his coronation he was assassinated. The country divided itself between North and South until power was consolidated again. The legend of Dessalines came to life upon his death. Stories grew out of the resentment of the white exiles that had once owned his people and now happily welcomed his demise. Even the Mulatto section of Haiti that never received his trusting and felt shunned by him. His immediate demonization followed in these circles, without a thought or a backtracking moment in history to consider what circumstances caused him to be. No context that showed the nature of the slow, functional genocide of his people.
Just silence. And that silence without context continues even today while people suffer one of the worst natural catastrophes that has ever be known to mankind.
Not a word from proud France who defied the American War machine over Iraq, but has kept silent over these two centuries when concerning the 150 million gold francs it extorted from Haiti in 1838. The number was later lowered to 90 million gold francs but the factual story behind the extortion goes as such. Under the guise of a cessation of hostilities (a promise to curb re-invasion), repaying indemnities and for the loss of property (slaves) during the Revolution, France demanded payment. And of course since Haiti had no such sum in their treasury at the time, French bankers eagerly paid the first 30 million gold francs at exorbitant almost mafia-inspired interest rates. So high that it was not until 1947 that Haiti was actually able to repay THAT particular loan. By the mid to late twentieth century the IMFs policy of changing its agricultural focus and conditional foreign aid had since indebted the island nation beyond ruin. In the wake of this current tragedy, I believe France should immediately repay the blood money it stole years ago no matter its legal apprehensions of reparations. This isnt about reparations for slavery, its about the over 20 billion dollars in the modern equivalent paid to a reinstated tyrannical king. It is not the pinnacle of restoring Haiti, but the beginning of repair.
I would be remiss to not pause here and point out that this was written as a moderately detailed historical account of events in and around the Haitian Revolution. It is not the entire history of the island and does not go in depth into the modern self-defeating racial and political schism between Haiti and the Dominican Republican during the mid 20th century. I purposely steered clear of recent events concerning Jean Bertrand Aristide because it deserves an article on its own. I also cannot and will not lay the blame solely on Europeans for the condition of Haiti. The French themselves cannot be demonized anymore than the Spanish, English, Portuguese or Belgians, etc. for their role in colonization. Although to rule out foreign intervention for Haitis condition would be ignoring a huge amount of independent variables that affect the equation. While military backed World Bank policy has always kept the island as an economic vassal, the mismanagement of resources and corrupt leaders also bled the nation dry.
At some point we have to accept the personal responsibility for repairing the framework of society ourselves, and not relying on the people that ruined our indigenous civilizations to fix them all the time. Brutally repressive dictators, such as Duvalier, who were allowed to exist by the U.S. because of their stance against Communism, must be put into their proper context as well. They are not simply a Western invention, but rather the natural order of bequeathing absolute power to an agent of stability, an experiment that could easily be repeated in our own Republic. And so we as a nation cannot claim ignorance in our understanding of this political formula anymore, whether at home or abroad. The sad truth is that we as a public entity or a people may understand this relationship and dissect it now, but our own government has recognized it since the founding of the nation.
We may sometimes point to these historical figures and attribute superstitious characteristics to them in order to either justify or vilify their position. My main problem is when it starts becoming obvious that our own government uses complete and utter falsities to promote a military objective. The following is an account written by a Soldier who participated in the ousting of then President Aristide, it sheds light on the deliberate dissemination of such information:
If he (Dessalines) really made a pact to deliver his nation to absolute evil then why only the leader of the one successful slave revolt on the hemisphere? Why just him and not every other military commander throughout history that faced insurmountable odds? And when is that sort of such vindictive and violent force ever justified? See, that my friends is at the very core of what Haiti and its historic Revolution truly represent. That undiluted tactic of delivering oneself from slavery and oppression through physical force. The French Revolutionaries beheaded their King and did not pay his family restitution. The American Revolution gave Britain no reparations and in fact collected the land of its Indigenous allies after England ceded it without so much as a word to the Native Americans still living there. Yet only in modern history have enslaved people of color been trained to think suffering through the worst of what an oppressor can punish them with is the only way to gain legitimacy or victory.
Are we tragically Mulatto?
Are we as Black and Indigenous people only noble and righteous in an emasculated form of confrontation against such a fate? Are we only correct in our undertaking of a non-violent approach to confronting Imperialism or Fascism? More of white America praises Martin Luther King Jr. as peacefully resistant and the preferable alternative to Malcolm Xs truth without modesty. More would rather hear the scholarly Fredrick Douglass than experiencing the fear-invoking Dessalines. I do not seek to discredit the legacy of either Douglass or King. We are all indebted to the vital parts of the struggle for freedom that they played historically. But why are Europe and American spared the same constant criticism by present day historians. Would we turn the other cheek to Hitler? What would a non-violent march and a hunger strike against the Confederate South have accomplished? Without colonial militias, Native American Warriors, and the French & Spanish Armadas, wouldnt the U.S. Constitution have ended up as British toilet paper? As a matter of fact, if Gandhis tactics had been used in the American Revolution, wouldnt he have been lying in a ditch in Virginia some 234 years ago? Without the purchased attention of a global media outlet, is shaming the world even possible? And even if we managed to procure one, how could a profit margin be replaced by a soul, when thats the one thing that a multi-national news corporation will never have?
I believe a balance is always necessary, and that might never makes right. It just makes right now. Having the power to take land, force payment or enslave others doesnt make your cause justified. In fact I would argue that an oppressor who lies to his slaves about their ten thousand year old history, and presents them as a fraction of a human being to all, is in truth more savage than that which he has reduced his fellow man to. Strength and power are the tools that can reinforce a document, a government, a people and a nation. Without them there is only the word, and unfortunately we are not as evolved as we would like to believe because we do not respect words, not even the words of God when we write them in our own image. We are taught to only respect fear and violence.
I am not arrogant enough to claim to have all the answers, but I come rather humbly myself to pose these questions so that you may discover the answer. May we repay the slave master by acting like the slave master? Or have we already gone this route before? Perhaps in our forgotten history we have already employed these strategies amongst ourselves. Can it be that we treated each other this way when Rome was yet to be conceived and Greek civilization was still an adolescent student of Egypt? Why is violent Revolution coupled with diplomatic conflict settlement only the recourse of the Super powers alone? Why is it presented to us as fruit from the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden? Perhaps it was our oppressors pact with the devil that made it so. These are question that are easy to answer only if a personal bias already exists within us, they are harder to answer when they speak to all of humanity, and what it reflects about the future of our species.
The earthquake itself did not discriminate by skin color when deciding who would die in the collapsing buildings. It cared nothing for their religion, family connections, or politics. Corrupt diplomats have perished within the same epicenter as innocent hard-working families, and dedicated public servants. The old and the young perish together subtracted from both sides of the equation. Our evolution is the rediscovery of the past, not an invention of a mythical future. Will we always be a small, petty people as a complete and single human race that we do not look beyond what is obvious in our faces as opposed to what is obvious in the actions that our hearts strive us towards?
HAARP: High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program – Gakona, Alaska
As I look at the proud, resilient and suffering nation of Haiti. I have heard every sort of theory for this tragedy, an act of God, HAARP, and even superstition backed by the hands of social senility wielding faith. In the end I am left to ponder what role did the worlds super powers play in burying Haiti before the Earthquake, and what sort of role will we now play in digging her, and our own collective human soul, out of the rubble?
Beyond this though, I think we should begin to seriously change the way that we look at each other around the world. We are a global community, a single race of people who might one day all become Haitians.
To all my brothers & sisters: Those that I know personally, and those I do not, who have lost family and are suffering
My Condolences along with Revolutionary Love & Respect,