Essay On Earthquake In Haiti

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Maggie, your work transcends the mere acquisition and display of images.

Your work goes beyond the need of consuming images on our civilization.

I read of the strength and resilence of these people, but is there a limit for which a people can become bent and pounded on from every turn of their existence?

For how can a people rise from the ashes as the phoenix, if there are no ashes; only mounds and mounds of concrete, steel struts jutting from the mounds and mounds of the tortured buildings and homes and lives and souls of the poorest of the poor.

Like many oppressed people across the planet, it is their culture which is their resistance. But to say that Haitian culture was a sham prior to the earthquake, deprives Haitians of their identity at precisely the moment in time when it should be valued and recognized.

These images are so powerful because of the life they show amidst the destruction.Maggie Steber’s words and images have consistently and eloquently communicated the importance of understanding Haitians on their terms as opposed to some idealized view of “colorful” island folk.Centuries of poverty, oppression, environmental pillaging and subjugation at the hands of the French and then America and its corporate surrogates may have destroyed Haiti economically, but failed to crush the collective spirit as seen through art, music and religion. What she warns of, is precisely the kind of rebuilding the previous commentator denounces.Like many deprived and impoverished people they proudly hold their ‘colorful’ lives before us so we can observe,photograph and comment among ourselves about the beauty of what we appear to see.In all this terrible ongoing tragedy which had birth in slavery and colonial subjugation by France,the USA and others,is the opportunity to build a new society where even the poor have a chance to live.The main downtown street, Jean-Jacques Dessalines (called Grande Rue by Haitians), is almost demolished, although the daily frenzy that takes place there has returned.A large Haitian flag flies half-staff at the National Palace, which has fallen in on itself like a tired wedding cake.Your humanist eyes describes for us the broad sweep of historical people of Haiti.Your work with them is a page of dignity, courage and honor. Which culture would you save,the poor children who follow visitors hoping for a handout,the gangsters who roam freely in control of their domains or the wealthy upper classes who work in foreign countries and vacation above the slums which grow day by day.Will the power that is greater than the greatest earthquake see and hear their cries? Journalists too often “drop in” on major news stories and never stay long enough to dig beneath the surface. I applaud your dedication to a country that has been filled with turmoil for as long as I can remember.I chose to recall my personal Haiti experiences and fondly remember my stays at the Hotel Montana, the Haitian children trailing after us as we shared candy with them, our “fixers” who took us to places no American dare go alone and the simple beauty of watching the Haitian culture explode with vibrance when poverty was never more than a foot away.


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