On my tours, I introduce kids to "white gold" that delicious cash crop grown here and there. I teach them about slavery and our shared slave law, the Code Noir. I describe a religion with deep, deep roots that is still practiced there, a religion hidden under the Catholicism imposed by our shared colonial rulers. I point out similarities in our architecture. I went there to learn about our shared culture. I returned having learned much more.
Saint Domingue, or Haiti, is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. It was the richest. As a French colony, cities were on par with Paris, replete with elegant balls, theaters and opera houses. These riches were built on the backs of slaves. Slavery in Saint Domingue is difficult to read about. Slaves were treated as if they were disposable, worked to death with a life expectancy of 5 years upon arrival. There was a constant influx of "new" Africans as "old" ones were dying in the fields.
After years of work and suffering, the Haitian Revolution made Saint Domingue the first free black nation in the western hemisphere. In my selective research, the story stopped there with great victory. I knew thousands of Haitians emigrated to New Orleans after this, as the revolution had destroyed much of the farmland. I read about Haitian immigrants that impacted New Orleans' history. But that ignores the rest of Haiti's story.
Despite the triumphant revolution, there is an ongoing war with poverty. It seems trite to describe or reflect on but I want to see if there's a way FQK can somehow help. Sponsoring a school in Haiti with proceeds from the tours or sending books, pencils and notebooks seem trivial in the face of such poverty...