From John Rickford (my friend)

In the many discussions of Trump’s crass and racist comments about Haiti and other countries, I have seen little if any awareness or acknowledgment that the two beacons of national liberation in the late 18th century–the USA (1766) and France (1789)–did not recognize the first Black Republic in the New World (Haiti, 1804) until decades later, and seriously undermined its development. (Compare Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.) The US only recognized independent Haiti in 1862, after the South seceded, and France did so in 1825, after forcing Haiti to begin paying them “reparations” for the slaves and property France lost after the successful struggle of Haitians for their freedom. Those reparations, in today’s dollars, amounted to $21+ billion dollars, and it took Haiti until 1947 to pay off the debt with interest! Imagine if America had had to pay off a similar debt to Britain after 1776. And the irony is that instead of Haitian slaves getting reparations for THEIR years of exploitation and unpaid labor, it was the other way around, with the victims paying the victimizers. Even so, Haiti has gone on to produce some of the most impressive intellectuals, artists, and men and women of distinction in every field, many of them (like my friend #Michel Anne Frederic DeGraff, professor of Linguistics at MIT) helping to give American students the education Donald Trump apparently never had. DT’s ignorance reminds me of Nathanael in John 1:46, who, hearing from Philip that “we have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote–Jesus of Nazareth …” said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” For info on Haitian reparations, see this Wikipedia entry. Michel and others mayl give us deeper historical references:

Haiti’s legacy of debt began shortly after gaining independence from France in 1804. In 1825, France, with warships at the ready, demanded Haiti compensate France for its loss of slaves and its slave colony. In exchange for French…