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Thundering cry of freedom in us

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By Rasin Ganga

According to a Haitian adage, “nen pran kou, je kouri dlo,” which loosely translates to “When disaster strikes a family member, the entire family is affected.” This adage emphasizes the interconnections of different individuals within a family unit and how the well-being or misfortune of one member can have a ripple effect on the entire family. It is an adage that serves as a reminder of the importance of collective support and solidarity wit one another. That adage also underlies the need to identify, support and take head-on the broader implications of individual struggles.

Dr. Claudine Gay, 53, became the first Black president of Harvard University on July 1, 2023. She is also the second woman to hold this position. Dr. Gay’s academic background includes an undergraduate degree in economics from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in government from Harvard. Daughter of Haitian immigrants, her rise to such a prestigious position brought great pride to Haitians worldwide. However, following Dr. Gay’s controversial statement before congress, most if not all Haitian were silent. That include Haitian elected officials and their constituency, religious leaders and their congregations, teachers and their students. However, not too long ago, they were standing in line to take pictures with Dr. Gay or invite her to their events. Now everyone opted to remain silent in public. Meanwhile, Dr. Gay was bullied, paraded around and served as an example for others who won’t bow down to powers that be. This fear has led to self-censorship and hesitancy to speak out in public against injustice.

Our duty and legacy as Haitians

In the spirit of our Rightly Guided Ancestor Boukman, we must fight injustice while avoiding the pitfall of hatred towards others. As Haitians, it is our duty to honor that legacy wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head. Our navigational instrument is to It is to uphold the concept of justice and uplift the Human Spirit, rather than simply going along to get along. In 1804, the struggle for Haiti’s independence came out victorious amid the unjust epidemic disease of slavery sucking the sweat and blood of black and brown people everywhere on the planet. This struggle to uplift humankind is a part of our identity, a part of our DNA. Taking heed of the thundering cry of freedom in us, will never self-censor our speech and actions in the face of injustice. However, going along to get along strikes fear in our heart and paralyses our speeches and actions. It is the Haitian way that we do not yield to injustice. It is the Haitian way that we do not run with our tail between our legs, hide, and kept quiet. Like our Rightly guided Ancestors, we should stand up as one against injustice everywhere. Let us follow the path of our ancestors and boldly speak out against any forms of oppression.

To keep one’s balance, one must know when one lost it

Freedom of speech can be difficult to live up to, as it involves nuance expression of ideas and opinions that may stand on the way of propaganda and those in power and privileges. We must condemn violence while upholding the principles of freedom of speech. By promoting open dialogue and respectful discourse, we can foster understanding and tolerance for all, not a selected few. It bears repeating that freedom of speech should never be used as a shield to propagate hate or incite violence. Rather, it should be used as a tool to promote unity, respect, and peaceful coexistence. Eroding these principles for your short term goals is to loose your balance. Yet, the power that be will come after you sooner or later.

Di djab bonjou djab manje w, pa di djab bonjou djab manje w…”

Dr. Gay clearly condemned violence against Jewish students at Harvard University’s campus. It is indeed unacceptable and goes against principles of inclusivity and respect to all. Every student deserves to feel safe and supported in their educational environment. At the same time, it is also important to address all forms of violence and injustice, including the suffering of Palestinians. A balanced approach that acknowledges and addresses both issues is crucial for fostering a peaceful and inclusive campus community. The price of any human life is immeasurable. Each life is unique and invaluable, possessing inherent worth and dignity.

Two different things

Freedom of speech and political bullying are two distinct concepts with significant differences and outsomes. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right that allows individuals to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship or punishment. It is a cornerstone of democratic societies, promoting open dialogue and the exchange of diverse viewpoints. On the other hand, political bullying involves the use of power or influence to intimidate, harass, or silence individuals who hold differing beliefs. This conduct is detrimental to democratic process. It smother dissent and undermines the principles of inclusivity and respect for differing perspectives. While freedom of speech encourages robust debate and the exploration of different ideas, political bullying seeks to suppress opposing views through coercion and manipulation. We must recognize and uphold the importance of freedom of speech while actively combating political bullying to ensure a healthy and thriving democratic society.

The Human Spirit must be held Supreme over every personal gain. Selective outrage, and complete disregard to others is an outrage in and of itself. It is an outraged reminiscent of the days colonizers bragged all men are created equal while they owned and abuse human beings as slaves for their personal gains. It is true when “nen pran kou je kouri dlo” loosely translated When disaster strikes a family member, the entire family is affected.”

I am sure none of us can fathomthe immense pressure and manipulation Dr. Gay likely faced if she wants to keep her job as Harvard President. It is plausible that maintaining this position came at the cost of her humanity. A trade off that may not worth loosing herself.

Boukman:Take heed of the thundering cry of freedom in us

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