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Sunye takes on the #IceBucketChallenge!

3 fun facts from the video!

  • Sunye was in Haiti when she was nominated by Genius Oh for the challenge.
  • You can hear baby Hailey’s sneeze and voice midway through the video, which made the videographer (James) and Sunye laughed.
  • Sunye nominated Haha, Byul and JYP for the challenge.

One misconception outsiders have about Haiti, or any so-called “third world” country, is that poverty is all there is. Reality tells a different story. People live, die, get married, lose their virginity, graduate high school and college, dream and strive in Haiti. There are, in fact, many possibilities.

Haitians are humans, not symbols of poverty. But you shouldn’t have to go to Haiti to find that out.

—  The Slaves of Saint-Domingue Did Not Dream, They Exploded¬†by¬†Ferrari Sheppard

Dumping a Bucket of Ice on Your Head Does Not Make You a Philanthropist

Unless you lack access to the internet, you‚Äôve certainly seen the viral onslaught of¬†Ice Bucket Challenge¬†videos in the past few weeks. The idea is to dump a bucket of ice water over your head and ‚Äúnominate‚ÄĚ others to do the same, as a way of promoting awareness about ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig‚Äôs disease). If you don‚Äôt accept the challenge, you have to donate $100 to an ALS association of your choice. It‚Äôs like a game of Would-You-Rather involving the entire internet where, appallingly, most Americans would rather dump ice water on their head than donate to charity.

There are a lot of things wrong with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but most the annoying is that it’s basically narcissism masked as altruism. By the time the summer heat cools off and ice water no longer feels refreshing, people will have completely forgotten about ALS. It‚Äôs trendy to pretend that we care, but eventually, those trends fade away.

This is the crux of millennial ‚Äúhashtag activism,‚ÄĚ where instead of actually¬†doing¬†something, you can just¬†pretend¬†like you‚Äôre doing something by posting things all over your Facebook. Like the Ice Bucket Challenge, good causes end up being a collective of social media naval gazing. We reflected on our favorite social-movements-gone-viral and found out what happened to them after the fell off our Twitter feeds. Because, yes, social problems continue even after you stop hashtagging them.

Livestrong Bracelets

Before hashtags even existed, there were still ways to obnoxiously flaunt a social cause that you had no real connection to. Remember Livestrong bracelets? Those rubbery yellow bracelets were the brainchild of Lance Armstrong, who sold them through the Livestrong Foundation to raise money and spread awareness about cancer. Everyone from Lindsay Lohan to Johny Kerry sported one on their wrist; wearing them signified that you were both sensitive and stylish.

At least the dollar you spent on the stupid-but-trendy bracelet went toward funding cancer research via the Livestrong Foundation. Or at least, so you thought. In actuality, the Livestrong Foundation started phasing out its cancer research in 2005, and stopped accepting research proposals altogether just a few years later. Over 80 million of the bracelets have been sold. Where the hell did all of that money go?

#Haiti

The world was more than a little shook-up when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, burying at least 200,000 people and destroying much of the country’s infrastructure. #Haiti became thesecond-largest trending topic on Twitter that week, and was the subject of at least 15 percent of tweeted links in the week afterward. Remarkably, many of those links directed people to donation sites. Even the Red Cross mobilized on Twitter, encouraging people to send donations and spread the word about #HaitiRelief.

Social media may have actually done Haiti a solid, helping to raise $8 million in relief funds. But, like all things on the internet, they lose their luster and their urgency, and we forget about them. It’s been four years since the Haiti earthquake and although those initial donations made a huge impact in rebuilding the rumble of Port-au-Prince, there are still at least 150,000 Haitians living in the plywood shelters in relief camps. Earlier this year, NPR reported that many of these people are living without water, electricity, or light. Why isn’t anyone tweeting about that? Because #Haiti is so four years ago.

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Taking a page¬†out of the¬†Gospel of Pat Robertson,¬†Chibly¬†Langlois, Haiti‚Äôs first Roman Catholic cardinal revealed the “big social problem”¬†in Haiti:¬†Vodou. He argued that¬†Vodou¬†offers “magic” but no real solutions to a population deprived of justice and a political voice.

"If a person is well educated and has the financial means, they will go to a doctor [instead of the¬†Vodou¬†priest] when they get sick. If that same person went to the court to get justice they would not go to the¬†Vodou¬†priest to get revenge. It’s a big problem for the church. And for Haiti,"¬†Langlois¬†said.

This uncritical scapegoating of the Vodou religion (called Santeria in Cuba and Candomblé in Brazil) as the source of Haiti’s problems is typical amongst Catholics and their evangelical Christian counterparts. It implies that Christianity provides you not only with enlightenment from your backwards ways, but financial gains…I guess Italy and Greece just haven’t been praying hard enough!

In my travels around Haiti, I have come across many villages where there is no police presence and nor is there a clinic nearby for basic care, often leaving the Vodou priest or priestess( hougans and manbos) to serve every role from midwife to judge and jury. Yet Langlois and the Catholic Church he represents remain silent on the deeply imbedded inequality in Haiti and a Haitian government more interested in attracting foreign tourists by any means than providing basic social services to its people. He also fails to critique the international community who have little to show for $9 billion funneled through international contractors and NGOs in Haiti with little accountability since the 2010 earthquake.

Contrary to the Cardinal‚Äôs statement,¬†Vodou¬†is not Haiti‚Äôs problem; Christianity is. No push to spread¬†Vodou¬†ever wiped out entire ‚Äúsavage‚ÄĚ indigenous peoples.¬†Vodou has caused no wars due to a desire to convert as many people as possible.¬†Vodou¬†doesn‚Äôt tell ‚Äúsaved souls‚ÄĚ that they must be complacent, accepting their lot on Earth for the¬†potential¬†of future salvation in heaven.¬†Vodou¬†never told Black people they were a¬†curse¬†or 3/5ths¬†of a person.

Vodou is of the belief system that sustained our ancestors across the Middle Passage, during the brutality of the plantation, and through the victories of slave rebellions. Haiti should never apologize for it.

Christianity and the West‚Äôs real problem with¬†Vodou¬†is that, like the Maroons who practiced it, it remains elusive to those who would aim to profit off of it, package it, and control it. Unlike Hinduism or Buddhism, Westerners can‚Äôt take a ‚Äúspiritual journey‚ÄĚ to Haiti to ‚Äúfind themselves‚ÄĚ in a¬†Vodou¬†temple.¬†Vodou¬†remains a religion steeped in African traditions, for people of African descent, and based on an understanding of the linkages between the natural and spiritual world—-Hollywood can‚Äôt make a¬†Julia Roberts movie¬†out of that.

When it comes to the poor and most vulnerable, the Catholic Church with its $10- $15 billion in wealth looks less like the teachings of Christ and more like a big corporation.  For centuries the Church has been complacent in, and at times profited from, slavery, the Holocaust, selling babies, and, most recently, the sexual abuse of children. I have encountered many wealthy preachers and priests, but I have yet to meet a rich hougan.

Haiti and all the worlds‚Äô poor need a Cardinal that can speak up for ‚Äúreal solutions to a population deprived of justice and a political voice‚ÄĚ such as a judicial system free from corruption and accessible to all its people, access to quality healthcare for all regardless of income, free and compulsory primary education, and jobs that pay a living wage. Or even a Cardinal who can simply stand up to a UN who refuses to acknowledge its responsibility for a cholera epidemic that‚Äôs killed 9,000+ Haitians. A Church that remains silent on all these issues is a problem.

Unfortunately, it‚Äôs far easier for¬†Langlois¬†to shame the poor and¬†Vodouists¬†rather than risk his position in the gilded halls of the Vatican by taking a stand for social justice. As Gandhi once lamented, ‚ÄúYou Christians are so unlike your Christ.‚ÄĚ

France François is the blogger behind the Black in Cairo blog and has a background in development and conflict resolution. Tweet her: @frenchieglobal

Today in Haitian History - August 14, 1791 -¬†Bois Ca√Įman Vodou Ceremony.¬†

While historians still debate how many slaves took part of the infamous Bois Ca√Įman Vodou Ceremony (or if it even occurred), very few would deny the emblematic¬†value of the event. Indeed, various accounts maintain that it was precisely during this service that slaves in Northern Saint-Domingue prepared and organized for a major uprising against slave-owners. This uprising soon transformed itself into a large-scale Revolution across the country where temporary associationswere made and destroyed - a moment that we now refer to as¬†the Haitian Revolution.

¬†* While the events that led to the formation of the Haitian state should not be reduced to a Vodou ceremony,¬†Bois Ca√Įman still, if only¬†symbolically, marks the¬†beginning¬†of a new era and¬†conscience¬†amongst¬†slaves in Saint-Domingue, whereby¬†they agreed that death was better than servitude.

Painting of Bois Ca√Įman Vodou ceremony with Boukman Dutty in its center: Courtesy of Michigan State University. (For reading suggestions on the Haitian Revolution, see here.)¬†

Watch on conjureandsuch.tumblr.com

The Spirit of Haiti: Vodou

Documentary on Vodou, it’s origins and rituals, de-mystifying myths and demonstrating actual rituals, from interviews and footage of practitioners themselves.

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Anderson Desir, 9, shares a dream with many boys his age in the Dominican Republic: He wants to grow up and play baseball in la liga grande, otherwise known as American Major League Baseball.

But there’s an important difference between Anderson and the 80 Dominican kids from his summer baseball league in San Pedro de Macoris: Anderson is Haitian.

In a controversial decision last year, the Dominican Constitutional Court ruled that those born in the country are not citizens unless at least one parent is a legal resident.

The decision could cause problems for Haitians living in the Dominican Republic, like Anderson, whose parents brought him here from Haiti shortly after he was born. However, the ruling especially affects an estimated 250,000 Haitian descendants born in the Dominican Republic, including Anderson’s two siblings ‚ÄĒ his sister Rosaura, 6, and his brother Mickael, 2.

Who’s A Citizen? The Question Dividing The Island Of Hispaniola

Photo Credit: Sarah Tilotta for NPR

Experimental Vaccine For Chikungunya Passes First Test

Scientists have taken the first steps to developing a vaccine for chikungunya ‚ÄĒ an emerging mosquito-borne virus that has infected more than a half million people in the Western Hemisphere this year. About 600 Americans have brought the virus to 43 states.

The study was small. Only 25 people were given the experimental vaccine. But the findings are promising. They demonstrate that the vaccine is safe and that it triggers a strong response from the immune system, scientists reported Friday in the Lancet journal.

Until last year, chikungunya was found only in parts of Africa and Asia. Then in December, the virus started circulating on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean.

From there, chikungunya spread like wildfire. It hopped from island to island in the Caribbean and spilled over into Central America and parts of South America. By July, chikungunya had found its way to Florida. At least four people have caught the virus in Florida. And the state has recorded 138 imported cases. New York state has the second largest number of imported cases, 96.

Chikungunya usually isn’t fatal. But it causes a high fever, headache, nausea and extreme joint pain ‚ÄĒ which can linger for months. And there’s no cure or vaccine.

Continue reading.

Photo: Residents walk amid fumes as workers spray chemicals to exterminate mosquitoes in a neighborhood of Petion Ville in Port-au-Prince on May 21. The virus swept through Haiti this spring, infecting more than 40,000 people. (Hector Retamala/AFP/Getty Images)

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