Not to be the purveyor of pessimism or prognosticator of doom and gloom but America’s track record for being prompt, proficient and pertinacious after Mother Nature has unleashed her fury in record-breaking hurricanes upon lands whose citizens have skins colors of Black or brown is far from stellar, if not outright embarrassing.
One need look no further than the suffering of Blacks in New Orleans, our very own shores, after Katrina in 2005. One could also assess the still-remaining devastating effects first unleashed upon the brown-skinned citizens of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 2017 with Maria. Despite the country being an unincorporated territory of the U.S., we still haven’t done we should or could to help the beleaguered tropical island. As for the Republic of Haiti, the destruction caused by Matthew in 2016 was met with an animus of disdain and propensity for neglect similar to that which the former nation of slaves and free people of color has historically faced since becoming the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean in 1804 as well as the first country to abolish slavery.
So, unless the American “zebra” suddenly changes its spots, particularly given the large number of Haitians, an estimated 400,000, who as recent as just weeks ago, lived in the Caribbean country within the Lucayan Archipelago, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas should not anticipate the U.S. opening its arms, its borders or its pocketbooks to help yet another country of Blacks get back on its feet.
The question remains whether the so-called leading nation of the free world can finally do the right thing and end its unenviable, hypocritical history of discrimination and abuse that has been the norm for the U.S. for generations. After the cameras shut down and the aid groups depart, who will be there for Haitians in the Bahamas in particular or the nation of the Bahamas in general?
For now, it seems that those in the Bahamas looking for clean water, food, medical supplies and a roof over their heads have nowhere to go. Moreover, and given the game plan, or lack thereof, coming from Donald Trump and the White House, what will happen to those who may have criminal backgrounds or cannot produce passports or other required documents that will allow them to move through our gateways and be given safe haven in the U.S.? Given the writing on the walls, are we exhibiting behavior tantamount to Trump’s frequently-barked mantra, “make America great again” as we shutter our doors to those in dire need in such cavalier fashion?
It becomes more and more evident that when the U.S. announced its willingness to welcome the world’s “tired and poor … your huddled masses yearning to be free,” words etched upon the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York City’s harbor, the invitation was and continues to remain one with clear, albeit unspoken, terms and conditions for entrance.
For this, and for so much more, Americans should all feel an exorbitant amount of shame.