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America made it clear that it would not stop the rebel advance as long as Aristide

 remained in power. Then came the questionable exile, which if not a political

kidnapping is close enough. As soon as he was gone, the Marines were on their way.



Books on the Caribbean

Hubert Cole. Christophe: King of Haiti. New York: The Viking Press, 1967.

C.L.R. James. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938)

Edourad Gissant. Caribbean Doscourse (2004)  /  Barbara Harlow. Resistance Literature (1987)

Josaphat B. Kubayanda. The Poet's Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime Cesaire (1990)


Paul Laraque and Jack Hirschman.  Open Gate An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry (2001)

David P. Geggus, ed. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World.  University of South Carolina Press, 2001.

Jean-Bertand Aristide. Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization

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Books by Arthur Flowers

De Mojo Blues   /   Another Good Loving Blues   / Cleveland Lee's Beale Street Band

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Up Against the Wall in Haiti

By Arthur R. Flowers


I am Flowers of the Delta Clan Flowers and the Line of O Killens. I ask Lord Legba to open this gate. A strategic analysis by Rickydoc Flowers.  For we both love Haiti.

Latest Developments:

Jamaica has agreed to host Aristide for an undetermined length of time. This is in keeping with the skeptical attitude CARICOM has taken against Aristides removal by the US. CARICOMS move puts Aristide back into play. This is an interesting development to which I shall play close attention. Depending on what moves CARICOM makes with Aristide, Aristides return or participation in the next elections is an option that has to be considered.

In bringing Aristide so close to home, the likelihood of his partisans remaining a cohesive and influential force is increased. This is an interesting development and Im not quite sure at this point how its going to play out. But so far its been the strongest African American move on the board.

In incurring US hostility for keeping the issue of Aristide alive, Jamaica has performed an act of political courage that will now put it in the US crosshairs as "uncooperative."

Hopefully African American policy influents will be more effective in defending Jamaica than they were in Haiti.

Developments To Be Looked Out For and Resisted:

- marines shooting/disarming Lavalas partisans in order to let “rebels” emerge unchecked when they leave
- the independence and the democratic nature of the Haitian political process being now shaped.
- the continued exploitation of the poor in Haiti and the resumption of Haitian class oppression.


America, with the assistance of France and international funding institutions, has apparently orchestrated a coup against Aristide and Haitian democracy.

This operation has been in progress since the inauguration of the Bush Administration, and perhaps even before when Aristide was deposed during the first Bush Administration by an army and paramilitaries associated with the CIA.

The current Bush administration has considered him a leftist troublemaker and Clinton holdover. The Bush operatives in charge of Caribbean policy are neocon ideologues Reich, Poindexter, Abrams, Negroponte and the Asst Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, Roger Noriega, all of whom have been aggressively and overtly targeting Aristide since his first fall in 1991. In the words of Vice President Dick Cheney, "We're glad to see him go."

Some of us are not. Haitis unique history has made it an important icon of black empowerment and geopolitical positioning.

Haiti has historically been riven by class and color issues, with a small exploitive elite and masses of the oppressed, composed in the main of subsistence farmers and the urban poor. Aristide, a slum priest preaching liberation theology, rode a wave of resentment that frightened the Haitian elite with populist calls of redistribution and retribution. The elite then conspired with the army (traditionally an instrument of repression) to topple him once in 1991 and again in the current “rebellion”.

After a paramilitary reign of terror that killed thousands of Haitians and triggered massive refugee movements, the Clinton Administration forcibly reinstated Aristide. Aristide disbanded the army and continued to alienate Bush ideologues and the Haitian elite with populist policies.

Riding the dispute over the election of 7 senators during the election of 2000, the Democratic Convergence, an opposition alliance of Haitian elites, Duvaliarists and disaffected Aristide partisans, was supported and financed (some x millions a year) by US policy instruments like the Democracy Enhancement Project and The International Republican Institute. This US backed movement gridlocked Haitian government.

This gridlock was used to trigger a full embargo of international aid that had begun under media radar by the Bush Administration. This in turn crippled the ability to provide services by a government that was already one of the poorest in the world and Aristide began to lose support. In spite of Aristides attempts to compromise, the US backed Democratic Convergence made it clear that they would accept nothing less than his resignation.

Aristide made mistakes. Under pressure he too easily adapted to the Haitian winner take all style of governance and with no army and a weak police force he followed another traditional Haitian practice of arming partisan gangs. It was one of those disaffected gangs that started the ‘rebellion’ in the North, which was soon joined by ex army officers and paramilitaries previously convicted of crimes against humanity during the first Aristide coup, suddenly reconstituted, armed and organized by unknown outside forces.

The official media line has been that Aristides government lost popular legitimacy because of the irregularities of the 2000 election.

But according to Heather Williams in a recent Counterpunch article, this process reflects the Noriega modus operandi, "fund an opposition, report every clash as repression against the population, arm pliable thugs and mercenaries in exile, embargo the government, precipitate acute crisis, play up the discontent of a hungry population, and then happily leave it to internationalist liberals to lead the charge for military intervention on humanitarian grounds."

The official media line is that this is the collapse (again) of a failed state with bad management practices – as opposed to the result of official US policy that would surely be questioned if it were fully known.

Again, Aristide clearly made mistakes and his government was what we used to call back home a colored shop (as in operating on CPT principles), but his government is one of the precious few in Haitian history that sincerely tried to reverse the endemic exploitation of the Haitian people. To empower them and raise their living standards. To make of them a truly free people. In a country where 65% of the country cannot read, Aristide set up critical adult literacy programs. Aristide understood that Haitis redemption will come only through the empowerment of its people.

In the final analysis Aristide represented Haitian democracy, shaky perhaps but no more illegitimate than the equally questioned election of George Bush in the same year. Without an army and unable to stop them, Aristide agreed to the Administrations power sharing plan. The US backed Democratic Convergence did not.

America made it clear that it would not stop the rebel advance as long as Aristide remained in power. Then came the questionable exile, which if not a political kidnapping is close enough. As soon as he was gone, the Marines were on their way.

Basically what happened in Haiti was that America and France endorsed an armed takeover of a democratically elected government whose populist policies they did not approve of.


The Haitian People:

A restless population in need of stability and development. Quality of life issues are predominant and Empowerment Strategies a must. A powerful force for change that must be channeled.

Haitian Elites:

Right now Haitian elites just want their power back. Security is high on their wishlist. They must be made aware of progressive principles of political stewardship. Instruments of influence and constraint must be designed.

USA Agendas:

Primary US agenda will be to shape a stable government that will be pliable to United States interests and influence.

The US attitude toward the Caribbean is one of marginal interest and as long as they do not openly defy America (as in Cuba) they are pretty much left alone. Jamaica and CARICOM have defied America on Haiti and will probably be targeted for retribution.

Supplemental issues that move the US are trade, tourism, drug transshipment, refugees and immigration. There is little sense of US awareness of the human condition factors in their motivation here.

Joke of the Week: "No president has done more for human rights than I have," George W. Bush

The West Indian/AfricanAmerican lobby is not considered strong enough to be an effective brake on a hostile administration. Blacks in power in the Bush Administration tend to follow the company line and work against black world interests.

Hopefully after so artlessly orchestrating Aristides departure the Bush Administration should feel some sense of responsibility in making sure the ‘replacement’ government is functional, but perhaps that kind of progressive imperialism is beyond this fundamentalist bunch. It will probably be nakedly neocolonial and all that easier to check.

CARICOM and Regional Agendas:

CARICOM has taken an unusually strong stand on this. The countries of the Caribbean and South America fear hegemonic meddling in their own affairs. A primary ongoing agenda of theirs is to empower the counties of the hemisphere against American hegemony.

Regional pressure has proved effective in the past: Regional opposition and an OAS embargo tempered the first coup against Aristide in 1991. The US backed overthrow of Hugo Chavezs in April 2002 was reversed by the refusal of the people and 19 Latin American governments, including Mexico and Brazil, to accept it.

CARICOM will try to use this both to question Aristides removal and empower themselves as a regional force. This move back to Jamaica puts Aristide back in the game. We may have to be prepared to back a very strong move.

African American Agendas: (Games: Long and Short)

Short Game: immediate attempts to finesse current strategic dynamics

Empower the Haitian Population Through Nation Building and Investment in Social Capital

Social Capital. Quality of Life. Are your people downtrodden masses or are they viable factors in international competition. This is the critical component of any state developmental strategy, an investment in social capital. Literacy. Poverty. Living Wages. Health, Education and Social Welfare. Political empowerment. A state is only as strong as its people. A point that needs to be made to the Haitian elite. They need a much better sense of stewardship.

Haitis agricultural sector (most of its people) has been devastated by environmental misuse and economic agreements w/US. These issues have to be addressed systematically.

Make sure that the marine occupation does not, as it did in 1915-34, cripple the organizations of the poor in favor of continued elite rule and increased US hegemonal pliability.

Breaking that cycle of dysfunction in Haiti is going to be a long and difficult task. It will take somewhat more than a village, it will take a generation. Or two.

Transform the Haitian Elite Into A Progressive Force with Class and Color Consciousness.

They must be forced to face their own contradictions, the progressive strands supported, the exploitive ones restrained.

Convince them that they will never be respected in the world as long as they continue to treat their people like this. Convince them that they will never know stable development. Convince them they will never know respect, power or security as long as they are renegade forces.

Bind them with democratic instruments designed to empower the Haitian people.

Influence The Dynamics of Haitian Governance Currently Being Shaped by International Forces.

Now the struggle will be to promote a viable government and progressive politics in Haiti, to build and shape a democratic infrastructure, and to ensure that discredited forces that joined hands with the Bush administration to destabilize Haiti are not rewarded for their efforts.

CARICOMs move bringing Aristide to Jamaica means his return or participation in the process becomes an option. We need to back CARICOMs play, whatever it is, and try to deflect some of the hostility and pressure they are about to incur from Bush and Co.

The Bush administration will try to install folk willing lead Haiti to the corporate slaughter. Folk willing to sell out Haiti for a fistful of trade beads.

The Election of 2004. Getting the Bush Administrations neocons cabal in charge of Caribbean policy out of office will give Haiti a chance to breath. In an effort to distinguish himself from Bush, Kerry has vaguely spoken out in support of Aristide. While nothing to bet on, this is just another reason to work hard for the defeat of George Bush. (Fundamentalists who continue to claim that there is no difference between electing Democrats or Republicans need to get out of the way and go sit in the corner somewhere.)

Basically the immediate move is to transfer control of this Haitian governing process from the US to the UN and regional associations, the OAS and CARICOM.

And to further ensure that developmental strategies of official and NGO instruments are designed to truly empower the Haitian people.

Depending on what moves CARICOM makes with Aristide, Aristides return or participation in the next elections is an option that has to be considered.

In bringing Aristide so close to home, the likelihood of his partisans remaining a cohesive and influential force is increased. This is an interesting development that im not quite sure at this point is going to play out. But so far its been the strongest African American move on the board

Empowering African American Policy Influence in Global Affairs & In Particular the Caribbean

This effort to influence the international shaping of Haiti will be an exercise in frustration exposing our weaknesses in policy instruments. Its hard not to feel a certain sense of guilt that we didnt do more for Aristide and Haiti before it got dicey and much too late. (Including calling him on it when he made bad moves.)

Accordingly this should be a dual effort, (one) to affect the current situation and (two) to enhance and institutionalize our ongoing ability to influence events in the world that concern us. Situations like African development or slavery in the Sudan or the struggles of the untouchables in India.

We, African Americans, need to forge a foreign affairs capacity equal to other influential minorities (which will go unnamed). We need an ongoing and proactive lobbying infrastructure that will give us the ability to respond to crises that affect us with something more than hollow bleats of moral outrage. We need instruments. Have to support the ones we have. We have to build new ones shaped to our needs. Got to get in front of the curve.

Show Unity With A Beleaguered African American Population.

Personal Commitment: its difficult to take on new responsibilities that ask us to give to others when we have so little ourselves, but it is the fundament of the strong people we would our generations be.

THE LONGGAME: Fa: Shaping Our Generations and their Destiny

Use the mojo generated by this situation:

To empower the Haitian people and culture and to make of it a nation, strong, healthy, wealthy and wise.

To conjure Haiti as the mythopoetic icon of black pride and empowerment we all know it capable of being.

To empower and strengthen strategic ties with African American populations of the Hemisphere.

To foster respect for Voodoo (and ATR) in the world.

To illuminate and empower Haitian voodoo and remind it of its tribal guidance responsibilities. If they had been doing their jobs, Haiti would not be in the state it is today.

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Arthur Flowers, a Memphis native, is the author of two novels, De Mojo Blues and Another Good Loving Blues (Ballantine Books), and a children's story, Cleveland Lee's Beale Street Band. He is a Vietnam veteran, blues singer, co-founder of the New Renaissance Writer's Guild. In addition, he is the webmaster of Rootsblog: A Cyberhoodoo Webspace and a performance artist whose presentation, Delta Oracle: A Griot Speaks in Tongues, keeps him busy and Professor of MFA Fiction at Syracuse University.

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The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World 

Reviewed by Mimi Sheller

Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804

A Brief History with Documents

By Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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Eyeminded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art

By Kellie Jones

A daughter of the poets Hettie Jones and Amiri Baraka, Kellie Jones grew up immersed in a world of artists, musicians, and writers in Manhattan’s East Village and absorbed in black nationalist ideas about art, politics, and social justice across the river in Newark. The activist vision of art and culture that she learned in those two communities, and especially from her family, has shaped her life and work as an art critic and curator. Featuring selections of her writings from the past twenty years, EyeMinded reveals Jones’s role in bringing attention to the work of African American, African, Latin American, and women artists who have challenged established art practices. Interviews that she conducted with the painter Howardena Pindell, the installation and performance artist David Hammons, and the Cuban sculptor Kcho appear along with pieces on the photographers Dawoud Bey, Lorna Simpson, and Pat Ward Williams; the sculptor Martin Puryear; the assemblage artist Betye Saar; and the painters Jean-Michel Basquiat, Norman Lewis, and Al Loving. Reflecting Jones’s curatorial sensibility, this collection is structured as a dialogue between her writings and works by her parents, her sister Lisa Jones, and her husband Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. EyeMinded offers a glimpse into the family conversation that has shaped and sustained Jones, insight into the development of her critical and curatorial vision, and a survey of some of the most important figures in contemporary art.

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Michelle Alexander: US Prisons, The New Jim Crow  / Judge Mathis Weighs in on the execution of Troy Davis

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness 

By Michelle Alexander

The mass incarceration of people of color through the War on Drugs is a big part of the reason that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The absence of black fathers from families across America is not simply a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time watching Sports Center. Hundreds of thousands of black men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed by whites. Most people seem to imagine that the drug war—which has swept millions of poor people of color behind bars—has been aimed at rooting out drug kingpins or violent drug offenders.

Nothing could be further from the truth. This war has been focused overwhelmingly on low-level drug offenses, like marijuana possession—the very crimes that happen with equal frequency in middle class white communities.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.” 

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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The White Masters of the World

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By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 15 February 2012




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