On the 18th day in May, also known as Haitian Flag Day, thousands of Haitians in communities worldwide celebrate their nation’s origins and the cohesion of the Haitian people. The flag birthed out of the Haitian Revolution in 1791-1803 represents pride in Haitian heritage. More importantly, it also represents the world’s first Black-ruled nation.
Reflecting On Haitian Glory And Ruin
During this ongoing era of white supremacy and anti-Blackness, the flag of Haiti takes on new significance as an anti-racist symbol that symbolizes revolutionary Blackness and independence.
Some people take advantage of Haitian Flag Day to glorify their nation’s past achievements, which are incredible. In this place, the ancestors overcame insurmountable challenges. They made unimaginable sacrifices to fend off successive waves of Napoleonic soldiers and free the people of Hispaniola from the scourge of slavery.
Others use the day as an opportunity to reflect on the current sober condition of their homeland. For them, May 18, or 18 Mai as it is known in Haiti, is a day that can only serve as a jarring reminder of how far Dessalines, Pétion, Christophe, and other such cities have fallen.
Despite the tenacity that has traditionally been associated with the Haitian people, it is impossible to deny the fact that Haiti is a state that has been and is continuously mistreated. It has been humiliated by its donors, bullied by its neighbors, pillaged and betrayed by its traitors, and left almost naked to fend for itself.
Betraying The Flag
For those of us who have experienced the loss of a parent, there are times when we reflect on how far we have come and wish our parent was still here to witness our progress. We wish this because they would have been so proud of us, even though they are no longer here.
Can we say the same thing for Jean Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Dédée Bazile, Sanité Blair, Cécile Fatiman, and Catherine Flon? Can we honestly declare that we wish they were still here to experience Haiti as it is today? Or are we always putting them on the sacrificial altar?
We sing, “Let there be no traitors in our ranks,” and mean every word. Nevertheless, we are each other’s betrayers. We have betrayed the spirit of freedom that embodies the Haitian flag. Although we sing those words in our national anthem, we are currently exploited workers on our land.
Raising The Flag Up From The Ashes
This 18 Mai, we need to search for the Phrygian cap, the ancient symbol of freedom, because our freedom is lost. This year should be the year when we march with our hands clasped together to symbolize our unity. A year in which we should pledge to love one another, love our country, and fight to save our freedom, just as the Ukrainians are fighting to save their nation.
This year, you are strongly encouraged to rediscover the splendor, culture, and historical achievements that Haiti contributed to the growth of the free world. Everyone needs to gird themselves for the sake of our nation and live up to the ideals that our predecessors had for us when they were alive.
Even though the cohesion of the people is exceptionally precarious, we must approach it with caution and meet one another with open minds. The power of togetherness is essential to survival, so let us work together to protect it.
There are new generations coming, and we must illuminate our forefathers’ vision for them as well as for our country. Our heritage makes us fierce, and we must activate that fierceness to keep us going.
This 18 Mai, for our flag, we have the power to withstand adversity and rise up from the ashes of our own ruin, strongly victorious.