There’s a lot of Discourse swirling right now about academic vs journalistic attribution because of some editorial decisions and assumptions made by reporters and editors at the New York Times.
All I will say about the NYT’s approach is that as a person from a country that produced Eric Williams, CLR James, and a song called “Haiti I’m Sorry” I am clearly not the audience for any reporting that claims to be both the first and the most definitive explanation of the relationship between Haiti’s current economic conditions and France’s demand for reparations.
“The Times reveals how Haiti became the poorest country in the Americas” is something you write if your cultural and educational context is very different from mine. As is the surprise embedded in the choice to describe the fact that “France demanded reparations from Haitians it once enslaved” as a “stunning detail”.
There are many sentences in the reporting in question that are revealing, but the one I cannot stop thinking about comes from somewhere and someone else entirely.
What an incredibly revealing sentence, followed in that same tweet by another: “Journalists will almost always be on the side of narrative. Academics on the side of citing.”
Well. How about that.
The exclusiveness of that persistent, consistent implied we, made explicit, again.
In the 1980s, they are barred from giving blood because newscasters and politicians say that AIDS comes from where they come from: Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, a black magic island that spawns boat people and chaos, a place of illiterate zombies, orphan beggars and brazen political corruption.
When I am a child, my childhood is a luxury my family cannot afford. Their dignity is not spared, so my innocence is not spared. They are humiliated and traumatized daily, so I become a nurse to their trauma. I am told too much, so I know too much, so I am wise beyond my years.
— from the children of immigrants by Lenelle Moïse