President/Founder Greg Cronin presented the paper “Racism is the Major Scourge of the Environment in Haiti” at the International Interdisciplinary Conference on the Environment in Montreal. During his presentation, he argues that past racism led to the state of Haiti’s ecosystems and economy. Ongoing racism hinders his scholarly and education efforts in Haiti and Haiti’s unfair treatment internationally.
The abstract follows:
Racism is the Major Scourge of the Environment in Haiti
President/Founder, Yon Sel Lanmou 501(c)3, NGO operating in Haiti
Applied Ecologist, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Colorado Denver
Racism occurs when one group of people is oppressed at the benefit of another group with power, based on race, skin color, or ethnicity. Racism ranges from individual actions to institutional structures.
Haiti is the world’s first black republic and has the most impoverished economy and ecosystems. These facts are related by racism. Racist colonizers eliminated the indigenous Taino (i.e., nearly total genocide). Needing labor to work the land, the racist colonizers imported kidnapped Africans under brutal, inhuman conditions. Revolutionaries such as Mackandal, Louverture, and Dessalines led a slave revolt, culminating in the Haitian Revolution. Haiti declared independence on January 1, 1804.
Racism continued to harm Haiti after her independence, resulting in international debt, invasion and occupation, exploitation, political meddling, poor infrastructure, poor public health, poverty, and environmental degradation. These hardships also resulted in tough, resilient people who are proud of their country’s African roots, historical importance, cultural richness, and natural beauty.
Racism at CU Denver is the major scourge of my scholarly pursuits in Haiti. The day after the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake, CU Denver banned faculty, staff, and students from traveling to Haiti to assist victims. After I started restoring ecosystems in Haiti, my department stopped rewarding accomplishments in Applied Ecology. My research was ‘below expectations’ for the first time in my career. I first failed to meet teaching expectations the year I co-taught a course with a Haitian presidential candidate and advised the first Haitian to earn an MS in Marine Conservation. My supervisor refuses to discuss racism, even after being informed that silence about racism is racist.
Racism must end for Haiti to reach her full potential.