My Turn: Anger, disgust at treatment of Haitian refugees at U.S. border
By Shaneisha Myrthil
As an American I am ashamed; as a Haitian I am outraged by the events that took place at the U.S. border on Sept. 19 when border patrol agents tried to stop Haitian immigrants from entering the United States in Texas. Videos emerged showing the patrol on horses chasing the refugees, whipping them with the long rein from the horses and attempting to drag them by their clothing.
I found it truly troubling and it begs the question: has anything really changed since slavery? Horrific images of the incident were soon shared, adding visuals to an unimaginable event, online and via other media. The images that were shown sent chills down my spine as I imagined how scared and confused the Haitians must have been. These immigrants were trying to escape a country that has recently been struck by a natural disaster to a country that prides themselves in welcoming immigrants.
But, instead of being welcomed, they were harassed and sent running for their lives in a panic. There needs to be a change, and it starts with me.
I am sickened by the acts against Haitians because humans should not be treated the way they were treated. All humans have basic rights. American or not, these rights were taken away from them on that day.
We are in 2021 and people continue to treat minorities horribly. The prejudiced mindset has poisoned our country and allows some people to think that treating people unfairly is the new normal. But it shouldn't be.
This incident calls for change. I, myself, feel motivated to be the change that I want to see. We need to address the issues America has with Haiti. The 86 Haitians that were involved in the incident should have the chance at a better life.
I am sad to say that Haitians, my people, are not welcomed here in America where many others have a chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We need to work together to end racism and to unify as one body to help others in need.
Being Haitian American gives me the opportunity to voice my opinion. As an American I can point out the wrong as well as help find a solution. We, as a nation, need to do better, and that begins with us -- the citizens-- holding those accountable.
As a Haitian, I can fight for my people. They have basic human rights that they are allowed to exercise. Not being an American citizen should not be a reason to be treated the way these immigrants were treated. This incident has reminded me that I can be the voice that starts the conversation.
Shay Myrthil is a mass communications student at Bethune-Cookman University
Some Fast facts about Haiti:
Most of the Haitian population is made up of black Africans. However, many other ethnic groups have inhabited the land and continue to impact its growth. These ethnic groups include Poles, Jews, Italians, Arabs, Chinese, Indians, French, Spanish, and Germans. Most of these groups have intermarried with the blacks, leading to another group known as the mulattoes.
Source: World Atlas
Located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, Haiti occupies the western one-third of the island of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic borders Haiti on the eastern side of the island. Haiti's closest neighbors include Jamaica to the west and Cuba to the northwest.
Source: National Geographic
Following the assassination of the Haitian president in July 1915, President Woodrow Wilson sent the U.S. Marines into Haiti to restore order and maintain political and economic stability in the Caribbean. This occupation continued until 1934.
Source: Office of the Historian, U.S. State Department