As a Vodouisant, I can't just sit quietly and watch the mistreatment and deportation of Haitian immigrants at the U.S./Mexico border. Some may say, "You're not Haitian--why do you care?" or "It's an immigration or political issue and has nothing to do with Vodou or spirituality." Well, I care because I'm a human being, and I believe everything is both political and spiritual. I believe when we deny this truth, we betray our humanity and whatever religious or spiritual values we claim to follow.
The photo I've included is of a paket I made years ago. Pakets are spiritual tools that keep me connected to the people or ideas they represent. This one represents the people of Haiti, the spiritual ancestors who created Vodou centuries ago and who have primary responsibility for its vitality. I'm not giving instructions on how to make these, but I do want to mention a few symbols I used. The handmade tin heart is from Haiti and, for me, represents the Haitian people and the heart of Vodou. The red-flecked fabric and red ribbons represent the blood of Haitians over the centuries, their pain and life force, or ashe, that has soaked the Earth. Because of the August earthquake, the assassination in July of President Moise and now this immigration crisis, I've been meditating with this paket, offering prayers for the people of Haiti and exploring how I can help. I've already donated money, and now I'm adding my voice to those asking for compassion and respect for the Haitian migrants.
Mostly, I'm pissed. I think U.S. Representative Maxine Waters' recent comments best reflect how I feel:
"I'm pissed. I'm unhappy, and I'm not just unhappy with the cowboys who were running down Haitians and using their reins to whip them--I'm unhappy with the [Biden] Administration. We're following the Trump policy ... what the hell are we doing here? ... We're saying to the President ... you gotta stop this madness."
President Biden, Vice President Harris and many other Democrats railed against Trump and his immigration policies, but here they are using those same policies to deport vulnerable and desperate Haitians. The migrants can't even apply for asylum. This is wrong and immoral. If it was wrong for Trump to create the policy, it's wrong for this Administration to continue using it. And I've written to both Biden and Harris voicing my opposition.
From a spiritual perspective, where the hell is our compassion as Americans? The U.S. has the money, we have the resources to help these Haitians looking for a better life--what we don't have, sadly, is the will to help. If you want to help, contact your representatives in Congress and the White House. Educate yourself by watching this excellent video (17 minutes, via Facebook) from journalist Jorge Ramos. And if you want to donate money, pick one of these organizations, vetted by The Haitian Times and on the ground right now in Texas at the border helping the Haitian immigrants:
And if you're a spiritual person, offer prayers, blessings, perform rituals--whatever you think might tip the balance and bring relief and safety to the Haitians at the U.S. border. Ayibobo!