My story is my peoples’ story. It is the culmination of my peoples’ history, culture, and ongoing struggles of resistance. It is the story of the people of Kiskeya breaking their chains of enslavement, teeth and nail, to declare a free Ayiti (Haiti), the first free Black republic. This history and culture and the pride it brings to myself and my people is the grounding theme I evoke and embody throughout everything I do – whether through my artwork, my community organizing, or my simply being a first-generation Haitian woman in Boston.
The people of Haiti have been fighting for freedom since the day they were stolen from the lands of West Africa and set foot on the shores of what is today known as Haiti. They have struggled through the brutal abuse of slavery; through colonialism and genocide; through neocolonialism and the cycle of U.S.-backed dictators and corrupt politicians who have exploited the people of the nation for their own benefit and power. They have donated the critical arms and strategic support that have resulted in independence for many nations across the rest of Latin America, and have persevered in the face of exploitation and oppression, building and maintaining a beautiful culture in the lush lands of the Caribbean. This struggle runs through my veins and inspires me in the collective struggle here in the United States, in which we fight for a world in which the needs of the people and the planet are planned for and prioritized; in which the people, both here in the U.S. and abroad have the right to self-determination.
My proposed piece embodies such themes and histories by fusing together a recollection of the Bwa Kayiman – the ceremony that incited the Haitian Revolution – and the call for freedom and sovereignty over our lands and communities. Drawing on the famous Neg Mawon statue of Haiti, depicting an enslaved Afrikan who has broken his chains and sounds the call – “apèl la” – for revolution through the conch shell, the piece will demonstrate the struggle for a world free of exploitation and colonization – by and for the people.