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A THIEF IS A THIEF IS A THIEF

20150710_173342In the aftermath of 2010’s devastating earthquake,  I noticed that authentic Haitian voices were ignored by the media.  It was madness, but there were good things happening too. Artists, especially, were creating as never before. I wanted to know what people were thinking and feeling. I wanted to offer positive energy, while aftershock after aftershock shattered parts of my birth country.   So, on Haiti’s Flag Day (May 18, 2011), an awesome American lady, Brigitte W., helped me change Myownprivatehaiti.com (January/2010 – May/2011) to “VoicesfromHaiti: “Nou Bèl. Nou La!” For this I will always be grateful.  Brigitte stopped holding my hand several years ago, like the fantastic teacher she is. I’ve been on my own. But not alone.

20160820_143528Five years later,  “VoicesfromHaiti: “Nou Bèl. Nou La!”is still beautiful.  We are still here. If I’ve never thrown a single party to celebrate anniversaries, it’s because there’s so much work to do.  Parties can wait. I am thankful for the thousands of people who continue to stop by and read the INNERviews and other posts/labor of intense love.  But, like the song says: Hold on. Change in comin’.

A few years later, a woman I barely knew asked me—flat out—to let her have“Voicesfromhaiti: Nou Bèl. Nou La!”  The person said: “I really like what you do. There’s nothing else like it out there on the Web. If people know you’ve joined me, then I can get more talent—to help me start building my conglomerate.”  She added: “We’ll license Voicesfromhaiti: Nou Bèl. Nou La!  I’ll pay you for your posts.  I’ll edit. It’ll be hard work, but I believe in you. ”

from The Princess Bride

from The Princess Bride

I thanked her for her kind words; they were very nice, indeed.  But I wasn’t sure I wanted to stop doing a work I loved only to get hired by her to do a job–for which I could be fired suddenly, if I didn’t produce the work I once did for the love of compatriot and country.

By licensing it, she meant her conglomerate-to-be would take ownership of “Voicesfromhaiti: Nou Bèl. Nou La!” Every word I write would belong to her.  And if ever I had the itch to use a few phrases  elsewhere, I would need her written consent. If I went ahead and used my own words without her permission, she would take me to court for copyright infringement.  End of story.  Welcome to America! N a wè Pita.

Voicesfromhaiti fortune kouki- EGAREI considered her offer for quite some time, then decided it was not what I wanted.  I said No, thank you with humility.  I write “Voicesfromhaiti: Nou Bèl. Nou La!” from the heart.  I don’t get paid for it.  I don’t ask anyone to contribute a penny.  It is free. It is a gift.  Call me EGARE/foolish; the heart you break may be your own.

100_5184After I turned down Conglomerate-Lady’s offer, she became very angry. She unfriended me on Facebook, and directed me to address her as EDITOR from that time on.  Now and then I come across something she does, and girlfriend makes it a point to pretend I’ve joined the ancestors.  Once she dug around the soft spots of my personal life in her sneaky genre, but I looked the other way.

Not today.

Drifting cover pageDuring the past couple of years, I’ve been very busy doing my best to make a living by writing books  and teaching (I have to eat). DRIFTING and other works were published; I am grateful–It’s not easy.  I have a lot more work to get done. I have not had a lot of time to write posts; but, hey, there are 5 years-worth of content on “Voicesfromhaiti: Nou Bèl. Nou La!” That’s enough to keep interested people reading for a minute or two.

In addition, a couple of amazing e-zines have taken root–among them Kreyolicious, which does such a fantastic job I could not be more proud of the awesome lady behind it.

Stay with me.

Share a memoryThis morning’s “Share Your Memory” on Facebook is from 4 years ago. It is a post I wrote on “Voicesfromhaiti: Nou Bèl. Nou La!”  called KSOL:  Kreyòl for Speakers of Other Languages.

I explained MALFWENDENG, a word whose meaning is now synonymous with PLAGIARISM.  Everyone knows when you use text written by someone other than yourself, you cite its original source. If you do not, you are a thief. A malfwendeng. And don’t act like you didn’t know.

PLAGIARISM is a global phenomenon; it’s not for Haitians only.  What I want to know is: why? How can you do this? How can you be comfortable within your skin while stealing other people’s PUBLISHED and therefore copyrighted ideas?

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“VoicesfromHaïti ~ Nou bèl. E Nou La.” T-Shirt

I suppose the next thing you’ll do is make T-shirts to sell/give away with the words “Nou Bèl. Nou La!” on them. Perhaps now, you will sue me for copyright infringement. Why not?

To the people who have a Voicesfromhaiti T-shirt with the writings “Nou Bèl. Nou La!” continue wearing them, knowing I came up with those words years and years ago, and made them public in 2010—to counter the old maxim: “We may be ugly, but we are here.”

Linda Blair in "The Exorcist"

Linda Blair in “The Exorcist”

Plagiarism is ugly.  Shame on you!  It is unethical to steal artists’ hard work, and pass it off as your own. I suppose you were hoping I would be my regular self and keep  my mouth shut. You were banking on my silence. No, not today. I’m telling.

You know copyright infringement has been one of Haiti’s biggest problems for generations: Great musicians die hungry, because not-so-great musicians take their songs and sell them. People make movies, and malfwendengs make ten thousand copies, and sell them. Meanwhile, the directors and actors keep right on struggling. Writers write their hearts out, and people like you come along and snatch their concepts and words ver-freaking-batim. I heard about an author whose entire book was stolen by this guy in Haiti. He took the woman’s work, signed his name to it, and went on his merry way.

Let’s stop this trend.  Let’s try the other way.  You are talented.  You are ambitious. You can do it on your own. Get one of those self-help books you tell people about. I actually believe you will accomplish your goal–by hook and by crook.  I know you are willing to burn people along the way, which that is sad–especially since you have so many unbelievably powerful characteristics.  You could be an awesome example for so many.  Do you doubt yourself that much?

Now, I am ashamed of you–you all wrapped up in my Haitian flag, pretending.  Hatin’. This move put your true colors on display.  Now, I am not the only one who can see them.  Everyone will know you’re a real doll.  I could go on, but I’m too disgusted.  So, in the words of Christina Aguilara:  Your act of plagiarism “Makes me work a little bit harder / It makes me that much wiser / So thanks for making me a fighter . . . ”

 

“Voicesfromhaiti: Nou Bèl. Nou La!”

 

vodou flag drum

Call of the Drum Spirit is TONIGHT

Happy Frisner. Photo by Chantal Regnault, early 1980s, Brooklyn

Happy Frisner. Photo by Chantal Regnault, early 1980s, Brooklyn

Tomorrow is not promised, so hurry up and find something ‘health-giving’ that you can love enough to stay awake past the world’s bedtime.

People are too busy with their own issues to care if your shoes don’t match your handbag. So, skip the shoes and the baggage.  Bring your troubles to the drums and dance like you’re Jean Léon Destiné and Prince combined.

Organized chaos is the new calm, so sing like you’re Adele Addison, Riva Precil, Pauline Jean, Tiga, and Paul Beaubrun all rolled into one.

Master Drummer, Catelus "Ti Tonton" Laguerre. Photo credit: Kesler Pierre

Master Drummer, Catelus “Ti Tonton” Laguerre. Photo credit: Kesler Pierre

If for ten thousand reasons you find that you must cry, do it with all the joy you can fake.

And if by some necessary coincidence you should find yourself in Brooklyn, NY, tonight, run to Roulette.  Lose all preconceived notions about Haiti and Haitian Drum Music.

Ditch that inhibition. Overindulge in rhythm. Tonight’s celebration features the BONGA and TIGA. Father and Son musical geniuses.

Photo credit: Tequila Minsky

Photo credit: Tequila Minsky

Two years ago I found myself at the First Annual Call of the Drum Spirit by accident. I can still feel that night’s vibrations. If you can make it to Roulette tonight, consider yourself among the fortunate.

When Master Drummer Frisner Augustin passed away in 2012, he left a palpable void in the community. Patrick LaFrance, one of the founding members of the Gran Chimen cultural center in Brooklyn, remembers the legend as a humble man with an enormous sense of humor.

Photo by Lois Wilcken, asotò drum image from Alfred Métraux, design by Kesler Pierre,

Photo by Lois Wilcken, asotò drum image from Alfred Métraux, design by Kesler Pierre,

“He played from his soul,” Patrick said. “Frisner would share his knowledge with anyone who wanted to learn the drum.  Sunday afternoons , you know, in Brooklyn, can be tough. With Monday morning’s realities coming,  you need a distraction. Frisner would show up at the center, and it was like medicine. We waited all week just to hear him play and teach us a few things. Frisner brought the Lakou to Brooklyn.  Sundays were good with Frisner around.”

Well, thanks to Lois Wilkens and a fierce ensemble of drummers, this Saturday night may be the best Sunday afternoon yet.

voicesfromhaiti photo

voicesfromhaiti photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENJOY! ROULETTE

509 Atlantic Avenue /

makandal info

Catherine Flon, Dessaline's goddaughter- sews Blue and Red to create an independent Haiti's first (and current) flag

Follow That Flag!

Haitian FlagSeveral years ago when I moved to this hood, I thought I’d meet at least one Haitian. That didn’t happen for two years. Pawòl serye.

I’ll always remember the moment I spotted a bumper sticker depicting the Haitian flag, and shouting “Follow that car!” to my husband. He followed at a safe distance, ignoring my “Hurry! Hurry! Don’t let them get away!”

“What do you people want?” the driver had inquired—not very nicely.

“Well. . . Well,” I stammered. “I saw your Haitian Flag bumper sticker, and thought . . .You see, I am Haitian, and. . .”

The driver flew out of his car. Arms were wide open to embrace me. I guess he’d been hoping to find a Haitian in town too.  He turned out to be an American who’d spend time in Haiti. Unfortunately, the dude should have spent more time in the slammer than in my country, but that’s another story.

Fast forward several years. The number of Haitians I’ve met in the hood has increased to a grand total of…………….2. And I’m counting myself.  Thank goodness for the Internet.  And Interstate 95.  And airplanes. And day-dreams.  And BOOKS!

I’ve quit following cars with Haitian flag bumper stickers. BUT–and don’t you dare tell anyone this–each time I see the Haitian flag dangling from somebody’s rearview mirror, I step on the gas for a closer look. It’s that serious.

Happy Flag Day to my compatriots and lovers of Ayiti Cheri!

fortune-cookie-fundraiser

 

www.VoicesfromHaiti.com

May Belongs to Haiti

Dream Haiti: Acrylic on Canvas by Jean Claude M.When rain falls like a song on the roof, and ocean breezes caress the curtains until sunrise, sleep is sweetest.

This morning, the bedroom window proffered an invitation to behold nature and take from Her all I required: rest, renewal, and inspiration galore. If it’s a happy heart you need, the rain said, I have one for you. Look at the flowering trees. See how their branches are heavy with promise. The rain-washed leaves shone like precious stones.

IMAG2583I awoke with the expectation that every seed I planted will germinate: corn, eggplant, tomato, onions. In two or three months, we will harvest enough fresh vegetables to feed several families. We will share with the neighbors, in accordance with our elders’ teaching: Those who never eat alone never go hungry.

I awoke with mist in my eyes too, knowing how the sky covering Haiti can be tightfisted and the clouds stingy. Sometimes rain stays away so long that farms become like the Sahara.

May 1st, Agriculture and Labor Day, is just the beginning of why this month is particularly portentous to Haiti and Haitians. Let the celebration of our rich culture begin.

READ THE TEXT CREOLE HERE

Li Teks la an Kreyòl

mIAMI MY GRAND MOTHER AT THE HOSPIRAL ORLANDO-001

 

 

We are Beautiful and We Are Here