Haitian tragedy

Some people on this campus have close ties with Katherine Dunham, but most people are unaware of her commitment for human rights. She leads a dance school in East St. Louis through SIU to help street kids find hope for their futures. Katherine Dunham is dying. She is on a hunger strike protesting the repatriation of the Haitians. By the time this is printed, she may already be dead. She has spent most of her life researching and trying to help the Haitian people and to her, Haiti is her spiritual home.

This is an election year, and the political pendulum has swung against immigrants of many countries with prejudice. The Haitians who have tried to come to this country travel in overcrowded boats which could capsize at a moment’s notice. People must be strongly motivated to risk their lives to escape their own country, and such desperate people do not want to return.

The American government is sending the Haitians back and claims this is a message against others who contemplate boarding overcrowded boats and risking their lives. The government further asserts Haitians are not political escapees, but rather they are just poor. One popular view is that the Haitians’ tragedy is their own problem and since many have AIDS, they are not welcome; regardless, they will never cease to be human beings. The U.S. government’s actions are not helping the Haitians since those who are returned get right back on boats and try again.

Katherine Dunham is destined to die an empty, useless death unless policies change and the Haitian people are saved from their fate. If this is how current government officials treat their fellow humans, I refuse to vote for incumbents.

Kay Shelton

Graduate Student