“Understanding Price-Mars: Africa First not Haiti” (Part 2)

​​”Understanding Price-Mars: Africa First not Haiti” (Part 2)

The single passion of Jean Price-Mars was to become “a great man for his nation (Haiti) and race (black people).” In his (45-page) controversial response to René Piquion (“Lettre ouverte au Dr. René Piquion, directeur de l’École normale supérieure, sur son Manuel de la négritude”: Le préjugé de couleur est-il la question sociale?” 1967), he informed us that was his mother’s driven vision for him: to be an exemplary man of valor to the Haitian people, the people of Africa,  and those of African ancestry in the Black Diaspora. Because of this obsessive childhood dream (or a dream driven by a passion for Haiti and Africa), in his scholarship and public  intellectual activism, Price-Mars resisted  the separation of Africa, Haiti, and the black diaspora. 

Unlike other Haitian intellectuals (i.e. Baron de Vastey, Joseph Antenor Firmin, Hannibal Price, Louis Joseph Janvier, etc.) who portrayed Haiti and interpreted the history of Haiti, by the virtue of its existence as the first postcolonial state and Black Republic, and its successful revolution and tremendous contributions to universal emancipation, human rights, and the end of slavery, as the rehabilitation of the black race in modernity,  Price-Mars constructed an alternative narrative of Haitian history and Haitian society premised on the history of Africa and the Old Continent’s contributions to universal civilization in human history.

On one hand, Price-Mars would not use African traditional society and life,  or the culture of Haitian peasants, which is African in content and practice, as a model to “build” the contemporary Haitian society. On the other hand,  he would urge Haitian intellectuals and the country’s elite-minority to reconsider the African retentions on Haitian soil and Haiti’s indebtedness to Africa. The Price-Marsian clarion call to affirm the African presence in Haiti does not mean that Price-Mars has undermined Haiti’s triple heritage: Africa, Native American, and Western.  It does convey, however, Africa is first, and that the “Black Continent”  should shape and occupy the Haitian imagination.

Run for Justice, Fight for love, and Pursue Peace!

Run for Justice, Fight for Love, and Pursue Peace!
Fighting for justice and equality, and striving for what is right, beautiful, godly, and human-uplifting in the contemporary American society is very depressing and time-consuming.
Many individuals in places of authority and influence have sealed the mouth of justice and deferred the power of love and peace in society. In other words, whenever an individual or a society fails to do justice and walk in solidarity with those who are weak and oppressed, as the author of Isaiah has observed, “Therefore justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold, darkness, For brightness, but we walk in gloom” (Isaiah 59:14). The result is both tragic and simple: a life of despair and a nation in crisis.
A society characterized by selfishness, injustice, inequality, oppression, and racial tension is not worth celebrating and defending. We need to stand against all manifestations of evil and hate in our society.
How to move forward toward a better society and the common good?
Here are a few suggestions:


1. We need to prioritize Love not Hate.
2. We need to prioritize Compassion not selfishness.
3. We need to prioritize Justice not inequality.
4. We need to prioritize Lives not politics.
5. We need to give preference to Forgiveness not hostility.
6. We need to give preference to Optimism not pessimism.
7. We nee to give preference to the Poor and the Oppressed, not elevate the rich and the exploiter!
These are dangerous times to seek to live in harmony with each other; these are also terrible moments to seek to protect the lives of the least among us, to run for justice and fight for love, and ultimately, to “turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm:34:14).