Thursday, June 11, 2015

Danielle Legros Georges' Haiti

Stereotypes exist because they are true. Or let's say they aren't exactly untrue. What they are is partial. Or, more accurately, when a partial truth becomes shorthand for the whole, that's when it's a stereotype, and problematic. This is the point that Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges makes about her native Haiti in a recent Boston Globe profile piece by Kathleen Burges. After the 2010 earthquake, journalistic convention resulted in every story leading with the fact that Haiti is "the poorest country in the Western hemisphere." True, yes, but only partly so, and true in a way that ignores the persistent richness of life. Burges ends her piece with these lines that Legros Georges composed on this topic, lyrical and lovely.
You should be called beacon, and flame, 
almond and bougainvillea, garden 
and green mountain, villa and hut, 
little girl with red ribbons in her hair, 
books-under-arm, charmed by the light 
of morning.

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