Haiti teach-in focuses on U.S. role


On January 28, students, teachers, and citizens gathered for “An Unnatural Disaster: A Panel Discussion on the Earthquake, Neo-colonialism and Resistance in Haiti” at the University of Minnesota to analyze the political and social implications of the recent earthquake in Haiti.  The focus was on the role of the United States in Haiti, both historically and in response to the earthquake. 

Joëlle Vitiello, a professor of Haitian literature and culture, recently returned from Haiti and was an eyewitness during the earthquake.  Though she couldn’t attend the discussion, in a prepared statement she addressed common misconceptions of the immediate aftermath.  Despite a dominant story in the news about “looting” and “scavenging,” Vitiello reports that solidarity amongst Haitians was instant, and she saw no violence. 

Regardless, the desperate lack of food and water calls for Haitians to do what they can to survive, said Ruben Joanem, speaking to a packed auditorium.  Joanem is a Haitian immigrant and graduate student at the university. “After one week? If there’s water, I’m going to get it. These people are not looters. They are survivors,” he said.

Local activist Teddy Shibabaw addressed the problem of private contractors and the potential riches in rebuilding Haiti.  French professor April Knutsen spoke of Haiti’s troubled history with the United States, about the slave rebellion leading to Haiti’s independence, and the current economic policies contributing to the overwhelming poverty of Haiti. 

Throughout the evening, the United States was a major point of discussion but rarely contention.  All of the panelists agreed that the United States and other world powers hold a large responsibility for both the physically vulnerable circumstances of the land (such as international agencies using subsidized agriculture in Haiti as leverage for loans), as well as the inadequate humanitarian response. 

August Nimtz, a political science professor, discussed the large Cuban presence in the Haitian medical community.  Almost a quarter of Haitian doctors were trained in Cuba, which was the first country on the scene immediately after the quake.  Nimtz said the militant U.S. reaction to the earthquake was foreshadowed by a similar response to Hurricane Katrina.  In fact, there are ties between New Orleans and Haiti.  Cuba also offered to send 1,600 doctors following Hurricane Katrina, an offer which was rejected by the U.S. government and FEMA.   “The U.S. response [in both events] was criminal. We should be outraged, but we should not be surprised,” Nimtz said.

SATURDAY 1/30/2010
Laugh for Relief: Stevie Ray’s Help Haiti Event
(Stevie Ray’s Comedy Cabaret, Sheraton Bloomington Hotel, 7800 Normandale Blvd., Edina, 612.825.1832, www.stevierays.org)
8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
All proceeds go to the Red Cross Haitian Relief Fund.

Laugh it up for a good cause.

Yoga Benefit for Relief Efforts in Haiti
(Yoga Center of Minneapolis, 212 Third Ave. N, Ste 205, Minneapolis; 612.436.4700)
6:30 p.m.
$20 (more is welcome)
All money will be donated directly to the American Refugee Committee (www.arcrelief.org)

Refresh your mind, body, and spirit at this benefit featuring meditation and yoga. There will also be a silent auction. Email Ted Roseen at troseen@hotmail.com to RSVP.

SATURDAY 2/6/2010

Gimme Shelter: A Benefit Concert for Haiti
(First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612.332.1775, www.first-avenue.com)
6 p.m.
All proceeds benefit the Red Cross Haiti Relief & Development Fund and Architecture for Humanity.
City Pages‘ Jen Boyles and Andrea Swensson will host this evening featuring sets with co-headliners Solid Gold and Mark Mallman, Zoo Animal, Peter Wolf Crier, Jimmy2Times, Mike 2600, and others. Chuck U and Anthem Heart will also be selling their amazingly cool art for charity. 18+.

Art Sale for Haiti: Un Objet d’Heart

(Alliance Française, 113 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612.332.0436)
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
All funds will be donated to Doctors without Borders and the Red Cross

Art sale also includes live music and a traditional Haitian meal.

Cosmos in Chaos: Artists Unite to Raise Money for Haiti
(Creative Electric Studios, 2201 Second St. NE, Minneapolis; 612.706.7879)
7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Proceeds benefit Save the Children.

This event features a silent auction as well as an art sale featuring work from over 30 artists including Wing Young Huie, Chris Larson, Jenny Schmid, David Bartle, Jay Heikes, Scott Stulen, Isaiah Zagar, and Warren Muller.

SUNDAY 2/7/2010

Haiti Relief Fundraiser

(Chino Latino, 2916 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.824.7878)
4:30 p.m. to close.

Ten percent of all sales from the evening will benefit various Haiti relief programs. Order lots and lots of cocktails.

TUESDAY 2/9/2010

Rhymesayers Presents: A Benefit For Haiti

(First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612.332.1775, www.first-avenue.com)
7 p.m.
All proceeds go to Oxfam America, Doctors Without Borders, and Yele Haiti.

Slug of Atmosphere will host this event featuring Brother Ali, Freeway, Sage Francis, Jake One, I Self Devine, Sims, Toki Wright, BK One, B. Dolan, Muja Messiah, Kevin Beacham, and DJ King Otto. 18+.

Together (A Song for Haiti)

Students from the High School for Recording Arts (a.k.a. Hip Hop High) in St. Paul have written a song in an effort to raise funds. All proceeds received from the download go to Haitian relief efforts. You can download the song for $2 here.

1. Jan 23-30 Burlesque of North America, a troupe of…screen printers from northeast Minneapolis, have donated some of their sought-after screen prints to the Soul Strut Heatrocks for Haiti online auction, a sale of records, merchandise and memorabilia with all the proceeds going to charity. Burlesque’s poster auction is here, and the rest of the auction items can be browsed through here.