OK so this is beautiful and productive and necessary and heart-warming: Haitian children who survived the January 12, 2010 earthquake have a video conference with their Katrina-surviving peers. The kids ask each other empathy-building questions and have a lively discussion about trauma and healing. No doubt, this is an unforgettable experience for both groups and a testament to the power of technology to build bridges, cross borders and open minds.
But I was surprised to see so few brown faces representing the New Orleans side of this particular conversation. Is that merely coincidental? Because according to the 2000 Census, The Big Easy is over 67% African-American. Certainly Haitians and New Orleanians have more in common than disaster and loss! The Boston Globe once dubbed New Orleans "The Northernmost Caribbean City." In fact, in 1809 - just five years after the Haitian Revolution - thousands of black, white, biracial, enslaved and free Haitians migrated to La Nouvelle-Orléans, thereby doubling its French-speaking population.
So what was the selection process for the documented exchange above? Did the participants ever talk about race, class and culture? Would CNN have been as eager to broadcast black on black dialogue?
Dear Global Nomads Group,
This is an excellent start! Please do it again. See what happens when you introduce Haitian students to a more heterogeneous group of young Americans who reflect the demographic truth of Crescent City. I bet it will be just as successful and positive.