In documenting painful truths about her Haitian homeland, Miami writer Edwidge Danticat demands that the world not turn a blind eye, writes Lydia Martin, who interviewed Danticat for the Miami Herald in the wake of the renewal of U. S. deportations of Haitians.
Music blares on a hectic Friday afternoon at Buena Vista Bistro, Edwidge Danticat’s favorite lunch spot, just a quick stroll from her house on the edge of Little Haiti. Patrons bellow in that wound-up, weekend’s-here way, and stressed-out servers do a valiant job of avoiding eye contact.
You’ve been sitting here 20 minutes, and no one has brought even water. But Danticat, who spent the morning wrestling with a deadline for one more op-ed piece about Haiti and will have to run soon to pick up Mira and Leila, her young daughters, is unperturbed.
“After the earthquake, we went a year without deportations,’’ she says, explaining in her unhurried, even way the topic of the piece she just finished for The New York Times as the low pitch of her voice pulls you in and mutes the clanking and clamoring around you.
“But then the deportations started again. A South Florida man died of cholera when he was sent back. It’s just inhumane. Many of the people who are sent back don’t have criminal records. It’s as if you were deporting people to Japan right now. It’s almost like a death sentence. A study says that 800,000 people could get cholera in Haiti this year once the rainy season starts. I just want to get the word out.”
For Danticat, Haiti has always weighed heavy. At 12, she moved from her homeland to join her parents, who had left her in Port-au-Prince in the care of an aunt and uncle a few years earlier to find jobs in New York that helped support several folks back home.
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April 25, 2011
Posted by Annalee Davis