CrossTalk On Haiti: Failed Aid l Ezili Danto‘ , Haiti Liberation and Freedom Activitist

CrossTalk On Haiti: Failed Aid

CrossTalk on Haiti: failed aid – interview with Ezili Dantò, Nick Rossier and Stanley Lucas

Source: CrossTalk (CT on Facebook)
Broadcast date: January 12, 2011

Despite the army of NGOs and a strong commitment of the international community, Haiti is still broken and its prospects are dim. Is something fundamentally wrong with the aid programs? And can Haitians break out of it? Ezili Dantò, Stanley Lucas and Nicolas Rossier share their first-hand experience on CrossTalk.

About Ezili Danto‘

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The Revolution which created the nation of Haiti was inspired by the divine decree of the warrior love goddess known as Ezili Dantò who danced in the head of the great Haitian priestess, Cecile Fatiman, on that famous Haitian night in 1791, on a red hilltop, at a forest thicket in Haiti called Bwa Kayiman.

Led by the powerful warrior spirit of Ezili Dantò, Cecile Fatiman crowned the African warrior Boukman with her royal red Petwo scepter, ushering in the Haitian war which forever slashed the chains of European slavery in Haiti to create Africa’s sacred trust, Manman Ayiti – the first Black nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Ezili Dantò is the symbol of the irreducible essence of that ancient Black mother, mother of all the races, who holds Haiti’s umbilical chord back to Africa, back to Anba Dlo*. Calling on her essence, breath, vision and cosmic power brought forth Haiti’s release from 300-hundred years of brutal European enslavement.

Ezili Dantò of HLLN performs the banda dance as Gede for Breaking Sea Chain. See also Intro to Breaking Sea Chains and RBM Video Reel

Ezili Dantò is the spiritual mother of Haiti and the preeminent cosmic symbol of Black independence, unity, self-determination, justice, equality and freedom.

The Ginen root – Haitian identity – forged at Bwa Kayiman is THE UNITY that’s never wavered in Haiti. One people, one African culture, one language, one Vodun spiritual imperative – to live free or die. That’s the consensus, the- “Linyon Fè la Fòs” – Haitian union, that’s never wavered.

One of Joseph Campbell’s most famous quotes is that “If you want to change the world, you have to change the metaphor.” The power of myth, metaphor and archetypal psychology are no longer disputed. If we were to look upon Ezili Dantò as a major African-Haitian archetype, myth, metaphor or narrative and note Vodun’s major role in the Haitian revolution and that during the Haitian revolution, this archetype was the only spirit principle or hero who was injured, who actually lost her voice, then it would be easier to understand why our work at Ezili’s HLLN has used Vodun lexicon to describe modern pathologies and given the great mother Goddess, Ezili Dantò, her tongue back. Supposedly, after Bwa Kay Iman, in the course of the war for liberation and freedom, Ezili Dantò was the only higher spirit and the only female symbol of love and nurture that was mutilated. Her tongue was cut out. And thus, in some sections of Haiti when this intangible, invisible, untouchable and eternal energy manifests into form through a living Haitian being, it can’t talk. This generation of Haitians at Ezili’s HLLN are not willing to continue putting life into that particular neocolonial metaphor. At Ezili’s HLLN, our work intends to change the world, Haiti’s world, by changing the metaphors and colonial narratives and uplift the warrior mother Goddess Ezili Dantò’s spirit, Dessalines’ three Ideals and the Haitian paradigm for universal freedom. We understand the psychological warfare, neocolonialism, racism and paternalism that would silence the feminine warrior, Ezili Dantò and the role archetypes and archetypal psychology plays in the liberation, life, values and culture of a people. Haiti doesn’t have superman, batman, Tarzan or any vampire heroes in its cultural narrative or popular folklore. But there’s Jean Jacques Dessalines, Toya, Sanit Belè, Defile, Kapwa Lamò, Ezili Dantò, Danbala, Ayida Wedo, Papa Legba, Simbi, Ogou Feray, Gede yo, et al. To witness to the African-Haitian ancestors’ original and untrammeled inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from the collective past African experience is to counter the distasteful, inferior, neocolonial patterns inculcated, over two centuries of colonial/French ecclesiastic and other re-education, present in the individual conscious and unconscious of many modern Haitians.

There’s much work to done to counter the colonial narrative. Ezili Dantò’s HLLN focuses mainly on two archetypes – Ezili Dantò and the historical Papa Jan Jak. There’s nothing more important than putting our life force behind the re-MEMBERment of Ezili Dantò and Jean Jacques Dessalines to counter our African/Haitian dismemberment. Just as, there is also a move to not use the pictures of the white Catholic saints to stand for the African principles, values and irreducible Vodun essences – Lwa yo. The twenty-one nations who gathered at Bwa Kay Iman in 1791, the amalgamated African tribes who became African-Ayisyen in the land of the Taino-Ayisyen formed the only nation in the Americas not named by the white settlers and not founded upon colonial imperatives and values. Our imperative, their descendants, is to extend the universal freedom they fought for, live free or die.

The powerful nations’ constant attack on Haiti’s poor has not changed much. Haiti’s is still an international crime scene where the Haitian Oligarchs/mercenary families act for the neocolonialists. But Haitian resistance is deep with too many creative and spititual roots for capitulation to be a factor. Haitians use the power of the enemy to bend the enemy, never living by the values of the enemy. For, there are some things worst than death. Haiti’s masses refuse to submit to the colonizing nations’ mindset. What does it profit a (wo)/man to gain the whole world but to lose her/his soul. Nature recycles all form, including the tyrant’s form and profits, back to source even as the universal energy warehoused in all form is eternal and always safe, so why lose virtue or bother assist these others fearful and small enough to wish to shatter you for earthly profit.

During the Haitian Revolutionary War, this was the white nations’ “enlightenment” mindset Haitians faced:

“It is not everything to have removed Toussaint, there are two thousand other chiefs here to have taken away…Here is my opinion of this country. It is necessary to destroy all the negroes of the mountains, men and women, sparing only children under the age of twelve, and destroy half of those of the plain, without leaving a single colored man in the colony who ever wore an epaulette. Without that, the colony will never be at peace.” —French General Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc

The Haitian revolution helped the United States double its size and gain 15 extra States through the Louisiana Purchase. The Haitian people got rid of physical enslavement but were forced, after the assassination of Haiti’s founding father, into the Independence Debt. Today, economic enslavement reigns unfettered with the UN occupation, endless debt, free trade, privatization and wage slavery.

But, to the colonizing nations’ everlasting dismay, the great triumph of Ezili Dantò’s Haitian warriors, where Dessalines did what Spartacus couldn’t, cannot be equaled or erased in world history. No matter the tyranny imposed over the last two centuries of Haiti’s existence, Haiti’s invisible essence still cannot be colonized.

During the great Haitian war of liberation, the old Haitian ancestors burnt down all the port cities and retreated INLAND, knowing that if they valued any property, family, children or valuables above their freedom and liberty, that that would be used by the more powerful white tribes and their enforcers to re-enslave Africa’s masses. The African warrior Henri Christophe burnt his great mansion down first and then went to meet Lerclerc’s 50,000 French soldiers come to commit genocide and re-enslave the African masses. That courage, that single-minded focus, that ultimate Haitian sacrifice, after 300-years of Euro-enslavement, allowed for the eventual freedom for all the Blacks in the Americas and ended racial slavery. It is evidence that living from the unseen center where Haitians meet the primordial energy that has always been and is behind everything, where they stand together with the vital African Ancestors and Ezili Dantò, the warrior mother’s invisible but tangible and eternal love – is and has always been the core protection, faith and sustenance of the Haitian people. It used to be “Grenadye alaso, sa ki mouri zafè ya yo, nanpren manman, nanpren papa, sa ki mouri zafè ya yo. The revolutionary song, because African-Haitians are still here despite all powerful efforts to silence Ezili Dantò and her warriors, is updated: Grenadye alaso, sa ki mouri na vanje yo!

The Goddess Remembered at Bwa Kayiman

There was a time when women were the primary religious figures on this planet. A pre-historical time, long ago. (See Ezili Dantò/Aset/Isis (photos) and Ezili, Aset, Isis -Mother God and Black Woman: Mother of All the Races.)

Haiti, the first Black nation in the Western Hemisphere, is the pioneer in ushering back the reign of the goddess and of women as religious figures equal with men in performing religious ceremonies.

On August 14, 1791 Haitians remembered their dark, African mothers and honored Her culture. August 14, 1791 Boukman remembered Mother Africa. Cecil Fatiman remembered Mother Africa. All the “Feys” – leafs – at Bwa Kayiman remembered Mother Africa. Then, the amalgamated African tribes, in Haiti, found and took hold of Ezili Dantò who said, “Kanga Mundele” – Kill the stranger amongst us, meaning both the brutal enslavers as well as mental colonization. Over two hundred delegations of Blacks from various plantations throughout the North of Haiti where present.

The Haitians had stretched their heart, nerve and sinew way back to call on this authentic pagan (or the pre-Judeo-Christian, pre-Muslim described) spirits of ancient and pre-colonial Africa – they called on – Ezili Dantò (along with Danbala, Atibon Legba, Ogou Feray, Manman Lasirene, ect). But Ezili Dantò appeared first at that Petwo ceremony on August 14, 1791 day on that red clay hilltop in Haiti.


Performance poet, Ezili Dantò of HLLN (in RBM) onstage as Ezili Dantò performs Anba Dlo, Nan Guinen (See also Bwa Kayiman (texts) and PhotoGallery)

All the Africans at Bwa Kayiman, all, be they Muslim or Christians converts, went HOME that day, back to Vodun and, that, has been the road less traveled by any African nation to date. That Movement has made ALL the difference to Africans in the New World and around the world, globally, for it initiated and propelled forward universal human rights as well as initiating the first sparks for Pan-Americanism and Pan-Africanism in modern world history. For, the Haitian people were the first Blacks and enslaved workers taken in shackles out of Africa to the “New World”, the first treated as savages and as subhumans and the first to respond to this treatment definitively and forever, by validating themselves as human beings entitled to equality, self-defense and entitled to their own African religious beliefs. For those days, as well as for today, that was REVOLUTIONARY. (See Video excerpt of Bwa Kayiman playand the Bwa Kayiman performance texts).

But a Black nation inspired by an African goddess/liberator was a bad omen for the white European settlers who claimed themselves superior to Blacks and certainly to free Black women. Yet, the Haitian people, without arms, allies or financial resources where so inspired by their Vodun gods and goddesses and the powers of their Ancestors that, led by the warrior goddess, Ezili Dantò, and after 300-years of Christian-based enslavement in the Americas and over one thousand years of Islamic conquest and enslavement incursions all over Africa, they decided to “live free or die” – liberte ou lamò! and set themselves free in Haiti, defeating all the mighty European powers of that time – France, Spanish and British, in combat.

Today, Haitian women and men follow the long legacy of the warriors of Haitian independence. They are tireless fighters, beholden to no-one – heroic leaders on the cutting edge of the human rights struggle.

Ezili Dantò of HLLN
(See also info on: Ezili Dantò/Aset/Isis (photos) and Bio of Ezili Dantò, 1791 and Ezili, Aset, Isis and Black Woman: Mother of All the Races and Vodun: The Light and Beauty of Haiti.)

Ezili Dantò performs the banda dance as Gede for Breaking Sea Chain. See also Intro to Breaking Sea Chains and RBM Video Reel

The Haitian struggle – the greatest David vs. Goliath battle being played ou on this planet


*Anba Dlo literally means “beneath the ocean, the waters.” It is that primordial, cosmic space where all potentiality lives. It’s the mythological “Haitian Heaven” (to use a non-African point of reference). It’s where all that ever lived, will live and is living will end up. It is, to the African warriors who founded Haiti, the road back to Manman “Africa” – Nan Guinen, that cosmic space where the world began with “Lè Marasa, lè Mò e lè Mistè.”

Anba Dlo to the Haitian is where the great African Ancestors’, where our sacred energies, our strengths and force – the “Lwa yo,” – those sacred irreducible essences of the Haitian/African/Black soul – reside. Anba Dlo is the sacred stillness, cosmic place, where life sources issue from and return to.


Performance poet, Ezili Dantò of HLLN (in RBM) onstage as Ezili Dantò performs Anba Dlo, Nan Guinen (See also Bwa Kayiman (texts) and PhotoGallery)

More info on the sacred energies, light and beauty of Haiti and Haitian culture and on the Haitian Lwa – Gods and Goddesses, the irreducible essences.

Minister Louis Farrakhan Speaks: Analysis of 2012 and Insights into 2013

Minister Louis Farrakhan Speaks: Analysis of 2012 and Insights into 2013

Published on Jan 5, 2013






( – In a wide-ranging interview, Minister Louis Farrakhan gives analysis of 2012 and insight into 2013. Topics include Pres. Obama, the movie, Django Unchained, Tyler Perry


National Representative of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and The Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam under the leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is the catalyst for the growth and development of Islam in America. Founded in 1930 by Master Fard Muhammad and led to prominence from 1934 to 1975 by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam continues to positively impact the quality of life in America.

Minister Louis Farrakhan, born on May 11, 1933 in Bronx, N.Y., was reared in a highly disciplined and spiritual household in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Raised by his mother, a native of St. Kitts, Louis and his brother Alvan learned early the value of work, responsibility and intellectual development. Having a strong sensitivity to the plight of Black people, his mother engaged her sons in conversations about the struggle for freedom, justice and equality. She also exposed them to progressive material such as the Crisis magazine, published by the NAACP.

Popularly known as “The Charmer,” he achieved fame in Boston as a vocalist, calypso singer, dancer and violinist. In February 1955, while visiting Chicago for a musical engagement, he was invited to attend the Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day convention.

Although music had been his first love, within one month after joining the Nation of Islam in 1955, Minister Malcolm X told the New York Mosque and the new convert Louis X that Elijah Muhammad had said that all Muslims would have to get out of show business or get out of the Temple. Most of the musicians left Temple No. 7, but Louis X, later renamed Louis Farrakhan, chose to dedicate his life to the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

The departure of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1975 and the assumption of leadership by Imam W. Deen Mohammed brought drastic changes to the Nation of Islam. After approximately three years of wrestling with these changes, and a re-appraisal of the condition of Black people and the value of the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan decided to return to the teachings and program with a proven ability to uplift and reform Blacks.

His tremendous success is evidenced by mosques and study groups in over 120 cities in America, Europe, the Caribbean and missions in West Africa and South Africa devoted to the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. In rebuilding the Nation of Islam, Minister Farrakhan has renewed respect for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, his Teachings and Program.

Soon to be 80 years of age, Minister Farrakhan still maintains a grueling work schedule. He has been welcomed in a countless number of churches, sharing pulpits with Christian ministers from a variety of denominations, which has demonstrated the power of the unity of those who believe in the One God. He has addressed diverse organizations, been received in many Muslim countries as a leading Muslim thinker and teacher, and been welcomed throughout Africa, the Caribbean and Asia as a champion in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

In 1979, he founded The Final Call, an internationally circulated newspaper that follows in the line of The Muhammad Speaks. In 1985, Minister Farrakhan introduced the POWER concept. In 1988, the resurgent Nation of Islam repurchased its former flagship mosque in Chicago and dedicated it as Mosque Maryam, the National Center for the Re-training and Re-education of the Black Man and Woman of America and the World. In 1991, Minister Farrakhan reintroduced the Three Year Economic Program, first established by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to build an economic base for the development of Blacks through business ventures. In 1993, Minister Farrakhan penned the book, “A Torchlight for America,” which applied the guiding principles of justice and good will to the problems perplexing America. In May of that year, he traveled to Libreville, Gabon to attend the Second African-African American Summit where he addressed African heads of state and delegates from America. In October of 1994, Minister Farrakhan led 2,000 Blacks from America to Accra, Ghana for the Nation of Islam’s first International Saviours’ Day. Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings officially opened and closed the five-day convention.

The popular leader and the Nation of Islam repurchased farmland in Dawson, Georgia and enjoyed a banner year in 1995 with the successful Million Man March on the Mall in Washington, D.C., which drew nearly two million men. Minister Farrakhan was inspired to call the March out of his concern over the negative image of Black men perpetuated by the media and movie industries, which focused on drugs and gang violence. The Million Man March established October 16 as a Holy Day of Atonement, Reconciliation and Responsibility. Minister Farrakhan took this healing message of atonement throughout the world during three World Friendship Tours over the next three years. His desire was to bring solutions to such problems as war, poverty, discrimination and the right to education. Minister Farrakhan would return to the Mall on Washington, D.C. in 2000 convening the Million Family March, where he called the full spectrum of members of the human family to unite according to the principle of atonement. Minister Farrakhan performed thousands of weddings, as well as renewed the vows of those recommitting themselves in a Marriage Ceremony.

As part of the major thrust for true political empowerment for the Black community, Minister Farrakhan re-registered to vote in June 1996 and formed a coalition of religious, civic and political organizations to represent the voice of the disenfranchised on the political landscape. His efforts and the overwhelming response to the call of the Million Man March resulted in an additional 1.7 million Black men voting in the 1996 presidential elections. In July 1997, the Nation of Islam, in conjunction with the World Islamic People’s Leadership, hosted an International Islamic Conference in Chicago. A broad range of Muslim scholars from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, along with Christian, Jewish and Native American spiritual leaders participated in the conference.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, Minister Farrakhan was among the international religious voices that called for peace and resolution of conflict. He also wrote two personal letters to President George Bush offering his counsel and perspective on how to respond to the national crisis. He advised President Bush to convene spiritual leaders of various faiths for counsel. Prior to the war on Iraq, Minister Farrakhan led a delegation of religious leaders and physicians to the Middle East in an effort to spark the dialogue among nations that could prevent war.

Marking a new milestone in a life that has been devoted to the uplift of humanity, Minister Farrakhan launched a prostate cancer foundation in his name May 10-11, 2003. First diagnosed in 1991 with prostate cancer, he survived a public bout and endured critical complications after treatment that brought him 180 seconds away from death.

In July of that year, Minister Farrakhan accepted the request to host the first of a series of summits centered on the principles of reparations. Nearly 50 activists from across the country answered his call to discuss operational unity within the reparations movement for Black people’s suffering in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Culminating the Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day convention in February 2004, Minister Farrakhan delivered an international address entitled, “Reparations: What does America and Europe Owe? What does Allah (God) promise?” stepping further into the vanguard position of leadership calling for justice for the suffering masses of Black people and all oppressed people throughout the world.

On May 3, 2004, Minister Farrakhan held an international press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. themed, “Guidance to America and the World in a Time of Trouble.” The press conference sought to expose the plans and schemes of President George W. Bush and his neo-conservative advisors who plunged American soldiers into worldwide conflict with the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. This international press conference was translated into Arabic, French and Spanish.

In October 2005, after months of a demanding schedule traveling throughout the U.S., Minister Farrakhan called those interested in establishing a programmatic thrust for Black people in America and oppressed people across the globe to participate in the Millions More Movement, which convened back at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on the 10th Anniversary of the Historic Million Man March. The Millions More Movement involved the formation of 9 Ministries that would deal with the pressing needs of our people. Also in 2005, Minister Louis Farrakhan was voted as’s “Person of The Year” as the person users believed made “the most powerful impact on the Black community over the past year.”

In April 2006, Minister Farrakhan led a delegation to Cuba to view the emergency preparedness system of the Cuban people, in the wake of the massive failure to prevent the loss of human life after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

In January 2007, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan underwent a major 14-hour pelvic exoneration. In just a few weeks, and as a testament to the healing power of God, Minister Farrakhan stood on stage at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on February 25, 2007 to deliver the first of several speeches that year with the theme “One Nation Under God.”

On October 19, 2008, after nearly a year of extensive repairs and restoration, Minister Farrakhan opened the doors and grounds of Mosque Maryam to thousands of people representing all creeds and colors during a much anticipated Rededication Ceremony themed “A New Beginning.” This day also served as the commemoration of the 13th Anniversary of the Historic Million Man March and Holy Day of Atonement.

The prayers of spiritual leaders representing the three Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—were offered to bless this momentous affair. Those who were present that day, and who watched live via internet webcast throughout the world, witnessed Minister Farrakhan’s message of unity and peace for the establishment of a universal government of peace for all of humanity.

Visit The Final Call

Lisa Kristine photographs slavery

Lisa Kristine photographs slavery


This former child slave forced to fish in Ghana was reunited with his family after Lisa Kristine took his portrait. Photo: Lisa Kristine, Lisa Kristine © / SF This former child slave forced to fish in Ghana was reunited with his family after Lisa Kristine took his portrait. Photo: Lisa Kristine, Lisa Kristine © / SF After his photo was taken, he was reunited with his family, and abolitionists taught his parents to turn away traffickers who come knocking with false promises of good jobs for their children.

Meredith May
Updated 2:31 pm, Saturday, January 5, 2013


A young girl in India is among the many children forced into slavery that Lisa Kristine has photographed throughout the world. Photo: Lisa Kristine, Lisa Kristine Photography / SF

A young girl in India is among the many children forced into slavery that Lisa Kristine has photographed throughout the world. Photo: Lisa Kristine, Lisa Kristine Photography / SF


Humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine of Mill Valley had captured the dignity of indigenous people in 100 countries on six continents, yet never realized that modern-day slavery was in the shadows everywhere she traveled.

That all changed when Kristine, whose color-saturated photos are set to go on world tour this year, met an abolitionist while exhibiting her work at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit. The advocate told Kristine that 27 million people are enslaved worldwide – more than twice the estimated number of people taken from Africa during the Atlantic slave trade between the 16th and 19th centuries.

“I almost fell over,” said Kristine, whose images hang in the Palace of Bhutan, have been auctioned at Christie’s to benefit the United Nations, and have drawn accolades from the Dalai Lama. “It blew me away that I, whose whole job is to see, didn’t know.”

Within a week, she was in the Los Angeles offices of the advocacy group Free the Slaves, offering to use her 19th century, 4-by-5 camera to expose slavery: the impoverished children and adults given false promises of money, education and a better life, only to be tricked into indentured labor and held in captivity by fear, force and coercion.

Illegal mine

In Ghana, Kristine climbed 200 feet down an illegal gold-mine shaft to find men with crude flashlights tied to their heads, forced to endure dust and dark for 72-hour stretches.

Escorted by local representatives from Free the Slaves, she found children in the Himalayas lugging slabs of slate heavier than themselves down the mountains, via crude harnesses attached to their foreheads made from sticks, rope and torn cloth.

At a brick kiln in Nepal, she photographed workers in 130-degree heat and choking dust, stacking 18 bricks on their head at a time and walking the loads to waiting trucks.

“All I could see was Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ ” Kristine said.

She saw trafficked children in tattered shirts reeling in 1,000-pound fishing nets on the shore of Lake Volta in Ghana, freezing in the early dawn after all-night fishing expeditions.

Avoiding patrolmen with automatic weapons, she quickly snapped off a few shots with her 35mm camera of men, women and children panning for gold in huge, watery pits contaminated by mercury in Ghana.

‘No end in sight’

“These slaves are in plain sight, some are hidden deep in the jungles – some of them don’t even understand they are enslaved because they have been laboring all their lives – with no pay, and with no end in sight,” Kristine said.

The images she brought back stunned the world, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who wrote in the preface to her 2010 book, “Slavery”:

“On behalf of God, (I have a hotline), thank you for all the people you are going to liberate and thank you for all the rest of us who will be truly free only when those in bondage are finally free.”

After visiting her Sonoma gallery, a young girl started a lemonade stand to fight slavery, and collected money for Free the Slaves, Kristine said.

Soon, her slavery images will embark on a multiyear, world exhibition, “Enslaved,” in conjunction with several nongovernmental organizations, including Voices for Freedom and Free the Slaves. (The tour locations have not been revealed yet.)

A film in production about a Nepalese girl trafficked to India includes a character based on Kristine, played by Gillian Anderson.

Kristine is often asked whether any of the people she photographed has been set free.

“Kofi,” she says.

She photographed Kofi taking a bath at a rescue center for trafficked children in Ghana after he had been forced into fishing. After his photo was taken, he was reunited with his family, and abolitionists taught his parents to turn away traffickers who come knocking with false promises of good jobs for their children.

False promises

Such promises are also made in this country, Kristine said, describing what she found in shopping malls in Washington, D.C., where affable men approach young girls and sweep them off their feet – and right into the sex trade.

“That’s why I won’t ever let my children hang out at the mall,” said Kristine, who along with her partner has adopted a son, 6, from Guatemala, and a daughter, 4, from Ethiopia.

In addition to her global slavery exhibit, Kristine also has a new book coming out, “Bhutan – Repository of the Spirit,” with a forward by the Queen Mother of Bhutan, Tshering Pem Wangchuck. She has a flight booked to India this month to document a gathering of neuroscientists and 10,000 monks interested in studying the effects of contemplation and compassion on the brain.

It’s a subject close to Kristine’s heart. The day after she graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, the city native spent the next five years photographing and meditating in Europe and Asia.

“I photographed every day. I did tai chi. I spent 30 days in silence, the last 1o in a cave – a lot of sitting on pillows to ultimately confront myself,” she said.

And the trip left her with a four-word mantra: “I am a photographer.”

“I would do this anyway, even if nobody paid me for it. It’s just worked out that photography has been very gracious to me.”

(This article has been corrected since it appeared in print editions.)

The photography of Lisa Kristine:

Meredith May is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:

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Modern Narratives About Race and Slavery: Post-Racialism, Race-Consciousness, and Reparations l

Modern Narratives About Race and Slavery: Post-Racialism, Race-Consciousness, and Reparations

Parent Category: Slavery to Reparations
Category: Racial reentrenchment
Written by Atiba R. Ellis
Page 1 of 5

Atiba R. Ellis


Permission Requested: Atiba R. Ellis, Polley V. Ratcliff: a New Way to Address an Original Sin? , 115 West Virginia Law Review 777 (Winter 2012) (158 Footnotes)


The past is never dead. It’s not even past. –William Faulkner

A remarkable thing happened in Wayne County, West Virginia, on April 6, 2012. Judge Darrell Pratt of the Circuit Court of Wayne County entered a decree declaring that the children of Mr. Peyton Polley–Harrison, Louisa, and Anna –who had been freed from slavery in 1849 and then kidnapped and forced again into slavery in 1851–“were, and are, FREE PERSONS as of March 22, This remarkable judgment ended a 160-year saga by giving a final resolution to this long-open case.

As remarkable as this judgment is, what is more remarkable is the motivation behind it and what it could mean for how we think about race in twenty-first century America. The plaintiffs, through their next friend, Mr. James L. Hale, a fifth generation descendent of Harrison Polley, pursued this action to have a declaration on the record concerning the legal status of the Polley children. Indeed, the Court itself, on the record, stated that it granted a trial on this matter under its equitable powers under the nunc pro tunc doctrine to “set the record straight” about the history of the Polley family. This was not only litigation to remedy an omission from the judicial record; this litigation represented a kind of truth telling about the American history of slavery, a telling validated by the fact that it took place under the sanction of a court and was validated by entry of a final judgment. This Essay will argue that this kind of “Truth and Reconciliation” process can lead to a transformative result for the participants and for society by allowing us to reframe our conceptions of the legacy of American slavery.

While writing this Essay, I told various friends, acquaintances, and colleagues about this singular happening–the trial of a Dred Scott-era kidnapping and emancipation case. Aside from the amazement people expressed, the story of the 2012 Polley v. Ratcliff litigation elicited reactions that ranged from befuddlement about what this case meant, to curiosity about the narrative, to amazement that a court would expend judicial resources on an irrelevant matter. In particular, several of my colleagues inquired about the legal theory behind the case; some asked what the plaintiffs in this case could expect to get out of this decision, if anything, especially in light of the fact that the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ended slavery. Other colleagues wondered whether a follow-up suit for damages might be appropriate in light of the emancipation ruling.

These different ways of seeing the Polley case lie at the heart of the argument this Essay will make. This Essay claims that Polley suggests a novel approach to thinking about our history of slavery in particular, and more generally, a way of having discussions about the American legacy of racism. The reactions I mentioned above revealed the three different lenses through which we currently look at this history: the lens of reparations for damages done during slavery; the lens of race-consciousness (even if there is nothing one can “do” about the past); and the lens of declaring the issue moot. This last view echoes the perspective announced in recent slavery reparation litigation– that such claims are stale –and it echoes the post-racialism paradigm that such discussion is irrelevant.

Yet, some, including the family of the plaintiffs and the Circuit Court Judge, believed that history needed to be clarified–that the record should be set straight for the benefit of the descendants and for society. This approach–a state-sanctioned airing of the history of racial oppression through the acknowledgement that the Polley children were indeed free persons who were kidnapped and treated as chattel, along with a validating judgment where the state acknowledges the truth of this claim–seems to suggest a lens distinct from racial awareness, reparations, or post-racialism. The Polley litigation is more akin to a Truth and Reconciliation approach to the history of slavery in the United States. This novel methodology could lead to a needed dialogue and transformation of understanding about race in twenty-first century America.

This Essay is meant to record the history of the Polley case within the realm of legal academia and to inform scholars, lawyers, and the public about this remarkable case. This is not to say that this historical period has not been discussed at length. A number of scholars have discussed this period generally. However, to my knowledge, the history of the Polley case has not been discussed in detail in the law review literature–though several historians have noted the famous Polley case in the academic historical literature of the late antebellum period. More importantly, this Essay serves a second purpose–it will use this history as a lens on the question of what our societal response to slavery and racism has been over time and what it ought to be in the twenty-first century. It will contemplate whether this court’s approach can begin a serious dialogue about race and reparations in the United States.

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