Today, much of Port-au-Prince looks like it did before the quake. Most of the tent camps in the city itself are gone, and streets are loaded with overcrowded buses and women selling vegetables.
*NYC - Philly born/Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Candice Anitra has put the finishing touches to eagerly awaited sophomore project ‘Big Tree’ which sees a release on March 28th, 2012 world-wide.
One of the songs off the danceable/soul endeavour was inspired by the devastating Earthquake in Haiti. The song “Today” marks 2 years later and addresses mother nature, emotion and our vulnerability.
“Today” the music video will have a video screening at DROM – Love Haiti Benefit – Thursday, Jan 12th at 9PM ….
Soon after the earthquake shook Haiti on January 12, 2010, a photograph of a mountain of dead bodies gripped Candice Anitra. The shared humanity screamed out, and raw emotion compelled Anitra to compose a song as a reminder that we are all connected and vulnerable, living on one shared earth, and responsible for supporting one another. On the second anniversary of the devastation, and in advance of the release of Anitra’s sophomore album, Big Tree, Candice is releasing the track, “Today,” with a video for the song, in order to raise still-much-needed funds to improve lives in Haiti.
The video pairs images from Nadia Shira Cohen’s post-quake Haiti photo-essay, “Exodus” (Harper’s, May 2010), with footage of Candice’s performing the driving, melodic, pleading track, while editors Karim Lopez and Simon Doolittle have enhanced the piece with a retro-film aesthetic and a motion to the images that conveys the lyrics – “the way you shook this place, this rock in space.”
The song and video invoke a sense of urgency, and viewers are encouraged to name their price to download the song from candiceanitra.bandcamp.com
The song is exclusively available on BandCamp only.
http://candiceanitra.bandcamp.com , from which the proceeds will benefit the people of Haiti, via
Partners in Health’s http://www.pih.org construction of the 180,000 square foot, 320-bed Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital that will change the face of public health care in Haiti.
The Global Syndicate’s http://www.theglobalsyndicate.org “Shine a Light” Campaign to provide solar-powered lights to subsistence wage earners – who otherwise pay up to 30% of their income for kerosene to see at night – improving education, productivity, and the environment, while reducing violence against women and children.
Find Candice Anitra on Twitter @candiceanitra
Facebook at : http://www.facebook.com/candiceanitramusic
The Bloom Effect
*Naomi Campbell is busy putting together another runway benefit for the charity “Fashion for Relief” – this time to aid the victims of Japan’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.
The British supermodel – who opened a temporary “pop-up store” at London’s Westfield mall yesterday to benefit the charity – has previously organized a Fashion for Relief catwalk show to aid victims of Haiti’s devastating earthquake. That event last year included such celebs as Chris Brown, Helena Christensen and Malin Akerman working the runway to support the cause.
Campbell is now prepping a similar show to benefit Japan, telling British morning TV show Lorraine, “Yeah, we are going to continue (the Fashion For Relief event).
“It’s not 100 per cent confirmed but we are in talks right now and hopefully before the end of the week we should know if we’re doing a Fashion For Relief for Japan. Not in Japan, hopefully in Cannes.”
Below, some photos from Naomi’s April 5 pop-up store:
*Today marks the one year anniversary of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people in Haiti. Roughly a million remain homeless amid the debris and stuttering reconstruction efforts in Port-au-Prince, according to the AP.
A year later, nearly a million Haitians remain in tents or other temporary shelter. The death of so many has left gaping holes in Haitian society, and the psychological wounds are still fresh.
Haitian native Wyclef Jean, who’s been active in the worldwide appeal for international aid following the deadly quake, says efforts to rebuild the country will ultimately rest with the nation’s youth.
“The first thing is, you have to understand, over 52 percent of the population is a youth population. And the youth population is basically tired of the old regime, the old style,” he told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour this week in Pasadena.
“Even though you see 1.2 million people living in a tent, what I want you to understand is most of these kids that are living in Haiti are very tech-savvy when it comes to the Internet. So they are clear exactly on what’s going on,” added Wyclef, who attended the TCA gathering with Dr. Henry Louis Gates to promote the upcoming PBS series “Black in Latin America.”
“What they would like to see in the future to happen is the new government that comes in has to understand the level of job creation which is needed, the level of education which is needed, and the level of aid, but not aid that cripples an economy, aid that’s actually going to give these kids a chance to work, so that when these aid workers leave, these kids have a job,” he continued.
“So this is why I engage myself and decided that I would have took the shot and ran for the presidency of Haiti. Currently, right now, with this situation that we are in, we are in a situation where, a few days ago, if you follow the report, you can see the U.S. is going to decide to see if they are accepting this election or not. But, at this point, they are not accepting the election.
“So if this election goes to a fraud and it’s not accepted, that means that an interim government would have to come in, and we would have to do a new election in the course of one year from now.”
*In a column on the Huffington Post blog, Sean Penn explains in further detail his much-publicized opposition to Wyclef Jean’s presidential bid in Haiti, which was rejected last week by the electoral commission.
Titled “Third Person Once Removed,” Penn – who relocated to Haiti two months after the January earthquake to assist relief efforts – also pushes back against another HuffPo blog written by Wyclef’s publicist Marian Salzman. Her column defended Wyclef’s credentials to run for president and characterized Penn’s opposition as a “celebrity feud.”
As Wyclef Jean announces his regrettable turn-about to contest Haiti’s electoral rule of law (a law he has no previous record of dissension toward), his PR team is mobilizing. See Ms. Marian Salzman’s recent blog on the Huffington Post (August 23, 2010). In it, Ms. Salzman, hired to frame perception of Mr. Jean, claims that I “lambasted” Mr. Jean’s candidacy on CNN. Furthermore, she reduced the political dialogue that took place that day by calling the discussion a “celebrity feud”. In fact, a sensationalized celebrity feud, is and was, as far from my mind as the alleged “lambasting.” Though he and his camp came back with many disparaging comments in my direction, I felt that ignoring my initial impulse to react and respond allowed the attention to refocus on the real issues facing Haitians.
One can YouTube the segment of the August 8 Larry King Live in question. In the clip, Wolf Blitzer interviews Wyclef Jean upon his announcing his candidacy. The viewer will also see a response from someone (myself) who runs an NGO in Haiti, someone who has spent most of the last six months following the devastating earthquake, side by side in that country, with so many others, doing whatever we could to lend a hand. I have never met Wyclef Jean, and all I really know of him on any personal level has come through the fond comments of a few mutual friends. Hence, nothing I might say, was in ANY way personal, or intended to be lambasting to anyone. My comments were critical observations of a political candidate and a leader of an organization in Haiti.
Ms. Salzman also works to make the case that Wyclef Jean gave indispensable world attention to Haiti’s incredible misfortune. I was there for those 6 months after the earthquake and so many of us on the ground wondered where he was when that kind of attention was so necessary and absent, and why he was NOT helping to keep this desperate situation in the news. None among us felt or expressed anger toward it, but rather a universal sadness for his silence, as he is America’s most admired cultural link to Haiti. As the six-month Anniversary approached, it triggered the return of the world media, and of Wyclef Jean to Haiti. He’d referred to himself as “His Excellency Wyclef Jean” and “The most famous man in Haiti” on a self-generated flier in the lead up to his troubling announcement.
On the Larry King Show, I was an invited guest answering questions and expressing concerns about Wyclef Jean’s place in Haiti’s election. [Watch clip above.] In particular, I voiced the responsibility of Americans and the American media to ask critical questions before jumping to support a candidate simply because they are familiar with him. I asked specifically for those Americans, or American companies, to dig deeper in assessing their own agendas, who might contribute any financial support to a candidate running for office in a country not our own. It’s clear that Mr. Jean can have an important place in drawing attention to Haiti’s needs. However, when New York press agents circle wagons of ignorance and sell as deep insight the advertisement of that which charms them about a client, the lives and needs of the Haitian people are sidelined. The very notion of a celebrity feud is one driven by a culture un-Haitian. And, in this reckless self-interest, Ms. Salzman’s is an obscene input. This said, it is neither my place nor Ms. Salzman’s to cast a vote. My support is with the Haitian people, and whomever they lawfully select as their next President. It is, it seems, folly for we Americans to assume “our Haitian” is their answer, simply because we enjoy the sense of identification we may feel, or are paid to espouse.
It should be said that laws that put limitation on the contribution by Haitians returning to their own country following an education abroad are worthy of review. And it would have been a valuable contribution had Wyclef Jean drawn attention to it in another moment, or in a less divisive ambition. However, the only attention that Haiti seems to be getting today is on a presidential campaign of personality that threatens to create a new swell of social unrest in a plagued country. I would caution Mr. Jean against research, or prospective policy, by sound bite.
When he chose to attempt to discredit me, claiming on the Gayle King Show on August 9 that my time in Haiti had been restricted to “one particular area”, that area he was referring to is the 55,000 person IDP Camp that I and my organization were tasked to manage by the International Office of Migration. Indeed it is at that camp where we are based, but in fact, I and those I work with have operated 24-7 throughout the city of Port Au Prince and the country at large for all these months, distributing thousands of water filters, food, medicine, medical supplies and volunteers throughout the days and nights from the back of pick-up trucks and helicopters. We have directly been responsible for hiring and supervising rubble removal crews, heavy equipment, and coordinating multiple NGO actions from Cash for Work and food/water distribution.
On Gayle King’s program Jean said the following: “I would like to tell Sean Penn I do not react on emotions when it comes to the Haitian people. I do not have to sacrifice my life and live inside of a tent to prove that I am for the Haitian people.” No, he doesn’t have to live in a tent. But it would be nice if he visited once and awhile. On the same program he said, that “had it not been for him,” my organization would never have been able to enter Haiti due to historic security problems, (referring to his self-proclaimed one man peacemaking position) he must have missed the fact that, unlike him, I travel without the benefit of a security corps. I have traveled alone in the Iraqi war zone, and security had not ever been a deciding factor in any such humanitarian or journalistic action for me.
Lastly, I would like, again, to invite the reader to view CNN’s Larry King segment in full (above). Watch carefully for Mr. Jean’s responses to two questions. First, the one about his consecutive residential status where he states, “I have residency for over five years in Haiti.” Then see his response regarding his fluency in either French or Creole. I’ll let the reader decide if his answers are as forthcoming as his uninformed disparagement of one who was simply there to help.
So, yes, we still must ask questions. Yes I still support those Haitians who believe in him. But, I recommend that Mr. Jean and his advisers keep their future musings on more important topics than discrediting someone involved with a really good NGO. The real and devastating human issues in Haiti must be handled and led by a qualified president’s deft hand. These elections are crucial, and I have no part in them. Neither should Mr. Jean.
*Spike Lee was in New Orleans Tuesday to screen parts one and four of his new four-part HBO documentary “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” a follow-up to his acclaimed four-part series “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
Premiering Aug. 29, “Da Creek” was supposed to focus solely on the successes and failures in the ongoing effort to restore housing, health care, education, economic growth and law and order to New Orleans and the surrounding area after the storm. …But then the Saints won the Super Bowl (which ended up launching the documentary’s first hour), and an accident on a BP oil rig just off the Gulf Coast caused the biggest environmental disaster this country has ever seen.
“We were done shooting. We were done, and the [oil rig] blew up. So we had to rethink, reconfigure, and made another seven trips down to New Orleans,” Spike told reporters at HBO’s recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. “We were just there as late as two weeks ago, shooting, because of the Danziger Bridge indictments.”
Last month, six New Orleans police officers were indicted in the unarmed shootings of civilians walking along the Danziger Bridge several days after Katrina hit. Four were charged with shooting and all six of them with plotting to cover up what they knew was an unjustified attack.
“Hours two and three [of the documentary] deal with the NOPD and the various people they allegedly murdered in the aftermath of Katrina,” says Spike.
The two episodes also cover the educational system under Paul Vallas, a veteran superintendent of Philadelphia and Chicago who was hired to turn around New Orleans’ troubled schools.
[Watch footage from the film below.]
Additionally, the two middle hours examine “the alarming rate of young black men killing young black men,” says Lee. “Right now, New Orleans is on pace of having 203 murders for this year, which will make them the murder capital of the world.”
The January earthquake in Haiti that killed an estimated 230,000 people is also included in parts two and three of the film. Spike says there’s a “direct historical correlation” between New Orleans and Haiti’s capital Port-Au-Prince that could not be ignored.
“What brought about the whole Louisiana Purchase was Toussaint L’Ouverture kicking Napoleon in the butt,” he says of the Haitian revolutionary that led enslaved blacks in a struggle for independence over French colonizers. “It prompted Napoleon to sell Louisiana. So with the whole correlation with the earthquake, we wanted to make that [connection].”
Hours two and three also deal with the presence of actor/humanitarian Sean Penn – in both New Orleans and Haiti.
“He was in New Orleans three days after the breach in the levees. He was in Haiti two days after the earthquake,” notes Spike. “We also deal with the great thing that Brad Pitt is doing with his Make It Right Foundation and building houses for the African-American homeowners in Lower Ninth Ward. He’s doing stuff that neither the local, state, or federal government is doing. He’s building green houses, solar panels, everything. The people in the community love those houses.”
Hour four deals almost exclusively with the BP oil disaster, which Spike says is tied to the Hurricane Katrina flooding via one connective tissue: greed.
“It was greed of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, who cut corners in the construction of the levee system,” says Spike. “They’ve been building it since the 1950s and it led to the levees toppling and, consequently, New Orleans being 80 percent underwater.
“It was greed again that reared its ugly head with BP, who did not want to buy this blowout protector —which only cost half a million dollars. But to them, they were behind schedule, and now — it doesn’t make sense to me.
“We’ve had enough instances where anytime you try to cut corners, it ends up biting you in the butt later on. And what gets lost in the sauce, 11 people are dead because of the negligence of BP. And they threw safety precautions out of the window.
“MMS (Mineral Management Service) was not doing their job. They had been corrupted by Super Bowl tickets, sex orgies, and whatever stuff, and they weren’t doing their job regulating stuff. So again, there’s greed.”
The documentary’s title, a southern phrase that dates back to at least the 1850s, is another way of saying an event will happen if all goes well and nothing unforeseen occurs. But the words go a bit deeper for Spike Lee.
“I really got it from my grandmother,” he says. “My grandmother lived to be a hundred years old. Her grandmother was a slave, yet she was a college graduate – Spellman class of 1917. She taught art for 50 years and saved her Social Security checks for her children’s education. Since I was the oldest, I had first dibs.
“So my grandmother put me through Morehouse College in Atlanta, NYU graduate film school, gave me money for ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ too, all from her Social Security checks. And in her later years, when I would speak to her from Brooklyn, she’d be in Atlanta, I would say, ‘I’ll call you tomorrow night.’ And she’d say, ‘Spikey, if God is willing and the creek don’t rise.’ So this title is a tribute to my grandmother, but also, I think it’s apropos for all the things that we see — that you will see in this four-hour documentary.”
HBO will premiere Spike Lee’s four part series “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise” over two nights, beginning Aug. 23 from 9-11 p.m. (parts 1 and 2), and Aug. 24 from 9-11 p.m. (parts 3 and 4). Watch the trailer below.