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Similarities between Fin de Siècle Haiti & the Modern American Black Ghetto

[1]2,243 words

Part 2 of 2. Part 1 here [2].


When Prichard landed in Port au Prince, he noticed striking levels of filth. The city had

…its foundations literally set upon decay… An open drain which told plainly of its mission, and refuse of all indescribable sorts lay inches deep in the street… No effort is made at sanitation; the street drains with all their contaminations flow down and help to fill up the harbor (33).

At times this level of neglect could be comical:

Pigs and goats, with their legs tied together, raise their voices in expostulation as they lie in the sun. One has wriggled to a neighbouring drain and it is gulping the thick fluid (37).

The incident of the unwatched pig drinking from the sewer reminds me a time when I was walking through a ghetto park. Unfortunately, however, this incident wasn’t so comical. Port-au-Johns lay to my right and a collection of mostly black families to my left, being clustered around big plastic slides, a merry go-round, and other playground equipment. A little girl no more than three years old crossed my path, walking toward one of the port-a-johns. As she opened the door, I felt like yelling at her to wait until I could get one of the mothers to go in with her and protect her from all the unsanitary horrors that undoubtedly awaited her inside. I thought better of it, though, because I didn’t trust the onlooking negress matriarch to understand that I was trying to protect her child. She might have interpreted my warning as harassment. After the port-a-john’s door slammed behind the little girl, I thought about asking the matriarch to go in and help her, but I feared she would complain about me having the gumption to tell her how to raise her “chile,” so I excused the ordeal, somewhat coldly, as a part of an r-selected wavelength of existence.

General Disrepair

Prichard finds the same level of decay in Haiti’s remote interior. It can be best summed up with the following statement:

We came to a bridge after a while, and my guide said: “When you see a bridge, go around it.” Later I discovered this to be a national proverb (20).

A casual walk through a black ghetto (if one can manage to be casual in such a circumstance) reveals countless houses having chipped paint, decayed shutters, and crumbling cement. Like the streets of fin de siècle Port-au-Prince, garbage is everywhere. It has almost an effervescent quality, like fluffy pollen seeds blowing in the wind on a spring day. At least that’s how it begins to appear after the initial shock of it wears off. Should one have occasion to enter a typical black-owned building, leaky faucets, unclosable doors, broken bannisters, and general disrepair await him.

Overwhelming Racket

Prichard was not only surprised by the decrepit state of Haiti’s buildings and infrastructure but by the markedly alien nature of black urban life:

[N]egresses hawked about baskets of bananas and mangoes, the street was full of men and women, screaming, gesticulating, and shouting. A bareheaded negro was blowing a tin trumpet in long, ringing blasts. The din was incredible (6).

If one goes to any ghetto Walmart, he’ll hear a similarly incredible racket of black voices. What sounds like angry shouting is friendly banter, but one can’t help but feel a sense of danger. In no time in the past 40,000 years of evolution would a non-black person’s ancestors be exposed to such a raucous affair –unless it was a riot or a mob.

Scarcity of Institutions

In Port au Prince there were only three hotels. Not only were they unsatisfying in quantity but in quality. His hotel was unbearably hot, mosquito-ridden, and noisy.

Just as hotels were scarce in Haiti, public restrooms are tough to find in the typical American ghetto. If they exist, they are more closely guarded than the gold at Fort Knox. One gains entry to these mini Shangri-Las with special passcodes or keys, and a purchase is usually a prerequisite. There is a total lockdown of all buildings past a certain hour at night, with bullet-proof glass being the lens through which all transactions occur. In the worst areas, even fast food joints are nonexistent. Amongst a large group of people such as what is found in a ghetto one expects to see abundance, but the irony is that the larger the group of blacks, the more scarcity is present.

Non-Blacks Picking up the Slack

According to Prichard, a small group of French nuns seemed to be the only people keeping one of the nation’s few hospitals going. Likewise, a class of merchants of Syrian origin seemed to keep Haiti’s small business sector alive.

Foreigners own many shops in the typical American ghetto as convenience store clerks from the Indian subcontinent who sit behind bulletproof glass and exchange money for cigarettes through a small slot.[2] In Spike Lee’s film Do the Right Thing, greying old black men sitting on a stoop in a New York ghetto complain [3] about Korean shop keepers extracting money from the black neighborhood. Funnily enough, one of them proceeds to engage in fantasy-based ego boosting. He imagines a black-owned shop will replace the Korean one and vows that if this happens, he’ll be the first to patronize it. A fellow black checks his fronting by telling him “You muthafuckas always talking that old shit, ‘I’m going—I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that.’ You ain’t going to do a goddamn thing! When are you going to get your business? Yeah, just like I thought. You ain’t going to do a goddamn thing.”

Non-blacks disproportionately provide medical care in the ghetto as well. Should a black patient need medical treatment or a “bambalance [4],” he will typically deal with a white paramedic, nurse, or doctor. If he needs to go to the welfare office to get his gibs, a cast of white social workers, clerks, and security guards await him.

Talented Tenth

For a summary of the horrors of Haiti’s prison and legal systems, consult Jackson’s review [5] of this book, but suffice it to say that Prichard had met several black Haitians who admitted that the nation’s governmental situation was a mess. These individuals probably had a lot in common with the “talented tenth, ie, the top ten percent of blacks in the US who represent the top of their group’s bell curve who can compete with whites in most respects.

Talented black Haitians helped to shape its history. Everyone knows about Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the Haitian revolution. Louverture wanted whites to stay in Haiti because he viewed them as crucial to the republic’s economic development. Unfortunately, his bloodthirsty general, Dessalines, took over and killed all the remaining whites.

Few know of another Haitian ruler who rivaled Dessalines’ cruelty and who was definitely in the talented tenth. Emperor Christophe reigned from 1811 to 1820, during which time he oversaw the building of a castle known as “Citadelle Laferrière,” a structure that is impressive for any time period [6]. A former slave and stone mason, he rose through the ranks during the revolution to become ruler of the northern half of Haiti following the assassination of Dessalines. He was descended from the Bambara people who are associated with the past Mali empire. He may have had Igbo ancestry, many representatives of which score even higher [7] than East Asians and elite white students in UK academic performance.

Christophe built Citadelle Laferrière to prove that the black race could compete with the white race, but he cheated by working his subjects to death.

Neither sex nor age was spared; the royal works had to be carried on in spite of exhaustion or death. Whips of cowskin, mercilessly applied by the officers in command, drew forth almost incredible reserves of energy… The price paid…was 30,000 lives (200-203).

Christophe made death threats on which he often delivered. Once when 75 men failed to drag a cannon up the steep slope to Citadelle Laferrière, he had every fourth one shot, stating that it would be easier with that fourth removed. When the remaining men failed to pull it up, he had every third one shot, threatening to have every other one shot if they didn’t pull it up. When he returned again, the remaining force had pulled it up the mountain, probably by sheer force of adrenaline.

Threats of death were apparently common to other public works.

If Christophe, in driving, came to a hollow place he caused a drum to be beaten. All within hearing were compelled to come to the spot on pain of death. The Emperor would point to the offending hole or valley—it mattered little which it was—and remarked that he would pass by that way again at such a time. That was all. When he returned, if the work did not suit his ideas or had not been completed, the drum sounded again, and on the people assembling he would choose out a casual half-dozen and have them shot then and there (205).

We see that Christophe used fear of death as a primary means of getting things done. Of course, his actions were reprehensible, but it seems to me that the only thing that can get the majority of blacks to compete closer to whites is fear–not necessarily fear of bodily punishment, but fear of something. One can see now why black parents often rule by fear.

Christophe met his end when his subjects turned on him in revolution. After his remaining loyal guards had defected, he bid his family goodbye and blew out his brains, losing Citadelle Laferrière the same way he had gained it–via the gunshot.

Christophe had officially built his palace to protect himself from foreign invasion, but one wonders whether he also had in mind protecting himself from his fellow subjects. The talented tenth in America build fortresses for themselves in the suburbs–far away from “teens” and “youths” who might rob them. Though they wouldn’t do so publicly, many admit in private that they are uncomfortable returning to the ghetto, even for a brief visit.

In my opinion, they shouldn’t be obligated to return to the ghetto. They shouldn’t try to whip up their less talented co-raicals into performing on their level either. Separatism is often the best strategy for settling conflicts among whites and this likewise holds true for blacks.

The bell curve for blacks is flatter than for whites due to a greater degree of genetic diversity, and the lowest member of a black society is much further removed from the best black than the lowest white is removed from the best white, and this difference is amplified by a lower sense of agreeableness among blacks. If the regression to the racial mean is somewhere between the “glacial” rate for surnames [8] and an average of parent IQ and racial average IQ, then a new black republic made up of the talented tenth would at least have a few generations of possible prosperity. With eugenic fertility they could last indefinitely, assuming it was eugenic to a sufficient degree. Trying to get a typical black society to function on par with that of a white one, however, is a futile effort.

The talented tenth cannot live with their own. However, they shouldn’t live with whites either because each group should retain their cultural heritage and psychological type. High achievers from black nations would ideally form a black Singapore where they could achieve at their potential without encroaching on white homelands but without having to live in the impossible situation of being around typical members of their race. They could achieve close to what whites do not by virtue of Christophe-esque death threats but by having traits which are naturally conducive to civilization.


African Americans and fin de siècle Haitians come from a different time and place. One lived under black rule and the other lives under white rule, yet they have many distinct cultural traits in common. The primary relation they have is genetic, so we are justified in speculating that genes play at least some role in influencing their societies to be similar. Similarities between fin de siècle Haitians and other black groups are too numerous to list in this article, but suffice it to say that the same patterns seem to stem from typical black societies no matter where they are in the world.

Whites should accept several things. First, genetic factors are a better culprit for black dysfunction in the US than “systemic racism” by whites since old Haiti and the US share genes and dysfunction but not a white ruling class. Secondly, black societies must rule by fear more than white societies to keep order. Third, the best option for the most talented blacks is to separate from their co-racials and have their own nation where only talented blacks like themselves may live.

Although I have pointed out a lot of detriments in black society, I do not wish to revel in them anymore. I hope that blacks experience eugenic fertility and escape the true causes of the ghetto, which haunt them like a ghost wherever they go.


[1] “The Genetic Structure of Populations from Haiti and Jamaica Reflect Divergent Demographic Histories [9],” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 142, Simms et al, May 2010. Page 63.

[2] Interestingly, in the century since 1899 in Haiti, the Syrian merchant class has merged with the mulatto elite, a sort of poor man’s version of Jewish/WASP couplings in America.