More than 100 Haitian-Americans marked the eighth anniversary of the 2010 Haiti earthquake at Borough Hall on Jan. 12. Guests at the eighth annual Interfaith Memorial for Haiti’s Earthquake Victims, observed a moment of silence at 4:53 pm — the exact time a devastating 7.0 magnitude quake rocked the island nation, and many had some words for President Trump in light of his comments deriding immigrants from Haiti and the African continent, said one organizer.
“It was upsetting, it was very hurtful, but not surprising,” said Cynthia Bryan, director of operations at International Humanitarian Outreach Ministries, Inc.
“Our current president speaks off the cuff all the time regardless of whether it’s politically correct or appropriate — and it speaks to his knowledge of Haiti or any country for that matter.”
Earlier this month, Trump was under fire for comments he made about Haitians and Nigerian immigrants having AIDS and living in huts, which he allegedly said in a meeting in June. Last week, he allegedly bemoaned immigration from El Salvador, Haiti, and Africa, calling those countries and the continent “shitholes,” and citing Norway as an ideal country for preferred newcomers.
Borough President Adams who also attended the event had some sharp words for the country’s leader. He said that the President’s words were racism in disguise.
“Let us not be fooled by the coded language of saying bring people from Norway — that’s just another way of saying let’s omit the darker skin parts of the planet,” he said. “He didn’t talk about European countries — he is sending a coded message that we want to return to the ‘good ole days.’”
Adams added that Trump’s remarks coming just days before Haitians remember the powerful earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, were divisive.
“What more can we say eight years later — for them to see a painful reminder by the earth shattering comments that came from the President of the United States, he must understand that his goal is not to divide the states but to unite.
Bryan said the president’s comments were shocking and poorly reflect on the revered standing as the country’s head of state.
“It’s really harsh to come from President of United States. The president is seen by everyone as a pillar, a guiding force, and an immaculate leader — I doubt that’s even the view now,” she said.
The president denied making his recent comments about immigrants, but Bryan maintains that any denial or apology makes no difference.
“The damage is already done, you’ve already hurt people, and you’ve already set the stage for how you feel and anything said after that is not going to change that,” she said.