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Posted June 4, 2003
June 4, 2003
Boston's Haitians and Haitian-Americans demand an apology from Boston's civil rights leader, the Reverend Eugene F. Rivers 3d

Boston=s civil rights leader, the Reverend Eugene F. Rivers 3d, has always prided himself on helping the young residents, regardless of their races, countries of origin and religions, of Boston to conform their behavior so they may not, at first, be taken out of the circulation by the police, and ultimately weeks or months later incarcerated for months or years after having been found guilty by a court of law of committing crimes, for example, that do generally involve serious moral culpability.

Besides that, teaching the young men and women of Boston how to be law-abiding citizens, such behavior can give them, hopefully, a powerful incentive to become productive members of their communities.

But today, must we say we have doubts about Mr. Rivers= leadership to effectively continue to work with the large multi-ethnic teenager population of Boston, particularly the young men and women of Haitian origin.

In fact, Mr. Rivers is no longer thinking hard about how to best contain his sentiments of hate for Boston=s area Haitians and Haitian-Americans, who have long formed a large community.

Words often carry much further. All Boston=s Haitians and Haitian-Americans behave alike, and they must be equated to vagabonds and criminals. The answer here can only be authorities must deal with them, not lightly so.

What exactly could Mr. Rivers say or do to substantiate such claims? A man many often say apparently likes to boast all that is needed to guard against future crimes, to reduce the number of crimes - poverty fosters crimes, and crimes impoverished - in colored people communities is he be the self-appointed unquestionable leader there. A few unpleasant words for Boston=s Haitians and Haitian-Americans, as they were articulated, with certitudes, we assume, on Boston=s WGBH-TV program, on May 14, 2003.

AWhere are the men?@ he said. AYou got all those bars up and down Dudley Street where these guys hang out.@ Later in the program, he spoke of Haitian teens as engaging in acts that risked having their Amonkey butts@ incarcerated,@ reported The Boston Herald of June 3, 2003.

Of course, we understand Mr. Rivers= concerns about the very few young men and women who are believed to have mutated into gangs or criminal business ventures, if we may describe them as such. Still, he is doubly wrong. We find the words, Amonkey butts,@ employed to describe the anti-social behavior of a minuscule number of Haitians who have yet to attain the age of reason - by way of explanation, those who may be about to penetrate the world of criminality or have already done so - extremely insulting to the estimated 75,000 Boston=s area Haitians and Haitian-Americans, and nearly all of them, law-abiding citizens.

Mr. Rivers= unacceptable words, if further interpreted, may be too an insult to all Haitians, including those still in Haiti and elsewhere.

We no doubtless find additional reasons that Mr. Rivers= irresponsible words demand a rethink of Boston=s Haitians and Haitian-Americans, at least. That rethink means offering his expressions of apology to the affected parties, whose lives are mixed with hope and determination for a better quality of life in their adopted land, as their combined incalculable number of hard labor hours sold to employers daily suggests.

Professor Yves A. Isidor for We Haitians United We Stand For Democracy
                     , the scholarly journal of democracy and human rights
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