Monday, October 4, 2021

Yveline Alexis's "Haiti Fights Back"

Yveline Alexis is an Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Haiti Fights Back: The Life and Legacy of Charlemagne Péralte, and reported the following:
Page 99 is from the chapter Péralte Leads/Péralte kòm Lidè and vividly captures how Haitians defied the US military empire. Three snapshots from that one page describe how the cacos (Haitian guerrilla fighters) fought for their nation’s sovereignty. The page begins with “One caco chief, Hello, who was stationed at Jaco with thirty men and had a camp in a cane field.” In this example, one sees how the cacos intentionally used their geography as resistance zones, including sugar cane fields and old forts, etc. In the middle of the page, we read about a US marine’s interrogation of a caco whom the former assumed was coerced into this anti-invasion fight by Charlemagne Péralte The caco corrects the marine, stating plainly that he voluntarily accepted his role as a caco chief of said area. In the book, I write about how the US military used these and other tactics to defame and delegitimize Haitian resistance. The page ends with Péralte appealing to a British ambassador about Haiti’s fate and naming the cacos’ military and political struggle against the US, as a revolution. Péralte writes, “Since, today, the revolution in Haiti has spread all over the country.”

The Page 99 Test works really well in capturing the layers to this anti-invasion struggle. The test introduces readers to one of my key arguments that Péralte and the cacos were political thinkers and strategists and not the ruthless bandits that the invaders portrayed them as. I use a multiplicity of voices, including what I term as living archives, silence, murals, and other primary sources from Haiti and the United States in capturing this long, complex history. The book educates readers about how the US has sought to undermine the Caribbean nation’s independence and how Haitians have thwarted these aggressive efforts.
Learn more about Haiti Fights Back at the Rutgers University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue