Turmoil in Haiti Reaches New Height

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  • Haiti has experienced turmoil like no other coun-try. Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence, setting it free from the French, but the country has still been plagued with non-stop violence and pain.

    On Jan. 12, 2010, Haitis capital city, Port-au-Prince, was hit with a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. According to BBC News, 100,000 to 200,000 people have been killed. However, if you take into account the number of people still trapped in collapsed buildings, the real number of deaths may eventually reach 500,000 or more.

    Numbers like those alone should entice all human beings to contribute what they can to Haiti relief ef-forts. But instead, many Americans, including televan-gelist Pat Robertson, accused Haiti of making a pact with the devil and ever since have been cursed by one thing after the other. Whether you think helping Haiti is a bad idea because of its alleged pact with the devil or because of your own views about how America should spend its money, you cannot deny the many tragedies that have plagued this country.

    The 2010 earthquake was the most severe one Haiti has encountered in over 200 years. But this is not the only type of natural disaster to hit Haiti. Tropical storms have also devastated this country in the past. In 2004, tropical storm Jeanne left 3,006 people dead through flooding and mudslides. In late August and early September 2008, Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna, and Hurricane Ike whipped through Haiti with heavy winds and rain. The storms washed away physical evidence, such as dead bodies, and all casualties could not be recorded.

    According to the Central Intelligence Agency

    World Factbook, Haiti is the poorest country in the world. Approximately 80 percent of the countrys pop-ulation is living below the poverty line, and 54 percent dewll in abject poverty. The overall health of Haitians is dwindling, as many suffer from HIV/AIDS, malaria, respiratory infections, meningitis, diarrheal diseases, waterborne diseases and intestinal parasites. With only 40 percent of the population with access to basic health care, many Haitian children go unvaccinated.

    If this isnt enough to strike up the least bit of sym-pathy in a human soul, then imagine living in a coun-try where 50 percent of the population is illiterate, and those who do have a collegiate background emigrate to a more thriving economy like that of the United States.

    Haiti native and music artist Wyclef Jean recently said Haiti needs at least $1 million a day to survive. Other countries have already stepped up to help Haiti in its time of desperate need. China has promised $4.2 million, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged $100 million, and the European Union nations have prom-ised over $575 million in relief funds for Haiti.

    Now is the time you must ask yourself, what is the right thing to do? You may not even know anyone who is Haitian, but put yourself in 16-year-old Darlene Etiennes shoes. She was pulled from a house near her college, just barely surviving. Darlene was rescued 15 days after the hurricane struck and survived by drink-ing bath water. When the French rescue team found her, she was covered in dust and severely dehydrated. Yet she survived.

    Haiti is not just another place where people are suffering. It is a country with life, families and broken hearts. In the words of Mark Twain, Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest. To find ways to donate - and not just monetarily - use your favorite search engine to look up the Yele Foundation, the American Red Cross and UNICEF.

    American Idol season nine audi-tionee General Larry Platts Pants on the Ground has left its mark on pop cul-ture history, similar to the way William Hungs infamous song, She Bangs, did back in 2004. A song that originally started out as a joke has instantly be-come a pop culture phenomenon.

    The catchy song, whose lyrics in-clude, Pants on the ground, pants on the ground/Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground/Gold in your mouth/Hat turned sideways/Lookin like a fool, Walkin downtown with your pants on the ground! went viral the day after the American Idol audition aired. Seemingly minutes after the show end-ed, videos popped up on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. I initially missed the audition; however, after signing onto Facebook, I found no shortage of links to the clip.

    Pants on the Ground was one of the most talked about stories on Twitter and a trending topic for days afterwards. Even though the devastating earthquake in Haiti had just oc-curred the day before, the song was the number one trending topic on Twitter. The Pants Down Crew even made a cover of the song, which is now climbing up the top 100 songs on iTunes. After a victory against the Dallas Cowboys, Brett Favre veered from his traditional locker room celebration to lead his team in his own rendition of Pants on the Ground.

    So what does this song mean for our society? At first glance, it may seem innocuous enough a song about people who need to pull their pants up!

    Bur Pants on the Ground is more than just a catchy tune. Even weeks after the audition aired, Platt is still the top-ic of conversation. He has made a guest appearance on The View and performed on the red carpet at the Grammys.

    Ever wonder why the song caught on? Catchy as the song is, it does present an interesting social commentary. In an in-terview on The View, Platt talks about his inspiration for the song:I was walking one day, and [saw] a guy with a baby bottle in his mouth, and he had his pants on the ground. And thats what gave me the inspiration.

    I first wondered why he was even allowed to audition. The cut-off age for trying out for American Idol is 28, so clearly Platt wasnt expecting to win he simply wanted his voice to be heard. It makes sense. After doing a little research into his story, I found out that he has quite the colorful background. The 62-year-old was a strong civil rights activist. Take a look at the main picture on the Civil Rights Movement Veterans Web site, www.crmvet.org, and you will find that the man on the left is none other than a 16-year-old Larry Platt. On the site, he explains, We had come by bus in 1963 to a church in Savannah, Georgia, to plan a march to desegregate the city. Reverend Hosea Williams and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were our leaders.

    Platt was involved in various civil rights organizations, organizing sit-ins and protests to help further the goals of desegregation. According to an article in USA Today, he was beaten in the Bloody Sunday march and got his nickname General from the Reverend Hosea Williams, due to his leadership and heroic efforts to promote civil rights. Sept. 4 is Larry Platt Day in Atlanta, to reward him for his great energy and commitment to equality and the protection of the innocent and for his outstanding service to the Atlanta com-munity and the citizens of Georgia, according to the Georgia General Assembly.

    In the context of Platts activist background, his appear-ance on the show less than random. Knowing his story, the song holds a new meaning.

    He says, Martin Luther King didnt march with his pants on the ground, and neither should you.Mr. Platt has certainly earned his 15 minutes of fame.

    Sarah Moelter Editor-in-Chief

    Turmoil in Haiti reaches new heightsby Oyinade KoyiVillager staff writer

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    OP/EDThe Villager, February 8, 2010

    The man behind the pants phenomenon

    How can you help out Haiti from home?Ways to get involved with Stevensons support efforts:

    1. Find a Haiti Red Cross bucket. The Learning Beyond Office has placed buckets on both campuses for collecting funds.

    2. Buy the T-shirt! Student Activities has designed a T-shirt whose proceeds will go to Haiti relief efforts. You can find the shirts, which will sell for $5, in the Stud