Thanks to Doret, we present an interview with author, Debbie Rigaud. You can find Part I of their interview at Happy Nappy Bookseller and we'll follow up Doret's review of Perfect Shot tomorrow.
Perfect Shot is your first novel, though you've been published before,
including an essay for a collection called Transculturalism. Can you tell us a little about "Voodoo Ray?"
Sure. Let me first point out that I had nothing to do with the title of my essay, "Voodoo Ray." It was only when the book was already published that I saw the title it was given. But I was grateful for the opportunity to
contribute a piece about growing up Haitian-American. I guess the essay grew from my frustration with narrow and often rude reactions to my Haitian heritage. Once people learned about my background, their response usually was voodoo, boat people, ugly people, or that poorest country phrase we've heard a zillion times. To my face.
Seldom did it register for most people to mention Haiti's unique history. A hugely successful rebellion took place there, albeit at a significant cost. I've always felt that Haitians sacrificed so much for the sake of human rights throughout the New World, yet their descendants are made to feel ashamed or on the defense about who they are and where they come from. *quietly steps down from soap box*
I did do a slight double take at the title. Debbie, please get back on your soap box. How did the Haitian revoultion impact human rights of the New World? Do you have a family connection to the revoultion?
LOL! The reason I don't like to stay in my soapbox for too long is because at heart, I'm really just a new age girlie who'd rather join hands and sing Kumbaya. But my experiences in life have taught me that it's important to know a bit of your history. Speaking of which, The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James is a good book about the Haitian revolution. Andyes, on my dad's side, I do have a connection to the revolution, a great-great-great (great?) grandfather was a revolutionary leader.
I thought your essay in Transculturalism was informative, powerful and question raising. Why do you think Toussaint Louverture and other Haitian revolutionaries go unrecognized?
Good question. It could have to do with the singular role that they play in history. These revolutionary heroes led successful slave rebellions against celebrated giants like Napoleon and formidable forces like the British regiments. I had a discussion with a British friend, who thought I was making wild claims when I told him about the Haitian Revolution. Only after he consulted history books and did independent research did he believe me. It's always cool when a friendly exchange leads us to learn something fascinating about a persons, back story.
I agree, its nice when people actually listen (and hear) and learn from each other.It's very rare especially when politics and nationalities are involved. Debbie, can you tell us a little about your recent fund-raiser for Haiti?
Here in Bermuda, there are two local charities who have a history of doing amazing work in Haiti. After the quake, a group of us organized a few fundraisers in support of these two charities. Both of which have medical teams treating survivors in and outside of the Haitian capital. Most recently, we held an island-wide tag day that helped raised thousands of dollars for Haiti.
Everytime I hear of a new fund-raiser for Haiti, it gives me hope and reminds me that people still care..
What do you think will happen in Haiti? What would you like to see happen?
Like everyone else, I hope that the country rebuilds with an improved infrastructure. Among Haitian-Americans and other Haitians living abroad, there's been talk of playing a significant role in that process, which is great. A lot of people who left Haiti decades ago are planning on returning home to lend their expertise or assist in any capacity that they can.
Debbie- Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I hope people will read this and be encouraged to look for more answers.
Yes. And I also hope that the next time a teen is selected to take on a singular role, she's inspired to instead ask, Why not me?