Dear Wyclef: Please Don’t Run!

In an open letter to the hip-hop icon, a fellow Haitian-American explains why it's a bad idea for him to try to become president of Haiti.

2010 Billboard Latin Music Awards - Show

Dear Wyclef,
It pains me to have to tell you this — especially in public. Particularly because it goes to the heart of someplace and something we both care deeply about. But I have to, because as much as I love you, I love Haiti more — so much so that I’m unwilling to put her fate in your hands.

So here goes. Wyclef, you’re making a big mistake. Running for president of Haiti is a bad idea. Bad for you and bad for Haiti.

Yes, over the years, your words and deeds on behalf of our beloved little island have been commendable. You’ve inspired legions of young Haitian people both here and back home. You’ve done the Lord’s work with a zealot’s commitment and a salesman’s enthusiasm. We love you for it; we really do.

Who can forget the television images of you on the ground in Haiti just days after the earthquake, helping to carry and bury battered bodies, going on the evening news to call for faster and better organized relief efforts?

I, for one, thank you on behalf of other Haitian-Americans who didn’t have the means, the connections, the public platform or the gumption to do what you did.

You have sung love songs for Haiti. Written poignant rap lyrics for her. Held her in a tender, rhapsodic embrace. Loved her when she seemed unlovable. Made people care about her. You had pride in her long before it became fashionable, and way before the earthquake. And even now, seven months later, you’ve kept her in the headlines and refused to let others forget her.

But Wyclef, everything changed after the earth shook violently that awful January day. After the ground buckled and sent houses crashing and bodies crumpling; after the grief consumed us; after Haitians picked themselves up and went about the business of living again, we started thinking and asking ourselves: “What’s next? How do we build a new and better Haiti?”