Meteorologist Apologizes For Saying Children In Haiti Eat The Trees

October 5, 2016  |  

Whenever Haiti is affected by some type of natural disaster, there’s always an outsider using the opportunity to speak about the cultural climate of the country. In 2010, when the Hurricane hit the island nation, it was Pat Robertson who said the suffering the earthquake caused was a result of the people’s “pact with the devil.”

In the six years since then, you would think things might have changed. And while this most recent comment from meteorologist Jennifer Delgado doesn’t link the Haitian people to Satan, it too is culturally and racially insensitive and all together ignorant.

In speaking about Hurricane Matthew and its trajectory toward Haiti, Delgado spoke about some how Haiti’s deforestation might make it more susceptible to damage from Matthew. She even went so far as to offer explanation.

“They take all the trees down, they burn the trees. Even the kids there, they’re so hungry they actually eat the trees.”

Girl, what?!

As you might imagine, it was only a matter of time before Black Twitter came for her…with a vengeance.

https://twitter.com/haitianqueeeen/status/783451976713502720

After the backlash was too much to ignore, David Clark, the president of The Weather Channel issued an apology saying in a letter written to a viewer:

“We are terribly sorry for the on air error and are taking measures to correct it. It should not have happened period. The team is very concerned about the people of Haiti and we will do our utmost to serve the public there in our coverage.”

Later, Delgado issued this on-air apology of her own.

“I want to begin by apologizing for a statement I made yesterday that was found inappropriate. My intention is always to inform and educate. I wanted to spotlight the incredibly difficult conditions that many people in Haiti continue to face, particularly in light of the hurricane. I know that deforestation in Haiti is due to the cutting down of trees to use as a source of fuel in the country. I sincerely apologize to anyone I may have offended.”

She could have easily done better. Nowhere in that apology did she take responsibility for spreading some very bizarre misinformation. She said the statement was found inappropriate, as if the onus was on the listeners for misunderstanding her comment rather the ignorant and insulting nature of it. Far too often in Western medium, and even by the very people who share the island with them, Haitians are described as “other,” uncivilized and it’s a shame that an organization that is supposed to report the news, the weather—of all topics—found themselves falling victim to this narrative by a woman of color. It’s very sad. I don’t know if Delgado should be fired for this comment, but The Weather Channel needs to get to the bottom of why she made the comment in the first place to insure that it doesn’t happen again.

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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