Revisiting a Letter to My Haitian Neighbor (plus Ry Cooder!)

Maybe I was a little premature.  When I saw my Haitian neighbor leaving town awhile back, I wrote a letter assuming that his departure meant we were going to see a more general exodus from town.  I wrote the letter in frustration over the wretched condition of our immigration policies.  The Haitian community on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is one of my main points of contact with migration questions, but I realized in writing the letter how few people I have talked to in that community.

Since the letter, I began having more conversations.  It’s true that the Temporary Protected Status for Haitians is scheduled to come to an end next yearFGCOIGC3YBDT7AGKY4XLK6DYNY, but the pace of folks leaving has slowed, in part because employers here have recognized that their work force is imperiled and have begun to speak out.

So, perhaps I will get to know my Haitian neighbors better.  Perhaps we will start to have real conversations about a rational, humane, immigration policy. Perhaps.

In the meantime, I’m listening to Ry Cooder’s great new cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s 1930 gospel blues song, “Everybody Ought to Treat a Stranger Right.”  It’s right out of Matthew 25.

One of the verses goes:

All of us down here are strangers

None of us have no home

Don’t ever hurt your brother

And cause him to feel alone


Everybody ought to treat a stranger right

Long ways from home

Everybody ought to treat a stranger right

A long ways from home

One response to “Revisiting a Letter to My Haitian Neighbor (plus Ry Cooder!)”

  1. Like the song and the way you presented it–you show that blog posts don’t have to be long to get your point across. And thanks for introducing me to Ry Cooder.


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