October 27, 2021
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) joins with our Haitian Caucus in condemning recent racist and baseless verbal attacks against Haitians. Although they have been directly aimed at individuals who have sought asylum in the United States, such hateful treatment impacts all persons of Haitian descent including ASHA members and the people they serve. As an organization dedicated to fostering communication that enriches lives, ASHA unequivocally condemns this hate speech. Points ASHA has raised before warrant being repeated: words matter. Words of hate and prejudice, often the tools of bigots, can lead to violence that shatters and takes innocent lives. None of it must be allowed to stand in the way of doing what is right. In the case of Haitian asylum seekers, that means receiving them with fair and equitable application of the Refugee Act of 1980. That law entitles people to seek asylum in the United States if they can demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group. More broadly, it means treating the Haitian community with the rightful respect and inclusiveness they deserve. A critical first step in that regard would be for leaders at all levels of government; immigration and law enforcement officials; and the media to take action that decisively ends hate speech and all other acts that victimize Haitians.