Yele: Creyole. A cry, a shout, a scream. In context with Wyclef Jean’s organization, Yele means a cry for freedom.
Has me really fucked up. I already shared how I’m Haitian. That earthquake thing from last week that now has the international community’s attention knocked me for a loop last week. That day that the new broke, I made it public via Twitter on how I felt mobilized to take action in any way possible. Shortly after, I got an off the record tip from one of my homies warning me about where I should put my monies. Specifically about the Wyclef Jean Foundation which does business as the Yele Haiti Foundation. And how I might not want to throw my coin that way.
So yeah, my dude hit me on the low about Yele. Then the next day, Wednesday, I get a text from him pointing me to that Smoking Gun story that called into question ‘Clef’s mis-use of organizational funds. How after being incorporated for twelve (12) years, Yele “only first filed tax returns” late last year, in August 2009. And also how he paid himself and his business partner Jerry Duplessis $410k over the years. To those that know, The Smoking Gun don’t ever lie when it comes to facts and records. But how they portrayed dude as a grime ball, truth be told, that shit didn’t sit right with me. Not now, not with everything else going on, specifically Wyclef personally flying down to Haiti immediately. To help dig bodies from under the rubble. Selflessly immersing himself fully amongst them screams, them sights, them smells. I couldn’t wholly buy it. But doubt, once planted, is a mother fucker of a seed.
For real B, I sat on that story, not wanting to be one of the first to further expose Wyclef to them TSG’s claims. Not wanting to lead the charge in discrediting Yele for being a sham organization, not when so many people across the globe looked desperately at that organization as a sign of hope. Nah, not me. I’ve seen decent charitable organizations get discredited before. By the time the story broke into mainstream status this past weekend, the very same weekend we were all supposed to be coming together, in Kumbaya fashion as a rainbow colored world community, celebrating in harmony the doctrine of the late great Martin Luther King, here we all were looking with suspicious eyes at Mr. Jean and his “shady” dealings with Yele. Gawker jumped in on the shits and giggles fest, claiming the Yele organization to be ineffective in it’s continuous efforts to aid Haiti’s long term state of suffering. How “Jean took a $60,000 “finder’s fee” in 2006 after Yele sold a photograph of a pregnant Angelina Jolie to People magazine for $600,000, which was supposed to go to the charity.” They even painted the organization as being a mere “joke among NGOs” (Non Governmental Organization) as far as Haiti is concerned.
Wyclef’s since responded, on video, and in public, tearfully defending his actions, his organization of any financial wrong doing. Watching how this all played out reminded me of a few years back, back to when I was in business for myself as a young entertainment attorney, and how in a short period of time I ended up making a sizable amount of money. I also remembered how, for a couple of years, I ignorantly ignored them yearly tax seasons. Not realizing how important it was to file my earnings. Maybe it was laziness, maybe it was lack of financial training from my peoples; me being first generation American and all, and hard headed at that. Stupidity was more like it, and in the end, the IRS got back at my ass, with a vengeance. Not that I was trying to defraud nobody. I was just a young dude who came into large amounts of money, with no guidance and no fear of the tax police. I ended up learning the hard way.
Now I never ran a charitable organization, and I’m not in any way making excuses for Wyclef; he’s a grown man very much in the public light. The most I know about dude is how I used to follow him on Twitter. Up until I realized how he liked to type his tweets in ALL CAPS. And go on from sun up to sun down about how Jesus was the best shit since glazed donuts. I ended up unfollowing him. Only because of how the two things I hate the most is cats who type everything in ALL CAPS and die hard bible thumpers. But that’s more me being intolerant of that kind of shit than it is an indictment of him.
But I digress.
Did he fuck up? No doubt. White don’t ever play with Black fucking up the green. Shady? Maybe a little. Is Yele a sham? Probably not. Actions speak louder than words, and Clef has been that (celebrity) spokesperson on the front lines of Haitian charity way before that shit became sexy (last week). Think about it, before that earthquake, nobody on the planet gave a fuck about Haiti and how eff’d up it was other than Wyclef. I mean how eff’d up can your situation be when it’s international news that the main staple of some Hatian’s diet is mud cakes and they still don’t care about you? Other than ‘Clef. How eff’d up can it be that the countries main trade is kidnapping cats? On the daily. Like it was no thing. And how Wyclef, on a humanitarian trip there with his friends in high places, had to beg his kidnapping type peoples not to kidnap Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I know Haitians yo, and I’m seeing how it might could be possible that some of that Yele paper had to be broken up with some of them would be kidnappers on some under the table type of transactions. And on some GP truce thing. To keep all involved safe. The way I see it, dude was always sincere in his actions, got caught up in his ego and was careless in his handling of Yele financial matters that were complex beyond his money managing capabilities. Am I saying that we should all ignore the band wagon bashings and throw our monies Yele’s way? No, but I’m not counting Yele out either. The Smoking Gun and Gawker ain’t never did shit for me. Calling people out for their shortcomings is way too easy, and is on some bird type shit. In addition to jumping head first into the fray where few have chosen to enter, plus galvanizing a tremendous amount of support, Wyclef is that dude that made being Haitian in this day and age a cool thing. And for all the shit Haiti’s been through since day one, the least thing Haitian cats like me can have is cool status on an international level.
I joke. But I’m saying. The best of the worst thing that can happen with all this scrutiny is now that all eyes are on Wyclef Jean, Yele, and the money trail, its a sure bet all that paper that’s been raised will mos def be accounted for and distributed in a proper manner. And if that’s the worst that can happen, then Wyclef will have done a whole lot more than most of us can and will ever do for Haiti. In our entire life time. Guaranteed much more than what TSG and Gawker will do on behalf of suffering peoples anywhere. And I can’t ever be mad at that. So fuck the Gawkers and Smoking Guns and what nots. You do the math.
Incidentally, right before I was about to finish this post, I just read this CNN piece where these experts on non-profits weighed in saying that at the worst, ‘Clef’s running of Yele’s finances was “late and lackadaisical. And “that lackadaisical accounting is common among non-profits and is not necessarily a red flag for suspicious behavior.” So yeah, mother eff them clown’s for carelessly shitting on dude’s integrity. You can tell them I said it.
By the way, If you of you reading this happen to be following Wyclef on Twitter. Please let me know if he’s still tweeting in ALL CAPS and holy rollering. I might have to support my dude by re-following him. But only if he cut down on all that extra shit.
If you want to help, here’s a comprehensive resource of organizations helping in Haiti.