Though internal struggles between the Haitian leadership caused seemingly unnecessary strife amongst the rebels, the goal of the Revolution was independence, to which ĽOuverture remained most true. From a religious perspective, the success of the Haitian Revolution was credited to “white magic”. To elaborate, for Haitian Voodoo practitioners, there are two types of magic: white and black. Black magic is the stronger more forceful element of Haitian magic, but it is centered on greed, control, and other nefarious qualities. But white magic is the more calm and focused element of Haitian Voodoo, it works slower and the Loa who bring white magic are not centered on greed but community cooperation. This is to say, the Haitian Revolution, for all the misguided attempts to classify and describe it by Christian Evangelicals, was a movement centered on white magic.
One of the major issues with attempting to define Black religion in juxtaposition to what is termed black magic rests in the white supremacist ideology that what is black is by nature evil. This of course is a critical issue that was dealt with by the NOI to reorient the thinking of Black people in America. However, when dealing African Traditional Religion, particularly concerning mysticism, ancestor veneration, and the manipulation of nature, the term Black religion or black magic conjures images of midnight, fire lit hush harbors rife with the putrid smell of animal sacrifice. However, Black religion is a cultural conversation and within that conversation, black magic is much more that voodoo dolls and dead chickens; it is an attempt to manipulation energy for personal gain, it is the selfish desire to control other people or life itself, it is slavery, dishonest, and the quick solution. But most importantly it is the opposite of white or “cool” magic.
To elucidate further, like with most things on this plane of existence, there are multiple sides to any phenomenon, voodoo is no different. Within Ifá expression there is a positive expression, where growth and community cooperation are critically important; and a negative expression, where power is most important and it is gained through nefarious manipulation and bad intentions. Admittedly, this reads much like the beginners guide to understanding the “Force” from Star Wars, but at the fundamental level it is that simple: the light-side of voodoo (Ifá) connects humanity and flows through life on this planet and the dark-side is simply selfishness. At the most optimal level these energies work in tandem and balance out life as we know it.
To put this in context of the Haitian Revolution, the ceremony at Bois Caïman was a cry for help to the spirits of Ifá to liberate African people from their horrible existence. They appealed to the Loa for help and what came from that was an extremely bloody and hard fought conflict that resulted in their liberation (again, Haiti is the only free African nation in the Western Hemisphere). With the gift of hindsight, how can this be interpreted within the context of white and black Haitian magic?
This point can be examined through the means in which the people lived in Haiti. Going back to the first essay in this series, the Haitian Revolution was sparked by the need to more humane working conditions for those enslaved on the island. However, the French refused to accommodate their bondsman, maintaining a terroristic environment where humans were reduced to beasts of burden. Black magic, as it is known in Haitian Voodoo, is based on greed, control and selfish dealings, which perfectly describes French planters as well as all other slaveholders of this period in history. It is almost as if European enslavers were using Black magic to control and subjugate African people in the Western Hemisphere and later on the African continent during the colonial period through the vehicle of Christianity.
The other side to that cowrie shell is white magic, the cooler more deliberate and benevolent side to voodoo magic. To be clear, there is very little very little evidence of unbridled greed that came with the Haitian Revolution. The rebels fought only for their rights and their lives. The success of their rebellion did not lead to the further annexation of Dominican lands or the invasion of the port of New Orleans. Haitians were not and never have been colonists or enslavers and despite a rather rough two-hundred-plus-year history the country and its people seem to keep moving a long, ostensibly content with their little corner of the island. Meanwhile, their defeated foes, the French Empire, simply pulled their tents from Haiti and colonized another small brown corner of the planet using their own time-honored tradition: subdue native population with military, loot what is valuable and promise returns for what was taken in the after life on the condition that they serve them. A process repeated numerous times under the flag of Christianity.
These points bring this discussion back to the ideas put forth by Pat Roberson and other evangelicals who claim Haiti used “devil worship” to win their freedom. What exactly was evil about the efforts of the Haitians? Surely the pro-military, pro-gun, red-blooded white American evangelical is not suggesting that the Haitians had no right to defend themselves against the oppression of the French. Because to suggest that, means that all of the violence begat by the US over the last two centuries would also be a sign of evil. No, what Pat Roberson is suggesting is that the ceremony at Bois Caïman signifies a departure by Africans from the Christian God for whom they had lost faith. Further, what this suggests is that in terms of justice for African people the Christian God is impotent and unwilling to lend any divine aid.
However, there may be something even deeper to this discussion. To explain, Haitians appealed to the Loa to intervene on their behalf against a foe that was greedy, cruel, and vicious to African people. This notion places Christianity itself within the realm of black magic more than anything the Lao did on behalf of the Haitian people. Christians were the more powerful force and they used their religious beliefs to pacify and subdue the spirit of the Haitian people (and any other peoples they enslaved). When pacification did not work, Christian ministers and governors resorted to torture and murder to defeat the Haitians. It is therefore, more prudent to suggest that Christians themselves used a type of black magic in their efforts to subjugate and control African people.
This form of black magic came in a Christian package. It was delivered from white hands and carried the same symbols as other forms of Christian expression – Jesus, the Cross, sacrifice and the holy sacrament – but is centered on slavery and subjugation as a form of spiritual maintenance and worship. This is not the same Christianity practiced by Martin Luther King, a revolutionary religious weapon of the downtrodden; this Christianity is empowered through misery, fear and hate. This also is very different from the Christianity taught by the Christ figure of the New Testament but more closely resembles the Christianity practices during the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition.
In summation, in the Haitian Voodoo Pantheon of Loa Dutty Boukman holds a place of honor. He is not a villain or a devil worshiper. He is one that stood up and fought insurmountable odds that lead the way towards the freedom of a people. In Haiti, he is essentially, a Saint: Baron Samedi (Zombi), whose life is honored throughout Haiti. In his place of honor it becomes clear that perspective – or better yet, worldview – provides the essential meaning of the Haitian Revolution. For Christians (and the whole Western world), Haiti and her people are poor, primitive, diseased, lost and demonic; but for the Haitian people they themselves are strong, free and have the agency to define their own destiny.
 Karen McCarthy Brown. "Putting the Egg Back into the Chicken." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 62, no. 4 (1994): 1182. This is from the Haitian perspective. Europeans felt it was because of devil worship.
 Ibid., 1182. Further, it is said that white magic is more centered around the energies (spirits) brought from Africa.
 Nation of Islam theology essentially turned white supremacy on its head and worked to demonstrate, through historically horrific acts, that White Christians were devilish, not black people.
 Robert Farris Thompson. Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy. (New York: Vintage Books, 1984), 12-16. The “cool” is a governing characteristic for Yoruba culture and religion. For the Yoruba “coolness” is best described a calm seriousness or serious calmness. Essentially, speaks to the character of a person as well as the character of the gods. To quote Thompson: “Coolness, then, is a part of character, and character objectifies proper custom. To the degree that we live generously and discreetly, exhibiting grace under pressure, our appearance and our acts gradually assume virtual royal power.”
 William Ronald Jones. Is God a white racist?: A preamble to black theology. Beacon Press, 1973.