Racism should be challenged, wherever we find it. I'm not arguing about that.
I'm also aware that my point in this post will be considered derailing, so I repectfully request that anyone who reads this not link to it as part of the ongoing discussion of SPN fandom's latest racefail. You want to link in the context of the points I'm actually making - go ahead.
After September 11 2001, fandom mailing lists and usenet groups were chock full of fics set during and after the attacks. Stargate fen wrote Jack and Daniel discussing the ramifications and the coming war. Highlander fen wrote various immortals working in the wreckage. Sentinel fans wrote Jim and Blair's reactions to the news, and the people of Cascade PD frantically trying to contact relatives in New York. If Supernatural had been airing then, you can bet there would have been a gazillion demons-did-it fics and a gazillion more RPS AUs in which Jared and Jensen were firefighters or rescue workers and found love in the ruins of the twin towers. And some fen would have hated it, but their voices would have been drowned out by those who didn't. Nonetheless, there were undoubtedly people in fandom who were directly affected by the 9/11 attacks and must have been terribly hurt by those fictionalised accounts of the events. I'm also quite sure there were many who took issue - privately or publicly - with some of the commentary on those events being put in the mouths of their beloved fictional characters.
My point is that those stories were a response to an event, in just the same way that fanfic is a response to a televised event. It was an ongoing discussion, a way to work things out using a medium fans were accustomed to and comfortable with. Writing about a horrible event as a way of working out feelings about it has a long tradition in fandom.
Setting a romantic story against the backdrop of a disaster is a literary tradition with an even longer history. It can be done well...or not. Taking a disaster that's still going on, still affecting people's lives, and making it the backdrop for a romance is...well, the best word I can come up with is tacky. The race issues this discussion has brought up take it beyond the realm of tacky. I totally understand why people are taking issue, but much of the commentary is focussing on the wrong thing. It's not the author's use of a current disaster that's the problem. Fans have always done that. Just as fans always put their BSOs front-and-centre in stories.
The problem is the perception (I put it that way because I have not read the story in question, only the commentary) that in this case it was done in a racist manner. The problem is that there's a whole background of cultural appropriation and colonialist condescension that the author was unaware of and gave the impression she didn't care about.
The problem, as many commenters have said, is that these issues affect real people, real lives.
But here's the thing.
You have a giant segment of fandom that considers it acceptable to take real people who have real lives and real feelings, and make up pornographic and frankly libellous shit about them and the people they love and post it on public websites where anyone - including the families and friends of those real people - can stumble across it via a simple Google search for their names.
Why the fuck are you surprised that someone living in this environment didn't consider that her portrayal of the people of Haiti might be hurtful??? The whole goddamn genre is an ongoing exercise in ignoring the feelings - the humanity - of real people! Buy a goddamn clue!
There's a reason I don't touch RPF. This is it.