And I Dreamed about Living in The Dominican Repbulic: Haitian’s Lynching Renews Protests Against Dominican Citizenship Law

And I dreamed about living in The Dominican Republic.

In light of my recent post about lynching in the US, I find the lynching of a Haitian in the Dominican Republic particularly troubling.

Back in 2013  The Dominican Republic essentially stripped many Dominicans of Haitian descent of their Dominican citizenship. Some of my favorite authors then wrote a letter to the editor decrying this move as racist and dangerous.

I agree with them.

It’s amazing how the laws surrounding (im)migration can tell on a country better than a clueless five year old telling all her parents’ business to any listening adult.

Now a man gets lynched. And it’s not in the American South. Some of the comments, even in my second language, are chilling. They smack of the same virulent racism and bigotry that is in the States and all over the world.

And I’m left wondering. Is this the best we as humans can do?

Ironically, I’ve wanted to live in The Dominican Republic since 2008. My high school discovery of Julia Alvarez’s In The Time of the Butterflies first taught me about the country’s history during the Trujillo dictatorship while my college discovery of Edwidge Danticat and The Farming of Bones told me about its racial tensions under this same dictator. During the Trujillo dictatorship, Haitians were slaughtered at the Dominican and Haitian border.When writing curriculum at my old school, I wrote a suggestion for these two texts to be taught in conjunction since many students were from the Caribbean.

And I dreamed about living in The Dominican Republic.

I’ve talked with one or two Black women who are as dark as me who have traveled to The Dominican Republic. They weren’t necessarily fans of the country because of how they were treated. Essentially, people thought they were Haitian and were rude to them.

And I dreamed about living in The Dominican Republic.

Now with this uptick in anti-Haitianism and even some calls to boycott visiting The Dominican Republic, I’m thinking I’ll have to put this 5+ year old dream on the back burner.

I know for a fact that people will think I’m Haitian. When I was living in Flatbush people would call out to me in Creole; I get asked at least once a month here in Venny if I’m Haitian; and I damn sure will get it in The Dominican Republic.

Being mistaken for Haitian doesn’t offend me in any way, shape, or form. Haitian culture is resplendent with literary and musical heritage. It is a culture of survival. And, unfortunately, it is a culture that is maligned the world over because of the country’s poverty.

I’ve applied for jobs and fellowships in The Dominican Republic, but nothing has ever come to fruition.

Now, I’m sitting here beginning to think that my multiple rejections may have been a good thing. I’m not good with confronting racism. Who is “good” at it?

And I dreamed about living in The Dominican Republic.

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2 thoughts on “And I Dreamed about Living in The Dominican Repbulic: Haitian’s Lynching Renews Protests Against Dominican Citizenship Law

  1. Read “Massacre River” by Rene Philoctete (translated from the original French) and/or “The Farming of Bones” by Edwidge Danticat, who writes in English. Both are novels dealing with the Parsley Massacre of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic, order by Trujillo in October 1937. Haitians’ “troubles” in the Dominican Republic go way back.

    • I’ve read The Farming of Bones, but I’ve never read Massacre River. Danticat is one of my favorite writers, and I see that she wrote the Preface too. I’m going to read Massacre River when I get back to the States since I couldn’t find an e-book for it. That moment in Dominican and Haitian history never ceases to grasp my attention.

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