Diaspora

In The Dominican Republic, Anti-Blackness Is At The Root Of Violent … – Essence

As a Dominican racial equity activist with the organization In Cultured Company, I watched the anti-Haitian migrant violence unfolding in October and November with deep horror.
There are compounding cases of violence and structural racism that are now in synergy in the Dominican Republic. According to MST, the Movimiento de Trabajadores Socialista, the Dominican government deported around 85,000 people between January and September of 2022. 
Then, on Nov. 11, 2022, President Luis Abinader issued decree 668-22. The decree ordered the massive expulsion of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent living in state-owned land used for sugar plantations. The deportations began at a rapid clip. According to reports from the Dirección General de Migración, on average between 4,000 and 5,000 people have been detained and deported in October 2022 weekly. Despite these reports, the official figure of those detained and deported is not yet available. 
The best way to explain how racial violence and anti-Haitianismo works is with a story tracing these abuses in the life of a single person.
Let’s imagine, for example, a child named Javier. Javier’s mother is a second-generation Dominican-Haitian woman, the daughter of a cane cutter who was brought to the country in the 1960s during a period of booming sugar agriculture, and a Dominican mother. She has her father’s Haitian last name. Javier’s mother and entire family live in a bateye, state-owned land where they cannot buy their land and build their own house. They can be removed at any time. 
It is important to understand that Dominicans are being taught to hate their Blackness, proximity to African culture, and their closest neighbors. 
Javier was in school, finally getting a chance to complete high school, when in 2013, the Dominican government declared that, because he had Haitian parents, he was not a Dominican citizen. Now Javier continues to live in the bateye without access to employment opportunities. One morning, at 4AM, Javier wakes up to the sound of police beating down the door to his humble house. He is arrested, placed in the back of a truck and sent to a detention center without a bathroom, showers, or food access.
While this is a “fictional” story, it is a fairly typical case that highlights how the life of a single Black person is being destroyed by the state and its anti-Black and xenophobic policies. State discrimination and violence against Haitians migrants and their children have been steadily increasing since the deeply conservative, elite and white government of Luis Abinader took power in August of 2020.  
As a person who has worked on decolonizing and healing the racial wounds that permeate the Dominican community, it is intolerable for me to watch the spread of fascist ideologies, such as racial replacement theories, misinformation and hate. It is important to understand that Dominicans are being taught to hate their Blackness, proximity to African culture, and their closest neighbors. 
However, it is also important to remember that it is possible to unlearn hate and racism. It is possible to change. To be in true solidarity with those experiencing violence in the Dominican Republic, it is important for Dominicans and our Black diaspora allies to take action to educate ourselves, sustain a racial equity analysis of the situation, and take action based on that knowledge.
Here are some steps and resources to build deeper solidarity with those impacted by this continued assault on human dignity and freedom:

There is a lot of misinformation in Dominican history because the nation’s histories have been written under the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Only after his death in 1961 did radical historians begin writing corrected versions of those histories. There are several places to get a more accurate and full history of not just DR, but also Haiti.

– Follow: In Cultured Company and find our Decolonized History reading list and Webinar series with leading scholars on our Youtube Page.

– Follow: Dr. Bertrhude Albert – Use this reading list of Dominican scholars who write about Dominican history from a counter-cultural, anti-racist perspective.

The next two steps are also geared towards Dominicans.

– Follow: SoyCiguapa for decolonial and anti-racist content and courses in Spanish.

Inform yourself about social issues in the DR. Follow Instagram pages like:

La Voz de Los Trabajadores

El Mitin RD

The rest of this list includes tips we can all use, not just Dominicans, to combat racism in the region.

The United States government issued a travel warning to Black people looking to travel in the DR. At the moment, a full travel boycott may not happen despite this warning. However, if you are scheduled to travel to a hotel, you can travel and safely leave feedback about your experiences with racism in the country.

Barrio Alante

Acción Afro-Dominicana

Coordinacion Feminista de Izquierda (Leftist Feminist Organization)

Woke Foods RD

Aquelarre RD

Junta de Prietas

Combatting anti-Black violence will mean centering the voices of those most impacted and deeply marginalized. To be a good ally in that process will require knowledge, action and a deep commitment to transformation. As someone who is in a community dreaming of Black liberation for our beloved island of Ayiti, I am so excited to welcome others looking to support the process.
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