You Can’t Deny Who You Are: A Tale Of Two Nations

Originally Published: RISE NEWS, July 11, 2015

As you read this, hundreds of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans are being forced out of their homes in the Dominican Republic and sent to Haiti just for being Black. 


I am a Haitian-Dominican-American, and this hurts me. Not only because I’m a Black woman, or because some parts of my family still live on both sides of the island, but also because the hatred and racism transpiring could question everyone’s citizenship anywhere just because of our race, even here in the U.S.


When I was a kid learning about the island of Hispaniola, I understood that we were one island with two nations, with the blood of strong African slaves that fought and died for their independence flowing through our veins. It is sad to see we have forgotten about our common history and roots, and that Blacks are considered pariah in the land they freed.


The current conflict on the island is deeply rooted in racism and self-hatred. But this is nothing new. The Dominican Republic and Haiti have a long and complicated history of prejudice and racial discrimination. In 1937, then-President Rafael Trujillo led a state-sanctioned genocide of more than 20,000 Haitians, which is known as the “Parsley Massacre,” cleansing the DR of Blacks.


Now more than 75 years later, in 2013 the Dominican Republic retroactively stripped away the citizenship of children of Haitian migrants born after 1929 if they were never registered in the country. Over 250,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent would be impacted by this and could be deported anytime.


The Ambassador of the DR in the U.S. says “no deportations have occurred since President Danilo Medina decreed a moratorium in December 2013.” But, more than 31,000 people have left the DR on their own, and there are confirmations that civilians are forcing, not only Haitians, but also Black Dominicans, to the border and burning up their homes and properties.


 Watch: “Haitians Forcibly Removed and Property Destroyed”


This is self-hatred at its worst. Many Dominicans categorize their race based on the one-drop rule working in reverse. If someone has one drop of white blood, it makes even the darkest Dominican identify themselves as white. Self-hatred in the Dominican Republic is alive and well; many are in denial and choose not to acknowledge their ancestral roots and ties to Mother Africa.


And, this is racism. Saying that it has nothing to do with race or being Black, would be like saying that the Holocaust was not a genocide that killed over 6 million Jews or that South Africa’s Apartheid had nothing to do with racial segregation of the majority Black population by the white minorities. This is happening, it is real and it is our responsibility to denounce it.


As a U.S. citizen, it is infuriating to see the lack of action of the U.S. government; their silence validates the actions of the DR government. And, as the daughter of immigrants in the U.S., this doesn’t fall too far from home. For years, Republicans in Congress have tried to do the same and pass Birthright Citizenship laws to deny the right to citizenship for U.S. born babies if their parents are immigrants.


Join us! National groups throughout the country will be leading a week of action from July 26 to August 1 to ask the U.S. government to speak up, to bring attention to the injustice and the inhumane treatment and to show solidarity to the hundred of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans suffering in Hispaniola.