Racism in the Dominican Republic Rekindles Calls for Boycott

new-york-protest-dominicans-of-haitian-descent-deportation

The Dominican government has long-standing issues with activists and human rights organizations regarding their treatment of Haitian-descendant residents in the country. Now, they have engaged in a deliberate “ethnic cleansing” of Black Dominicans of Haitian descent by legalizing the mass deportations and the terror-like hunting of Haitian residents in the DR. While many have suggested that the United States should do more from an institutional perspective, some have pushed for a travel and product boycott hoping to send a message to Dominican leadership that their treatment of Haitian-descendant residents is unacceptable. But will it?

Many of the concerns regarding human rights infringements and accusations of apartheid in the Dominican Republic stem from a September 2013 ruling by the Constitutional Court which left thousands of the descendants of Haitian immigrants stateless. The ruling left a gap in the terms of citizenship which could be (and have been) exploited by those seeking to “ethnically cleanse” the country of their poorest, blackest residents.

These actions spawned the creation of a Facebook group and Change.org petition calling for mass boycotts of the country. Similarly, recent criticisms from Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz and Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat suggest that American citizens have some influence on these issues by how they choose to spend their dollars on travel and other leisure activities. While they have not explicitly called for boycott, they have emphasized that there are many ways to understand how Americans contribute to the DR’s economy. On the political front, Boston’s Mayor and state senator have each called for a boycott of the DR following these recent events. However, we have yet to hear anything concrete from Congress or the White House regarding the ongoing exclusion of Black Haitian-Dominicans.

Some have suggested that a boycott might actually be harmful to the very citizens it is meant to help. To add, these folks suggest, it is hypocritical of the United States to suggest boycotting the DR when we engage in similar practices here, specifically toward Mexican immigrants. These criticisms are completely valid especially when considering our historical poor handling of border management, deportations, and immigration detention centers which has only slightly improved in recent months.

At this juncture, the boycott does seem counteractive. It won’t actually dismantle the racist systems which continue to oppress Haitian-descendant residents in the DR. In addition, it won’t actually hurt those in power enough to persuade them to change course.

What is needed now is a definitive statement from the United States government decrying these types of human rights violations. Without sanctions against these behaviors, the leadership in the Dominican Republic will likely continue to treat its Black citizens as inhumanely as possible. And, as long as this continues, we will exist in contradiction with the values we profess to hold so dear.

Jenn M. Jackson is the Editorial Assistant for The Black Youth Project. She is also the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Water Cooler Convos, a politics, news, and culture webmag for bourgie Black nerds. For more about her, tweet her at @JennMJack or visit her website at jennmjackson.com.

 

Black August

My generation has started both online/offline revolutions in 2013. Yes, that’s right. The twerking, selfie photo obsessed, and tweet happy children of the late eighties and early nineties have found it in our hearts and minds to stand for the social, political, and spiritual liberation of all oppressed people. In an age where folks shun us for our sagging pants, we’ve learned how to elevate above the rhetoric through our work on the ground. Whether it’s the Dream Defenders occupying the Florida State Capitol building to push for a change in public policy, or the Bois of Baltimore providing a safe space for womyn who identify as masculine-of-center to build an uplifting and transformative movement; young people of color have made it very clear that we are willing to fight for what we believe in.

 

This year many folks in Generation X are observing Black August. Don’t believe me? Just check #blackaugust on Twitter to see the discourse. This month and year mark the 33rd anniversary of the existence and observance of Black August, the movement that honors the radical resistance, resilience, and collective action of Afrikan peoples of the Diaspora. From the Haitian Revolution, to Underground Railroad, to the March on Washington, to the Watts uprisings, people of color have been resisting colonization for centuries. As we continue to develop and grow our revolutionary movement built on the foundation provided by our foremothers and forefathers, we must  not forget the sacrifices that were made by them.

Dear Yemaja: A Year Later and Haiti Women Cry Out at Kanye West's Monster

Dear Yemaja (Lucumi/Santeria Mother Goddess),

Last year, I wrote a blog entitled, Some Natural Disasters are not so Natural but Vodou (Spirit) will Prevail. Yes, I wrote that Spirit and Spirits would rise and rattle those who seek to indebt and control Haiti. I wrote that Haiti would rise. I wrote that Vodou—a spiritual and communal practice—would rise just as the sun rises in the sky to light the dark places. Oh, I wrote that on the eve of remembering Dr. Martin Luther King that the spiritual fire of a people could not be quailed by manmade devastations (i.e. The World Bank).

Yes, I wrote. I wrote. I wrote. With a small measure of hope, I wrote.

But, now, I write.

I write a year later, Yemaja, with less optimism about the fate of Haiti in particular the fate of your daughters in Haiti

Monday Morning Mash-Up

Since I only write here at BYP on Mondays, the blogging silence of the other six days often results in hateration build up.  Fortunately, I take notes.  What follows is a rather desultory dose of scathing haterade for your Monday morning.  Who needs caffeine?

Feel my body! gettin’ cooooold. As a friend said on Facebook, Wyclef can’t get The Fugees back together, but he thinks he can fix Haiti?  Well, if it means that ‘Clef will stop making records, then I shall feign Haitian citizenship and vote for him, and suggest you do the same.  I think hiring Cher of Clueless fame as a speechwriter would be a fantastic move for Wyclef.  It does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty!

A Father’s Day Reflection: Do Black Fathers Matter?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A2Ap3DyvLg

For the past 15 years of my life, Father’s Day was a day to be tolerated if not ignored. Unlike Mother’s Day where I actually thirst for the presence of my mother or someone else’s mother, I feel completely indifferent about Father’s Day. And, perhaps, my indifference has much to do with the fact that every day when I look in the mirror I see the face of my father, a man who spent most of my childhood beating my mother senseless and every other poor unfortunate female soul who fell for his southern charm and hetero-masculine insecurities.

As the adage goes, “I am my father’s daughter” if not by biology, definitely by resemblance. So, there is not a day that goes by that I do not see my father’s face and remember the screams, the blackened eyes, the police beating at the door, scraped knees from trying to protect momma, the empty Seagram’s gin bottles, and the many sleepless nights of endless cries for sanctuary of some kind. So, the presence of my father is always near because I see his reflection in the mirror prompting me from time to time to think about what it would mean for me to forgive my dad and also what would it mean for my father to have my forgiveness.

It would mean I would have to stop labeling him as the sole culprit for my mother’s bad choices and life struggles. It would mean I would have to stop hating him for not being there to growl at my prom date or not being there to make a big fuss about the shortness of my mini skirt. It would mean I would have to see him as a man who made many mistakes because he too was blindly running from childhood trauma and violence. And I would have to believe that just because you have a child, does not mean you know how to parent the child and that biology is a cruel prankster fooling people into believing that they instinctively know how to raise children. Let me just say this, it is not instinctual for mothers and it is definitely not instinctual for fathers.

Can Haute Couture Help the Poor?

This month both New York and London Fashion Week featured a special Fashion for Relief show organized by Naomi Campbell to raise money in support of the disaster in Haiti. Basically, I don’t know whether to support the industry providing relief to victims in Haiti or to be offended by the irony of the whole concept.

The entire high-end fashion industry is centered around extravagant clothing and stick thin models. Not only are many women (some of whom are just girls portrayed as much older women) objectified in tight dresses, short skirts, and overly sexy photo shoots. But they are also expected to stay the fragile size they were at 14, walking in dangerously high-heeled shoes.

Some Natural Disasters are not so Natural, but Vodou (Spirit) will Prevail

Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Cant’ no one know at sunset if the next day will be here. In this world of trouble and wars a member must be ready to go. We look forward to things to save us but in a twinkling of an eye everything can be changed. Troubles of this world feel our heart with wage from Soweto to Stonewall, Birmingham to LA. We searching for hope that lie within ourselves as we fight against misogyny, racism, hatred, and pain. Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Cant’ no one know at sunset if the next day will be here**

—Sweet Honey in the Rock, Spiritual

I begin this post with a song written by Sweet Honey in the Rock because its title and lyrics invoke Spirit and Spirits. Furthermore, the song weeps and wails not only of troubles, but of justice, “justice that rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” It lets us know that the way of the world is not as predetermined as governments, private contractors, and multinational corporations believe it to be because Spirit and Spirits “can change some things” as the old people say. So, as we stand on the eve of remembering not only Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the Spirits that joined the movement for freedom in the US, I write this blog to acknowledge the power of Spirit and Spirits to deal with the injustices of what has happened and continue to happen in the country of Haiti.

This week I’ve read many articles and blogs about the devastation and abject poverty in Haiti and how international loan agencies and governments like the US (i.e. World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) have benefited greatly by keeping Haiti in debt. I’ve seen Christian fundamentalist like Pat Robertson say vicious anti-Christ love statements like, “[ the earthquake is] a blessing in disguise . . . [Haiti] made a pact with the Devil in order to liberate themselves from French rule [therefore they deserve what is happening].” Oh, this sounds very familiar to his statements about Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, I’ve watched as CNN’s pundits contort their mouths and faces to convey the inevitability of rioting and looting saying with Hurricane Katrina’s conviction, “We heard gun shots.” In addition to all of this, I’ve read some of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism and I’m left feeling completely hopeless about the long-term fate of Haiti being left vulnerable to the free market’s social experiments. Yes, my heart grieves.

But, as the song says, “Can’t no one know at sunrise how this day is going to end. Can’t no one know at sunset if the next day will be here,” there is hope because there is Spirit and Spirits. For me Spirit and Spirits represent faith-based practices/rituals, spiritualities, religions, justice, transformative collective action, community, Love, and all the things that have “brought us this far a mighty long way” as my Sunday school teacher would say. Spirit and Spirits are the things that allow me to wake up each morning with a renewed belief that the world can change and that I have the ability to change the world.

And for some people of Haiti Vodou is their Spirit and it also was their collective frame for mobilizing against French enslavement and other forms of oppression. Though I am not fully familiar with the practice of Vodou, I do understand the power of believing in something bigger then yourself and something that embodies community, love, and justice. I know I am sounding a little sermonic, but my intent is not to preach. I just need to know that there is something more than greed, capitalism, and hegemonic power structuring the world and the only place I can surmise where this may be the case is in the Spirit and within the Spirits of people. It is in the faith-based, spiritual, and communal practices that preach love, justice, and community that challenge us to envision and create a world of collective peace.