Beyond Xenophobia: A Look at the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic, a country made up of wondrous beaches, breathtaking mountain backdrops, a sweltering desert and extraordinary architecture with many lavish European-owned resorts is in the middle of a clusterfuck. You read it correctly. A CLUSTERFUCK!

Usually, I’m a bit more eloquent but I need to be understood. No sugarcoating. No kind words. Haiti and the Dominican Republic have shared a tumultuous relationship for at least 300 years. La gente del caribe sabe eso. On June 17th, the Dominican government is moving forward to deport at least 100,000 Dominicans (this number is conservative) to Haiti. Notice that I did not say BACK TO HAITI! Almost all of them have no birth records even though they were born in the Dominican Republic to parents that came from Haiti to work the sugar cane fields and were not birthed in hospitals and therefore never issued birth certificates. What’s most disgusting, though not surprising,  is that they are all BLACK or as the Dominican government so graciously describes them as “dark-skinned Dominicans with Haitian facial features”.

A Dominican-born man with Haitian parents
A Dominican-born man with Haitian parents

 Haiti is a country that most of the deportees have NEVER known. They’ve no ties to the country other than having a connection by a relative. They’ve spent THEIR ENTIRE LIVES in the Dominican Republic. SON DOMINICANOS. How does a country strip away its own citizens’ patria?

On September 23, 2013- the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic issued a bogus order to audit all of the nation’s birth records back to June 1929 to determine who no longer qualifies for citizenship i.e Haitian- descent Dominicans. This idiotic law has left hundreds of thousands of Dominicans with no homeland. Because this particular group of Dominicans are the offspring of Haitian migrant workers with no documentation, they are “in transit” and need a visa to be in the country.

Let me get this straight! A person that was born in DR and has lived their whole life in this one country is “in transit”? Get the fuck outta here! This is absurd. Afro-Dominicans should be up in arms over this foolishness. The country is made up of primarily people of AFRICAN-descent-NOT SPANISH OR INDIGENOUS as so many Dominicans would like for you to believe.

Dominican children playing in the countryside.
Dominican children playing in the countryside.

The most upsetting piece of all of this is the law can’t be appealed. There’s no case to plead. Where is the global outrage? APPARENTLY, BLACK LIVES DON’T MATTER IN SITUATIONS ASI!

Edward Paulino, a historian, at John Jay College who has studied the relationship between the two countries described the situation best.

“The Dominican Republic is at a crossroads. What does it mean to be Dominican in the 21st century? It is a country of immigrants, but no other group is like the Haitians, which arrived with the cultural baggage of a history of black pride in a country that chose to identify with the European elite.”

Ironically, this could be detrimental to Afro-Dominicans with no blood ties to Haiti. In poor towns like Azua, Barahona, San Pedro de Macoris, y Sosua where home births happen more frequently, these same people, who seemingly support this travesty of justice, can be deported based on aesthetics. The extreme racism against ANYTHING AFRICAN in DR is no secret but this is some Trujillo 2.0 shit. (The self-hating piece of shit, Trujillo, was of Haitian-descent as well).

This past February, anti-Haitian sentiment resulted in the lynching death of a Haitian immigrant in Santiago. A lynching that took place not in the US but the Dominican Republic. There was no uproar or civil unrest. In fact, people walked past his hanging body like he was a mango ripe for the picking. They ogled him. They were indifferent. They left him there. Yeah, I said it!

LOOK AT THIS IMAGE! Don’t look away. Take it in. That image triggered sadness for me. I could not imagine the terror that he lived in his final hours. He was 19 years old and

shined shoes for a living. He was beaten, bound and then hung. His ONLY crime was being Haitian in a nation that didn’t want him there. This hatred makes my own blackness tangible. Podria pasar en mi pais tambien? Do my husband and his brothers have to worry about their black skin when they go to their own black mother’s birthplace?

Lulile- a Haitian immigrant lynched in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Lulile- a Haitian immigrant lynched in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

I am weak with anger from the ignorance and indifference of this country’s people. I am ashamed for my daughter and husband. I DO NOT SUPPORT A PLACE THAT GIVES BLACK LIFE NO VALUE.

Does this sound familiar?

K.

K. Araújo, a native Detroiter, is a cross between Claire Huxtable, Rosie Pérez and Millie Jackson. Widow, professional dragger of filth and Mami to the dopest Ethiopian EVER, she is the Editor in Chief of "Negra With Tumbao" and a Staff Writer for "The Urban Twist". Keka has been known to shake what her mama gave her, is the hell and high water, an expert salsera and cussologist with a penchant for the finer things in life and is and forever shall be- unapologetically black.
  • jr

    As a musician i am taking a stand .we should stop supporting this country . The caricum nations should take a stand and condem this . we shouod revoke thier visa and send them back to DR if that s the way they are going to treat others who live in thier country .

    • Nations do condemn this… we just need to put action behind it.

    • Sandra Vinas

      As a musician you should be more intelectual and investigate before to express an opinion, this woman, first is not a dominican, have you lived in DR before, how do you know that the information of this blog is %100 trustworthy? all the musician that I know are extreamly smart…

      • The fact that you think that I’m a musician speaks to your intelligence level. Have a seat. My husband is afro Dominican and so is our daughter y soy afrocubana. I don’t have to be Dominican to know racists when I see them.

    • Sandra Vinas
  • Saddening! We need to do more to stop this!

  • Ghislaine Jean

    What a shame!!!
    And just think, that I have nieces and nephews married to Dominicans in the USA

    • My husband is Dominican and there are Dominicans that stand in solidarity with Haiti but to those that don’t… they can go to hell!

  • Joey

    They immigrate all over the world and they are welcome they are some sorry son of a bitches.

  • swatkins827

    This is so shameful. This is my country and the way that our own people are treating our own people is disgusting. My parents are both from DR. My mother is light and my father is dark skinned. My family across both sides have all variations of skin colors and to think that just because one of them or several of them are darker complexion that they get booted out or worse simply for their skin color is sickening. I appreciate you sharing this issue with the world. Nothing can take place without knowing there is a problem.

    • Thank you. It’s profound that people want to shuck and jive what the issues are. MEJORAR LA RAZA didn’t exist for nothing.

  • Sandra VUnas

    Yo quiero ver en este blog, cuya autora se describe como cubana, un extensivo acerca de CUBA y de los abusos que vive el pueblo cubano por parte de sus gobernantes, què te parece el reto? tu crees que tengas suficiente cerebro para eso?

    • Tu crees que no? Si, yo soy cubana NEGRA y no pretiendo que racismi no existe por El Caribe incluyendo La RD… en la misma forma que maten la gente en Cuba.. eso ha pasado en RD especialmente con gente NEGRA en tu pais. Es bien interesante a mí que la gente que apoye al gobierno dominicano insistirá que no son racistas y que son inteligentes.. Las dos son mentiras.

      • Sandra Vinas

        Jajajajajaja! Dónde esta la respuesta, no respondiste nada!!!! OMG que pensamiento tan simplista!!!!

  • Sandra VUnas

    Perdòn, quise decir: Yo quiero ver en este blog, cuya autora se describe como cubana, un extensivo REPORTAJE acerca de CUBA y de los abusos que vive el pueblo cubano por parte de sus gobernantes, què te parece el reto? tu crees que tengas suficiente cerebro para eso?

    • Tu sabes que hay un monton de ilegales cubanos in DR. Por que no van a deportarles a ellos?

  • Rocio

    Yet another biased article on what is possibly the most misunderstood subject regarding Dominican Republic. You, like many of your peers, have no idea as to what you’re talking about. This has nothing to do with being black or with race. The DR has been receiving all sorts of international pressure for decades. NGOs and governments like yours want this country to just assume Haiti as its own. Guess what? We can’t. The situation is far more complex than what you so lightly post in this website of yours. At the center of it we have the incompetence of Haiti and its authorities, who never bothered to give their citizens the documents they are entitled to. We also have at the heart of this matter the ongoing instability in Haiti in all possible terms (economical, political and so on), lack of control in the border from both sides, foreign and local entrepreneurs who take advantage of the needs of extremely poor people and cynical governments from the so called “first-world” that are always vowing to help Haiti and end up pressuring DR into assuming a responsibility which is not ours. Get your facts straight and stop misinforming poeple. We’ve had enough.

    • What bullshit. You wrote a novel to say nothing? This isn’t complex or rocket science. If a man is 40 years old and born in the Dominican Republic. He is DOMINICAN no matter WHERE his parents were born. Like I said before this is Trujillo 2.0… apparently, I know more about your history than you.

      • rdiazp

        You are the one spreading bullshit. I gave you an objective answer, and I posted it decently. You, on the other hand, insult whomever doesn’t agree with you. I’m not wasting my time with riff-raff like this or you. By the way, assuming you live in the U.S., may I reming you that last night you had yet another race-hate crime? 9 people killed by a white dude. You should wash your own laundry first…

        • No what you did was try to insult my intelligence with a smile and I was direct. You don’t have to agree and I don’t care if you do. HOWEVER, the fact remains that DR is a racist country JUST LIKE THE USA and unlike you…I call bullshit out when I see it. I’m aware that there is a GLOBAL WAR on black people and not ONLY do I write about it, I’m a foot soldier.

          Have an awesome day, Rocio.

  • Yle

    Every country is entitled to its own laws. In USA all are talking about illegals. Because the DR is not being influenced by any one on its laws, it doesn’t means we are bad. Many countries have same kind of laws. If you are not the son or daughter of its citizen you are not a citizen of the country.

    Because all the DRAMA in USA with police officers one wants to cry racism. In DR that does not work. We are not under American laws but European laws GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT not innocent until proven guilty. The Dominican President tried give them the opportunity to get their documents in order so they can stay in the country.

    Please be respectful of other cultures…. I also believe that there is no need to use PROFANITIES to make a point. If one feels offended because ones intelligence has been question. …PLEASE DON’T BE OFFENDED BUT I NEED TO DOUBT THE LEVEL OF INTELKIGENCE…..OOOPS, I FORGOT, ONE CAN BE INTELLIGENT WITHOUT EDUCATION!

    • Yle,

      2 things. I communicate how I choose on my blog. 2nd- you are deflecting the issue. THESE PEOPLE ARE DOMINICANS… BORN AND RAISED. What if the US government said ALL Americans of Dominican descent had to be deported effective immediately? People that have never been to DR a day in their lives would be sent to a country that they didn’t know… Would you want to leave?

      Think about that and get back to me.

  • So you and your paisanos insist on insulting my intelligence with your lack there of? Let’s get this clear… your asshole, racist, and self-hating country REPEALED A LAW THAT HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY PASSED GIVING ALL PEOPLE BORN IN DR DOMINICAN NATIONALITY EVEN IF THERE PARENTS WERE FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE. THEY MADE THE LAW RETROACTIVE TO 1929. They didn’t ask Jewish or Italian descent Dominicans to get out nor did they threaten deportation. WE KNOW THAT TRUJILLO ALLOWED JEWS TO COME TO LIGHTEN UP THE ISLAND.. tell that mierda to somebody that doesn’t know better. OOPS you aren’t that intelligent nor educated.

    • Sandra Vinas

      Rocío, no vale la pena perder el tiempo en este blog, esta señora ni sabe lo que habla y no respeta al público que se toma el tiempo de leerla, las respuestas que ha dado a nuestros comentarios la dejaron coja en su argumento por la simple razón de que no tiene la más mínima idea de lo que está hablando, por consiguiente,dice lo primero que se le ocurre en la cabeza y para colmo de los insultos llama a eso objetividad, increíble…

  • Claribel

    Just in case you could not read my FB response. I was very intrigued by your blog post and i couldn’t help but to comment. I am of Dominican descent and I have been exposed to racism in this country because of my nationality and it bothered me to read your comments and blog post. I sympathize with some of your opinions and other I don’t. The actions of a group don’t define entire country y por generalizar no vamos a llegar a nada no mucho menos ayudar una causa. It’s like saying that all Cubans are communist y que este país no debe de darle asilo político a los cubanos.

    People are entitled to there opinion the same way your entitled to yours. Your opinion or it’s a Dominican does not make it any better than anyone else’s. I read your article and what is going on in DR is far beyond what history has written and to be able to comment on the situation in DR you have to talk about every other problem that is going on in the country and you have to live there to understand. How doe you fix classism problem that country has suffered for centuries? Or the corruption of a government?

    How does signing a petition to boycott a DR help the rest of the Dominican’s that share the same opinion you have or just simply don’t care and have no way out? What about those lives, they don’t count.

    The media and government have there ways of portraying information and to be able to comment on a situation you have to listen to both sides of the story or live in the actual country to know. The immigration law was in forced to all people who didn’t have legalized papers, all other nationalities were affected. Por esa parte te mal informaron.

    In your article you don’t speak of the positive side of the situation how the Haitian community helps the Dominican economy, how hard workers there and how DR has helped Haiti when other countries have give there backs.

    In the closing in your article you state ” you don’t support a place where black life doesn’t count”? And now I ask you why are you living here? Because the USA is not any better with the immigration laws. We have the same law of deporting children of immigrants and there it does not matter if your Hispanic, European, black. I am not expecting you to answer my questions but to think about what you wrote and I totally understand your frustration and i don’t agree with immigration laws either but I just think things can be handled differently everyone has an opinion but no one contributes to a solution.

    El conocimiento es gratis, no lo va hacer rico pero quita la ignorancia, lamentablemente gracias a la falta de conocimiento de dominicanos, haitianos y de una gran parte del mundo, estamos buscando culpables en vez de buscar una solución.

    me gustaría leer un artículo sobre tu opinión de la situación en Cuba y el echo que este país a abierto los vuelos Cuba.

    • Thank you for your post. My issue with most of the people that have an opinion that’s different than mine isn’t the fact that the opinion is different. It is the denial of fact and deflection to something else. I live in the US and I am just as vocal if NOT more vocal about the injustices here AND in Cuba. It IS MY BUSINESS as an African Diasporan (nationality or heritage aside) to speak up AND act on the injustices against BLACK PEOPLE GLOBALLY. Let’s be honest- economically who actually benefits from tourism in DR? Dominicans? Absolutely not. How many of the resorts in DR are ACTUALLY OWNED by Dominicans? I will wait…. Also, how many people of African descent can actually work in the resorts? I, certainly, understand people wanting to defend their homeland. The world IS taking a hard look at the Dominican Republic as THEY should. It is great to talk about the racist US. That isn’t a new fact. It is well- documented throughout history as a matter of fact. However, the Dominican Republic has had an extensive racist history which Dominicans often sweep under the rug, ignore or blatantly lie about. Never in my post did I say ALL Dominicans. I did gave a factual account of the law, Dominican History and your country’s past. What I would suggest is that people stop trying to sugarcoat this horrendous situation and DO WHAT’S RIGHT!

      We aren’t even talking about Haitians. We are talking about DOMINICANS. People born and raised in DR with NO conocimiento of Haiti. Claribel, please provide factual information on the US deporting European men and women and children. It doesn’t happen. Blacks and Hispanics- Absolutely but the US gives asylum to more Europeans than any other nation.

      I am assuming that you’ve not read my other blog posts because I, openly, speak about the war on African Diasporans AROUND THE GLOBE. It may do you some good to follow the blog so you can learn EXACTLY WHAT my position is on MY people.

      Cuidate!

  • nerak

    Wow girl u are right on target. Many dominicans are straight up racist and proud of it. Ill never forget the conversation i had with a dominican girl who was the same color as me but claimed she wasnt black. I asked her why her skin tone was so close to mine and she blamed the sun. Both haitians and dominicans have skin tone issues. Many light skin haitians are raised to think they’re better than darker skinned Haitians and in some cases treated better. Ignore these proud racist who try to justify racism in their beloved country. Dominicans are a mixed race ppl mainly of african descent. Try and tell them and they will just argue with you. I see them trying to tell you how you should respond on YOUR own page. They think they can talk to you any kind of way because of your skin tone. They don’t like brown skinned ppl speaking up for themselves, even though they are black. They are wired to disrespect ppl who are darker skinned.