Since today is Flag day in Haiti, I decided to write this in our honor.
Unlike most people who travel to the caribbean for vacation, I try to look into the fiber of the society which I’m visiting. As with any vacation, I was excited about my trip to Santo Domingo for the very first time. So many people had told me about the island, I was ready to have the best time of my life once I got there. Soon after my arrival to the island, the driver who picked me up from the airport to take me to my resort started making small talk and we were soon engaged in a conversation, however limited it was, due to his inability to speak english fluently and my inability to understand his spanish. Nevertheless, we managed with my limited spanish and his limited english. It was kind of odd that Sammy Sosa’s name came up right away, because of his latest effort to transform himself from a black man to a white man by bleaching his skin and added new green contacts to his eyes. Right away I sensed the lack of pride in Sosa, because of the sarcasm in the driver’s voice. This lack of pride also came from a government that reinforced the negativity towards darker skinned people. Not much different from the US, but the Dominican Republic is a nation that’s made up of 90% dark skinned people. The driver himself was what I would call a medium brown skinned brother with wavy hair. That small conversation led to bigger conversation on my part with other tourist guides from the island during the rest of my trip. It was ironic that many of them thought I was Dominican, but not black. LMAO!
I was shocked to learn that most of the Dominicans do not want to embrace their African ancestry, even though most of them are brown to dark skinned people. It was disturbing as the days went on and I started to learn more about the Dominican culture. On one of the tours that I went, the tour guide was proud to talk about his Taino ancestry, a tribe that was annihilated hundreds of years ago. Though apparent in his pigmentation, the blackness or darkness that most of the tourists are seeking under the hot Dominican sun, this man was very apprehensive about letting on that he was part African. It was a good thing that I was forewarned about this inferiority complex by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, the Havard professor who made the documentary called Blacks in Latin America. It was a little too late after I watched the tape because the trip was already booked. I damn sure would have saved my money.
I found that most people in the Domincan Republic to be pleasant, however, it is an insult to them to call them black. To take it even further, it’s even more insulting to think that they have Haitian blood. The irony about this situation is that there would be no Dominican Republic if they were never liberated from the Spaniards by the Haitians. At one point, the whole island was called Ayiti. So, any person with dark skin in the Dominican Republic most likely has Haitian decendants. I also found out players like Alfonso Soriano, Juan Pierre(obvious last name), Sammy Sosa and many more well-known baseball figures in the USA, all have Haitian forefathers and even parents. However, the Dominican government would not grant them a visa to get a contract with MLB if that information is made public.
Furthermore, the Dominican government’s propaganda in the public’s eye is that they have the best interest of the Haitian people at heart, especially after the earthquake, but after visiting the shanty town with slave-like quarters where the people of Haitian decent live, I beg to differ. After visiting a sugar cane plantation where migrant workers are paid less than .50 cents a day to work 14 hrs, I would strongly disagree. After learning that Dominican born children of Haitian parents are not recognized by the Dominican government as citizens, and are kept from attending school because of their ancestral background, I was angry. After learning that kids are sometimes picked up on their way home and decapitated and killed for no reason simply because they are black and have Haitian background, I was pissed. After learning that they openly talked about President Obama being less than human on national radio in the Dominican Republic because his father was from Africa, I was ready to kill somebody.
I say all this to say that if you’re planning a trip to the Dominican Republic, please go spend your money elsewhere. We do not need to support a government that allows people to be ostracized on a daily basis when all they are looking for is an opportunity to work and provide for their family. Unfortunately, I can’t go into too much detail as this is only a blog, but I promise I will follow this up with a detailed book to expose the atrocities going on in the Dominican Republic.
I encourage all people, whether black or white to stop visiting the Dominican Republic because they’re still violating all the human rights that most people across the world, in America, South Africa, Europe, South America and Asia are fighting for. The UN has had to beg the Dominican government to allow them to build schools to allow these children to attend. I say to my Haitian brothers and sisters: keep your head up because we will rise again as a nation, and people will once again recognize our achievements as a strong people and the first free black republic in the world.