Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Mirror
Every time we look at a mirror, what do we see? We see a reflection of ourselves, but not just a physical reflection but a mental and cultural one as well. Mental and cultural in the sense that that image that we see not only represents our culture but also our very minds as well, because it is those mirrors that allows us to be face to face with ourselves. Why is that after we have done an act that brings shame to us, some cannot see their reflection because of what that reflection does to them. A mirror can allow us to see a truth that we may forcefully blind ourselves to in the real world.
Now when I look in the mirror I see a young Dominican male that is in a state of conflict in regards of his identity, the same way that the whole country of Dominican Republic blinds itself to the reality of their own identity. The people reject their African ancestry not only mentally but physically as well, this can be seen in the way we treat our brothers and sisters to the west, the first black republic in the New World, Haiti. Now two years ago a law was created by the Constitutional Tribunal, a court created in 2010 that serves to interpret the constitution and pass laws based on their interpretation, now the law is called TC 168/13. The law strips the nationality of people with Haitian ancestry from 1929-2010; due to the law, over 200,000 people do not have citizenship and have nowhere to go, because all they have known is the country in which they live in, Dominican Republic.
Now why am I bringing up a law that was created two years ago, because it is still relevant and it is a representation of how we treat our brothers and sisters to the west. Our treatment of the Haitians as second class citizens is the same as looking in a mirror and breaking it because we as a community cannot come to terms to the truth that is reflected in the mirror. Dominicans and Haitians are the same, we have been colonized by a European power, the indigenous population was decimated, Christianity was forced down our throats, slaves were transported to our lands, and we both have suffered cruel dictators. We not only share a history but we also share a house, if there is an earthquake in Haiti we feel its effect as well and if there is a hurricane in the Dominican Republic, Haiti feels it as well. The TC 168/13 law and our social relationship towards Haitians is Dominicans committing an act of self-oppression, self-hatred, and even self-destruction.
Now do all Dominicans hate Haitians? Of course not, the purpose of this is to give an observation towards the relationship towards the symbiotic relationship towards Dominicans and Haitians. We as a community need to embrace our African heritage and understand that that is a part of our identity and our history as well. Our reluctance to accept the reality that is portrayed in that mirror is out of fear, it is ridiculous that we still instill that fear towards blackness into our children; by repeating the notion of “advancing the Race” which is to marry somebody that is lighter skin so that the next generation has lighter skin. That does not advance the Race, it just blinds it to our past.
We must learn to accept the reality that the mirror offers us, that even though there is a border between us, we actually live in the same house and we must embrace our brothers and sisters of the west wing of one of the magnificent houses in the Caribbean. In order to do that we must learn to accept the image of the mirror that we have broken and repair it piece by piece, starting with our ridiculous law, TC 168/13.
About the Author
My name is David Alfredo Paulino. I am twenty-one years old and I am currently a senior attending SUNY Cortland. I am an international studies major with a concentration in Global Political Systems and my minors are Anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Asia and the Middle East. After I finish my bachelors degree in Spring of 2015, I wish to take a year break, while still being able to contribute to CNY Latino. After that year I wish to join the Peace Corps and hopefully work somewhere in Latin America. Once I finish my service in the Peace Corps, I am going to pursue a Masters degree, most likely in the University of Peace at Costa Rica, which is a United Nations Charter School.
I was born in Manhattan, NYC, but I currently live in the Bronx with my Mother, little sister, and Stepfather. Although I was born here most of my fondest memories come from my frequent visits to the Dominican Republic, and always being there. I even stayed there for a year due to my constant going back and forth, I grew to love the atmosphere there and sometimes I yearn for it more than the actual city.