For the last few days the country and perhaps the world has been obsessed with the life and times of Rachel Dolezal. Specifically, black Twitter, which I love, spent the better part of the weekend dragging her across the internets using the hashtag #AskRachel, which a Huffington Post article referred to as “Black America’s Family Reunion.”
While we were obsessed with this less than worthy news topic of a white woman who identifies as black, actual black people living in the Dominican Republic, many of them for three or four generations, were quickly approaching a deadline to register with the government, in hopes of being able to stay. This story has not picked up traction in the American media or social media, despite more than two million Americans being of Dominican or Haitian descent.
The NYTimes, headline, “Migrant Workers in Dominican Republic, Most of Them Haitian, Face Deportation” (editor’s note: they changed the title prior to my publishing this post) is misleading in that it outwardly neglects the fact that the country is rendering stateless generations of Dominicans that are of Haitian ancestry. While they are trying to repatriate a significant number of migrant workers who were born in Haiti, they are also throwing descendants of Haitians into a stateless turmoil. The law requires that the relevant authority audits birth certificates dating back to June 1929, in an effort to determine who qualifies for citizenship and who does not.
Haitian migrants working in the Dominican Republic for nearly a century have filled menial positions such as working on sugar plantations, working as maids, construction workers and other low-paying roles, those that natives typically did not want to engage in. Now children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these workers, all of whom were born in the Dominican Republic may be rendered stateless. They have no claim to Haitian citizenship and their country of birth and where many have made a living is revoking their citizenship.
The laws and rulings by this government are clearly racist and are putting hundreds of thousands of people into administrative, legal and financial turmoil. Many governments have not been extremely vocal about the measures that the Dominican Republican is taking, and that is largely because many regional governments deal with problems of migration and immigration themselves, including the United States.
I urge all of you reading this to boycott the Dominican Republic and be sure to tell your family and friends to do the same. Globalization means that our actions can affect the way governments in other countries behave. The Dominican Republic has a very active and lucrative tourism industry that is largely fueled by Americans. With cheap flights and all-inclusive packages, Americans often flock to resorts in the DR for quick and affordable getaways.
Now is the time to divert your tourism dollars to another Caribbean country. If you already have a flight and hotel booked call your airline and hotel and tell them that you want a refund because you do not support what the government is doing and you fear that you may be harassed while in this racist country. Even better would be to divert your tourism dollars to the other side of the island, HAITI!! I’ve yet to visit the Dominican Republic and doubt that will happen in the next decade, but I have been to Haiti for vacation and I highly recommend it! In fact I will be hosting a group trip to Haiti in September. Stay tuned to my blog for more information.