Monday, April 02, 2007

Just Bought a New Soapbox...You Like?

I don't know how it is for the other side, but calling a Dominican "Haitian" might get you stabbed with a broken Presidente bottle. This has been a fact for as long as I can remember.

As a little kid being Haitian or having Haitian attributes was the equivalent of being called every derogatory and hateful word in any and every language. Haitians were "bad." They practiced weird, devil-worship and ate little kids while they slept. At least that's what I heard.

So of course, when I got to that age where you find the one thing that will upset someone and use it against them, and met a boy who's parents were from Haiti, I had a field day! I'm not proud of it, but I got all the kids in our grade to start calling him a Haitian Booty-Scratcher. Now folks- I have NO IDEA what that means, but it used to make him SOOOOOO MAD that we just kept doing it. Again, I'm not proud of it- I was 12. And a bully. Deal with it.

But as a teen, I got a job at a used furniture store owned by a Haitian family in Elizabeth, NJ. By then I'd graduated from one of the most diverse high schools in the city and no longer felt the need to use terms like Haitian Booty Scratcher, and saw nothing wrong with working for this family- I needed money to pay for college, they needed a tri-lingual store manager.

Well my folks FLIPPED THEIR LIDS about this. Everyday after work Papi would question me about my boss, if he asked me to "do anything weird" or if they offered me anything to eat or drink. It was so bizarre! Especially because my boss was nothing but nice to me- no sexual tension, no improprieties, just an employer-employee relationship all the way.

Fast forward to last year, when I read The Farming of Bones, which told the Haitian side of the story of the conflict between the two neighbors that share Hispaniola in the Caribbean. That book was so powerful that I went and read Why the Cocks Fight, a NON-FICTION book about the strife between the two nations.

And it is just so hard to believe that so much hatred can live on such a tiny island.

So recently, I'm reading the news wire from DR and I see these two items:

8. AI calls discrimination "deeply rooted"

Amnesty International (AI) classifies the treatment of Haitians living in the DR as "deep-rooted racial discrimination" and adds that the country is responsible for many human rights violations.

The international human rights organization's "Life in transit," report was presented as part of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and reveals practices like deportations of Haitians without any judicial supervision and the denial of birth certificates to millions of children born in the country to Haitians "with irregular situations" as part of the problems that Haitians face in the DR.

AI representatives Gerardo Ducas and James Burkey criticized the Dominican authorities' denial that discrimination against Haitians existed, and said that the government hasn't taken the proper steps to rectify the problem. AI says that they asked to meet with the Dominican authorities to present them their report but weren't able to.

The pair did meet with Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis who took notes on the report but refrained from commenting.

9. France's responsibility in Haiti

Hoy newspaper's editorial today criticizes the alliance of Amnesty International and the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delance, as an irresponsible way of passing on the Haitian problem.

"France, if perhaps Delance has forgotten, enslaved Haiti in the most cruel manner. For a change, the Dominican Republic has been since then where Haitians come to reduce the penuries that the French left in that country. They come to work in farming, construction and street sales and send their savings home," writes the editorialist.

The editorial also points out that the accusation comes shortly after President of Haiti Rene Preval denied the Dominican government was violating the rights of Haitians.

"The French community knows that France has much responsibility for the calamity in Haiti, but refuses to accept that past and looks the other way, as do other economic powers.

"And Amnisty International is not concerned with the situation of Haitian jails nor whether human rights are respected in Haiti, and is even less capable of requesting that France honor its historic responsibility in the luck of Haiti," reads the editorial.

First, I'd like Amnesty International to check their history books and realize that the discrimination goes both ways- DR has ruled over Haiti and Haiti has ruled over DR, and each time power changed hands and borders were moved brutality came with it. FROM BOTH SIDES.

I'm not denying that Dominicans discriminate against Haitians, because I've seen it first hand, but we are not the bully that AI is making us out to be. We just happened to get the better half of the island. Not our fault. If Haiti has issue with that, tell them to take it up with the Spaniards who landed there and claimed it as their own.

Second, hell yeah France needs to see their part in all this, but the editorial was a little over dramatic. Just like I laugh whenever I hear a black person talk about reparations (negro- you ain't NEVA gonna see that money, 40 acres OR a mule, so get over it!!) I laughed at the thought of France actually giving two shits about an old colony full of African descendants who have bastardized their language and the Christian religion. HA! Not in my lifetime, that's for sure.

And finally, I want to say to AI, Haiti, DR and all of the other whiny-ass, blow-hards who have nothing better to do but point fingers and conduct studies and write reports and blow things out of proportion in the media:

SHUT UP!!! Life ain't fair! In this version of reality, the darker your skin, the lower on the totem pole, buddy. Those are the breaks. I didn't create it, I just admit it.

The racial discrimination that exists in the Dominican Republic didn't start with the colonial authority that took over Hispaniola and told the natives and transported Africans that they were sub-par humans. From what I hear it started way before that in other places. It ain't going nowhere, so just accept it.

What AI and other nosy-bodies need to realize is that DR is a proud nation (pride goeth before the fall, I know...) and OF COURSE they are going to deny any wrong doing. But it's like teaching your kids that eating meat is wrong and then eating a cheeseburger in their faces- the US and other powerful nations that "run" AI are chock full of discrimination and are telling the "brown" countries that they are bad for doing it, too...where's the study on that??

Yeah, that's what I thought...

PS- Please keep in mind I'm not clear on all the facts- I was too busy watching TV to do my Social Studies homework- but that's my gist on it. Feel free to find the ACTUAL facts and clue me in.

*smooches...just this side of being Haitian*
gunnin for high score in the land of dreams
morbid bluish-white consumers ogling luminous screens
on the trail of forgetting
cruising without a care
the jet set won't abide by that pesky jet lag
and our lives boil down to an hour or two
when someone pulls a camera out of a bag

and i am trying to evolve
i'm just trying to evolve