In the Dominican Republic, anti-darkness is behind the violent deportations of Haitians. Here’s how we can help you

In the Dominican Republic, anti-darkness is behind the violent deportations of Haitians.  Here's how we can help you

As a Dominican racial equity activist with the organization In Cultured Company, I watched the anti-Haitian migrant violence unfold in October and November with profound horror.

There are cases of violence and structural racism which are worsening and which are now in synergy in the Dominican Republic. According to MST, the Movimiento de Trabajadores Socialista, the Dominican government expelled around 85,000 people between January and September 2022.

Then, on November 11, 2022, President Luis Abinader issued Executive Order 668-22. The decree ordered the mass expulsion of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent living on state-owned land used for sugar cane plantations. The deportations began at a rapid pace. According to reports from the Dirección General de Migración, an average of between 4,000 and 5,000 people were detained and deported in October 2022 each week. Despite this information, the official figure of those detained and expelled is not yet available.

The best way to explain how racial violence and anti-Haitianism works is to tell a story about these abuses in one person’s life.

Imagine, for example, a child named Javier. Javier’s mother is a second-generation Dominican-Haitian woman, the daughter of a cane cutter who was brought to the country in the 1960s during a time of booming sugar farming, and a Dominican mother. She bears the Haitian surname of her father. Javier’s mother and the whole family live in a bateye, state-owned land where they cannot buy their land and build their own house. They can be removed at any time.

It is important to understand that Dominicans are taught to hate their darkness, closeness to African culture and their closest neighbours.

Javier was in school and finally had the chance to finish high school when in 2013 the Dominican government declared that because he had Haitian parents, he was not a Dominican citizen. Today, Javier continues to live in the bateye without having access to job opportunities. One morning, at 4 a.m., Javier wakes up to the sound of police breaking down the door of his humble home. He is arrested, placed in the back of a truck and sent to a detention center without toilets, showers or access to food.

Although this is a “fictitious” story, it is a fairly typical case that highlights how the life of a single black man is destroyed by the state and its anti-black policies and xenophobes. Discrimination and state violence against Haitian migrants and their children has steadily increased since the deeply conservative, elitist, white government of Luis Abinader took power in August 2020.

As someone who has worked to decolonize and heal the racial wounds that permeate the Dominican community, it is intolerable for me to watch the spread of fascist ideologies, such as racial replacement theories, misinformation and hatred. It is important to understand that Dominicans are taught to hate their darkness, closeness to African culture and their closest neighbours.

However, it is also important to remember that it is possible to unlearn hate and racism. It is possible to change. To be truly in solidarity with those experiencing violence in the Dominican Republic, it is important that Dominicans and our allies in the black diaspora take steps to educate ourselves, support a racial equity analysis of the situation, and act on the basis of this knowledge.

Here are some steps and resources to build solidarity with those affected by this ongoing assault on human dignity and freedom:

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