¡Feliz viernes a todos!
Thanks for joining me again this week! While this month has not been focused directly on activism, I have still been showcasing some resources on activism and Haiti, tying our themes from this month and the last together. My first two posts this year showed activism in forms that were different than the protesting we might immediately associate with the word. However, since we at Vamos a Leer are focusing on loving one another, community, and self-love, this week’s post will be focused on the Haitians and Haitian-American activists who are standing (quite literally) in protest with Dominicans of Haitian descent in the recent Dominican Republic-Haiti Deportation crisis. For those of you who have not heard about this, you can learn more from Michele Wucker’s article or from this NPR broadcast. This crisis, which involves the mass deportations of thousands of “Dominican-born Haitians,” or second/third generation Dominicans of Haitian lineage, is sparking upset globally. After spending this past summer learning Haitian Creole and visiting the country for myself, I am particularly invested in this topic. But more than anyone, Haitian and Haitian-American activists are upset and are taking a stand on the behalf of Dominican-born Haitians.
One prominent activist in Miami’s Little Haiti district, whom I had the great pleasure of meeting while in Miami, is Marleine Bastien. She is the director of Haitian Women of Miami and spends much of her time in activist work. In June, she coordinated a rally in Little Haiti to stand with the Dominican-born Haitians in their fight against the unjust deportation. While the deportation still took place, Bastien holds on to hope that Haitian-Dominicans will be able to regain their citizenship.
But Haitian-Americans weren’t the only ones protesting! Haitians in Haiti also protested to show solidarity to the Haitian descendants in the D.R. Although the deportations still occurred, the fact that so many stood up and stood together with those at risk of deportation brought a great deal of international attention to the Dominican Republic in ways they were not expecting. For example, the Dominican Republic is highly reliant on tourism in their economy, but with the negative publicity they have received from this crisis, people are boycotting tourism to the D.R. There is also talk of boycotting Dominican produced commerce, though neither boycott seems just to the activists who signed this document.
The issue is complex, especially when you add in years of historically charged prejudice as discussed in Wucker’s article. To learn even more of the nuances, check out this conversation with two amazing authors, Edwidge Danticat and Junot Díaz, as they discuss “A Shared View from the Diaspora.” Despite the complexity, or maybe even because of it, we think this contemporary issue would be a great conversation builder for the classroom. Resources like these could lead to discussions about how activism can cause consequences not previously considered, like the loss of jobs as a result of the boycotts. If we are going to inspire our students to think like activists, we should challenge them to also think before they act and make sure they consider who their actions will impact and in what ways. Standing up and standing together is important, but it should never mean harming another (directly or indirectly), which is a conversation that should not be left out of the classroom.
Furthermore, looking forward into March and at important women in history, we can highlight the above-mentioned female activists (Danticat and Bastien) as examples of powerful modern women and segue into powerful women in history, like the ones we will be showcasing in just a few short weeks.
With warmest wishes,
Image: Photo of Dominican-born man of Haitian descent. Reprinted from AlJazeera under CC ©.