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Dominicans’ Attitude Towards African Descent

Since the modern world is divided into nations, states, and communities, these groups of people, different in size and their characteristics, give rise to even more controversial points in their relationships and views. This is the reason why there are such challenges in the world for which it is sometimes hard to find an effective solution. They include religious, gender, environmental, social, cultural, and political issues. These topics are especially acute in third-world countries, which include the states of Latin America. In the Dominican Republic, one of the most pressing problems is the issue of racial identification. In turn, the population of Haiti has unique ideas about race. These issues are addressed in the study by Professor Gates, which reflects the influence of historical facts on the racial identity of the two nations. Therefore, many Dominicans do not agree with the African components of their DNA, culture, and history, while their Haitian neighbors, with whom Dominicans inhabit the island Hispaniola, inherited everything that Africa had to offer them.

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First of all, Dominicans’ unique racial identity exists due to the consequences of servitude and the African diaspora. During slavery, most blacks were transported to the Caribbean, based on which many Dominicans are indeed of African descent. However, due to the influence of European colonization, Dominicans do not recognize their African roots and take pride in their Spanish heritage. Ricourt (2016) claims that although about 90% of Dominicans are of African descent, only 4.13% of the population recognize themselves as blacks, while the majority, 82%, identified themselves as “Indio.” This term, unique to the Caribbean region, encompasses many shades of brown, although most Dominicans have more African-like physical characteristics. Moreover, according to Read365 (2013), when Dominicans think about their homeland, Spain comes to their mind. Thus, despite the apparent connection between Dominicans and Africans, they do not identify themselves with the black continent.

To analyze the problem of racial identification of Dominicans in more detail, it is necessary to highlight the features of the neighboring people, Haitians. Childers (2020) notes that it is the first independent black nation that defeated its colonial masters in war. Unlike Dominicans, these people deny entirely everything associated with the colonial era and slavery. According to Read365 (2013), Haiti, being the wealthiest colony in the past due to numerous sugar plantations, destroyed everything that reminded of the past, including drainage and road systems and investments in sugar machines. Thus, Haitians sacrificed their material wealth to get rid of the French and Americans’ oppression forever.

Haitians embraced their African origins, and now it is a part of the country’s national culture. In Read365 (2013), Gates asserts that Haitian Creole, despite having some features of French, has taken most of its elements from West African languages. However, Haitians’ connection to Africa is most evident in their religion, voodoo. Childers (2020) claims that this belief was formed among the West African thralls in Haiti as a result of a compound of popular doxies and elements of Catholicism. Thus, Haitians, imitating the Africans, inherited their culture and completely abandoned the colonial past, unlike Dominicans.

The relationship between Haitians and Dominicans can serve as a clear example of racism and prejudice against the black. Being related to Haitians, Dominicans, nevertheless, reject both their language and culture. A propaganda campaign against the neighbors in the Dominican Republic was organized by government. According to Read365 (2013), the Dominican Republic’s former president, Rafael Trujillo, said that Dominicans are a white race, despite their Haitian origin. According to Childers (2020), the trend of discrimination against Haitians by Dominicans began in the last century, when in 1937, about 15,000 people were murdered on the orders of Rafael Trujillo. Because Dominicans deny their African identity, Haitians, who do the exact opposite, are like a red rag to a bull. According to Read365 (2013), racism and anti-Haitian feelings reinforce each other, establishing the attitude to Haitians as a completely different inferior race. This negative attitude towards Haitians gives Dominicans a sense of detachment from their origins. Since they associate their neighbors, with whom relations are not distinguished by respect, with blacks, Dominicans refuse to recognize their connection with this race. Thus, Dominican racism is directly related to them opposing themselves to Haitians.

Based on the analysis of the sources, it can be concluded that many Dominicans deny the African components of their DNA, culture, and history. Despite the real historical facts confirming the belonging of Dominicans to the Africans, they find many arguments to identify themselves with other races. At the same time, Dominicans oppose themselves to neighboring Haitians, which gives rise to racism. The race of these people was socially constructed, and the existing reality is the consequence of the policies of colonialism and various historical figures. Africa is a unique place which has a rich culture; thus, all Africans and people of African descent should be proud of their black race and not live in shame. There is no place for racism in the modern world, and relations between nations, especially those with a shared history as Dominicans and Haitians, should be respectful.

References

Childers, T. B. (2020). In someone else’s country: Anti-Haitian racism and citizenship in the Dominican Republic. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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Read365 (2013) Haiti & The Dominican Republic: An island divided. Web.

Ricourt, M. (2016). The Dominican racial imaginary: Surveying the landscape of race and nation in Hispaniola. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

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