Commentary: Today I’m Embarrassed to Be Dominican

This week marks the 76th anniversary of the Dominican Republic’s Parsley Massacre. It was October 1937 when dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the killing of an estimated 30,000 Haitians living in the country. Many who were black or suspected of being from the neighboring country, and those who were unable to pronounce the word “perejil” (parsley in Spanish) without an accent, were executed. Many of the murdered had been born in the Dominican Republic. This was Trujillo’s attempt at mass ethnic cleansing. The notoriously racist Trujillo wanted to blanquear la raza—“whiten” the race.

Seventy six years later, last week, the Dominican Republic’s highest court ordered the denationalization of all Haitians who were born after 1929, and according to news reports, more than 210,000 Dominican born children of Haitian descent could be deported next year. The ruling violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that everyone has the right to a nationality and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.”

As a Dominican woman I am saddened by this ruling. There are many Dominicans who are descendants of Haitians, yet have never been to Haiti. This ruling denies children the right to go to school and strips away their access to health care. This ruling is another form of racism and discrimination that has existed in the Dominican Republic for many years. It is internalized racism and part of a sad history of oppression against a group of people, many of whom were allowed into the country from neighboring Haiti for field work decades ago only to be shunned later.