Wednesday, February 10, 2010

haitian-dominican relations

I was running a little late for work this morning, like usual. I turned the corner to get to our side entrance--our front door is blocked off because we're constructing an extension to the building. I turned the corner and saw most of the other volunteers in a little gaggle outside the door. "Whew," I thought. "I must not be that late." They were talking to a couple Dominican men I didn't know. It turns out that someone hung themselves behind the community center I work at. When I found out, I said, "Wow, how sad!" And the random Dominican man said, "No, it's okay! He was Haitian! He left!" and made a "get out" hand gesture.

Needless to say, he was a little confused about why we were still upset, even though he was Haitian.

Later, in my computer class, I had the kids look at this page of photos after the Haiti earthquake and choose one, and then write a description of the photo and how the photo made them feel. One student chose a picture of some men digging out a building. The English caption said, "Residents search for victims after an earthquake in Port-au-Prince January 13, 2010." But of course the kids can't read English, so this kid wrote that it was "Dominicans helping Haitians out of a building." I asked him how he knew they were Dominicans. He gave me a "Well, DUH" face and said, "Look at them!" I gave him a little lecture about how not all Haitians look the same, and neither do all Dominicans, and Haitians work hard, blah blah blah.

I think I have more to say on the topic, but I am tired.

No es fácil, no.


Elizabeth said...

How tragic--both the man who passed away and the attitude towards Haitians. I spent a lot of time studying the Trujillo era in college as well as Balaguer's presidency, and I can only imagine how long it will take to counteract all that hatred and fearmongering directed against Haitians. So, so sad and scary.

I hope you're doing okay.

Looking Best for the Dress said...

Hi. I found your blog randomly and had to comment on this. I spent 3 weeks one summer teaching in the DR and was totally shocked by their utter hatred of the Hatians. I was going to take a couple of pictures of these two Hatian kids and a Dominican man told me they'd break my camera. He wasn't kidding. It's sad because the Dominicans are the closest to be able to help after this earthquake but I'm sure they feel that they just got what was coming to them.