domingo, mayo 24, 2015

A comment on NPR's "Expats Find Brazil's Reputation For Race-Blindness Is Undone By Reality"

On May 22nd Lourdes García Navarro published an interesting article about the experience of African American expatriates living in Brazil.  After reading and exchanging impressions with other commenters I felt compelled to write the following comment.

Maybe because it is too long or for some other reason it was removed, so I decided to repost my comment here:

I think it's great that NPR published this article and I'm glad I read it and all the comments. I've been logging in periodically and reading all your interesting comments and responding to a few of them but there's something on the back of my mind that I would like to share with you if I may. I have never been to Brazil and my only exposure to the country culture if via what I read in articles like this and a few TV shows I've followed in the past.
I don't doubt that the experience of these American expats are real, I don't know them and it would be an affront of my part to question their validity. Another commenter wrote that it is possible that they may be applying the American frame or reference regarding race relations to another culture, which if true would be a mistake. We don't know if that if the case here, but this in indeed a common problem.
None other than Professor Henry Louis Gates made this same mistake over and over again in his "Black in Latin America" series of a few years ago. I saw all four episodes when they aired on PBS and still refer to them. There are good things to say about Professor Gates work and he should be commended for discussing this subject and introducing black Latin America to American audiences. The simple fact that the vast majority of African slaves were sent to Latin American and the Caribbean appears to be unknown because it is not discussed often.
However, I found that he went in with preconceived notions and an unwillingness to acknowledge that his American experience does not apply in Latin America. The main example was his constant use of the one-drop rule to conclude that anyone with any African ancestry was black. As a black man from the Dominican Republic I understand the relevancy of the one-drop rule in the U.S. During the bad old days of government imposed segregation and Jim Crow laws it didn't matter how black you were, those laws applied to you all the same.
So you didn't have those divisions among light skinned, black skinned and everything in between. We were all in this together. I get that. But racial attitudes in Latin America were different and you have to acknowledge that first in any discussion about race relations in Latin America. I'm not saying that the "Casta" system that Spain used in its colonies is better than the one-drop rule, as that would be akin to arguing about which oppressive discriminatory system is "better"... which would be pure nonsense.
Like I said, I don't really know much about racial attitudes in Brazil, I don't know how the Portuguese went about treating their slaves, if they have something like the Casta system the Spanish had in their colonies or how it was in the period after Brazil became and independent country and slavery was abolished. But the bottom line is that racial dynamics in Latin America are different than in the U.S. and if we as people (meaning all of us, from Alaska to Argentina) want to work to makes thing better, lets start by acknowledging some basic truth.
In no particular order:
1-There is racism in Latin America, is not only an "American" problem: Just because we didn't have something like Jim Crow laws, no "official" segregation, no KKK lynching people or we have one or two black presidents doesn't mean that there is no racism in Latin America. Just watch our TV show, our movies or even our beauty pageants: this is how we choose to present ourselves, and we present ourselves as whites.
2-There is a lot that we don't know: If you read this article you would think that Brazil is a racial hell hole, the worst country to be black in the American continent. But as a Dominican I was surprised when I moved to Maryland (I live 20 minutes from Baltimore) and find out that the perception African Americans have is that we Dominicans are awful, self-haters who don't want to be perceived as "black" but as "Spaniards". But then you read about race relations in the U.S. (Freguson, #BlackLivesMatter, Freddie Gray) and you would think that is the U.S. that is the racial hell hole... or them you talk to somebody who have lived in Argentina and tells you how racist they are... not all can be true!... so why don't we admit that there is a lot that we don't know...?
3-We are moving ahead, there is progress: Jim Crow is a thing of the past; a black man is in the White House. Millions of Black families are middle class, professional, business people, doctors, prominent politicians and judges. In my own country people are addressing our reluctance to openly embrace our African heritage. Haitians in the Dominican Republic are joining the middle class and attending college; businesses are advertising in creole to Haitians immigrants. In Brazil you have organizations such as Educafro working to address disparity in education among racial lines. This is important because the impression I have in speaking with African Americans is that they don't know that these movements are there doing the same kind of work that civil rights organization continue to do in the U.S.
4-We are all tribalist: I'm black, but I'm still from another "tribe" around Baltimore. People see me, assume that I'm African American and as soon as I open my mouth I notice a change of attitude. Some are quite open and would ask me "what are you?" I see no problem in that, this is human nature and it doesn't mean that people are being racist. The same thing happened in Puerto Rico, where I lived more than 20 years. The same thing happened in Perth Amboy, NJ, where I have relatives and in which everybody wanted to know if I was Dominican or Puerto Rican. That's who we are by virtue of being humans and we need to be aware of that and not think that every stare we give or receive when we interact with "others" means that we or the other is a unrepentant racist.
5-Humans are complex creatures, so let's keep our channels of communication open: Race, culture, our experiences shape us. Let's take advantage of forums like this, of occasion like this to try to learn a little bit more about each other.
That's all I can think of right now. I'm pretty sure there is more that we can say, agree or disagree regarding this subject matter.

miércoles, marzo 25, 2015

Did Bloomberg fact checked story about Dominican Nurse?

A huge hole in Ezra Fieser's report calls into question its veracity

Yesterday afternoon I was checking my Google News page, following up on certain topics that interest me and this was the headline that greeted me when I clicked on the "Dominican Republic" portion of my customized news page:

Google News - Dominican Republic - March 24th, 2015

With certain apprehension I clicked on the headline from Bloomberg ("Dominican Nurse Fired for Haitian Parents Shows Expulsion Threat") and read the story of a Dominican Nurse named Anne Dimanchi Saintil who was allegedly fired from her job because...well, let's quote from the report:

(Bloomberg) -- Anne Dimanche Saintil was born in the Dominican Republic, earned her nursing degree there and worked at a hospital in the capital, Santo Domingo. Then she was fired, because her parents were from Haiti. 
Dimanche is among as many as 110,000 people living in the Dominican Republic without any legal status after the government, following a Supreme Court decision, began denying citizenship to Dominican-born children of undocumented immigrants, almost all of whom came from neighboring Haiti. She said she lacks official paperwork on her birth because she was born at home, and now fears she’ll be deported to Haiti, a country she doesn’t know. [emphasis added]
Before I continue I would like to make clear that I am not writing about Ms. Dimanchi Saintil, but about what reporter Ezra Feiser claims happened to her.  I don't know her and I don't have special knowledge of her circumstances.  But I know certain things that put into question the veracity of Mr. Fieser account of her story.

The biggest hole in the story is Ms. Dimanchi Saintil status as an undocumented Dominican, given the fact that she is a nurse.  In the Dominican Republic you need to either go to college or nursing school to get a degree that would allow you to work in a hospital as a nurse.  To get into college, you need to have a high school degree ("escuela secundaria" in the Dominican Republic).  And in the Dominican Republic, to get a high school degree you need to have a birth certificate.

Please, don't just believe me but check it yourself in this link to the rules published by the Dominican Ministry of Education in order to attend school in the country.  This is not a small detail; it is in fact at the center of Mr. Fieser story.  Is Ms. Dimanchi Saintil is indeed undocumented, how did she went to school without the necessary paperwork?

You would think that Mr. Fieser would delve into that, because if the claim that Ms. Dimanchi lacked "official paperwork on her birth because she was born at home" is not true, then he either has no story of we're talking about something else here.  But we don't know because Mr. Fieser apparently didn't bother to check.

In fact, not even halfway into the story Mr. Fieser is quoting "Carlos Ponce, director of Latin America programs at Freedom House, a Washington-based organization".  For non-geography buffs, Washington is about 1,500 miles away from Santo Domingo (where Mr. Fieser is located).  So instead of following up on the story where he is, he follows the usual template of checking with a NGO or "human rights" organization outside of the country.

I'm not a journalist, but what I would do is go to the hospital and try to find out why Ms. Dimanchi Saintil was fired. Yes, they might tell me "we can't discuss this case right now" but maybe they want to talk "off the record" or maybe some of Ms. Dimanchi Saintil colleagues would be willing to talk and support her story... I don't know... like I said... I'm not a journalist.

I wrote an email to Mr. Fieser editors at Bloomberg looking for comments; I also copied Mr. Fieser and I have yet to hear back from him.  I think there is a valid story here, as Mr. Fieser manages to scratch the surface on some of it.

But given that Mr. Fieser doesn't seems to be interested at all in reporting the facts on this case, I won't hold my breath waiting for something more.

lunes, marzo 02, 2015

Datos fundamentales son omitidos en la cobertura de la República Dominicana

Nota: Este blogpspot fue publicado en Ingles aquí

Medios de comunicación internacionales fallan en la verificación datos básicos sobre la República Dominicana

De seguro que usted se dará cuenta por el hecho de que este blogspot esta siendo publicado en la plataforma que quien le escribe no es un escritor de renombre, un periodista en la nómina de un gigante mediático, un laboratorio de ideas o universidad de prestigio.  De hecho me considero el prototipo del "ciudadano interesado" que se aprovecha de todas las herramientas que gente como yo tienen a su disposición para comentar sobre temas que nos interesan.

Me gano la vida como un profesional de la informática en una compañía privada en el estado de Maryland, EE.UU. y soy nativo de la República Dominicana.  Aunque ya no vivo en mi país natal y considero los Estados Unidos como mi hogar, todavía tengo interés en la República Dominicana y sigo con atención lo que se publica sobre el país por medio de la Internet.

En los últimos dos años la principal noticia relacionada a la República Dominicana en la prensa internacional es la situación que enfrentan inmigrantes Haitianos y sus descendientes a consecuencia de la sentencia 168-13 del Tribunal Constitucional Dominicano.  No tengo problemas en admitir que las cuestiones relacionadas a esta sentencia son complejas y el que este interesado en este asunto debe comenzar por leer la sentencia.  Solo son 147 páginas, en Español y el conocer de asuntos legales ayuda pero no es necesario.

Ni siquiera voy a pretender que puedo hablar con autoridad de la sentencia y cuestiones relacionadas, ya que este no es el propósito de este blogspot.  Mi preocupación es la cobertura que este tópico ha recibido y la información errónea de datos fundamentales acerca del país, sus leyes y sus instituciones.  Permítanme comenzar con el último ejemplo de esta practica, una pieza de opinión escrita el pasado 27 de Febrero por Iman Amrani con el título en Ingles "Stateless and Silenced" (Apátridas y Silenciados).

La Srta. Amrani es una periodista con sede en Londres y según su perfil profesional indica que es asociada del periódico The Guardian del Reino Unido, aunque la pieza de opinión a la cual hago referencia fue publicada en la sección Latino Voices del Huffington Post.  La Srta. Amrani comienza su pieza con el siguiente párrafo:

Hoy es el día de la Independencia en la República Dominicana.  En todo el país, miles de Dominicanos celebraran el aniversario 171 de la expulsión del gobierno Haitiano luego de 22 años en el poder, controlando la totalidad de la isla de la Hispaniola.  A propósito el aniversario de la Independencia de la República Dominicana de España, que colonizo el país dos veces, no es observado. [énfasis añadido]
El hecho de que la independencia de Dominicana "no es observada" fue una sorpresa para mí y de seguro sorprenderá a todo aquel que conoce datos fundamentales de la historia de la República Dominicana.  Esto es porque los Dominicanos si celebramos nuestra independencia de España el 16 de Agosto, fecha patria Dominicana conocida como el Día de la Restauración.

Mi primera reacción fue tratar de contactar a la autora de esta pieza y ver si podía usar este detalle para entablar una conversación sobre este artículo.  Anteriormente solía simplemente dejar un comentario en la historia, pero últimamente he decidido que contactar a los autores de artículos como este puede que resulte en un enfoque más productivo.  La única información de contacto que ofrece la Srta. Amrani es su cuenta de Twitter, por lo que le escribí los siguientes tuits:

Traducción: @ImaniAmrani Srta. Amrani, ¿sabe usted que se celebra en la República Dominicana el 16 de Agosto?

@ImaniAmrani ¿Sabe usted quién fue Gregorio Luyeron y por qué una ciudad, una bahía y un aeropuerto en la República Dominicana llevan su nombre?

Momentos después de enviar el segundo tuit recibí esta respuesta de la Srta. Amrani:

 No soy muy dado a estar lanzando acusaciones sobre personas que no conozco; de verdad que no puedo decir que conozco bien el trabajo de la Srta. Amrani, ya que el artículo de ella al que hago referencia es el primero que le he leído.  Pero no habla muy bien de ella la cita errónea de un dato fundamental sobre la República Dominicana y que su reacción al cuestionarle sobre esto fue el equivalente moderno de taparse las orejas para no escuchar.

También es de notar que en su pieza la Srta. Amrani afirma que se desempeño como maestra en una escuela Dominicana; de hecho ella sabe que España colonizo el territorio Dominicano dos veces, por lo que su afirmación de que el país no celebra la fecha de independencia de España es aún más desconcertante ya que no se trata de un dato trivial.

Hay otros ejemplos en la pieza de la Srta. Amrani en que datos fundamentales sobre el efecto de la sentencia del Tribunal Constitucional Dominicano y otros eventos a los cuales ella hace referencia:

  • Afirma que Henry Claude Jean, un hombre que fue asesinado el pasado mes de Febrero era un "limpiabotas Dominicano de descendencia Haitiana".  Como se indica en la historia publicada por el Huffington Post al cual la Srta. Amrani hace referencia el Sr. Claude Jean es un ciudadano Haitiano.  Este dato es también confirmado en una carta abierta publicado por RECONOCIDO (un grupo cívico Dominicano) y que fue dirigida al Presidente Dominicano Danilo Medina.
  • Afirma que la sentencia 168-13 del Tribunal Constitucional Dominicano "niega con carácter retroactivo la ciudadanía a personas nacidas en el país luego del 1929 y cuyos padres eran inmigrantes ilegales".  Para ser justos con la Srta. Amrani ella no es la única que hace esta afirmación.  De hecho es precisamente de esta manera como esta historia ha sido reportada por diversos medios de comunicación internacional (como el nota periodística de Reuters que ella cita).  Como exprese anteriormente este es un asunto complejo, pero puede ser entendido por cualquiera que este interesado en informar sobre este tema leyendo la sentencia (como lo hice yo).   La primera parte de la sentencia afirma que cualquier persona a la que se le haya emitido un certificado de nacimiento "irregularmente" (es decir, no se presentó la documentación que se requiere a los Dominicanos o extranjeros asentados en el país legalmente) no es un ciudadano Dominicano.  La segunda parte de la sentencia siempre es dejada fuera por la prensa en su cobertura de este tema, aunque es la parte en la cual el Tribunal Constitucional establece que el culpable principal de crear la situación que resulto en la emisión de certificados de nacimientos en forma irregular fueron los varios gobiernos Dominicanos y ordena al gobierno actual tomar acción correctiva para impedir que los afectados quedaran en un limbo legal (o "apátridas").
  • Los 200,000: De nuevo no es la Srta. Amrani la única que esta reportando este número (que otros indican puede llegar a 250,000) y se refiere al número de personas que supuestamente son afectadas por la sentencia del Tribunal Constitucional.  El gobierno Dominicano, según esta nota periodística del diario local Diario Libre afirma que el número de afectados es solamente 24,392 personas.  La diferencia no se puede categorizar de ninguna manera como una pequeña discrepancia, por lo que es de esperarse que alguien citara la fuente del número mayor que contradice al gobierno Dominicano o el por qué existe esta diferencia.  Ni la Srta. Amrani o ninguna otra fuente de mi conocimiento ha publicado la fuente de este número.  Entiendo que es cuestión de ética periodística que si alguien se dedicó a la tarea de producir este número y encontró que de hecho alrededor de 200,000 a 250,000 ciudadanos fueron afectados por la sentencia, esta persona u organización debe recibir el debido crédito por su trabajo.
  • "Trabas burocráticas" en el proceso de naturalización: ¿Cuáles son esas trabas?  La Srta. Amrani no indica quien o quienes son los culpables de crear estas trabas burocráticas ni tampoco provee cita que indique de que se tratan.  Tampoco provee información alguna sobre el "proceso de naturalización" y quienes se beneficiaran de este, dato importante dado su afirmación anterior de que a 200,000 personas se les quito la ciudadanía.  Informes en la prensa Dominicana (como este del Listin Diario, principal periódico local) afirman que nacionales Haitianos que pueden beneficiarse del proceso de naturalización protestaban en frente de las oficinas consulares del gobierno Haitiano, alegando que los documentos que necesitan para poder aplicar ante las autoridades Dominicanas se han retrasado.  Otro informe publicado por El Nuevo Diario indica que a los nacionales Haitianos se les esta cobrando $135.00 por un pasaporte, que resulta ser el mismo precio que yo tendría que pagar por renovar un pasaporte Dominicano en cualquiera de las oficinas consulares del país en los Estados Unidos.  Dado que para un Dominicano el costo de conseguir un pasaporte nuevo es de $37.00 y si los informes que indican que a los nacionales Haitianos se les esta cobrando $135.00 son ciertos (y de verdad, no estaría de más si alguien en la prensa decidiera abundar sobre este asunto), este costo resulta excesivo.
Es irónico que la pieza de la Srta. Amrani fuera publicada en la sección "Latino Voices" (Voces Latinas) del Huffington Post, ya que aparentemente los Dominicanos no tenemos voz propia en estas cuestiones.  Es como si fuésemos algo así como espectros sin vida y sin voz, que lo único que hacemos es causarle molestias a los inmigrantes Haitianos y la situación no nos afecta de ninguna manera.

Los Dominicanos somos Latinos y no esta de más que nuestras voces también sean escuchadas cuando pedimos que los hechos reales que subrayan este tema sean presentados con fidelidad.  Debo mencionar que comenté el artículo de la Srta. Amrani con Roque Planas, editor de la sección Latino Voices del Huffington Post y me complace mencionar que él a prestado bastante atención en esta y otras ocaciones en que él ha sido contactado sobre la cobertura que se ha dado a este tema.

Termino exhortando al Sr. Planas y sus colegas a que se aseguren de tomar todas las acciones pertinentes en la búsqueda de la verdad en este tema y cualquier otro que estimen de interés periodístico.  Si a travez de sus esfuerzos aprendo que todo lo que yo entendía era la verdad sobre las políticas de inmigración de la República Dominicana, los efectos de la sentencia 168-13 y la subsecuente ley de naturalización (169-14) en realidad no lo era no tendré pena alguna en admitirlo.

La búsqueda de la verdad, sea cual sea es de por sí una tarea digna y con mucho valor.

Basic facts are missing on coverage of Dominican Republic

International media fails in checking basic facts about the Dominican Republic

You should probably guess by the fact that this blog is being hosted by that I'm not some big time writer or journalist working for a large media organization, a fancy think tank or a prestigious university.    I am in fact the prototypical "concerned citizen", taking advantage of the tools that people like me have available today to comment on things that interest us.

I work full-time as an Information Technology professional in a large corporation in the state of Maryland, USA and I'm originally from the Dominican Republic.  Although I don't live there anymore and consider the United States my home, I'm still interested in my country of origin and follow the news over there as closely as I can via the Internet.

For the last two years the main story related to the Dominican Republic in the international media has been the situation of Haitian immigrants and their descendants and how they are affected by the Dominican Constitutional Court's ruling 168-13. I'm the first to say that the issues surrounding this ruling are complex and anyone who's interested on this topic should start by reading this ruling.  It's 147 pages long, in Spanish and if you have a background in law (I don't) it would help but it's not necessary.

I won't even pretend to address the ruling and the issues surrounding it, as this is not the purpose of this post. My concern is how this issue has been covered and the misreporting of basic facts about the country, its laws and institutions. Let me start with the latest example, a February 27 post by Iman Amrani with the title "Stateless and Silenced".

Ms. Amrani is a journalist based in London and according to her online profile is associated with the UK newspaper The Guardian, although the post that I refer to was published in the Huffington Post Latino Voices section.   Ms. Amrani starts her post with the following:

Today is Independence day in the Dominican Republic. Across the country, thousands of Dominicans will celebrate the 171st anniversary since the expulsion of the Haitian government after 22 years in power, controlling the entire island of Hispanola. Incidentally the anniversary of Dominican independence from Spain, who colonized the country twice, passes without notice. [emphasis added]

The fact that the Dominican independence from Spain "passes without notice" came as a surprise to me and it would probably come as a surprise to anyone who knows basic facts about the Dominican Republic history.  That's because we do in fact celebrate our independence from Spain on August 16th, a Dominican holiday known as "Dia de la Restauración" (Restoration Day).

My first reaction was to try to contact the author and see if I could use this as an opening to start a conversation about the post.  In the past I would just comment on the story, but lately I had decided that contacting the authors of posts like these might be a more productive approach.  The only contact information for Ms. Amrani was her Twitter account, so I posted the following tweets:

Shortly after the second tweet I got this reply from Ms. Amrani:

Iman Amrani Twitter Profile

I'm not into casting aspersions on people I don't know; I really can't say that I know Ms. Amrani's work, as this post is the first time I've ever read her.  But it really doesn't reflect well on her that she got a well known fact about the Dominican Republic wrong and when challenged about it she went for the online equivalent of covering her ears.

It is noticeable that in her post Ms. Amrani states that she was a teacher in a Dominican school; she knows the fact that Spain colonized the country twice, so her claim that the country does not celebrates our independence from Spain is even more puzzling.  This is far from an obscure subject after all.

There are other instances in Ms. Amrani's post in which she misstates facts about the effect of the Constitutional Court ruling and other events she references:

  • She calls Henry Claude Jean, a man who was murdered early last month as a "Dominican shoeshiner of Haitian descent". As indicated in the Huffington Post story that Ms. Amrani herself quotes Mr. Claude Jean is in fact an Haitian Immigrant.  This is also confirmed in an open letter published by a RECONOCIDO (a Dominican civic group) and addressed to Dominican President Danilo Medina.
  • She claims that ruling 168-13 "retroactively denied birthright citizenship to people born in the country after 1929 to illegal immigrant parents."  In fairness to Ms. Amrani she's not the only one making this claim.  This is in fact how the effect of the ruling has been reported (as it was in the Reuters story that she links to).  Like I said above, this is a complex subject but it can be discerned by anyone interested in reporting the facts by reading the ruling (which I did).  The first part of the ruling states that anyone who was issued a birth certificate in an "irregular manner" (meaning, they did not present the required documentation needed by Dominican citizens or foreign citizens legally settled in the country) is not in fact Dominican citizen.  The second part of the ruling is never reported, even though is the part that actually puts the fault on various Dominican governments that so many irregular birth certificates were issued and order it to take corrective action to prevent those citizens from remaining in legal limbo (or "stateless").
  • The 200,000 number: Again, Ms. Amrani is not the only one reporting this number (others put the number at 250,000) and it's supposed to be the number of citizens affected by the ruling.  The Dominican government according to this report by local daily Diario Libre states that only 24,392 citizens are affected.  This is not a minor discrepancy, so you would at least expect to get the source of the larger number and some clarity on why such a large discrepancy exist.  Neither Ms. Amrani or anyone else that I know of have quoted the source of this number.  As a matter of journalistic integrity, if somebody did the foot work and found out that in fact 200,000 to 250,000 citizens are affected by the ruling, that person or organization should get the credit.
  • "Bureaucratic hurdles" in the naturalization process: What are those "hurdles"? No culprit is given in Ms. Amrani's post and she gives no details or link to any source that could document what are these.  She also neglects to provide any background about this "naturalization process" and to whom it applies given her earlier assertion that 200,000 citizens were stripped or their citizenship.  Media reports in the Dominican Republic (such as this report by leading local paper Listin Diario) state that Haitian nationals who are elegible to benefit from the naturalization process are protesting in front of the Haitian government consular offices, claiming that documents that they need to apply are being delayed.  Another report by El Nuevo Diario indicates that Haitians are being charged the equivalent of $135.00 for a passport, which happens to be the same price that I would have to pay to renew my Dominican passport in any of the Dominican consular offices in the U.S.  If these reports are true (and it really wouldn't hurt for somebody to actually follow up on these claims), the price paid by Haitians living in the Dominican Republic for these documents seems excessive. 
The biggest irony is the post being published in the Huffington Post's Latino Voices, as it appears that Dominicans do not have a voice on this issue.  Last time we check, we are Latinos too and we deserve to be heard when we request that the actual facts underlining this very complex issue be presented.  I addressed Ms. Amrani's post with Roque Planas, editor for Huffington Post Latino Voices and who I should mention has been very responsive and engaging with all those who have approached him to discuss this very sensitive issue.

So I finish by asking Mr. Planas and his staff to ensure that no stone be left unturned in searching for the truth in this or any other issue that they deem newsworhty.  If through their efforts I learn that everything I had believed about immigration to the Dominican Republic, the effects of ruling 168-13 and the subsequent naturalization law (169-14) is wrong it would not ashamed me to acknowledge this.  

Shining a light on the truth, whatever it might be it's indeed a very worthy goal.

martes, diciembre 03, 2013

Legislador en estado de New Hampshire insulta a candidata Hispana

Representante Marilinda García (fuente
Representante Peter Sullivan

El pasado lunes 25 de Noviembre el honorable Peter M. Sullivan, representante del décimo distrito en Hillsborough en la cámara de representantes del estado de New Hampshire se refirió en forma despectiva de su colega, la honorable Marilinda García y que representa en ese cuerpo legislativo al octavo distrito en Rockingham, New Hampshire.

El Sr. Sullivan comparó a la Sra. García Kim Kardashian, actriz de un programa de telerrealidad y que salto a la fama en el 2007 luego de publicar un video pornográfico casero.  El ataque del Sr. Sullivan aparentemente fue motivado por la decisión de la Sra. García de anunciar  ese mismo día que se postularía para representar a su estado en la cámara de representantes federal.

El Sr. Sullivan se refirió de esta forma a la Sra. García en su cuenta de Twitter, y en respuesta a los comentarios negativos que recibió por sus comentario cerró su cuenta para no recibir más comentarios y se negó a ofrecer disculpa.

La Sra. García fue elegida a la cámara de representantes de New Hampshire en el 2006 a los 23 años, pero no fue reelegida en las elecciones del 2008.  Sin embargo, ganó el escaño que ocupa hoy el 2009 y fue reelegida en el 2010.  Recibió una maestría en política pública de la Universidad de Harvard en el 2010.

Por su parte, el representante Sullivan ante la indignación de los simpatizantes de la representante García se burló de ellos al ofrecer una “disculpa” a Kim Kardashian por compararla con la “extremista”   Marilinda García.

Al preguntarle por twitter si el ataque a la representante García fue motivado por el hecho de que ella es latina, el representante Sullivan lo negó y la acusó de ser hostil a los homosexuales y los obreros.

domingo, septiembre 15, 2013

A response to Claudio E. Cabrera "Dominican Colorism"

My parents and grandparents
From left to right my paternal grand parents, my maternal grandmother (holding mom) and me with my parents and brothers

Recently I came across a Huffington Post column by Claudio E. Cabrera, a Dominican American writer who wrote about the issue of Dominican Colorism and racial aptitudes in our country and among its people. I wanted to respond on the comments sections of Mr. Cabrera's column, but try as I may I could not fit what I was trying to say in the 250 words limits of the comments section.

So again I decided to dust off my blog, which has not been updated since the day Whitney Houston died and respond here. I intend to tweet this response to Mr. Cabrera with the hope that he's at least able to see it and be open to an alternative view of this phenomenon that he describes. So here is the response in full: 

I'm a black man born and raised in the city of Santiago, in the Dominican Republic. My brothers and I went to a private elementary school in my hometown (the old “Instituto Iberia”, which no longer exist). During recess one day my brother and I were taunted by white kids calling us "monkey, monkey". I was about five or six at the time, so at a very young age I was aware or racism, even if I did not know the world myself. When I turned 16 I was required to get a government issued id and in the section about identification traits under "color" (nor race) it said "indian".
I did not chose that, it was assigned to me and when it came time to renew that document I made sure that it read "black". I remember being told by the government bureaucrat that was issuing the document "but you're not black, you're indian" (which is how dominican tend to refer to people of my color complexion), but I prevailed. My interest was accuracy as I knew that my father and his father were black, my mother was a light skinned black woman and her mother appears to be a black woman in the only picture I have of her (she passed away in the early 1940s).
I was not interested or even thinking about my "true roots", because I always thought of myself as Dominican and not by race. I live in Maryland now and a few weeks ago I went to visit my girlfriend father, who lives in the city of Baltimore with his sister (all of them are blacks). I'm not exactly a talker, so besides the customary greetings initially I didn't say much and the conversation was mostly between my girlfriend and her father and aunt.
At some point somebody (I don't remember who) asked me a question and I started to respond with my accented English and at that time aunty looked at me as if she was looking at an alien and just asked "What are you man..!!??"
What was she asking me..? was she asking me if I was black? I don't think so, she could see that herself. I responded with the only answer I could give her that would quickly explain to her why I was talking the way I did: "I'm Dominican" (BTW, I found the who episode hilarious, but understand that to american sensibilities her 'what are you..” question might be slightly offensive).
So, was I committing the cardinal sin of "denying my roots" because I said I was Dominican? Yes, racism is a problem in my country. But people need to stop and think before reflexively getting to the conclusion that because some people identify themselves with their country of origin and not a race that they are running away from their true roots. The issue of race and identity is a very complex one and it does not lends itself to simplification.
Yes, there is distrust and dislike of Haitians in the D.R. At the same time a black man who's father was from Haiti (Ulises Heureaux) was president for 17 years in the 19th century and another (José Francisco Peña Gómez, the son of Haitian emigrants who were forced to flee the country by Dictator Rafael Trujillo) was almost elected president in 1994 in an election marred by fraud (I personally believe that he won).
When his parents fled the country, Peña Gomez was adopted by a Dominican farmer who raised him as his son and gave him his name. This issue requires thoughtfulness and at the same time resistance to the urge to try to impose or see the aptitudes of other people through the prism of american culture and norms. I understand why Mr. Cabrera feels the way he does, as he was born and raised in the United States. I think that the same understanding should be extended to those that were born and raised outside of this country.

domingo, febrero 12, 2012

Recordando a Whitney

A mediados de la década de los 80 me mude con mi familia a Puerto Rico después de terminar la secundaria en Santiago; este fue un tiempo de muchos ajustes para mí, ir de ser un muchacho despreocupado en mi ciudad natal a pensar en la Universidad y en como hacer unos pesitos.

Mi primer intento fue vender enciclopedias Grolier (¿se acuerdan de eso?) y había una oficina de ventas en un multi-pisos frente a la casa donde vivía. Todas las tardes para ir a mi trabajo cruzaba por una tienda por departamentos que ocupada los primeros niveles del edificio y sin falta pasaba por el departamento de música a ver por unos minutos a mi “novia”.

A Whitney Houston la vi por primera vez en MTV (en esa época cuando su programación consistía en su totalidad de videos y no los “realities” sobre chicas que eran gordas o vainas así). El video de la canción “You Give Good Love” fue el primero que vi y admito que lo más me llamó la atención fue la belleza de la cantante, que no es de extrañar ya que antes de cantar era modelo.

Pensé entonces que Whitney sería otra más y que esa canción sería su tope. Pero luego vino “Saving All My Love”, “All At Once”, “Greatest Love of All” y el álbum vendió millones de copias. En esos tiempos no había Internet de donde piratear las canciones y el que quería música o la compraba o grababa una cinta de la radio.

Lo demás como dicen es historia y para mí tomo un turno fatídico cuando Whitney se casó con Bobby Brown, al que de seguro muchos están ahora culpando del la caída personal y profesional de la cantante. Yo estoy tentado a hacer lo mismo, pero la verdad es que en este mundo todos somos responsables de nuestras acciones y lo más fácil es echarle la culpa a otro de nuestras infortunas.

Ayer mientras estaba medio dormido me dijeron que Whitney había muerto y no fue hasta que puse las noticias que vine a comprender lo que estaba pasando. A esta hora todavía no se la causa, solo que la encontraron muerta en un hotel. Es una muerte que no se la deseo a nadie, en la soledad y quizás sin poder despedirse de familiares y amigos.

Solo queda rezar por su alma y recordar su legado, su hermosa voz y su rostro que aún hoy en día en sus buenos momentos radiaba belleza.

Descansa en paz, Whitney.

sábado, agosto 13, 2011

"Como madre, yo no soy responsable de las acciones de mi hijo.."

¡Que perla...! quien dice eso es "Doña" Maite de la Calva, respondiendo al hecho del que el consejo del distrito de Wandswort al sur de Londres la va a expulsar a ella y a su familia de un apartamento subsidiado por la ciudad y valorado en 225,000 libras por que su hijo Daniel Sartain-Clarke-de 18 años-fue acusado de participación en los recientes disturbios y saqueos en esa ciudad.

A Daniel se le acusa de intentar saquear una tienda de artículos electrónicos. Ahora, tomen en cuenta que el apartamento en cuestión tiene un valor en dolares de $366,750 o casi 14,000,000 de pesos dominicanos. Este es el apartamento:

No se ve nada mal, y en el reportaje original aparece una foto de doña Maite dentro del mismo y la verdad que se ve mejor aún. Recuerden que el mismo fue provisto muy generosamente por los ciudadanos de Wandswort como ayuda a doña Maite y su familia.

Aún así doña Maite no entiende por que sus "derechos humanos" están siendo "violados" de esta forma; ella alega que su hijo es solo culpable de estar "en el lugar equivocado en el momento equivocado". En ningún momento leyendo el reportaje encontré referencias a la responsabilidad de doña Maite para con sus hijos, de inculcarle valores y en momentos como estos no hablar de excusas ni de "derechos" cuando se ha faltado al contrato con una sociedad que tan generosamente ha cuidado de ella y su familia.

Comparen a esta señora con la madre de esta "muchachona":

Esta "durita" como dicen en boricualandia. Mirenla en esta otra foto "redecorando" un auto patrulla:

La joven es Chelsea Ives, atleta, embajadora de las olimpiadas que el próximo año se van a celebrar en Londres; su madre Adrienne reacciono con horror al ver a su hija en la televisión participando en los disturbios. Pero aún así, no lo pensó dos veces y dio parte a la policía para que arrestaran a su hija y respondiera por sus acciones. Nada de excusas ni pendejadas sobre "derechos humanos".

Me parece que al menos una persona va a aprender una lección sobre lo que es vivir en sociedad y las responsabilidad que todos tenemos de comportarnos como gente decente, incluso ante la presión de los "amigos" y no usar el "todo el mundo lo hace" como excusa cuando uno falla.

Sospecho que Chelsea se va a recobrar de este triste episodio, pero no tengo muchas esperanzas para Daniel Sartain; ¿podra él algún día trazar una linea desde el momento en que decidió faltar a su responsabilidad como ciudadano al momento en que él y su familia fueron expulsados de su vivienda pública?

¿O por el contrario recordara este hecho como el momento en que sus "derechos humanos" fueron violados por una sociedad que no entiende que si uno esta frente a una tienda de artículos electrónicos en el momento que se forma un disturbio es su "derecho" entrar violentamente a la misma y adueñarse de lo ajeno...?

Actualización: 9:48am

Encontré este video de SkyNews, donde la madre de Chelsea habla de su decisión de dar parte a las autoridades sobre las acciones de su hija. Habla por si mismo: