New York Law School

Dear America

Dear America,

I hope this letter finds you well. I heard the economy is booming, unemployment rates are decreasing, and healthcare is finally reformed. With all of those things going on, I figured you must be in the dark about this.

I know how much you care about human rights – thank GOD you do! From conflicts in Cuba to Rwanda, your track record speaks to your relentless pursuit for justice in and outside your borders. I’ve felt horrible keeping this secret from you the last couple of months.

I am the youngest of two. Born to two Haitian immigrants in Flatbush, Brooklyn, I take pride in being Haitian-American. I have only been to Haiti once, and that was a 4-day trip during my senior year in high school. However, I was raised in an environment where culture was important in the quest for identity. (Believe it or not, you were a GREAT help in that area!) My sister and I were taught, “Your current location did not make you who you were; the blood that runs through you did.” So my parents made sure Haitian Kreyol was our primary language, and placed the responsibility for my sister and me to learn English on the Department of Education. You would think it would stop there; however, from pre-school until 8th grade, my sister and I were enrolled in French-speaking Seventh Day Adventist schools. It was the perfect blend of education, religion, discipline, and, of course, culture. So though I had never been to Haiti, during my studies in a school staffed primarily by Haitian educators and administrators, our participation in the annual Haitian Flag Day Parade on Eastern Parkway and the May Program Concert made me feel even more connected to my parents’ culture… and as I grew older, it became my culture. Thank you for making room for that, allowing billions of citizens and representatives of other nationalities to be melted into this beautiful pot of freedom.

Here is the issue: There are at least 210,000 people who are currently stateless in the Dominican Republic. Stateless. How can you live somewhere your entire life and at the stroke of a pen become stateless? One morning you woke up, like any other day, with no question or doubt as to your identity. By that same afternoon, you became a question mark. All of a sudden, the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic decides that you, who were born in the Dominican Republic, are no longer Dominican. I see everyone on the island was taught the same view. “Your current location did not make you who you were; the blood that runs through you did.” Except, the Dominican tribunal and its supporters seem to have taken the saying literally. The deportation of Haitian migrants and descendants is rooted in hatred towards the Haitian blood that runs through the people. While the country is unable to conduct DNA tests for every resident in the country, darker complexions, wider noses, kinky hair, and French-sounding surnames have been “dead giveaways” sufficient for home raids, savage beatings, and murders of… my people. Does this sound familiar, America?

I figured the world has left you out of the loop with this one. While everyone around the globe has been asking for your opinion on this issue, I have been placed in the awkward position of explaining to them that you must not have known about this. I mean, it’s just not like you to stand around and mind your business. You have gone to war on behalf of other nations who did not ask for your help. You have sent aid to refugees in other countries. You even took it upon yourself to sever ties with Cuba because of your disagreement with its leaders. No one is asking you to be a superhero, but when you put up your fist as one of the world’s superpowers, well… don’t change your tune now.

Where is the United Nations, you ask? I’ll get to them too; but let’s not forget that you haven’t pressured them to do anything to help the hundreds of thousands of refugees that are being sent to a country that they had never been to – a country that is still reeling from devastation following the 2010 earthquake – like you’ve done in the past. Thousands of Haitian natives remain without homes, and now the Dominican Republic will cause a drastic spike in that number. Not only will they be stateless, they will be homeless. Men, women, and children. (That’s one area without discrimination.)

Where are you, America? There are more Haitians and Haitian descendants living in America than in Jamaica, and yet Jamaica has made it very clear she will boycott the Dominican Republic on our behalf. What about you, America? Where is your fist? Where is your voice? Now is not the time to turn a new leaf. We are here, and we are waiting on you.

 

Signed,

A Haitian-American who learned to fight for what’s right – HUMAN RIGHTS – from you

 

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