Why there are no black Dominicans: how anti-Haitian sentiment in the era of Trujillo and the deeply rooted black history of the island of Hispaniola affects how Dominicans racially identify in New York today
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KeywordResearch Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Sociology
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AbstractWithin the island of Hispaniola are two countries: the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In 1808 the island was split into two distinct areas and today remains segregated geographically and culturally. Haiti is often associated with poverty, corrupt governments, and blackness, while the Dominican Republic is associated with tropical vacations, baseball, and the Caribbean. By considering the role of socio-political, historical, and ethno-cultural factors in Dominicans’ racial self-identification, this study examines why some Dominicans may not identify as “Black” despite the history of the African slave trade across the island. Using a snowball sampling method to identify study participants, I interviewed Dominican individuals about their racial self- identification and the cultural factors that influenced them. The view of race will be recognized as both a construct and as a significant factor in one’s identity. My research provides insights into how Dominicans in New York identify ethnically, racially, and culturally. Dominicans have a complicated relationship with race, partially due to the thirty-year reign of General Rafael Trujillo, whose promotion of a racial ideology associates blackness with Haitians rather than Dominicans, the historical colonization of the island, post-coloniality, and migration. Dominicans have a notoriously complicated relationship with blackness, when referred to as Black (in the United States) some Dominicans are quick to retort back phrases such as “I’m not Black, I’m Dominican!”. The Dominican racial identity and its relationship with the country of Haiti cannot be explained by the simplicity of the United States racial binary of Black or white. However, Dominicans have historically migrated to states such as New York, New Jersey, and Florida and continue to straddle racial imaginaries spanning from Latin America and the Caribbean to the receiving country.
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