A period of turmoil followed the Clarification, as the island of La Hispaniola, the rest of Caribbean, and the Western countries invested in the region coped with the unprecedented disaster and its unforeseen social, economic, cultural, and moral consequences.5 The Clarification Oral History Project chronicles this and further stages of the Clarification through the collection of personal testimonies.
Nature of the Transformation
The Clarification is not a partial loss of melanin. It is not vitiligo, at least not in its classic presentation.6 It is not environmental albinism, as some have posited. The Clarification, in sum, is not a skin condition. The Clarification is a complete chromosomal reconfiguration affecting not only melanin accumulation, but the shape of soft tissues, fat distribution, muscle layering, and facial bone structures. As such, the event thoroughly refashioned the bodies of its victims to conform precisely to the biological taxon of the so-called Caucasian race.
“What we’re looking at is an alteration of single base units in DNA over a wide array of genes,” avers François Malespin, director of the Caribbean Genome Project of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. “A mutation in the strict sense, yes, but one that has proven to be unreasonably selective and inexplicably fast-acting”.7 In addition to alteration, Malespin has detected deletion, insertion, and rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes.
Specifically, the mutation zeroed in on the genes that manufacture the proteins controlling the growth and shape — along the x, y, and z axes — of all bones of the viscerocranium, neurocranium, maxilla, mandible, nasal bone, and zygomatic bone; the distribution of truncal-abdominal fat and visceral fat; and the production and accumulation of melanocytes. The genetic expression of the new values provided by the mutation, in all victims, is the Caucasian phenotype. No pertinent genes are left unmodified, and all genes find expression. This exactitude is nothing short of miraculous. “It’s as if someone had moved the sliders and turned the knobs precisely to produce white folk,” Malespin has famously said.
The Clarification was unreasonably selective, this being one of its two most confounding aspects according to scientific consensus.8 With this concept, scientists attempt to describe the fact that the Clarification seems to have moved through the population sparing or affecting individuals according to non-metabolic, nongenetic, nonbiological criteria.
Regardless of shared genetic uniformity, only Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian ancestry up to the third generation, living anywhere at the time in the island of La Hispaniola or in any of its outlying islets and keys—or at sea anywhere within its territorial waters— were affected by the Clarification. Dominican citizens sharing the same Negroid genetic makeup as their Haitian door to door neighbors in the populous shantytowns of Santo Domingo, did not clarify. Neither did Dominicans descended from Haitians four generations back: the mutational rule rigorously stopped at the third generation. Thus, most victims now belong to families composed of clarified and non-clarified members, as some of them were either not present during the clarification — having migrated — or belong to a generation beyond the third… How is this possible?
“Whatever the mutation agent was,” renowned Clarification geneticist Ninoska Jáquez-Marchena once said in an oft-anthologized interview, “it was the best census taker in the history of humankind.”9 Researchers are dumbfounded by the mutagen’s apparent ability to discriminate on the basis of man-made (national) constructs devoid of biochemical tags. Needless to say, very little headway has been achieved in this field.
Simultaneity and Epicenter
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Clarification was inexplicably fast-acting, which is the second most frustrating attribute of the mysterious event. In less than hour, all subjects meeting the parameters of the unknown mutagen’s rule were clarified; that’s 14.32 million people over 76,192 square kilometers, hitting a success rate of 99.99%,10 all of which points to an agent of mind-boggling capabilities.
The staggering speed of the phenomenon gave an initial impression of simultaneity, further compounding the problem, but later observations dispelled that notion. By carefully scrutinizing oral testimonies, experts at the Suzanne Comhaire-Sylvain Foundation for Clarification Research discovered regular discrepancies per square kilometer in individual reporting of times of final transformation. It began to be suspected that simultaneity was only a local mirage restricted to the area affected in each out-of-phase segment. When enough testimonies (covering the whole area of La Hispaniola) had been collected, a learning macro was let loose on the data to dig up the relationship between the earliest time recorded and the latest. The algorithm returned a surprising result: the Clarification radiated in concentric intervals that grew exponentially from an epicenter located halfway between the towns of Petit-Goâve and Léogâne.
The Clarification’s epicenter — at least as officially measured by the SCSFCR’s team — misses the epicenter of the 2012 earthquake by less than half a kilometer. Independent specialists armed with different computer models argue that actually both epicenters align perfectly.11 Although the Foundation remains skeptical, it maintains fully staffed field-research headquarters in the small village of Mayombe, straddling the epicenters of both natural disasters.
According to many testimonies, individual transformations took approximately four to five seconds to complete. Many report having sneezed, coughed, vomited, or briefly choked. Those who were awake agree to have changed “in the blink of an eye”. By the time the last victim clarified,12 the first had already been a white person for close to an hour.13
In the race to identify the mutagen responsible for the Clarification, the international scientific community has posited innumerable hypotheses fingering equally innumerable culprits: pollutants, spores, cosmic rays, gamma rays, solar flares, food poisoning, allergens, unknown gaseous compounds leaking from the Enriquillo-Plaintain Garden Fault Zone, rock ash, drainage from gold cyanidation sluiced into rivers by mining companies, agent orange, mustard gas, mutated forms of the Mycobacterium leprae and the Mycobacterium lepromatosis, bilharzia, toxoplasmosis, Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, lead poisoning, asbestos poisoning, and mercury poisoning, among many others.
Less scientifically minded approaches variously blame the Rapture, sin, witchcraft, Santeria, voodoo, terrorists, big Pharma, Barack Obama, the Knights Templar, the Illuminati, Dutty Boukman’s curse, the Antichrist, Evangelism, Satanism, Adventism, Pentecostalism, the CIA, the Pentagon, Al Qaeda, NASA, and Rosie O’Donnell.14
Put plainly, no single line of research has yielded evidence to support any of the theories presented over the years. This state of affaris does not seem about to change any time soon.
To say that the Clarification had significant sociopolitical repercussions spanning the globe would be an understatement. However, by far the largest, most brutal impact has been sustained by the Western world.
With the Clarification, dominant economic structures crumbled, and the United States, Canada, and France— the so-called Imperial Trident15 that historically has benefited the most from Haiti’s prostration — immediately sank into woeful recession, dragging the EU with it.
The “erasure of observable racial compartments”16 made it impossible to preserve an economic system based on the dehumanization of specific phenotypes that ease the subjugation of their bearers. Liberty and equality, the central tenets of political organization in Western societies, were finally laid to rest as nothing more than the cognitively dissonant propaganda that masked the real motor of human progress: carefully maintained inequality and finely tuned bondage. For some, this was revealed by the Clarification; for others, finally and definitely confirmed by it.17
With blackness eradicated and the clarified now graced with the privilege of being white — considered a myth by many white folk — it became next to impossible for First World countries to secure labor at the old prices and, more importantly, to actually show the financial determination to procure it, finding in whiteness an impassable moral blockage to exploitation, and again revealing the prejudices—conscious or not— favoring members of the in group. By uncovering them, the Clarification accentuated these contradictions to the point of total moral collapse.
In the Dominican Republic and Haiti economic readjustment was compounded with sociocultural havoc, as the most vulnerable groups in both countries suddenly acquired the appearance of what centuries of colonial violence had deemed the highest beauty standard and the ultimate badge of authority and power. Many of the testimonies herein attest to the tragicomedy and irony inherent in this reversal.
Studies of the changes and shifts ushered by the Clarification in the economic, social, and cultural landscape of the Western world are by far the most insightful, and correspond to the most advanced field in Clarification research.
Sylvie Petit-D’Or: The “Exception”
To date, the only known person excepted by the mutagen despite meeting all requirements for clarification, is a twenty-eight-year-old computer scientist named Sylvie Petit-D’Or. Born in the commune of Boucan-Carré in the Mirebalais Arrondissement, Dr. Petit-D’Or was twelve years old at the time of the Clarification and is probably the most studied human subject in the history of the field.
The COHP is honored to preserve her oral history and treasures the opportunity to share it, as it provides a unique perspective of the turmoil during and immediately following the Clarification. Many authorized and unauthorized biographies have been written about Dr. Petit-D’Or18, and the results of a year and a half of illegal testing and experimenting been recovered and released to the public… with Petit-D’Or’s generous consent. But here you will find the story — told in her own words, with her own voice — of her humble beginnings in small hut near a brook, her years as a street urchin in Santo Domingo, her captivity in a French lab, her spectacular escape, and what it finally took to leave her ordeal behind and move on. In many ways, the story of the Exception is what gives the Clarification a frame of reference, a context, a tether.
Conclusion: The Role of Oral History
After the initial pandemonium cooled — halfway through Year Two – and the new force represented by the clarified sought a point of equilibrium, new social dynamics flipped dominant paradigms by curtailing First World deniability and exceptionalism.
In La Hispaniola, as in the rest of the Caribbean, skin color and its multiple gradations serve as goalposts for deeply pigmentocratic societies. The Clarification eradicated these references and thus neutralized traditional stratification by bringing it out in the open; dissolved calcified colonial legacies by uncovering them and making them visible; and heralded a period of brutal socioeconomic upheaval. The oral histories preserved here record this processes.
- While “Whiteness” in most developed countries is a rigid category, in the Caribbean — and especially in La Hispaniola — it is a fluid, relaxed notion where classic, First World expectations of whiteness coexist with local interpretations that would never meet our former colonizers’ stringent criteria. ↩
- The importance of hair in the Caribbean can hardly be understated, hence the multitude of books on the topic of hair sprung almost immediately after the event. For a great ethnographical study of segregation by hair in clarified communities, read Vivian du Maurier’s Now That We Have Good Hair: New Standards of the Clarified (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017). Prof. du Maurier has identified upwards of thirty meaningful blonde categories. See also Lena Burgos’ The Good, the Bad, and The Clarified: Hair in the New Caribbean (New York: CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, 2018) for a meticulous look into the soci0linguistic adaptations that arose in both sides of La Hispaniola to cope with the miraculous metamorphosis. ↩
- Male baldness patterns, however, have been found to translate on the clarified from Negroid to Caucasoid. See Sherwin Jacquelin, When It All Falls Out: Divergences In Androgenetic Alopecia (New York: Touchstone, 2018). ↩
- We follow this convention in the rest of this short essay and elsewhere. ↩
- The bibliography concerning this topic is immense. We are currently working on providing a complete list of references. Check back frequently for a link to this work in progress. ↩
- Molecular biologist and geneticist Palmira Traoré — whose magnificent testimony graces our oral history records — has presented substantial evidence to seriously consider the possibility that the Clarification is in fact a robust form of vitiligo. See “Protein Scaffolding in RNA Selective Mutation: The Clarification and Oxidative Stress in Segmental and Non-Segmental Vitiligo.” The Lancet 537, no. 20032 (May 14, 2019): 1360–1385. ↩
- These are arguably the two most crucial concepts in Clarification research. More on them further on. ↩
- The fact that the mutation itself transformed black people into white people is not mysterious at all, because tweaking the genes that it did, in the way that it did, will have exactly the consequences we see in the clarified. Victims who had their genome mapped before clarification are especially valuable, as they provide an important basis for comparison. The study of clarified DNA is, in other words, a well trodden path offering few mysteries. Funding — and thus research — currently focuses on identifying the mutation agent and describing its mechanism (the first step in the development of a cure or, as the more conspiratorially minded scientists fear, a weaponization), and on the social and cultural aftershocks of the Clarification. ↩
- Benjamín Torres Gotay, “Reasonably Democratic and Excruciatingly Slow: Inside Doctor Jáquez-Marchena’s Lab”, The New York Times, February 7, 2021. ↩
- We’ll talk about the missing .01% shortly. ↩
- Jerome Stuart, “Clarification propagation an earthquake aftershocks: parallel manifestations of the sigmoid curve under a consolidated equation,” Mathematics of Computation, 110, no. 2 (June 2016): 2305-2339. ↩
- Marceline De los Santos, manning the front desk at the Riu Melao Hotel in Cabo Engaño, Punta Cana. ↩
- Kervens Jean-Destin, a farmer brewing the morning coffee in Mayombe, Haiti. ↩
- Roy Mitchum, The Perfect Alibi: Rosie O’Donell and The Quest for Racial Supremacy (Miami: JustSaying Press, 2022). Admittedly bonkers, Mitchum is a charismatic orator. His theories have been espoused by thousands of followers and his Youtube channel has a million plus subscribers. ↩
- Ricardo Seitenfus, Haiti: Dilemmas e fracassos internacionais (Ijuí: Editora Unijuí, 2014). ↩
- Magdalene Jefferson-Colón, “Leveling the field: visual blockages to empathy and the case of the clarified,” The Neurological Insider, 12, no. 45 (March 2020): 25-47. ↩
- The “Black Lives Matter” movement has issued a memorable statement (now part of many a school curriculum), that dissects with acerbic wit the cynicism and proferred inocence of “the surpised.” It is to be hoped that “it won’t take another cataclysm for the dominant segments of a society to give the downtrodden the benefit of the doubt when they speak up.” (“You were saying?: A Commentary on the Clarification,” The Chicago Tribune, 2 November, 2017.) ↩
- Yet only one counts with her endorsement, albeit lukewarm: Pedro Cabiya’s The Only Exception (Boulder: Mandel-Vilar Press, 2022). ↩