The truth is that on September 23, 2013, the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic revoked the citizenship of all Dominicans of Haitian descent born inside its borders from 1929 to the present. The retroactive ruling left upwards of 50,000 Dominicans without a nationality.
The international uproar was overshadowed only by the surge of indignation in our own country. Neither the constitutional tribunal nor the rabid, newly-minted nationalists appeared amenable to reason. A fracas ensued. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights intervened and so did the Organization of American States. Local political thinkers, journalists, writers, artists, and activists condemning the absurdity evacuated by the TC and defending the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent, clashed with political leaders, thinkers, journalists, writers, and artists aligned with the opposite view. A man was hanged from a tree in the public square of a major town; a black man, a Haitian man. Bands of so-called patriots roamed rural paths, terrorizing Haitian women and evicting them from their shacks. The lives of renowned, respectable journalists were routinely and publicly threatened. Racists took to Twitter and Facebook. Foolish foreign intellectuals, as always, tried to ride the situation to gain personal luster, and looking to save the day made the situation worse.
Eventually the TC backpedaled, leaving in its wake a bureaucratic disaster we are still grappling with, and a border saddled with hundreds of refugees, unwelcome in both countries. Once more, the Dominican Republic and Haiti’s uneasy cohabitation became a heated topic of discussion, with both sides venting their frustration and anger in the language of conquest, extermination, and hate; with political elites on both sides taking advantage of the situation for circumstantial gain; and with both sides wasting yet another opportunity for self reflection, and for reaching out and empowering each other against the real oppressors.
That is the opportunity I want to reclaim with this site.
An interactive, serialized science-fiction novel
The Clarification Oral History Project is a narrative performance. An interactive, serialized science-fiction novel in blog form that explores Caribbean colorism, racism, and the colonial superstructures — those inherited from our old European masters, and the subscription renewal received from our new North American overlords — that provide us with the symbols, myths, and signifiers we use to comment on our experience of the world and relate to one another.
What emerges is a polyphonic oral history of a fictitious event called the Clarification. And although there are many characters arcs, the narrative keeps returning to the vicissitudes of our protagonist, Sylvie Petit-D’Or, “the Exception”.
All readers are encouraged, not only to suspend disbelief, but to actively step into whatever role they wish to assume — victim or witness — and comment, debate, interact, and even submit their own testimonies and criticism.
The result will appear in book form in the summer of 2018.
I believe this is a conversation that we must have and, barring a calamity of the magnitude described here, we won’t have it. And so, I wager all on our collective imagination. Assuming this did happen, what would happen? What would we say to each other?
April 16, 2016