Latino Identity and the dreaded "R" word: La Raza y Racismo!

Roland Roebuck has a compelling view on identity in the Caribbean, one that many of us have been either unwilling or not ready to tackle as a community. Sure, there’s academic debate about the fluidity of race in Spanish speaking countries all over the world. But it’s important to take this conversation out of the  confines of academia and engage the masses, regular people, to start thinking and speaking about race with their own friends and respective families. Roebuck notes that in the last census, 80% of the Puerto Rican population identified themselves as white. This is just not possible. Have you ever been to Puerto Rico?!? Check this out below and kudos to CNN for posting this iReport!

What do you all think? As I listened to this report, I started to recall similar stories.

Comments 4

  1. I so appreciate this guy’s comments. As an Afro-Latina, it has always deeply saddened me when other Afro-Latinos openly choose to denounce their African heritage. I think for many identifying with the Anglo culture is somehow more beneficial or more appealing. Whatever the reason, it is disgraceful when people cannot be proud of ALL of who they are due to feelings of inferiority. Finally, someone is saying what needs to be said.

    Raquel please continue this dialogue. This is an important discussion that needs to be continued so that we can finally have an honest discussion about who we are and we can hopefully begin to be proud of all aspects of our heritage!

    Muchisimas gracias Raquel!

  2. Mirabal,
    This is a fair point you make. I agree with you. I don’t think that we shouldn’t make light of this murder because the person is from D.R. and not Haiti. I feel the same way about not taking the murder of Haitians lightly. I wonder, can you be pro-Dominican and pro-Haitian at once, or must one decide between the two? Can you send me a link to this piece? I’m interested in reading more about it.
    R.C.

    How come nobody makes a big deal of this murder? Because a Dominican was murdered this time?
    Where are the protests of the international organizations, demanding justice?
    A poor honest Dominican military life has not the same value as a Haitian?

    Haitian band of cattle rustlers ambushed and killed with a chest shot in an ambush at 8PM last night, Dominican Air Force sergeant Cornelio Guzmán riding his motorcycle going to work as commander of the Dajabón, CESFRONT post.
    The band composed of five Haitians (two who spoke Spanish and appeared to be Dominicans) where armed with pistols and revolvers, according to eyewitnesses.
    The career soldier had a history of rescueing many stolen cattle from Haitian cattle thieves and just the week before had a gun battle that scared away a band of persistent cattle rustlers.
    (Gross photo of dead sergeant was removed).

    2:15 PM –
    DON MIGUEL, Dajabón.- Presuntos cuatreros mataron de un balazo en el pecho al sargento mayor de la Fuerza Aérea Dominicana, Cornelio Guzmán Ureña de 32 años, adscrito al Cuerpo Especializado de Seguridad Fronteriza (CESFRONT) la noche de este viernes. Los delincuentes también ataron y amordazaron a los jóvenes Juan Carlos Cordero de 22 años y Yajaira Jiménez de 19, quienes fueron despojados de una motocicleta cuando cruzaban por el lugar, el motor en que andaba el sargento y su arma de reglamento también fueron robados.

    El sargento mayor de la fuerza aérea resultó muerto en una emboscada que les tendieron sus atacantes, cuando se dirigía al puesto militar de la comunidad, Don Miguel del cual era comandante.

    El hecho ocurrió aproximadamente a las ocho de la noche, cuando transitaba hacia las proximidades del puente, sobre el río Masacre en Don Miguel.

    Los asaltados que fueron rescatados con vida, dijeron a los militares, que el grupo estaba integrado por cinco hombres, tres haitianos y dos dominicanos y que estaban armados de pistolas y revólveres.

    El cadáver del militar fue llevado a la morgue del hospital Matías Ramón Mella de Dajabón, de donde fue enviado a patología forense para practicarle una necroscopia.

    La victima residía en el barrio militar de Dajabón, con la también miembro del ejército, Rosanna Rosalía, con quien había procreado dos hijos.

    El sargento muerto estaba sindicado como el principal represor de los robos de ganados en la zona, el pasado fin de semana había rebatado a tiros cinco reses robadas a los cuatreros en el sector donde fue muerto.

  3. I agree with you about believing in human rights and not mistreating Haitians (or vice versa, verdad?). While I am partial to D.R. for obvious reasons (even though, I feel a strong affinity to New York City as well, but not in the same way…), I don’t think that we are superior to Haitians. Many of the people I’ve come across, even last year when I visited D.R. last, believe otherwise. As a child living for a time in Santo Domingo, I remember watching TV shows that painted these really gross, stereotypical images of Haitians as “monos” with exaggerated features, etc. Think Birth of a Nation, Latino style. A couple years ago, I went to a local college to watch a film that was produced and shot in D.R., starring a friend of mine. I brought a colleague, an African-Americana, along. Before the film, they showed clips of comedy shows promoting a few people associated with the film. To make what could be a loooong story short, they made fun of Haitians and showed them aping around—use your imagination. It was THAT bad. Most people laughed. I squirmed, really embarrassed.

    It’s so embedded in our subconscious that I am not surprised when people—I am not accusing you, I am referring to a large majority of the Dominicans and Dominican-Americans I grew up with—think that they are better, somehow, than Haitians. This belief, I think, along with other complex issues, are making it difficult for Haitians to be viewed as beings that deserve human rights.

    Can you tell me, what are the “cultural practices” you are referring to in which Haitians chop down trees?

    Yes, Haiti is so deforested it’s CRAZY. But, it’s not only because of them chopping them down. The environment in changing and damaging its already fragile ecosystem. It’s crazy to stand at the border-D.R. is so lush, Haiti is so barren. I really don’t think the answer is in even blaming “corrupt dominicans.” I think that it starts at the very top.

    i believe in human rights along with the sovereignty of my nation. killing haitians and mistreating them is not the answer. at the same time alllowing illegal immigration in the dominican republic is not good neither. i blame the dominican employers for putting up with this situation. it hurts me to know that the enviorment is being destroyed by the cultural practices of haitians chopping down our trees. take a good look at the haitian landscape once and you will see. i have been to haiti and trust me it is a very disturbing sight. i have seen pockets of beauty though. 1% of the original forest in haiti exists and for corrupt dominicans continuing to allow haitians to abuse our territory to produce charcoal will eventually turn our land into a desert and waste land.

  4. I’m honestly loving the dialogue here. I think people can disagree—have two polar opposite points of view, and still respect one another. I am open for this kind of dialogue. I won’t be able to answer every post but I will try my best.

    Re Afrolatinos, I agree with the the man in the video. This is how I have seen it around me. I have witnessed that in Puerto Rico, D.R., with Cubanos in Miami. Let me say, I am talking about a significant sample of people I have met are in denial. Or simply want to distance themselves. I don’t think that admitting or even accepting this part of a Latino’s heritage is bigger than just labeling yourself. I think that many Latinos embrace all that is European with the same fervor that they repel all that is associated with Africa. I’m not suggesting that we shadow the American way of identity at all. I think that if we start embracing ALL parts of who we are, we will gain a better understanding of who we are, where we fit in society both here, in D.R./P.R, and abroad. For instance, I love Spain: Andalusia is otherworldly. I love West Africa. I have been labeled/called “afrocentric,” meaning that I think African/black culture is preeminent. Yes, I do believe that the cradle of civilization is there. But at the same time, I don’t reject whatever European blood or God-knows-what-else I may have running through my veins, only because I embrace African retention in the Caribbean and Latin-America. I definitely don’t think it separates us. I think gaining understanding will bring us, eventually, closer together.

    i don’t believe that afrolatinos so much deny thier heritage. afrolatinos have a love for their land of birth. africa is just a tall tale to them and they live for today. whats the big deal about being afro when african traces are in our culture as it is. all this is stating is what we label ourselves. the latino lens of race or identity is not parallel to the american way of identity. why do you think that blacks and whites in america are the same nationality but different in culture? now i am dominican a non afro dominican. i do not obsess over it though i just say i am dominican. why does an afro dominican have to make a big deal about being afro? don’t you see how that seperates?

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