Friday, December 6, 2013

Junot Díaz on 'la sentencia' in the Dominican Republic

The struggle against the Supreme Court ruling in the Dominican Republic continues (a ruling which more or less denationalizes people of Haitian descent.) The hatred and xenophobia that this ruling has unleashed against Haitian and Haitian-Dominican and Dominican communities is incredible. I just returned from Santo Domingo and the fear in the communities was palpable. The intimidation against critics of the “sentencia” was everywhere too. The best part is how many people are organizing and speaking out against this inhumane judicial act and how well the Diaspora is standing up to elite powers in the Dominican Republic and their ideologues. We in the Diaspora know what it is like to be despised and stigmatized as immigrants, to be victims of unjust laws. Those of us who are critics of the sentencia are being told “we don’t understand”, that “we didn’t read the sentencia,” that we are “traitors”, that we “hate the Dominican Republic” and that our supposed “lack of Dominicanidad” disqualifies us from being able to say anything. What obfuscatory nonsense. We have a ruling order in the DR that cannot tolerate dissent, that wishes to hide its crime under the combined weight of intimidation, silence and the gibberish of its paid supporters; we have a ruling order in the DR that wants to denationalizes not only people of Haitian descent but its critics as well. All these attacks are bullshit attempts to distract from the real crime–the sentencia itself which has been condemned widely. All of us who are believers need to keep fighting against the sentencia and what it represents and we need to keep organizing and we need to show those clowns in power in the DR that there is another Dominican tradition–based on social justice and human dignity and a true respect for the awesome contributions that our immigrants make everywhere., December 4, 2013

Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of Drown, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao—which won the John Sargent, Sr., First Novel Prize; the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize—and This Is How You Lose Her, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Sunday Times Short Story Prize. Díaz is the recipient of the Eugene McDermott Award, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, a Lila Acheson Wallace Reader's Digest Award, the 2002 PEN/Malamud Award, the 2003 U.S./Japan Creative Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

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