Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cradle of Black Pride: Haiti, Dominican Republic and The Music in Between

Throughout Black History Month, Alt.Latino has been bringing you episodes that focus on different aspects of being black and Latino. This week's show is about one island and two countries: Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Race has played an enormous role in the island's history. Haiti is often described as a cradle of black pride in the Americas, so as we celebrate Black History Month, we want to take a minute to reflect on the country's importance. When it gained independence in 1804, Haiti was the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean. But beyond that, it became the only nation in the world established as the result of a successful slave revolt, as well as the second republic in the Americas. All the leaders of Haiti's first government were former slaves. Haiti has grappled with poverty, corruption, natural disasters and brutal dictatorship, but it's also important to sift through those issues and pay homage to a nation that did what others only dreamed of doing at the time.

On the other hand, as this week's guests point out, under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the 1930s, neighboring Dominican Republic adopted a much more Eurocentric revision of its history — despite also being a nation of descendants from Africa. Trujillo's brutality caused immense suffering to both Haitians and Dominicans, and affected the countries' relationship for many years to come.

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