Edited by Azizi Powell
This post showcases the poem "Parsley" by Rita Dove.
The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, and asthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Hat tip to Denise Oliver Velez for her Daily Kos post http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/20/1246815/-If-you-are-black-get-out-The-crisis-of-statelessness-in-the-Dominican-Republic. Prior to reading that post, I was unaware of the 1937 massacre that occurred in the Dominican Republic. Nor was I aware of the racist "legal" travestry that is now occurring in that nation. And prior to reading that Daily Kos post, I was also unaware of Rita Dove's poem about that massacre which was included in the publication Museum Museum (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1983).
A brief excerpt of Denise Oliver Velez's post is found below.
SHOWCASE VIDEO: Rita Dove's poem "Parsley" with explanation
Carlos Barrera, Published on Jul 4, 2012
Rita Dove reads and explainsher poem "Parsley" about the 1937 Haitian Massacre in the Domincan Republic. This appeared on NPR in 2005.
Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCiinhPzxXc for a video of Rita Dove reading this poem in 1987.
Also, click http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172128 for the words to Rita Dove's poem "Parsley".
INFORMATION ABOUT THE PARSLEY MASSACRE
"The Parsley Massacre; also referred to as El Corte (the cutting) by Dominicans and as Kouto-a (the knife) by Haitians; was a government-sponsored genocide in October 1937, at the direct order of Dominican President Rafael Trujillo who ordered the execution of the Haitian population living in the borderlands with Haiti. The violence resulted in the killing of 20,000 ethnic Haitian civilians during approximately five days.
Origin of the name
The popular name for the massacre came from the shibboleth that the dictatorial Trujillo had his soldiers apply to determine whether or not those living on the border were native Afro-Dominicans or immigrant Haitians. Dominican soldiers would hold up a sprig of parsley to someone and ask what it was. How the person pronounced the Spanish word for parsley (perejil) determined their fate. French and Haitian Creole pronounce the r as a uvular approximant—thus, their speakers can have difficulty pronouncing the alveolar tap or trill of Spanish. The Dominican soldiers realized that most Haitians had difficulty pronouncing perejil, so if the person could pronounce perejil with a trill, they considered person Dominican and let them live. However, they considered people who pronounced perejil without the trill Haitian, and executed them...
Though this term was used frequently in the English-speaking media during the Commemoration of 75 years after the events (October 2012), most scholars recognize that this is a misnomer, as research by Lauren Derby shows that this explanation is based more on myth than on personal accounts.
...The massacre killed an estimated 20,000 people living in the Dominican border—clearly at Trujillo direct order. For approximately five days, from 2 October 1937 to 8 October 1937, Dominican troops killed Haitians with guns, machetes, clubs, and knives. Some died while trying to flee to Haiti across the Artibonite River, which has often been the site of bloody conflict between the two nations. Of the tens of thousands of ethnic Haitians who died, a majority were born in the Dominican Republic and belonged to well-established Haitian communities in the borderlands, thus making them Dominican citizens....
INFORMATION ABOUT RITA DOVE
"Rita Dove served as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995 and as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. She has received numerous literary and academic honors, among them the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry (video) and, more recently, the 2003 Emily Couric Leadership Award, the 2001 Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1997 Sara Lee Frontrunner Award, the 1997 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, the 1996 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities and the 1996 National Humanities Medal (video) from President Clinton...
Ms. Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952... Her latest poetry collection, Sonata Mulattica, was released by W.W. Norton & Co. in 2009, and in 2011 she published The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry."
EXCERPT FROM THE DAILY KOS ARTICLE ABOUT THE CURRENT SITUATION IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
"If you are black, get out: The crisis of statelessness in the Dominican Republic"
"The decision by the high court in the Dominican Republic to declare anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 Dominicans who may have Haitian ancestry "not citizens" with a start date of birth of 1929 is simply appalling...
Many readers here have ancestors—parents, grandparents and perhaps even great-grandparents who immigrated to the United States after 1929. They became citizens, and their children and grandchildren born here are now part of the tapestry of the U.S. Imagine what would happen if the U.S. Congress passed a law rescinding that citizenship currently based on jus soli, and demanded that all of you "go back to where you came from."
This is just what is happening in our neighboring country of the Dominican Republic, where Dominicans who have some Haitian ancestry are now being forced into statelessness by the modification of jus soli, which is retroactive.
People without a country.
There are petitions you can sign. Here's another one.
You can voice your opinion to the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina.
You can also follow some of the organizations fighting against the ruling on Twitter: @CentroBono, @reconoci_do, @mudhalegal, @MOSCTHA, @CEDAIL, @CNDHrd, @haitisg "
I'm a granddaughter of Caribbean immigrants. And I am appalled that this is happening to anyone, anywhere, at this time, or at anytime.
Please past this information on and please sign one or both of these petitions.