Darkest Before Dawn

Soooooo it has been too long but the end of the semester is the same no matter what country you’re in. Bunch of papers, finales, the whole nine except they are all just in another language (easy right -___-). But anyways the last month or so has been an interesting way to end my time abroad we visited about Samana two weeks ago and the interesting thing about there is that when Haiti controlled the island, the government invited former African American slaves to come live in the Peninsula in order to prevent the French from posing another invasion. In exchange for the land they were supposed to give up their culture but instead as with any where in the world there culture lived on and it is seen in the strong African pride exhibited in their choice of natural hairstyles which was really refreshing to see for me. We talked to a lady Martha Wilmore who’s great grand parents were former slaves. It was interesting to listen to her because she spoke English but her accent sounded like a mixture of a West African English accent and a southern accent; it was really cool. I really enjoyed Samana for some reason and maybe it was because the people their embraced their African ancestry which is something you do not always see in the Dominican Republic. On that note I asked one of my good Dominican friends that I made here how he identified and he said black. Mind you he is a dark skinned Dominican but on his license and ID the government says he is Indio/Mestizo  (Indian/ Spanish mixed with Indian). It is a little interesting to see how the same government can identify him as anything but black just because being black means you are Haitian. Since it is the end of the semester we are doing projects and papers in all of our classes. So one Dominican girl in my Afro-Caribbean cultures class did her project on the African heritage in the Dominican Republic. I asked her did she feel that the negative images Dominicans have towards blackness will change in the future and she responded no because it is such a deeply engraved part of their society. Being a Jamaican here has really been interesting and difficult at times considering how for the most part Jamaicans are proud of their African ancestry (There are but a few who claim everything else but their blackness and let’s not forget about the bleaching madness but that is another post). Therefore, living in a country that has obvious problems with the racial history was a little hard especially considering the country’s unique relationship with neighboring Haiti. Just last week when we went to the Open Market in Dajabon near the Haitian border, when leaving the market I was stopped by a guard asking for my identification. My friend said I should have just said I wasn’t Haitian and kept on going but I was not trying to take that risk. What made situation even funnier to me is that my Haitian friend I made her said I don’t even look Haitian so what can I really do. As I talked about in my last post I am glad this stuff only really happened to me within the last month but I have to say after feeling annoyed by these events I realized I have to be thankful that I can actually accept my blackness without any problems that slavery and colonization have left on others. I proudly accept my brown skin, natural hair, big lips, big nose, and my Ashanti head and no one can make me feel otherwise. These features in many societies are not considered beautiful but I am thankful for what God has blessed me with them. I can say coming here has made me appreciate these qualities and my culture even more. And I must say to the Dominicans who proudly claim to be black and acknowledge their African roots kudos and hopefully in the future the rest of your brothers and sisters can follow. Well I need to get back to finishing up end of the semester work so until next time…

 

Peace and Love,

 

Khemani

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