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  • Shantee Rosado

dreams i have -- a collection of poems

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

By Anonymous



dreams we have


what if there was one flag?

red, white, and blue

red, Black, and green

red like blood

from ancestors

forever ago

from us

now

from our children

later


Black like skin that was

is

will be


green like the forests of Ayiti before


dreams i have


what if there was one country?

with love with protection

lots of love lots of protection

shared by the Haunted for the Haunted

freedom . freedom


with land with food

lots of land lots of food

owned by the Haunted grown and cooked by the Haunted

freedom . freedom


with music with joy

lots of music lots of joy

played and danced to by the Haunted siempre

freedom toujou


living with

not without


dreams we have



dress up


dominicans like to dress up their antihaitianismo in different outfits

they like to show off their antihaitianismo

in different colors, patterns, textures


“i don’t want them taking over our country”

take off the red hat

“i don’t want them blackening our country”


“it’s not our fault if they’ve never been to haiti before! send them all back”

unclasp the gold chain

“Black people don’t get to make homes for themselves”


“look at how haitians treated us when they took over our country”

unzip the cotton hoodie

“i can’t name what they did to us but they’re Black so they must’ve done something bad”


“they have their own country! they should go back!”

remove the striped t-shirt

“i see the current standard of living in haiti and i think that’s how Black people deserve to live”


“we are not to be blamed for their deal with the devil”

unbutton the blue jeans

“Black people practicing religion is scary”


“no, this is not anti-Blackness”

untie the white sneakers

“maybe the haitians shouldn’t have killed their oppressors,

maybe they wouldn’t be so damn Black”



holes*


your abuelo’s parents were european

his mother had straight hair

your abuela’s parents had dark skin but straight hair she looked taíno

you got your small nose from so-and-so

they looked white with nice hair

we’re mixed i didn’t grow up seeing color so i don’t know

he has black in him

abuela has darker skin because she is mixed

your tío was born with blonde hair we’re all dominican

don’t call her black my sister has green eyes

they looked european

don’t call him black we are a mixed people

maybe we are mixed with haitian

your tía got her green eyes from so-and-so

your great grandfather was from spain i got my hair from so-and-so

your great grandmother had dark skin

i don’t know where she was from

but i do know that your abuelo’s parents were european

he got his big nose from so-and-so

they looked black with nice hair

we’re mixed

i didn’t grow up seeing color so i don’t know

he has taíno in him abuelo has lighter skin because she is mixed

your tío was born with straight hair we’re all dominican don’t call her black

your abuelo’s parents were european



* This poem is recounting things I have heard from my Dominican family. The poem does not make logical sense as there are many contradictions in their stories. When I recall memories of discussing family origins with my family, I notice many holes--oral family history can erase and highlight certain familial figures. What history is lost within Dominican families who often suffer from anti-Blackness and self-hate? How does that shift the way they view their own origins and families? Who gets left out?


october 2, 1937


the border has always been complicated

but those complications were often navigated with a freedom

a freedom lost on october 2, 1937*


a freedom to weave oneself transnationally

to share oneself with love

to enrich oneself with cultural exchange

a freedom lost on october 2, 1937


perejil

how could one word become so unsettling?

estimates as high as 35,000

and still no justice 82 years later

a freedom lost on october 2, 1937


patriotic spanish names suturing the border

a smudging of haitian influence

a daily reminder of trujillo’s terror

a terrorizing legacy that still lingers today

a freedom lost on october 2, 1937


all freedom lost on september 23, 2013**

*October 2, 1937 refers to the Parsley Massacre, during which Rafael Trujillo, then dictator of Dominican Republic, ordered the targeting and massacre of tens of thousands of Haitians. For more, read Kelli Lyon Johnson, "Both Sides of the Massacre: Collective Memory and Narrative on Hispaniola." Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal 36, no. 2 (June 2003): 75-91.


** September 23, 2013 refers to the day when the Dominican government retroactively applied the birthright citizenship ban that targeted Haitians. For more, read Jillian Blake. "Race-based Statelessness in the Dominican Republic." Understanding Statelessness, 2017, 102-16.




us


accepting them

is accepting you

is accepting me

is accepting you

is accepting me

is accepting you

is accepting me

is accepting you

is accepting me

is accepting us.






“marriage without divorce”


alaí reyes-santos describes the relationship between ayiti and la república dominicana as a “marriage without divorce”*


no matter how much violence the dominican government imposes on haitians

or how many dominicans make haitians feel unwelcomed

ayiti and la república dominicana will never divorce

they might be separated

there may be countless attempts to seek a divorce lawyer

(so far, trujillo being the most successful one)

but neither can sign the divorce papers


food is one of the many marriages

between two long-lost lovers


diri kole ak pwa**

moro de habichuelas


boullion

sancocho


diri ak sos pwa

arroz con habichuelas


salade de betteraves

ensalada rusa


griot

chicharrón


pwason fri

pescado frito


kremas

ponche de coco

bannaan peze

tostones


can we argue over who makes better fried plantains instead of who deserves to live where?


music is one of the many marriages

between two long-lost lovers


the beat of the drums

that tethers bachata to kampo to bachata to kampo to bachata to kampo


land is one of the many marriages

between two long-lost lovers


the land of ancestors forever ago

the land of us now

the land of our children later


i dream of marriage with no desire to divorce

do you ever dream about that?



*Reyes-Santos, Alaí. Our Caribbean Kin: Race and Nation in the Neoliberal Antilles. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015.


** A special thanks to my friend Mariane St. Juste who provided the names of Haitian foods.


where do the Haunted go to heal?


where do the Haunted go to heal?


the marked ones

the ones that stayed in the sun too long

the ones that remind you of tu agüela*

the ones haunted by years and years of d

ri

pp

ing

blood


where do the Haunted go to heal?


no ancestral home

many of us displaced too many times to count

yearning for dirt under our fingernails**

grass beneath our feet


where do the Haunted go to heal?


taught to hate ourselves

taught to hate the ones we love

taught to look in the mirror and deny our brothers and sisters


where do the Haunted go to heal?


some dig their feet so deeply into the dirt

so their legs blend in like tree stumps

in hopes that they will resist being uprooted


some flee to where the grass is greener

yet still steep in blood of ancestors forever ago

in hopes that choosing their home will heal them


where do we go to heal from yesterday’s trauma

today’s trauma

tomorrow’s trauma?


maybe this is the starting point

19.5499° N, 71.7087° W***



*This is a reference to the poem, “¿Y tu agüela, aonde ejtá?” by Puerto Rican poet Fortunato Vizcarrondo. The poem is about someone hiding their grandmother given she is black.


**This is a reference to Loida Maritza Pérez’s novel, Geographies of Home and its mention of pregnancy cravings of dirt and grass. Geographies of Home is a novel about a Dominican-American family who is haunted by racism, sexual abuse, and familial drama.


***I chose these longitude and latitude coordinates because they signify the location of Dajabón, Dominican Republic. This border town is significant because of the interactions between Dominican and Haitian populations due to their daily exchanges of goods and culture. For more on this location, read Milagros Ricourt. The Dominican Racial Imaginary: Surveying the Landscape of Race and Nation in Hispaniola. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016.

The author can be reached via email at mjc5@williams.edu.


Works Cited


Blake, Jillian. "Race-based Statelessness in the Dominican Republic." Understanding

Statelessness, 2017, 102-16. https://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/gjmodco6&id=154&collection=journals&index=


Johnson, Kelli Lyon. "Both Sides of the Massacre: Collective Memory and Narrative on

Hispaniola." Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal 36, no. 2 (June 2003): 75-91. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.jstor.org/stable/44029461


Morgan, Brendan. "Antihaitianismo: An Embodied Discourse." Ethnic and Racial Studies 42,

no. 2 (2018): 311-28. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2018.1430841


National University College - División Online. "¿Y Tu Agüela, Aonde Ejtá?" YouTube.

November 20, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNjaX33JOhU


Pérez, Loida Maritza. Geographies of Home: A Novel. London: Penguin, 2000.


Reyes-Santos, Alaí. Our Caribbean Kin: Race and Nation in the Neoliberal Antilles. New

Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015.


Ricourt, Milagros. The Dominican Racial Imaginary: Surveying the Landscape of Race and

Nation in Hispaniola. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016.

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