Press/Media

2018

 

4/12/18 WBAI.org/ Where We Live-discussing Dominicans Love Haitians Movement and the power of the movement. Joined by Regine Romain of Wawawa Diaspora Centre. http://nuarchive.wbai.org/mp3/wbai_180412_210000wherewelive 

2017

https://fierce.wearemitu.com/things-that-matter/black-doll-project/

The Black Doll Project Gives Black Children Dolls That Reflect Them And Show Them They’re Beautiful

Clarivel Ruiz doesn’t recall ever having a black doll in her childhood home in the Bronx. Rather, the dolls she played with were Barbies with blonde hair, fair skin, and an impossibly petite body shape – features that Ruiz, the daughter of Afro-Dominican immigrants, struggled to identify with.

“Years later, I found the dolls in a shoebox and I thought, ‘This is what I played with,’” Ruiz tells mitú in a tone of disbelief. “They were great memories, but at the same time, how was I representing myself?”

In the 1980s, Ruiz had few Afro-Latino role models in whom she could see herself. Black Latinos were nowhere to be seen in the media (much like it is today) and her parents refused to identify as black.

Studies have shown that exposure to underrepresentation and stereotypes in the media can reduce the self-esteem of black youth.

Clarivel Ruiz doesn’t recall ever having a black doll in her childhood home in the Bronx. Rather, the dolls she played with were Barbies with blonde hair, fair skin, and an impossibly petite body shape – features that Ruiz, the daughter of Afro-Dominican immigrants, struggled to identify with.

“Years later, I found the dolls in a shoebox and I thought, ‘This is what I played with,’” Ruiz tells mitú in a tone of disbelief. “They were great memories, but at the same time, how was I representing myself?”

In the 1980s, Ruiz had few Afro-Latino role models in whom she could see herself. Black Latinos were nowhere to be seen in the media (much like it is today) and her parents refused to identify as black.

Studies have shown that exposure to underrepresentation and stereotypes in the media can reduce the self-esteem of black youth.

Clarivel Ruiz doesn’t recall ever having a black doll in her childhood home in the Bronx. Rather, the dolls she played with were Barbies with blonde hair, fair skin, and an impossibly petite body shape – features that Ruiz, the daughter of Afro-Dominican immigrants, struggled to identify with.

“Years later, I found the dolls in a shoebox and I thought, ‘This is what I played with,’” Ruiz tells mitú in a tone of disbelief. “They were great memories, but at the same time, how was I representing myself?”

In the 1980s, Ruiz had few Afro-Latino role models in whom she could see herself. Black Latinos were nowhere to be seen in the media (much like it is today) and her parents refused to identify as black.

Studies have shown that exposure to underrepresentation and stereotypes in the media can reduce the self-esteem of black youth.

“Our children need to see their beauty and strength represented in the toys they play with,” Ruiz wrote on an Instagram post.

On social media, Ruiz has called on her followers and fellow community members to donate black dolls to the project along with a note of affirmation. The project has so far elicited positive responses from her followers and donations of every doll type, from dark-skinned plush dolls, to Barbies with afros, to figurines of the Disney princess Tiana.

The effects dolls have on childhood development is still up for debate, but studies have shown children become aware of racist bias at a young age and can express those internalized narratives via dolls. In perhaps the most famous doll experiment conducted so far, educational psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark presented black children with one dark-skinned and one fair-skinned doll. In these studies from the 1930s and 1940s, the Clarks asked the children a series of questions, including which doll was the nice one, the one they’d like to play with, and the one with the nice skin color. The majority of black children consistently preferred the white doll. The Kenneth and Mamie doll experiments have recently been recreated in the Dominican Republic and showed similar results.

Ruiz believes playtime with black dolls can create a space for Afro-Latino children to unravel and unlearn the harmful stereotypes they have internalized about blackness.

“I really think it’s about facilitating conversations, so we can hear what they have to say,” Ruiz said. “It’s about listening to the stories they’ve collected and then for those narratives to disappear, so that they can create new narratives for themselves about who they are.”

More broadly, her project seeks to undo a colonized mindset she says is also prevalent in the Caribbean. She has set to tackle this issue with her Brooklyn-based organization, the Dominicans Love Haitians Movement. In the Dominican Republic, most people have some African heritage, yet a very small percentage — about 4.13 percent — of the Caribbean country’s population identify as black. Instead, most prefer to claim their indigenous roots, a stance that reveals the Caribbean country’s long history of anti-blackness that persists today.

The racial stigma is felt in every corner of Dominican society, from the school systems, to museums, to beauty parlors. In beauty salons, stylists are trained to transform thick, tight coils of hair thought of as “pelo malo” to straight strands considered “pelo bueno.” Angela Abreu, who is Afro-Dominican, donated two afro-donning Barbies to the Black Doll Project to challenge beauty standards that hold Eurocentric physical features above black ones.

She explains that within her family, relatives had determined that her cousin’s four-year-old daughter’s curls were “nappy and needing fixing”. Abreu responded to the slew of racist comments by gifting the girl a black doll in hopes that she could “see herself as a beautiful black girl and with that attempt to silence those who make these comments that affect her self-worth and self-esteem.”

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with being black and that is the message I hope is conveyed when little girls in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico hold a black doll,” Abreu said. “Black is beautiful.”

 

2016

Haitians And Dominicans Share Love Through Art

https://haitiantimes.com/2016/02/26/haitians-and-dominicans-share-love-through-art/

By Maya Earls

Musicians and poets brought Haitians and Dominicans together to dance and sing at the Nuyorican Tuesday night for the first event hosted by the Dominicans Love Haitians movement.

Organized by Clarivel Ruiz, founder of Dominicans Love Haitians, the event featured many artists sharing messages of love, understanding and hope. With a long flowing Afro, and thick clear-framed glasses, Ruiz was full of energy and smiles at the Nuyorican. Ruiz said the idea for the movement was seven years in the making, after discovering at home in the Dominican Republic that her grandmother was Haitian. Since then, she wanted to promote the similarities between the two cultures instead of focusing on the differences.

“For myself, it was having to come to terms with what can I do to have this conversation,” said Ruiz.

Since this was her first time hosting an event for the movement, Ruiz said she felt anxious. Much to her relief, every artist she invited accepted without hesitation.

“Now, the way to get through to people is to use art,” said Ruiz. “The art can transform the conversation that exists not only in the island of Hispaniola but also here in the states.”

The event began with a poetry reading in a mix of English, Spanish and Creole. Next, a soul and rap performance featuring artists from Long Island. Afterwards, Dominican painter and poet Yubelky Rodriguez took the stage. With red and blue flowers in her hair, Rodriguez explained how living in Gabon helped her see the importance of welcoming others.

“We are all really one,” said Rodriguez.

Haitian artist Mikaelle Cartright followed, singing a few songs while strumming an acoustic guitar. In between songs, Cartright explained how some people would treat her differently because she was Haitian.

“After a while of being told you’re not good enough, you start to believe it,” said Cartright. “Let’s protect our people.”

Her haunting voice echoed throughout the cafe, with the gentle guitar comforting the crowd. By the end of the performance, Ruiz was moved to tears.

Next, Union Community College English Professor Roberto Garcia took the stage. Ruiz said she reached out to him after reading his article in Gawker on identifying as an Afro-Dominican. Speaking to the crowd, Garcia explained how his family often told him to “stay out of the sun.

“At home, you’re everything but black,” said Garcia.

Living in the U.S., Garcia said his experience was completely different. To most Americans, Garcia was black. After his article was published, Garcia said he received negative emails from people in the Dominican Republic, even though his email was never listed in the article.

“We’ve got a lot to embrace still,” said Garcia.

The last performer was Haitian singer Ani Alert. Wearing a bright blue Hawaiian print shirt, Ani sang in Creole, encouraging everyone to stand and dance to the music.

Before the end of the event, Ruiz told the members of the audience to take out their phones and prepare to record a video. The video would go on Facebook, Twitter or any social media platform.

“Dominicans love Haitians,” Ruiz said, with the crowd echoing her. “And Haitians love Dominicans.”

Ruiz’s movement tackles tensions between Dominicans and Haitians that date back as early as 1844 with the Dominican War of Independence against the Haitian occupation. After the war, Haitian soldiers under the rule of Emperor Faustin Soulouque continued to try and regain control of their former territory. The two countries finally agreed on a boundary division in 1936, which also formally divided the cultures. Conflict between the two nations continued.

Most recently, the Dominican Republic passed Law 169/14 in May 2014 requiring those whose birth was never established in the country to register for a residence permit. Only 5 percent of people were able to apply for the permit by the deadline, out of more than 110,000 people Amnesty International estimated were able to apply. As a result, thousands of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent are facing deportation.

Ruiz said her next step would be expanding to Brooklyn, Chicago and any other city where she can start a conversation about bringing together the two communities.

FEBRUARY 29, 2016 BY VOICES OF NY

SOURCE: THE HAITIAN TIMES

ORIGINAL STORY

Music and Poetry Unite Dominicans and Haitians

Dominicans and Haitians came together for a night of music and poetry at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on Feb. 23. Clarivel Ruiz, the founder of the Dominicans Love Haitians movement, which hosted the event, told The Haitian Times’ Maya Earls what prompted her to start the movement.

Ruiz said the idea for the movement was seven years in the making, after discovering at home in the Dominican Republic that her grandmother was Haitian. Since then, she wanted to promote the similarities between the two cultures instead of focusing on the differences.

A poetry reading in English, Spanish and Creole kicked off the event, followed by musicians and artists who also spoke of their own experiences. Union Community College English professor Roberto Garcia, one of the speakers, described how he’s perceived in the U.S. versus in the Dominican Republic, and the negative response to his Gawker article on being an Afro-Dominican.

Tense relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic reached a peak after the latter passed legislation in 2014 that would render stateless many Dominicans of Haitian descent. With large populations of both groups in New York City, the controversy has generated protests and statements from public officials in the city.

Go to The Haitian Times to read more details on the event at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Tags: Dominican-HaitiansNuyorican Poets Cafe

Caribbean Life News

March 11, 2016

Dominicans and Haitians – bridging the gap

By Tequila Minsky

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The Dominicans Love Haitians Movement has joined the ranks of creative Dominicans in artistic collaboration with Haitians reaching across the contentious boundary that separates the two populations of the one island, Hispaniola.

Held at the Nuyorican Poets Café, in late February, four Dominicans and five Haitians came together in poetry, music and inspiration to celebrate commonalities.

The evening was organized by filmmaker and Borinqua College (Bushwick Campus) communications professor Clarivel Ruiz, a Dominican–American who went to the Dominican Republic for the first time in 2009. While she might have been aware of animosity between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, it really hit home on that first family trip to the DR when her father revealed that one of his grandmothers was Haitian.

Ruiz tells this story as an intro to a packed Nuyorican Café in this Lower East Side performance venue on that blustery rainy night.

At the point when her parents had been married for 45 years, her mother said, “If I had known that, I wouldn’t have married you.” She was sharing this deep-seated prejudice.

A poet herself, Ruiz speaks about a personal journey of self-reflection. “I was looking for why this (Dominican mind-set) is the way it is, particularly Dominicans not honoring their African ancestry.” She acknowledges how Dominicans have internalized the colonial attitude and denial of self.

The conversation of “the other” had also previously been with her; she had been having this discussion for several years.

“I asked myself how could we harness power on how we live our lives? How can we live without being hateful? I thought how poetry and music are great forms of expression of what we feel as people.”

Inside the creative community, Ruiz found others with whom it resonated to bring Dominican and Haitian performing artists together. She discovered Afro-Latina poet Amanda Alcantara who “lives in the intersections of gender and race,” who grew up in the DR and lives in between many identities. She found poet Roberto Carlos Garcia who knew Dominican poet YuBelly Rodriguez.

Ruiz’s friend Joyce Azor immediately wanted to collaborate. Her husband Steve Azor, founder of Ayiti Deploge, reached out to Haitian talent, bringing in newly arrived Anie Alert Joseph who sang during the evening. On acoustic guitar, Mikaelle Cartright sang in French Manno Charlemagne’s “Bam Yon Ti Limye” that asks: Why must the Black race suffer? Why are they treated so unfairly?

Others who performed were Haitian rapper singers Rossini Celestin and also D’eithchy & and Tre Issacs.

The 40-year-old multicultural and multi-arts Nuyorican Café, a perfect venue for these spoken words artists to perform together, has a history of giving voice to diverse groups of rising poets, actors, filmmakers and musicians who have not yet found consistent havens for their work.

Following the performances, audience members mingled in a spirit of harmony and personal conversations. “So beautiful,” exclaims Ruiz. “I was so moved by the level of artistry and engagement of the audience.”

Ruiz wants to have more of these events, expanding into Brooklyn and the Bronx and including visual arts.

Recently, Bric TV broadcast a piece on this artistic effort to bridge the gap between the two countries: http://www.youtu.be/9DqmPFy9gVo.

©2016 COMMUNITY NEWS GROUP

BRIC TV

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DqmPFy9gVo&t=83s

Published on Mar 2, 2016

Some Dominicans and Haitians in New York are trying to mend fences between their compatriots at home. Clarivel Ruiz and Steve Azor, CEO of ‘Ayiti Deploge,’ talk on on the project “Dominicans Love Haitians,” full of music and poetry.

WBAI-FM

Con Sabor Latino

Sun, Jun 19, 2016   3:00 PM

FOUNDER OF DOMINICANS LOVE HAITIANS STOPS BY

This week Con Sabor Latino welcomes our guest, Clarivel Ruiz.  She is a filmmaker, professor, and founder of “Dominicans Love Haitians”, an organization/movement created to address relations between Dominicans and Haitians on the island and here in the states.

Dominicans Love Haitians Movement Brings Together Artists at WOW Cafe Theater Tonight

by BWW News Desk Jun. 23, 2016 

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While Dominicans of Haitian background are deported in the Dominican Republic, Dominicans and Haitians in New York City celebrate their interrelated culture and history.

At 7pm tonight, June 23rd, at the WOW Café Theater, the Dominicans Love Haitians Movement brings together Dominican and Haitian artists to reflect and reconcile over 500 years of Eurocentrism.

Using art as a vehicle for unraveling biases and bigotry, the evening will feature performances by emerging Dominican and Haitian poets, singers, singer/songwriters and rappers. Tickets are $20. For more ticket information, click here. Located on the lower East side, the WOW Café Theater, is the oldest collective space in New York City for women and trans gender artists. It will be a future and consistent venue of Dominicans Love Haitians Movement.

The premier of Dominicans Love Haitians Movement took place February 2016 at the historic Nuyorican Poets Café dedicated to artistic empowerment. The artists that contributed to the event with their talent were Dominican poets Amanda Alcantara, editor of ‎La Galería Magazine, Roberto Carlos Garcia, published poet and translator of Pablo Neruda’s Heights of Macchu Picchu & Other Poems forthcoming by ?ervená Barva Press 2016, and painter, playwright, spoken-word poet Yubelky Rodriguez. Our Haitian independent singer/songerwriters were Rossini Celestin, his brother Deitchy Celestin and Tre Issacs, Mikaelle Aimee Cartright of the group Kayel, and Anie Alerte Joseph. Ayti Deploge, an organization that provides support to independent Haitian talent helped to provide musician.

“I’ve seen a lot of shows here, a lot of shows, and this is the first like this,” said Nuyorican House Manager, Raul Rios. “This is needed.”

“It is time to deal with the narratives that have been relegated to us regarding who we are as a people in the Dominican Republic,” said Clarivel Ruiz, first generation Dominican American and Founder of the Dominican Loves Haitians Movement. “The myth that we aren’t a group of people who have African ancestry and that we are more ‘white’ than ‘black’ has kept us separate from our fellow Haitians. Politicians through out history have used that statement to instill fear and loathing in order to manipulate Dominicans.”

For our second showcase, Dominicans Love Haitians Movement partners with Company Cypher, which educates and engages audiences in an international conversation about race and colorism. “Company Cypher is a natural partner because of their commitment in undoing racism.”

Dominicans Love Haitians Movement aims to heal the wounds instituted by racial stigmas by creating space to manifest the possibility of and the ability to witness violent acts without deflection, amnesia, or suppression and then voicing those acts so they no longer hold power nor define Dominican and Haitian people.

“There are those of us who understand the ramification of history and are doing something about it, said Clarivel. “We are one of many and together we have power.”

Showtime 7PM, Thursday June 23rd at the WOW Café Theater. To purchase tickets, go to www.artful.ly/store/events/9235.