Dominicans Love Haitians Movement is utilizing performance and storytelling to reflect and reconcile with over 500 years of Eurocentrism. It is exhuming mythological injustices designed and instituted by colonialism, dictators and plutocrats to instill fear, prejudices and oppression. Using art as a vehicle for unraveling biases and bigotry; healing wounds instituted by racial stigmas and by creating spaces to manifest the possibility of and the ability to witness violent acts without deflection, amnesia, or suppression and voicing those acts so they no longer hold power or designate who we are as human beings.
The catalyst for the project was in 2009 learning that my father’s grandmother was Haitian, he kept this secret for over 70 years. In 2013 I then learned of the impending legislature 168-13 that would, retroactively from 1929, denationalize and leave stateless more than 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian decent. Therefore, the vision of the movement is to bring these complex dissonant experiences to the forefront through participatory art and facilitation to formulate dialogues, reflections and restore compassion and healing to create a future from an unimagined place and bring communion to the island of Kiskeya Ayiti.
The project challenges current thinking in respect to how Dominicans view their history. It utilizes language in shifting the current sociological framework of oppression. The name of the project in and of itself challenges the thinking that love can exist between two nations that have been at odds with each other since the 1800s. It is imperative to dismantle the myths of race that have been instituted and internalized as hard-core values and a belief that continues to perpetuate hate and separates people by creating “others” who are subsequently used as scapegoats and seen as less than human.
Clarivel Ruiz, Founder/Creator
I am the daughter from the land called Kiskeya Ayiti Bohio (aka Hispaniola aka Dominican Republic and Haiti); a land colonized but never conquered, raised in New York City on the ancestral bones and covered shrines of the Lenape people. Suffering from annihilation as the Bronx burned. My first poems were haikus during summer school vacations when I was nine. I l(anguished) dramatically, eyes and nose burning, from hay fever. In junior high school I wore fringe head wraps and bandanas around my legs, learning how to be a walking canvas. I entered into LaGuardia High School of The Performing Arts and Music and Art to study Drama. In college I decided to pursue filmmaking and I continued to write poetry while falling out of love with the spoken word scene. I lived life, watched the Twin Towers burn and fall, childhood recollections of burned out husks and the fumes that linger even after the fire is months gone. For several years I managed a youth program teaching young people how to create documentaries, fought for gun violence control and police reform, fought to have our young people to give a perspective about the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans, fought for children who looked like me to have a voice through cinema. Many times I played their mother in their films. So I played parts in off off Broadway productions and participated in gallery performances, such as 100 Black Women Artists For Black Lives Matter @The New Museum this past September 2016. And in February of 2016, I initiated Dominicans Love Haitians Movement bringing together performing artists of Dominican and Haitian background to celebrate our commonalities, aspiring to end the racial divides, and unraveling the colonized myths in search of that bright burning star called our unconquered soul.