Sandra Abd’Allah-Álvarez Ramírez (Negra cubana tenía que ser) recently interviewed Deisy Toussaint (a descendant Toussaint Louverture) who is now living in a legal limbo regarding her nationality and has played a role in the reconoci.do campaign in the Dominican Republic. Toussaint is a writer and student of communications. Here are just a few excerpts from this timely interview with a link to the full piece below:
To recognize that you are of Haitian descent in your country now is a situation that reveals certain tensions at the social level. Could you describe them concisely?
I do not know a culture or nation other than the Dominican Republic (DR), even though my mother is from Haiti; in my home we never spoke Creole or practiced any other religion other than Catholicism. I still do not know Haiti and for whatever reason, we never had any “closeness” to the Haitian culture, although I guess that my mother wanted to protect us as much as possible by concealing the Haitian part. I started to find my roots 3 or 4 years ago, to know about the reality of the other side of the island which also runs through my veins.
In your opinion, what would be the peculiarity of your case, being a descendant of Toussaint Louverture?
The levels of classism, xenophobia and racism are very high in the DR, as it has been demonstrated in recent years, especially now with the decision of the Constitutional Court. I don’t think that the fact that I have some ties to Toussaint Louverture is very important in this country, where sections of the Constitution are violated and laws are applied retroactively. If they know the laws and they still violate them, I do not think that they would care about my ancestry. I’m afraid that this part of history would not be of interest.
From the point of view of identity, as a Dominican daughter of a Haitian mother and a Dominican father, could one refer to your case as an example of transnationalism?
Of all my siblings, I am the only one that does not carry my father’s name; in this case, I am only seen the daughter of a foreigner. Perhaps the fact that it was my mother who recognized me legally, addresses the trans-nationalization that you mention. I am Dominican by birth and culture, but because of my legal name, as appears to be the case, I am denied a nationality. With the aggravating factor that I am not Haitian, neither by birth nor culturally. So then… What am I?
For full interview (in Spanish), see http://negracubanateniaqueser.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/soy-dominicana-por-nacimiento-y-por-cultura-pero-mi-apellido-legal-me-niega-la-nacionalidad/
Also see, https://es.globalvoicesonline.org/2013/10/29/soy-dominicano-como-tu-miles-de-dominicanos-de-origen-haitiano-despojados-de-su-nacionalidad/ and http://hoy.com.do/deisy-toussaint-enviada-al-limbo-por-su-ascendencia-haitiana/
For samples of Deisy Toussaint’s writing, see http://www.ciguapa.net/actualidad/item/62-doble-moral/62-doble-moral and http://www.acento.com.do/index.php/news/15787/56/La-carta-cuento-de-la-joven-narradora-Deisy-Toussaint.html