Decades ago before the earthquake. Hatians were invited to the Dominican Republic as migrant workers for the sugar plantations there. Generations later and their offspring born in the Dominican republic are refused their birth certificates. This means they cannot go to university, in some cases, they cannot go to school at all, can’t read an write They cannot get married, buy property, leave the country, anything. Essentially, it is an attempt to build a race of menial workers, slaves. Dominican human rights lawyers are calling it racial genocide, something to that effect, and they expect it to explode. The poor against the rich. Monday the 31st August, I watched ‘I am a Slave’ on Channel 4, starring my friend Wunmi Mosaku. It was about a domestic helper brought into the country by a diplomat and treated appallingly. These helpers are paid poorly or not paid, are bullied, beaten, in some case tortured. There are tens of thousands of cases like this, in the UK and across the world. In Iraq, one ‘slave’ was so mistreated, so tortured with boiling water, the wounds so horrific that her employer was sentenced to death.
To live, progress and make way in a capitalist society, someone needs to be exploited and these are some of the extreme examples. I started writing because of reasons like this and over the next year I will immerse myself in these issues again. A lot of the time, I still feel like one of the disadvantaged many, there are some Fridays where I feel like trash. I read poems like the one below and it lifts my spirit.
A LITANY FOR SURVIVAL By Audrey Lourde
For those of us who live at the shoreline standing upon the constant edges of decision crucial and alone for those of us who cannot indulge the passing dreams of choice who love in doorways coming and going in the hours between dawns looking inward and outward at once before and after seeking a now that can breed futures like bread in our children's mouths so their dreams will not reflect the death of ours:
For those of us who were imprinted with fear like a faint line in the center of our foreheads learning to be afraid with our mother's milk for by this weapon this illusion of some safety to be found the heavy-footed hoped to silence us For all of us this instant and this triumph We were never meant to survive.
And when the sun rises we are afraid it might not remain when the sun sets we are afraid it might not rise in the morning when our stomachs are full we are afraid of indigestion when our stomachs are empty we are afraid we may never eat again when we are loved we are afraid love will vanish when we are alone we are afraid love will never return and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid
So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.