The One-Drop-Rule is a concept original to the United States. It implies that one drop of African blood, even if the person looks very little or not African at all, is black. Its origin is when in the United States there was the preoccupation with keeping whites as pure as possible. Since no one would ever confuse a real black person as anything other than black, the One-Drop-Rule was never applied to blacks. It wasn’t applied to whites either, despite whites were the ones that invented the concept. It has always been applied to mixed race people who happen to have some African ancestry regardless how big or how small or if it’s hardly visible in the features or very prominent. Considering its premise of applying the black label to mixed race people, it implies denial in their identity of their non-black side. As with all denials, this is simply to lie to oneself, for others to lie to you and the American society at large to repeat a lie over and over again with the hope that if it’s repeated and believed by most people, it becomes the truth. Unfortunately, a lie repeated multiple times and believed by most people remains nothing more and nothing less than a lie.
The Dominican Republic: The World’s First Mixed Race Country
The Dominican Republic is the world’s first mixed race country where the majority of the population has some African ancestry. For many years before the concept of the One-Drop-Rule became universal in the United States, Americans that visited and wrote about the Dominican Republic would acknowledge the mixed race aspect of Dominicans.
Alpheus Hyatt Verrill, an American from New Haven, CT, USA, in his 1914 book written after his extensive visit to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti; “Puerto Rico Past and Present and San Domingo of Today,” on pages 227 and 228 describes the Dominicans like this (the parts highlighted in blue).
It wasn’t up to debate that less than one-third was black, but it isn’t clear what he meant by black. Was he referring to real blacks or the combination of real blacks and ‘fake’ blacks?
In page 233 it becomes clear that he, like all Americans at the time, didn’t apply the One-Drop-Rule. He simply saw people for what they are. When it came to mixed race people, as are most Dominicans, he mentions different types of admixture. When it came to real blacks, he refers to them as blacks. He also makes it clear that the Dominican Republic was not a black country, but rather a distinctly coloured one. Coloured is one of the terms used to refer to mulattos or mixed race people.
On this instance he dwells on the skin color of most Dominicans. First he mentions that in most towns the mixed race outnumber the whites and then that most of the mixed races were of a lighter skin color, light enough to be considered white by many and lighter than most of the population in the West Indies or the Caribbean. The reason for why, as today, the average skin color among Dominicans is lighter than in much of the West Indies is quite simple. The Dominican Republic is inhabited mostly by mixed race people while in most of the non-Spanish Caribbean most of the people are black.
The concept of the One-Drop-Rule as was invented in the United States and based on self-denial for the mixed race (or constant lying would be another way of looking at it) is not applied in most countries. This is true even in countries where African ancestry is shared by most people. Whether the country is mostly black such as South Africa, Nigeria, Haiti, Jamaica and others or mostly mixed such as the Dominican Republic; the mixed race population has its own identities and labels.
Rejection of the One-Drop-Rule
The essay “Caribbean Exception: The Problem of Race and Color in the Dominican Republic” by Brendan Jamal Thorton and Daniel I Ubiera, both live in the United States and the paper itself was published in the United States. In fact, that the paper is in English and about race is a revelation that it was probably published in the United States by an American or a foreigner that has lived in the United States for many years. The inherent belief is that the One-Drop-Rule is a natural state of things. Not only is this evident in the authors themselves, but also in American intellectuals cited or mentioned in the paper.
The following are some of the parts we cite that clearly show an underlining One-Drop-Rule belief. This belief appears to be held as reality or the truth and is not seen as an act of self-denial and, perhaps, self-hatred among those that truly are mixed race.
As these four examples show, there is an inherent belief in the One-Drop-Rule that is applied to a mixed race population.
Blaming the Dominican “Elite”
In addition to the inability of accepting the mixed race reality of most Dominicans, there are further hints of blame to the country’s upper class. It’s not that the One-Drop-Rule is a lie that mostly Americans believe and mostly limited to the United States. Instead, it must be the upper class that’s preventing the people from applying a lie that comes along with self-denial and self-hate to mixed race individuals.
Relating Dominican Identity to the Dominican-Haitian Dilemma
Another interesting finding is the attempt to relate Dominican identity and the mixed reality of most Dominicans with the Dominican-Haitian dilemma. The real origins of this sentiment in many Dominicans is the mistreatments suffered at the hands of the Haitian army. Several things make this very relevant to the average Dominican.
Haiti invaded the Dominicans on several occasions during the XIX century, spanning the first 6 decades.
Haitian skirmishes along the Dominican-Haitian border were much more numerous than the outright invasions, though the latter were not two or three either. Haitian troops engaged in taking revenge on the civilian Dominican population instead of limiting their bellic actions to the Dominican military.
The Haitian invasions often weren’t limited to Dominican soldiers suffering losses from attacks and battles, but the Haitian soldiers took their revenge to the civilian Dominican population. One example is the 1805 invasion where Dominican civilians were hunted and killed by the Haitian soldiers through large swathes of the territory that has always been the home of the Dominicans only. In 1844, Haitian president Charles Herard before invading the Dominicans supposedly said that he “will commit a crime for which I will be criticized, but it’s necessary to save my country.” Needless to say that his plan of subjugating the Dominicans to a widespread massacre wasn’t completed. Despite that, Haiti’s independence as a country survived to this day, a proof that Dominicans were never a threat to Haitian self-rule. Faustin Solouque is another president of Haiti that said his troops would chase Dominicans into the mountains and all their hidding spots and kill them all as wild pigs. These were only some of them.
A constant border dispute since 1844 to 1929 was perpetrated by Haiti claiming Dominican land. This too caused much displeasure among Dominicans. The border dispute with the Haitians lead to border squirmishes which started to end in 1929 and ended completly in 1936. In both instances, the Dominicans agreed to give Haiti the land it wanted. The Haitians were never willing to end the dispute by giving up. If it wasn’t for Dominicans, the border dispute would most likely exist to our very own times. It should be noted that this dispute lasted at least 85 years.
There are other instances of Haitian aggressions towards the Dominican Republic that due to their violent nature and intention to massacre or do harm to the civilian Dominican population, it affected the psyche of the Dominicans as an act of self-preservation. By contrast, the Dominican Republic never invaded Haiti and never committed massacres or tried to erase them from the face of the earth in their homeland. From its inception, the purpose of the Dominican army was to defend the Dominican population from outside proported harm in their homeland, never to take misery and destruction to the homelands of other people.
Hints of Expanding Haiti to Include All of Hispaniola
An interesting concept, at times quite blantant, is the desire to unite Hispaniola under the One-Drop-Rule invention that underlines the “blackness” movement towards Dominicans by a small group of people. There are several points to notice of this group, but the most important is that they tend to not live in either countries, but rather in the United States. Their concept of island unity often revolves on not destroying Haiti, but rather destroying the Dominican Republic and make Haiti expands its rule over Dominicans. They assume that Dominican independence is a racist movement rather than a cultural and traditions movement meant on self-preserving the things that Dominicans cherish and the Haitian authorities were adamant in destroying during the Haitian Domination (1822-1844) such as language, traditions and other things.
The Perfect One-Drop-Rule Believers Critique:Wanting to be White
It would seem completely logical when believers in the One-Drop-Rule blame mixed race people that are true to themselves as they “want to be white.” It’s logical in a mind with a racial dichotomy where there are two categories and anyone with African ancestry is automatically assigned as black. This mentality, as has been mentioned throughout this article, is false. It doesn’t corresponds with reality where similar to the colors with their black, white and gray (ironically, the last one is created with the mixture of the first two only); so too pertaining to race. The world doesn’t consist of whites and blacks only, there is a large inbetween of mixed race people. Given that the only way the One-Drop-Rule is maintained is through lying to oneself, that is pretending there are no mixed races. Is it any wonder that a believer in the One-Drop-Rule would think to themselves that any mixed race individual that doesn’t adhere to that lie “wants to be white?”
As part of its defense mechanism that involves inversing what they are doing and apply psychological projection to the mixed race person refusing the One-Drop-Rule, they also apply this to mixed race populations as a whole. What they are doing is “wanting to be black” which applies to mixed race individuals that claim to be “black” and then projecting by inversing the action and claiming that the mixed race individual somehow, through a fiction that only exist in their minds, “wants to be white.” As has been stated, calling a rose by any other name will continue to be a rose.
Looking at all the censuses of the Dominican Republic, ine thing becomes clear: never has the majority of the population define itself as white, but neither as black. The first official census was made in 1920 during the first United States invasion. Both blacks and whites were in the absolute minority, while the different categories representing mixed people were the absolute majority. In contrast, not a single census made in Haiti has the black category in the minority and all have a category for mixed race people, themselves always a very small minority. In Jamaican censuses a similar situation is seen as in Haiti. In the 1970 census, those of non-African and mixed race were identified by their own identities and it was discovered that after the blacks, the mixed race constituted the second largest working population. In the 1991 Jamaican census, the black category accounted for 90.5% while the mixed 7.3%. In 2011 another census was made in Jamaica and here too there were separate categories for blacks (92.1% of the population) and mixed (6%). In Angola, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the latest population estimate divides the black population by ethnic groups together consisting of 75%, but the mixed category is of 2%. In Anguilla the blacks are 81.3% and the mixed 3.8%. In Barbados blacks are 92.4% and mixed 3.1%. The country with a mulatto or mixed race majority in Sub-Saharan Africa is tiny Cabo Verde where the Creoles (stands for mulatto or mixed) are 71% and the blacks 28%. In Martinique, a small overpopulated island of the French West Indies and an overseas department of France, the mixed race accounts for 90% of the population.
It isn’t that mixed individuals “want to be white,” but rather recognize their mixed reality and this is manifested through the census, among other ways. There is nothing wrong, no lies, no pretending to be something they are not.
No mixed race or white person would say what these Dominicans said in national television.
In addition to those video clips, out of many examples are the following print advertisings from the Dominican Republic seen in the country’s newspapers, magazines, on billboards and other advertising places nationwide. They are one type, but there is advertising that incorporating all types of people, just like Dominican society in general. As you look at them, ask yourself if a modern society “that wants to be white” would tolerate advertising of this type.
A Special Look at Silvio Torres-Saillant
Silvio Torres-Saillant is, perhaps, the leading Dominican voice accepting and projectingthe One-Drop-Rule, despite its basis on a lie along with the potential of self-hatred and self-denial for a mixed race person. This, however, is not readily understood as one becomes immersed in what is the One-Drop-Rule, but rather becomes apparent as time goes in.
We quote a small part that appeared in the Dominican magazine “La Lupa” of an interview that was done to him by Bernardo Vega, a famous Dominican economist, historian, author and diplomat.
It should be noted that Silvio Torres-Saillant is a brilliant man and has demostrated this by earning various degrees in Brooklyn College and New York University. Also, working as a professor in Syracuse University, all in the United States. He has demostraded his briliance in the books and essays that he published through the years. Certainly, many aspects of his ideas are commendable and add value to a viewpoint not often taken into consideration or at all. It is apparent from his writings that what has truly motivated him in developing and reaffirming his ideas is the desire to improve the life of the average Dominican, even more than “teaching” Americans about Dominicans. That in itself is extraordinarily commendable and should always be recognized. He did graduate with a B.A. in Mass Communications with minors in Comparative Literature, English, Spanish and Latin from Brooklyn College in 1979. Later earned an M.A. and a PhD in Comparative Literature from New York University. It doesn’t say anywhere that he graduated as a Suma Cum Laude, a title given to students with a near excellent academic record at the time of their graduation, but for a time he did become a professor of English at Syracuse University. That is a demostration of having very good qualities in his area of expertise. Most likely he was a very good professor of English, but short of getting the opinions of those that were his students, we have no way of confirming this except he was never the object of a disciplinary action from Syracuse University or any other institution that he worked for.
What he doesn’t have is an extensive academic preparation in Dominican Studies. Everything involving the Dominican Republic and Dominicans, both in the country and in the United States, appear is based on his experience and later from an amateur life long study and analyses of different aspects of Dominicans and Dominican-Americans. This also lead to the founding of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at City College of New York in 1992, dedicated to the study of different aspects of Dominicans and Dominican-Americans, including the aspect of identity but often seen through the lense of the One-Drop-Rule. This is understandable since the founding director was Silvio Torres-Saillant and he has been living in the United States since 1973 or from the young age of 17.
Until the 2000’s, serious studies were made based on the human genome and through the years there have been several with the focus on or included Dominicans. Each of them confirms not just that most Dominicans are mixed, but no ancestry actually predominates since even the African ancestry is not half of the genome of a typical Dominican. Neither is the European or the amerindian. This, however, was impossible to know prior to all these studies using actual genomic and/or ancestry DNA as the defining marker. It could be possible, going by features and skin color which now we know is not always indicative of the true genetic mix of a mixed race person, that Silvio Torres-Saillant thought in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s (including 1992 when CUNY Dominican Studies Institute was founded and 1999 when the essay “Introduction to Dominican Blackness” was published) that African ancestry had to be the majority in most Dominicans. Again, this is proven time and again not to be true.
We can conclude the following points regarding who is Silvio Torres-Saillant.
Born in Santiago de los Caballeros on November 8, 1954.
Moved to the United States on April 3, 1973 and has been living there almost 50 years or 73% of his life.
Earned a B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1979 and an M.A. and PhD in Comparative Literature from New York University.
Founded the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute in 1992. This is the premier institute outside of the Dominican Republic focused on studying Dominicans and Dominican-Americans. In the same respect, and following its founder, it’s the first institution that dwells into Dominican identity using the concept of the One-Drop-Rule invented in the United States. It publishes its works mainly in English.
Testimony of an African American regarding the Dominican Republic vs the United States
Thomas Sowell on the Influence of Intellectuals
Signs of Change in American Identity and its Implications for the Dominican Republic
Ironically, while this small group of people adopting inventions from the United States, such as the One-Drop-Rule, and attempt to apply it to a mixed race country; at the same time, this American invention is being challenged from within.
The implications this have for the Dominican Republic is tremendous. One more attack on the nonsense of the One-Drop-Rule applied to a nation of mixed people. These are precisely the people most affected by this invention since, as has been said multiple times, the mixed race individual is more likely to engage in self-denial and self-hate of who he or she is. As the world’s first mixed race country (mainly between blacks and whites) and the recent attacks on its identity comes mostly from the United States, a change in accepting mixed race indentity in the United States spells a light at the end of the tunnel.
Pingback: Details about the Haitian Massacre of 1937 | The Dominicans