Saturday, June 27, 2015

On Marriage and Dominicans, etc...

Yes, yesterday was a good day, since I spent the earliest decade of my life being sick, the second and third decades being criminal, and the last decade being married in some places and single in others. None of that matters, in quotidian life, but it might have been an issue if one or the other of us had been hit by a bus. Potentially, I could have been seeing my husband’s family stream into the ICU, while the nurses and doctors barred me.

So yes, it was a good day, and I went to the march and waved the flag, since that was what I had done off and on for decades. But it was miniscule to what so many other people had done, and minor compared to what I had done, which was come out to everyone including the guy who parks cars on the street (OK—I didn’t actually come out, but he saw me with the flag, gave me a special look, and don’t you think that counts?)

Between being in tears for most of the day, I read all the Facebook posts from all my religious former-students-now-FB-friends, who were writing things like this:

En mi opinión la reciente decisión del Tribunal Supremo de los Estados Unidos de legalizar el matrimonio entre personas de mismo sexo es un paso más de esta nación hacia un abismo de autodestrucción, no solo en lo que respecta a lo moral y espiritual sino también como potencia mundial.

My apologies to anyone who needs translation, but in fact, does anyone need translation? Because for the last month or so, we’ve been hearing that the sky was falling, or maybe that the jaws of Hell were opening up—right, that may be a mixed metaphor, but don’t worry, because the whole subject is so emotionally charged that nobody will notice—and the United States was going to be cast into the flames and the stench of sulfur and the cries of the anguished souls who have languished there….

So I waved the flag and walked hand-in-hand into Old San Juan, and had the happy discovery that people were on the streets, snapping photos and, in almost every case, applauding and cheering. It hasn’t always been that way: ON my first pride march in Puerto Rico, someone threw a bottle at me from a hotel window. Luckily, it was one of my life’s many disconnects.

Well, wouldn't you celebrate, too, if you had just torpedoed Western Civilization?

Then it was time to do that scandalous thing we gays do—we ate dinner. OK, he cooked, I did the dishes, and we had a bottle of champagne, since we learned a long time ago: In a world where not much can be expected, you have to create your family and celebrate your own milestones. And today? Well, I woke up and didn’t need to get out of bed to know that the world was still with us, since the same construction work that has been going on all week was still very audibly going on today.

So the world hasn’t fallen apart in any significant sense for anyone except that yes it has, if you are Dominican of Haitian descent, since what some are calling the biggest Humanitarian crisis in recent times is about to take place. Or rather, is taking place, but at night and in the early morning, since Dominican authorities are taking somewhat less bureaucratic routes, and travelling down the well-established paths of intimidation and brutalization. There is, for example, the Dominican guy who had the army guy pound on his door, order him to leave the house and, if he didn’t, he would return with gasoline and matches. Oh, and it’s a wood house (all right, more like a shack…).

Well, it was a situation we all had seen coming, since in 2010, the government announced that anyone born in the Dominican Republic was not automatically a Dominican, as had been the case. Then, the Supreme Court went further and announced that anyone without at least one Dominican parent was illegal. Oh, and that went back to 1927.

The court got around that by declaring that the Haitians had not been living in the Dominican Republic for all those years, cutting the sugar cane and harvesting the plantains and building and then cleaning the houses and doing all the things that immigrants do. No, they had been passing through, those guys who arrived in the 1960’s, and now have grandchildren, who—like so many immigrants—don’t speak Creole, don’t know anyone in Haiti, and consider themselves, very justifiably, Dominican.

In fact, the international pressure was intense, so then the Dominican Republic instituted a program designed to help those people who could be naturalized be naturalized. Although sometimes that was a trick, since some of these people were illiterate, many were without any papers, and therefore couldn’t ride a bus, since the bus would be stopped and identification demanded. Then, there were the reports that the lines were humongous, the people were waiting for days on end, bribes were being solicited and paid for people to jump in line. Oh, and for those who simply had a birth certificate from the Dominican Republic? Well, they had to provide an unwieldy pile of documents, which may explain that—out of hundreds of thousands of people—only 8,775 people completed the process, and all of that is under review, except for some 300 people who have been granted citizenship.

Well, the world watched all this being played out, and the social networks came through, but did the mass deportations happen? Because it had been reported—the government or the army (if there’s any difference) had rented 12 big busses, and had constructed seven deportation centers, and the situation looked all set for the deportations to begin.

So then the government announced that the deportations would begin after a 45-day period, during which those 8,775-minus-300-out-of-500,000 people’s papers would be examined.

So last week was a tense week, since what would the U.S. Supreme Court do, and what was going on at the border of Dominican Republic and Haiti? Were the deportations going on? And where was the press? Yes, it had been reported, but it was hardly being played in the way that a beheading in France or the Charleston murders were being played. So hundreds of thousands of people were—potentially—going to be upped and put into Haiti, and the president of Haiti has said that he won’t welcome any Dominicans of Haitian descent, and anyway, how much of a welcome is Haiti able to give? They’ve cut down most of the trees to cook the food that now they don’t have, so what’s left? Sharing dirt with their third-cousins from across the border?

So I was Googling, and then hit upon one of my many absurd schemes: I would download Google Earth, and then spy in on the border by satellite from the next island over! See? Technology wins again, just like love!

Except that it didn’t, since I couldn’t figure out how to download the program, nor how to enlist an army of will volunteers, to sit at their computers and monitors various spots along the Dominican / Haitian border.

Fortunately, a more connected generation has started a new twist on journalism, since now, anybody with a smart phone can be a journalist, as Vice News is proving, and if television brought the Vietnam War home more than the New York Times ever could, the Internet and YouTube is just as revolutionary. And so I watched, today, and absorbed the fact that some 14,000 Dominican / Haitians have already crossed the border—some of them, presumably, are Haitian and getting out before “voluntarily” before they’re evicted. So they’re selling off all their stuff and guess what? This is not how you want to plan a move….

Well, it’s an interesting world, since one of my questions has always been, well, isn’t it stretching the imagination that all of those concentration camps were built in Nazi Germany, but the good German people didn’t know anything about it? Now, of course, Vice News would be showing the trains, and anyone with an Internet connection and an interest would be able to see it. It being, of course, whatever atrocity was going on at the moment.

So now I’m married and that was nice but now I have to be worried about what is happening now and may happen in the next month on the next island over. And to all of my students for whom I still have a great affection, and who are reposting the rants of their Evangelical friends, let me ask a question….

…isn’t it time to move on, and worry about something real?