The name "Parsley” comes from the often-told story that during the massacre there were times when the Dominican army and its conscripted civilians asked dark-skinned residents to identify a sprig of parsley, perejil, in Spanish. The word is difficult for speakers of Haitian Kreyòl to pronounce, so it was used to determine whether someone was Haitian. Those who failed to correctly pronounce the Spanish word, but instead made a wide and flat “r” sound very unlike the Spanish sound, were murdered. This linguistic litmus test, however, was not the sole factor to determine whether an individual lived or died. The region was heavily populated by the Dominican-born children of Haitians – children who grew up speaking Spanish and called the eastern half of Hispaniola home. This population was also targeted. In interviews years later, many of the survivors of the massacre living in Haiti for decades but born and raised in the Dominican Republic before 1937 were indeed interviewed in the Spanish language they had learned as children. BOL seeks to resurrect this long-forgotten history of cross border cultural and economic exchange and solidarity that the dictatorship and its subsequent anti-Haitian ideological government campaign attempted to erase.
Among the notable artists supporting and attending the gathering is author and activist, Julia Alvarez. For the first gathering of BOL in 2012 Julia remembers this gathering as "an immensely powerful and moving testament to the goodwill which exists between the people in both countries. But it is only the beginning of a shift in a history of violence and conflict between these two traditional ‘enemies.’ Border of Lights is committed to continuing our work as a community of concerned artists, activists, Dominicans, Haitians, with supporters of many nationalities. So, again, on this 80th anniversary of the massacre, we are gathering at the border in Dajabón and Ouanaminthe, continuing our project work, with a special emphasis this year on outreach to young people. We are hoping to hold workshops and interactive sessions with school children of both nationalities. We would also like to celebrate our many collaborations, our brotherhood and sisterhood. We look to the future and our shared hopes for this whole island and small planet.”
“Border of Lights supports and encourages strengthening a new understanding of borders. Not one that is expressed and associated with confrontation or isolation, but rather solidarity and the acknowledgment that for more than three centuries has culturally enriched both sides of the border in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Our diversity enriches us, strengthens us, and does not erase our identity,” says Father Regino Martínez, former Director of Solidaridad Fronteriza in Dajabón, DR, who led a candlelight vigil at the border last October.
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Border of Lights Photo Credit: Tony Savino, 2012
- Amy Myers
- Kathy and Jeff Sangalis
- BARBARA WOOD
- Jeana DelRosso
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