Fri, Oct 09|
Screening of Stateless with Michele Stephenson
Michèle Stephenson’s film Stateless reveals anti-Black sentiments in the Dominican Republic
Time & Location
Oct 09, 2020, 7:00 PM
As communities across the world contend with anti-Black racism, Canadian director Michèle Stephenson – who is of Panamanian and Haitian ancestry – bravely illuminates the stories of Haitian Dominicans impacted by this racism in her award-winning documentary Stateless.
Stateless was the recipient of the Special Jury Prize — Canadian Feature. The documentary premiered online at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival in June. If you missed the opportunity to watch this documentary last month, the National Film Board of Canada plans to release Stateless, next year.
The documentary begins by narrating the story of Moraime. Moraime is a young Haitian who found herself displaced amid the 1937 anti-Haitian massacre which was ordered by Dictator Rafael Trujillo, whose intention was to “whiten the Dominican population.” Currently, tens of thousands of children of Haitian descent continue to face threats of violence. Like Moraime, their fear is justified, because they have once again become stateless.
Fast forward 80 years to 2013 and Haitian people are still facing discrimination in the Dominican Republic. 2013 Supreme Court decision that stripped nearly 200 000 people of Haitian descent of their citizenship . The decision retroactively impacted those with Haitian ancestry going as far back as 1929.
Although the film specifically illuminates anti-Black racism and violence in the Dominican Republic, contemporary North America, like much of the Americas, was created and built from colonial anti-Black sentiments and systemic racism. The exclusion of Black lives from North American nations, which was built from Black lives, continues to impact Black lives. Thus, historical context is imperative in understanding why anti-Black racism continues to be prevalent in the Americas. But it also provokes me to ask: Who is responsible for the anti-Black racism in the Domican Republic? And does our own anti-Black racism and violence, also leave Black North Americans stateless?
Although this is an especially interesting film right now, given the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, I worry for Iris and her son. Although they managed to successfully escape anti-Black racism and violence in the DR, I wonder about the anti-Black racism and violence that exists in North America, that has also left millions of Black Americans, stateless.