“I am not a critic of my country, and this is my country. I am a critic of my government.” – Sonia Pierre
Name: Solange Pierre better known as Sonia Pierre
Place of birth: a batey in Villa Altagracia, San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic
Date of birth: 1963
Sonia Pierre was born in a batey in the Dominican Republic in 1963 and died on December 4, 2011. The fact that her exact date of birth is unknown is the most telling part about the plight of Haitians in the Dominican Republic. She was a human rights activist who devoted her life to fighting antihaitianismo (discrimination against Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans). Among other awards, she received the Robert F. Kennedy awards in 2007 and was awarded the International Women of Courage Award in 2010 by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
She was proud, strong and courageous. Despite numerous death threats and physical assaults, she persevered in her fight. She was the voice of the voiceless, the face of the injustices perpetrated against Haitian-Dominicans in the Dominican Republic. Most of all she advocated for the hope that maybe, one can appeal to the humanity of Dominican officials to treat Haitian-Dominicans and Haitians in the Dominican Republic, humanely. But, alas, the 2013 Dominican Supreme Court ruling highlights the importance of Sonia Pierre’s advocacy.
Now more than ever, Haitians living in the Dominican Republic and Haitian-Dominicans need a Sonia Pierre to advocate on their behalf. They need their voices heard. They need the international community to stand with them and fight against the indignities they suffer daily. However, since her death in 2011, it feels as if Haitians in the Dominican Republic are “pitimi san gadò.” Who will raise their voice and continue to advocate on their behalf? Who will stand with them and recognize their humanity?
Sonia Pierre, Fanm Fò, Woy Magazine salutes you and honors you.
Photo via 1199seiu.org