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Shades of the Border

One island, two countries, many skin colors. A history of racial prejudice divides the island of Hispaniola. More about Shades of the Border from filmmaker Patrick Smith The racial issues that exist on the island of Hispaniola can hardly be described as "black and white." Perceptions of race among Haitians and Dominicans have been evolving (or devolving) over several centuries of political, military, and social unrest, and can't be consolidated into a brief explanation or short documentary. Thus, as a filmmaker from the United States, the intention for the film was not to create all-encompassing viewpoints, both Haitian and Dominican. The initial idea for the documentary came from the story of an Austin woman who was unable to adopt two abandoned, Dominican-born, black children because their skin color (and lack of documentation) prevented them from getting Dominican citizenship. After some research, it was clear that this wasn't an isolated incident, but that millions had been denied citizenship (and thus certain human rights), based on how "Haitian" they appeared to be and not based on where they were born. Faced with the economic burden of providing for an entire population of illegal Haitians crossing the Dominican border, compacted by an already poverty-stricken population of Dominicans, the Dominican Republic strains to find a solution that isn't "color-based." Sadly, the peripheral effects of this issue are much more severe, often leading to violence, destruction of homes, inaccessible education, abusive working conditions, and the list goes on. Shades of the Border explores a commonly-held notion from the Dominican media that race does not lay a role in the conflict, contrasted with an almost completely-inverse working-class opinion that the shade of someone's skin on the island of Hispaniola speaks volumes about the individual. Find out how to TAKE ACTION at
Length: 12:22


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