City Council Members Rafael L. Espinal, Jr. (D-Bushwick, East New York, Cypress Hills), Farah N. Louis (D-East Flatbush, Flatbush, Flatlands, Marine Park, Midwood) and Antonio Reynoso last Friday hosted a celebration of unity between the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which together share the Caribbean Island known to many as Quisqueya.Espinal and Reynoso are Dominican-Americans and Louis is Haitian-American. The event, which drew several hundred people, highlighted the similarities in the cultural Diasporas, honored their legacies and global contributions while encouraging the preservation of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic to unify both communities.
It also comes as there has beensome friction between the two countries, which share the island.
“Quisqueya is a celebration of two countries and two cultures that share one island. Even though there’s a troubled history, here in New York City we’ve seen what’s possible when we act united. We forge unity from our diversity, and sustain that unity even in times of hardship. I’m proud to come together with my colleagues’ Council Member Farah Louis and Council Member Antonio Reynoso to lead this celebration and to honor outstanding members of our community,” said Espinal.
“Together, as leaders in New York City, we can’t forget the problems of our home countries, but we have a responsibility to come together in spaces like this to celebrate what we have achieved, and strengthen our kinship with one another. The change we make in our city, the pride we bring to our culture, all of this is in our hands no matter what the politics are at home. If we stay true to this, then we will continue to stand as examples of true unity,” he added.
Louis noted that before colonialism, revolutions, and declarations of independence, there was Quisqueya.
“As compatriots and descendants of this land, we are forever bound together by our history. No border should ever divide what was once united. We are one people, one island, One Brooklyn. This joint celebration alongside my colleagues, Council Members Rafael L. Espinal, Jr. and Antonio Reynoso, is a historic step forward to reunite the eastern and western sides of an island that will be stronger together. This event was not just a celebration, but the start of a conversation that I hope will bring forth ideas and solutions to help resolve conflicts in Brooklyn and on the island,” said Louis.
Reynoso said the event paid homage to the Dominican and Haitian cultures and recognizes their shared roots on the island of Hispaniola.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti are among the top ten countries of birth for the 3.1 million foreign-born New York City residents whose cultural footprint and contributions undeniable.
Among the honorees at the event included Genesis Aquino, a human rights activist, community organizer and candidate for Assembly; diplomat Raymond A. Joseph; Gregory Louis, Esq., a community lawyer; Raul King, a community advocate; and the late New York State Senator José R. Peralta who championed the NYS DREAM Act.
“It is imperative to dismantle the myths of ‘race’ that have been instituted and internalized as hard-core values and beliefs that continue to perpetuate hate and separate people be creating “others” who are subsequently used as scapegoats and seen as less than human. The movement is to celebrate our commonalities while we honor our differences, it is the only way for all of us to heal from these systems of superiority and oppression,” said Clarivel Ruiz, Founder of Dominicans Love Haitians Movement.
“It is my pleasure to honor Gregory E Louis, a community lawyer with Communities Resist whose parents hail from Haiti, and Raul King, a dedicated public servant with roots in the Dominican Republic, for their contributions to the Haitian and Dominican communities. I look forward to more opportunities to help bridge cultures within Brooklyn and throughout New York City,” Reynoso said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said hosting the inaugural Quisqueya at borough hall was about honoring Dominican and Haitian heritage and the close ties between the two cultures.
“Since I took office as borough president, I have endeavored to forge bonds between communities, highlighting what unites us while celebrating our differences. Quisqueya is very much in keeping with our mission to create One Brooklyn,” he said.