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Recognizing Blackness

In 2013, by claiming that the children of undocumented Haitian migrants were not entitled to birthright citizenship, the Dominican Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling 168-13, commonly known as la sentencia, denationalized more than 200,000 Black Dominicans of Haitian descent, rendering them stateless. La Sentencia cemented a decades long process of denying darker skinned “Haitian looking” individuals the right to vote, work, legally wed, or purchase homes. 

Through archival research, audio recorded interviews and participant observation in grassroots human rights trainings, as well as key meetings with diasporic, regional and international human rights institutions, I explore how blackness and Black identities are produced, employed and transformed through everyday encounters among activists who seek to build a large-scale transnational human rights movement against racism. In this transnational, collaborative work, however, contradictions arise, which raise important questions about how human rights’ universal categories of race potentially undermine the particularities of how race, Blackness and racism are manifested at a grassroots level. 

By examining how Dominican activists of Haitian descent are mobilizing human rights and providing new symbolic meaning to Blackness beyond their geographical limitations, my first book highlights how human rights activists’ negotiation of the conditions of their everyday lives and work provides new ways of imagining global social justice as ideology and practice.

A group of anti-racist organizers hold up a banner that reads El Racism nos mata, Racism kills us.

Photocredit: Fran Afonso

The movement's logo. Click on the image to learn more about the movement.
The logo for munecas negras. a Black dolls initiative by Click on the image  for more.
We Are All Dominican's logo. A fist with a tattoo of the island of Hispaniola. Click image for more.

Harmonizing Latina Visions and Voices

This volume co-edited with Dr. Melissa Maldonado-Salcedo seeks to explore and engage the many voices of Mujerismos through multiple genres including poetry, visual art and scholarly essays. 


The practice and expression of “choice” around representation, reputation, and rhetoric, reveals how ​mujerismo​ (Latinx’s expression of feminism) emerges as a means to disrupt the silences and make visible the ways in which “genealogies of power” get mapped through and because of the body. As a practice, it centers and contextualizes how resistance is articulated and expressed by women throughout the hemisphere. In this collection, our definition of “women” is trans and non-binary inclusive which underscores one of the objectives within this project - to reimagine what it means to be Latina, or of the Latin America and Caribbean region, beyond borders and the “baggage” of categories and labels. By expanding the frameworks of reproductive justice, this project also presents a conversation on the many ways in which womanhood within the stories of Latinidad are often matricentric, transnational, and queer. Voices of Mujerismos puts “on the record” a pathway towards liberation that pushes back against white supremacist projects unleashed by “disciplining” institutions. This project puts into focus the many ways in which women choose to “express defiance” and thus deploys testimonials as a tool and weapon to recover “historically muted voices.” However, our intention is to do so without glossing over the multiplicity of experiences as testimonial literature so often can within Latin American / Caribbean / American history.


This reader will discursively challenge the erasures and silences imposed on women by functioning as a choir (collection of voices) to testify on mujerismos, its vision, and promise for the future.

Image of Voices of Mujerismos newsletter yellow background with words Voices of Mujerismos.

Image credit: Mel Maldonado-Salcedo

Stressful Crossings 

This collaborative project with Dr. Victoria Massie is supported by BRIDGE's (Building Research on Inequality and Diversity to Grow Equity) working group directors program at Rice University. 

Recognizing that Texas has the third largest concentration of Black immigrants (Morgan-Trostle, Zheng & Lipscombe, 2020), and a quarter of the Houston metropolitan area population was born in another country (Capps & Soto, 2018), this project asks two questions: (1) how does the stress of immigration to the United States through Texas contribute to health disparities amongst Black immigrants?; and (2) how can community engagement with Black immigrants help enhance their well-being as they seek to build a new life in Houston while facing different forms of bureaucratic dispossession?


Drawing on multidisciplinary ethnographic illness narratives and psychosocial methodologies, we envision developing partnerships with community organizations to enhance the development of community-level knowledge and research training on health disparities that can be leveraged to meet the material needs of Black immigrants in the Houston area. In turn, we see this project bridging academic and community conversations through interdisciplinary collaboration to foster creative ideas and actions that center the well-being of Black immigrant communities in Houston, a necessary step to equity and justice. 

Image by Manuel Velasquez
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