Deandra Bass’ counterparts warned her not to dip into the hot Dominican sun: “It will make your skin too dark,” they offered. They made those comments not out of malice or discrimination, but out of love and protection. As an African-American Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, Bass could blend in with her local community – for the most part. But at times, she danced with the color line, causing some to question if her skin was not of Dominican decent, but of Haitian. This ambiguity exposed her to an ongoing political struggle that was bigger than her.
“Some volunteers were asked to get off buses and not allowed to travel because they were dark-skinned and looked Haitian,” said Bass, who served from 2012-15. “I once was questioned for my identification to prove I was not Haitian. Luckily, I had the support of fellow volunteers who advocated on my behalf and, fortunately, I was not asked to leave the bus.” Continue reading “Discrimination in the Dominican Republic empowers Peace Corps volunteer”