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photo of a Haitian farmerPhoto by LindsayStark

I truly hope that Dominicans are not on the path of creating and sustaining a society that is not tolerant of other migrant groups of various races and nationalities.

I find that some forms of injustice and stereotyping of people because they are “the Other” is taking place in our society. Dominicans are migrants in other lands and I am sure that what we would not like for ourselves, we should not want for others. Yes, in every group some are bad but that does not mean that we should put all people in one negative category. I know that we know better than that.

One migrant group that has been a hot topic for years is the Haitian Community in Dominica. It is understandable that with a country with as limited resources and as small as Dominica, Dominicans will be concerned about their country and their survival.

However, there have been some negative reports about our treatment of other people in the region, especially the Haitians and I would be happy is Prime Minister Skerrit would deal with the issue of managed migration and creating a policy.

Another thing that I think should be frowned upon is discrimination in the workplace, especially in this economic climate where jobs are a serious concern in terms of how we can all survive in these difficult times that have already begun.

I especially sympathise with those in the disabled community, some of whom have encountered some problems in that area, but it is highly commendable that some employers look at a person’s ability and credentials and not that they are differently abled.

I did some checking through the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on this issue and the ILO also states that the most common form of discrimination is the denial of opportunities, both in the labour market, and in education and training to people with disabilities. Therefore, they are often trapped in low-paid, unskilled and menial jobs, with little or no social protection.

I am thankful though that in Dominica there are a few avenues for disabled people to sharpen their skill, even though there may be challenges. But do we as an island nation give migrant groups, and people who are disabilities a fair opportunity in the workplace? Let’s hear your opinion in the comments.

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2 Comments »

Comment by Suki Subscribed to comments via email
2009-01-23 18:55:05

I can’t speak on whether you give migrant groups an equal opportunity in the workplace but I do know that people still operate in tribe/family groupings. We first identify ourselves as a member of this tribe/family i.e. Dominicans, Haitians, Jamaicans, Americans…etc. Once we have identified/labeled ourselves, we act as anyone acts with members of their family, we give preference to our family members. Is that wrong? When in the context of our immediate families we don’t seem to think so but when applied to a larger scale we begin to feel uncomfortable. Any outsider who would seek to join our family would probably have to spend a considerable amount of time proving themselves in a way that naturally born members of the family do not. Again, we are perfectly comfortable with this. Perhaps it is useful to be honest about the fact that we do behave in this way so that people who migrate understand that they will have to work harder to join the family. That does not give us the right to treat them poorly of course but it does let everyone know where they stand. Finally, no one “owes” anyone employment. Employers decide to hire the people who will help their businesses prosper and if a migrant turns out to be the best person to make that business prosper, they will get and deserve the job even if they had to work harder to get it. Policies are not necessary if we recognize that all human beings deserve to be treated with respect regardless of their origin.

 
Comment by pete
2009-01-24 11:05:08

So very well said, Suki! Like everything else, there are always people who either take advantage or have unfair prejudices against migrant minorities. Then, making regulation to correct this can bring on unintended consequences, sometimes leading to reverse discrimination. I suppose helping a society to be more tolerant and with a more rounded education, in general helps. Unfortunately, the kind of exposure that helps (eg, geography, civics, community service etc) may not be a priority for some. Discrimination will never go away: its an inherent quality of humans. Some societies have done better handling this. The interesting thing is, given advances in technlogy and travel, many societies, eg the US are destined to have existing majority segments of the population turn into minorities. Hopefully by then the new minorities would have benefited from the previous efforts at providing opportunities to migrant groups including use of regulation.

Pete

 
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