“We are committed to guarantee the equality and identity of all people” said Marianela Pinales in the campaign video released just yesterday, March 25, by the Ministerio de Educación (Ministry of Education) in the Dominican Republic. The campaign promoted equality for all students, of all hair textures in the Dominican Republic, and it was introduced by Pinales, who is the Director of Gender Equality and Development for the MineRD.
At 5:30 p.m. on the day when the campaign was released, Pinales was fired, according to acclaimed journalist Edith Febles.
“The ad is worth seeing, let’s share it” wrote Febles on a post on Instagram. The video was released during her show.
Febles has also been outspoken about destigmatizing afro-textured hair. If you were on social media yesterday (in the Dominican sphere), you might’ve seen it, as it was celebrated for sharing a positive message about blackness in a country where a growing movement for the celebration of negritud has been fighting for recognition.
As an Afro-Dominicana, seeing the campaign made me feel proud. It was a testament to how far the movement to embrace blackness in the Dominican Republic has come, even as we battle both destigmatizing our blackness while being derided as not black enough.
The video, which featured girls and boys of all ages in school uniforms, celebrated all types of hair, and ended with a message from a young girl who said, “vive tu vida, y suelta mi cabello en banda” (“live your life, and leave my hair alone”).
The message seemed innocent: all hair should be embraced, whether you want to wear your curls, braids, or straigten it. MineRD said that the campaign had nothing to do with the firing of Pinales, but the timing is very *very* suspicious to say the least.
Much like the roots of anti-blackness in the country itself, the people in power seem to stop at no cost to maintain white supremacy. This confirms that even as consciousness grows, the problem is systemic. Still, when visiting Dominican Republic, it is obvious that the movement is growing just by how many women are celebrating their curls. Hopefully the creation of the campaign itself and the overall message to celebrate natural hair, which is reaching the general public, continues to grow enough so that the status quo is shaken at its core.
Amanda Alcántara is the Digital Media Editor at Futuro Media. She tweets from @YoSoy_Amanda.