Silence as it applies to Americans in general and the American Jewish community more particularly.
Silence as it applies to Dominicans of Haitian descent, and their lack of voice and power in the country they call home...forcing them to live in ghettoized bateys.
And - yesterday - the silence of the LGBT community, all too often forced to remain in the closet...because they know that coming out publicly could very likely result in beatings, being thrown out/disowned by their families, and being fired from their job.
Thank goodness there is hope.
Yesterday we spent the first half of our day with Asa/Revasa, two linked organizations that have been working for decades here in the DR to serve the needs of the LGBT community.
The highlight of the visit, for me, was meeting Deivis Ventura. Deivis is the first openly gay Dominican politician to seek elected office. He is running for a seat in the legislature in the upcoming May elections.
After being fired from his job as a history teacher (even though the school district assured him that he was an excellent teacher), Deivis came to realize that the gay community could no longer rely on established political parties alone to advocate for their agenda. Instead, he has chosen to risk his safety and security by seeking office himself.
Deivis is aware of the seemingly-intractable resistance that he faces ahead. The Catholic Church and the council of Evangelical Christian leaders (who together represent almost everyone in the DR) have agreed to publish a list of all major political candidates who either support the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent AND/OR those who support the rights of the LGBT community. And the list is going to be read out loud in every church around the country!
Nonetheless, my colleagues and I could not help but notice the tremendous energy at the Asa/Revasa offices yesterday. Their staff of more than 10, and the regular flow of volunteers who came in and out of their building (just a block away from the Presidential Palace) left us with the impression that these leaders were transformational. Their faith in the possibility of change inspired us...