In 2009, Junot Díaz received the Order of Merit award which is given to notable Dominican citizens.
The Consul General of the Dominican Republic of New York, Eduardo Selman, recently revoked the medal, which Selman said honors the “talent, creativity, and professional trajectory of our most accomplished Dominicans, who symbolize the most genuine values and principles of la dominicanidad,” or Dominicaness, according to The Nation. Díaz’s recent denunciation of the Dominican government’s treatment of Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent, as well as his advocacy in Washington, DC to condemn their actions, is, according to Selmen, “anti-Dominican.”
Díaz is an active member of the Dominican American community and is known for his activism and advocacy work. He has a history of criticizing the country’s removal of undocumented Haitian immigrants. In 1999, Díaz co-wrote an article for The New York Times with Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat, in which they outline the history of Haitians in the Dominican Republic and their unjust deportation, stating; “The expulsions are violations of the workers’ human right and of the country’s own laws.”
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The two writers met with Congress in October in an effort to, “push the U.S. government into applying pressure to end this human rights crisis in the Dominican Republic that is wreaking havoc on hundreds of thousands of lives,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Díaz’s writing, such as the Pulitzer Prize winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao¸ often outlines the difficult and complicated lives of Dominican-American immigrants. He weaves pop-culture references, street slang, and the harsh history of the Dominican Republic together to create profound and honest portrayals of what it is like to be a Dominican, adoptive citizen of the United States.
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As of yet, Díaz has not publically responded to Selman’s accusations or the revocation of the Order of Merit.
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