Actress Zoe Saldana is on the receiving end of some backlash after disputing with a media publication over its presentation on the Dominican Republic’s history and its Independence Day.
The uproar ensued after the actress, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, seemingly took offense to how R29Somos, the Latinx division of the Refinery29 media brand, spoke about Dominican Independence Day and what that day meant for Afro-Dominicans. The project was in collaboration with In Cultured Company, which, according to its website, works to “sow the seeds of peace, conflict resolution, reconciliation, collaboration, healing and dialog in young black and Latinx leaders in order to move from a divided past towards a shared future.”
In a slide show uploaded to its Instagram page on Saturday, Feb. 27 — Dominican Independence Day — the platform explained that “the day has nothing to do with Spanish colonizers, but rather the country’s autonomy from Haiti in 1844, a fact that’s set the groundwork for centuries of anti-Black animus.”
The post broke down how, through influence from white Dominican elites, the people on the Spanish island were convinced to believe that Haiti’s help was not liberation but instead a “Haitian invasion.” Those beliefs ultimately led to the release of many racist, anti-Haitian texts, which are reportedly still taught in the country today.
Saldana called out the publication for their story, writing, “Maybe just say ‘what to the Dominican is the independence day.” Saldana’s statements and those made by her father, which were captured by fans, triggered a debate from the Dominican community, which had contrasting views on the holiday. The comments were subsequently disabled as a result of the ongoing discussion.
Shortly afterward, the actress took to her Instagram Story demanding an apology. “WAITING FOR YOUR APOLOGY ABOUT THIS POST 😤,” the actress wrote. “SHAME ON YOU AND SHAME ON ALL PLATFORMS WHO REPOSTED YOU—YOU ALL KNOW WHO ARE! BUT THAT’S OKAY, THE SUN WILL ALWAYS CONTINUE TO SHINE ON LA BELLA QUISQUEYA!”
Thatiana Diaz, the journalist behind the post and who is also Dominican, addressed the backlash her piece received in an article published on Monday, March 1. The writer claimed that because of Saldana’s comments, she received death threats and ongoing harassment from the actress’ fans.
Critics called out the actress on social media and accused her of promoting anti-black rhetoric, including one Twitter user who wrote, “Zoe Saldana really thinks she’s white, I’m convinced. Bye girl. Tf are you mad for??”
“I can’t defend @zoesaldana. Jesus Christ. The R29 post wasn’t even one sided, it was just facts and history,” another expressed.
A third person commented, “Hey @zoesaldana, ur causing some irreparable harm with the points u & ur dad are making on soc media.” The social media user added, “These harmful views have been indoctrinated in LatAm populations for centuries. it’s time u learn the history if you’re gonna use your platform this way. Listen to @InCulturedCo.”
Saldana has caught flak in the past for claiming she did not see color and for dressing up in blackface for her role as singer Nina Simone. She has yet to respond to criticism she received over her remarks, and called for Refinery29 to address the matter instead.