Introducing: The Defiant Dougla

Friday, March 27, 2015

For those of you who have stumbled acoss this blog by accident, or those who are checking this out with a purpose: Welcome.

I am Jenell, the self-proclaimed Defiant Dougla.

No, not a doula - I don't provide support to mothers, pre- or post-partum.

dougla - a person from the West Indies (my family is from Guyana) who is of Black and Indian racial heritage.  Now, dougla is often used as a derogatory term, stemming from a history of racism between Black and Indian slaves indentured workers.  Understanding the historical events that lead to the existence of this identity is complicated, but for now, here are the basics:
  1. South African and Indian people were brought as slaves to the West Indies. 
  2. Over time, African and Indian people inter-married, resulting in mixed-race children.
  3. These children were labelled as douglas, in part due to racism, but also to set this identity apart from the monoracial (single-race) African and Indian people.
  4. This inter-racial mixing continues to this day.
Image from:
Image from:

At this point you may be asking, why call yourself a "Defiant Dougla" Jenell?  What's so great about claiming a term that stems from racism and hatred between groups?  

My answer is simple: This is a part of who I am.  And, as I plan to discuss in the future, I want to challenge the racism attached to this label and identity.  This blog is intended to be a place for me to talk about what it means to be a "dougla", or simply a mixed-race female in North America.  I want this to be a space to open up and discuss the experience of embodying the diaspora, and provide a space for education for others.  Finally, I want to turn this into a safe space where we can interact and have discussions!

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So, here's a bit about me to start the conversation.  I was born in Canada to my Indo-Guyanese mother and Afro-Guyanese father in the early 1990s.  In addition to being a "dougla", I am also:
  • An older sister (I have a younger brother)
  • A social worker by training
  • A graduate student - studying to receive my Masters in Social Work
  • A lover of all things DIY
  • Tired of mixed-race identities being misunderstood in Canada, especially the identities of mixed-race people from countries in South America and the Caribbean ;)
I will try to post at least once a week, more where possible.  I look forward to embarking on this journey with all of you!!  Share your identites with me in the comment section below! I'd love to get to know you all :)

Until next time,

The Defiant Dougla

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