Let's Talk About the Defiant Dougla! FAQsMonday, June 08, 2015
I have been putting off this topic for a while now, but it's time I finally addressed it. Let's talk about what it means to be a defiant dougla for me. I've organized this post as a question and answer post, so if you have any other questions, leave them down below! I'll be sure to answer them for you!
DISCLAIMER: I'm not a historian, anthropologist, or geographer. I'm not a scholar in this topic area. I am speaking from what I know/have heard/have seen on the Internet. This is a compiliation of my own knowledge. I am in no way shape or form an expert.
Let's start off with the basic question: What is a Dougla/Dugla?
A dougla is a person from the West Indies who is of mixed African and Indian descent. The term is used most often in Surniame, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana, which is where my family is from.
How did African and Indian people get to be in the West Indies?
Colonization and slavery. This may rub some people the wrong way, but the reality is, people who identify as dougla are the direct result of the slavery of African and Indian peoples.
Where does the word dougla/dugla come from?
In Hindi, the word 'doogla' means 'a mixture', or 'many'. In Bhojpuri, the word means 'two necks'. In many regions of Northern Indian (like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Purvanchal), 'doogla' is a highly offensive word, and means 'bastard' or 'illegitimate child'. In these regions, 'doogla' is used to refer to someone who is mixed-race, but as India follows a caste system, a person of mixed-race heritage is considered a 'half-breed' and looked down upon by higher castes.
As much as I am trying to reclaim this term, I must be clear: 'dougla/dugla' as a label has very racist origins. Shadeism is a huge part of West Indian culture, and those who are darker skinned (especially those who are Black/of African descent) are seen as having lower status. Racism between Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese people is still existent, which makes the existence of doulga people inherently defiant of social norms.
Who told you being a dougla was bad?
I had an experience in high school, where someone told me that being a dougla just meant that I wasn't good enough to be coolie (an Indian West Indian person). Ignoring the racism intertwined with those terms, let's think about that anti-Blackness that is an inherent part of that assumption. Because I'm part Black, I'm not good enough to many people who are against miscegenation (the mixing of different racial groups).
So why are you trying to reclaim this term?
It is important to me to be true to oneself. A part of that involves acknowledging the parts of your past that you would much rather ignore. In reclaiming my identity as a dougla, I'm not just claming my Blackness, I am claiming the hatred that comes along with it. I am naming the racism that is a part of the dougla identity, as I believe that through naming it, I can push back against it.
Well, that's all for now folks!
Like I said, if you have any questions, be sure to share them in the comment section below!
The Defiant Dougla