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Thread: "Real" Dominicans

  1. #1
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    Default "Real" Dominicans

    Just a silly little story of a very personal experience...

    Growing as a Dominican-American in an area with a relatively large number of Dominicans (Florida) isn't easy when people constantly assume you're everything but Dominican. Both of my parents are white Dominicans. By the stereotypes and common beliefs about us, no one in my immediate family looks Dominican. They don't "act" Dominican either. My mother doesn't own a single merengue album, doesn't like it, and has never even danced to it. We never displayed a Dominican flag in our car, as most tend to do. No one ever taught me how to play dominoes. My mother would cook non-Dominican food just as often as she cooked mangu or made sancocho. In fact, the only "evidence" that we might be Dominican while I was growing up was the fact that my brother and I played baseball. Don't take this to mean that my mother somehow wanted to deny our heritage either. From an early age, I learned and memorized in detail how the Dominican founding fathers lead the overthrow of the Haitians. I've even read two books about "El Generalissimo" and can debate with you all day concerning el caudillo Balaguer and if his governmant helped or hindered the progress of the country. My grandmother even took it upon herself to make sure I knew the Dominican national anthem, word for word.
    Needless to say, even other Dominicans were often surprised to learn that I too was Dominican. In Florida if you're white and speak Spanish, everyone just assumes you're Cuban or Puerto-Rican. Because of my quiet, sober personality, I would often be called "pariguayo" by "real" (or so they thought) Dominicans. It would always bother me that other Dominicans never really saw me as one of their own. The fact that I lived in the Dominican Republic for five years and could read and write Spanish just as well as English did not qualify me as a "real" Dominican. Anyway...I began to dislike "real" Dominicans more and more. Until one summer when, at sixteen years of age, I had the chance to visit the country alone. I hadn't been to the country since moving to the U.S. at the age of seven.
    That's when I learned what a "real" Dominican was. Dominicans, just like the people of every other country in this world, are normal people with many of the same concerns and goals that we have here in the U.S. They're not the loud-mouthed, obnoxious, baggy clothes wearing (in my generation), gringo-haters whose identity is totally wrapped up in the fact that they're Dominican. REAL Dominicans don't exaggerate their accents or somehow manage to inject "ta heavy" or "ah, po ta bien" into every sentence they speak. Real Dominicans simply know that they're Dominican. They find no need to create stereotypes in another country that give a very negative, untrue image about our people.
    After talking to many REAL Dominicans, I found that they despised the type of Dominicans that had so often given me a hard time back in the U.S. Those "Dominicans" who would display their heritage as if it was a personal accomplishment are seen by REAL Dominicans as wannabes and posers. Real dominicans can easily identify someone who grew up in the U.S., no matter how hard they try to force their pathetic imitation of the Dominican accent.

    Well, let me wrap this up by saying that, if you think being Dominican means drinking Presidente, thinking your God's gift to women, and having no mental filter for the garbage that makes it's way to your big mouth, then I seriously suggest taking a trip to the Dominican Republic.


    Ooops!....Just realized that I posted this in the wrong forum. Anyone know how to move a post?
    Last edited by RubioVargas; 04-02-2005 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Wrong forum

  2. #2
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    I was picking up a cake last night in Washington Heights (163rd between Broadway and Ft Washington) and I saw a lot of the people who like you said probably thought of themselves as "real Dominicans." A lot of kids/young adults talking loudly switching back and forth between ghetto English/Dominican Spanish.

    If a non Dominican like me were to take this as their only impression of what Dominicans are like or what Dominican culture is like then they would form negative opinions. Unfortunately, when I talk to older people who used to live in Washington Heights/Inwood in pre-Dominican days they are disgusted by what has become of their old neighborhoods. The problem is that their impression of Dominican people is shaped by the ones who are most visible and audible who are of course the loudmouth kids hogging the sidewalks.

    As I walked last night, I had to remind myself that the obnoxious street toughs were not the only Dominicans around. There were other kids coming home from colleges, young adults returning from professional jobs, people working long hours in the salons, etc. This group of people outnumbered the "bad apples" but due to their low key profiles could be overlooked.

    My point being that is one should keep a balanced view of any group (whether it be Dominicans or whoever) not just rendering opinions based on those who are loudest/most visible. The real "real" Dominicans, as you saw, are definitely out there.

  3. #3
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    Not to downplay your post in anyway but your story is nothing new. Itís all about stereotypes, stereotyping and once again education. It always comes back to education. The way in which I see it is who defines what a typical Dominican is anyway? The image of Dominicans portrayed in NYC or elsewhere is a microcosm of Dominican culture. One who cannot see beyond a small percentage of a particular groupís behavior surely is blind to many other aspects in life. Your experiences hold true for Puerto Rican culture just to compare. Puerto Rican culture and behavior in NYC or elsewhere is not representative of island. If you go to Puerto Rico you will understand what I mean. In general your experience applies to all cultures and nationalities. My solution to the problem once again is to read, educate myself and expose myself to as many cultural groups as possible. The behavior of a small number of a group, race or ethnicity never influences my perception about their culture etc. I have never thought that way and never will. If I did I would be an embarrassment to myself.


    LDG

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lesley D
    Not to downplay your post in anyway but your story is nothing new. Itís all about stereotypes, stereotyping and once again education. It always comes back to education. The way in which I see it is who defines what a typical Dominican is anyway? The image of Dominicans portrayed in NYC or elsewhere is a microcosm of Dominican culture. One who cannot see beyond a small percentage of a particular groupís behavior surely is blind to many other aspects in life. Your experiences hold true for Puerto Rican culture just to compare. Puerto Rican culture and behavior in NYC or elsewhere is not representative of island. If you go to Puerto Rico you will understand what I mean. In general your experience applies to all cultures and nationalities. My solution to the problem once again is to read, educate myself and expose myself to as many cultural groups as possible. The behavior of a small number of a group, race or ethnicity never influences my perception about their culture etc. I have never thought that way and never will. If I did I would be an embarrassment to myself.


    LDG
    I know it's nothing new Lesley. That was just a personal experience that I wanted to share. In our case, we are fortunate to have a very broad perspective of what the Dominican people are truly like. Unfortunately, as Chris pointed out, the obnoxious, uneducated Dominicans are the one's who like to make their prescence known. Normal, everyday, hardworking Dominicans don't stand out because we're busy living our day-to-day lives, just like everyone else in this country.

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    RubioVargas,

    I agree with you. I am glad you did share your experience so as to "broaden people's horizons".


    Thanks

    Lesley D


    Quote Originally Posted by RubioVargas
    I know it's nothing new Lesley. That was just a personal experience that I wanted to share. In our case, we are fortunate to have a very broad perspective of what the Dominican people are truly like. Unfortunately, as Chris pointed out, the obnoxious, uneducated Dominicans are the one's who like to make their prescence known. Normal, everyday, hardworking Dominicans don't stand out because we're busy living our day-to-day lives, just like everyone else in this country.

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    The educated Dominicans (we) are the real Dominicans. I' sick and tired and embarrased by most things that hillbilly Dominicans do specially in the US and then we're viewed as morons, third worldly peeps; ask most puerto ricans. Half of my life was spent in SD and the other in the US so I have a wide perspective of what type of Dominicans you come across in the DR and US. It happens that most Dominicans in the US are from the mountains and it aint hard to tell, if you know what I mean. I have zero Dominican friends in the US. We can't click for some reason, maybe it's 'cause I keep running into hillbilly Dominicans that wear their pride on friggin' Dominican-flag-printed on a CD-hung from the rear view mirror and talk just as Dominican. The "friends" from DR were made as a child but everybody hangs with their little group, which is fine, since I get to play "diplomat" and they don't get under my skin like most Dominicans you come across in the US do. Anyway, real Dominicans in the US don't display their nationality for obvious reasons, if you know what I mean!...
    Last edited by quejeyoke; 04-02-2005 at 03:27 PM. Reason: booboo

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    Quote Originally Posted by quejeyoke
    The educated Dominicans (we) are the real Dominicans. I' sick and tired and embarrased by most things that hillbilly Dominicans do specially in the US and then we're viewed as morons, third worldly peeps; ask most puerto ricans. Half of my life was spent in SD and the other in the US so I have a wide perspective of what type of Dominicans you come across in the DR and US. It happens that most Dominicans in the US are from the mountains and it aint hard to tell, if you know what I mean. I have zero Dominican friends in the US. We can't click for some reason, maybe it's 'cause I keep running into hillbilly Dominicans that wear their pride on friggin' Dominican-flag-printed on a CD-hung from the rear view mirror and talk just as Dominican. The "friends" from DR were made as a child but everybody hangs with their little group, which is fine, since I get to play "diplomat" and they don't get under my skin like most Dominicans you come across in the US do. Anyway, real Dominicans in the US don't display their nationality for obvious reasons, if you know what I mean!...
    Right on quejeyoke!

    A large part of the problem is also that the children of Dominican immigrants overwhelmingly (especially in NYC) embrace U.S. ghetto culture. This subculture, obviously, creates the idea that it's cool to live an unproductive life hanging out on street corners and creating trouble for yourself and others around you. It's also uncool to speak properly (in English or Spanish) or to make any attempt to improve yourself by honest means (not selling drugs or doing anything else illegal).
    Though my circle of close friends and acquaitances is made up mostly of non-Dominicans, I've been blessed with meeting a few real, educated, NORMAL Dominicans over the years. They're the ones I truly see as my people, not the thugs and posers from "Guashington" Heights.

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    A large part of the problem is also that the children of Dominican immigrants overwhelmingly (especially in NYC) embrace U.S. ghetto culture. This subculture, obviously, creates the idea that it's cool to live an unproductive life hanging out on street corners and creating trouble for yourself and others around you. It's also uncool to speak properly (in English or Spanish) or to make any attempt to improve yourself by honest means (not selling drugs or doing anything else illegal).
    That doesn't apply solely to the children of Dominican immigrants to US, it applies the world over - and not just to children of immigrants either. It seems to be a growing phenomenon here in UK that young white kids look [apart from their skin colour ] and sound exactly like the young black street kids. I think it's just the age old case of kids rebelling against their parents expectations.

  9. #9
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    Default Me too!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lesley D
    Not to downplay your post in anyway but your story is nothing new. It’s all about stereotypes, stereotyping and once again education.
    I will agree with you 100%, Lesley. Education is just about the "key" to EVERYTHING.

    I am also a product of white dominicans (Great-grandparents were from Spain. Maternal grandad from Puero Rico. Paternal from Spain). But even thought I came to the US when I was about 10 (3rd youngest out of 8), my mother raised us as a single mother and she never, ever allowed us to forget our heritage.

    I have a brother that was 18 at the time and before coming to the US, he was very much involved with the "everythings" of the DR. He was involved in international politics and I remember my mother asigning a "dominican day" (Saturday from 9am until 12pm)at the house where my brother would make us read dominican history and made us read the dominican newspapers. After the quizes, then it was time for international history. Talking about Chavez, Castro, Mother Theresa, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin, Che Guevara, Mao, Trujillo, Caamano Deno, Balaguer, Enrique Blanco, among others, was a norm in our household.

    Mom always spoke about our dominicans ancestors and made sure that we never forget where we came from. English was allowed to be spoken among ourselves but never when speaking to her. There was no "mom, can I have some mangu". She would test us al the time with "how do you say this in spanish?", if we were wrong, she would tell us how to say it.

    Our dominican "bandera" was at the table 90% of the time. It's something that up to this day I can not live without. Not because she grew up with it, because she did not, but because, as she used to say, that is also part of being dominican.

    People, mostly spanish people have a hard time believing that I am dominican because some people think that all dominicans are black, bachata lovers, listen to loud music, wife beaters, deadbeats, only work in factories or are drug dealers. Then the see someone like my brothers or me that are none of the above and all they can say is "oh, you are not the typical dominicano". I always just smile and say "yes I am". I even remember an episode in college where a group of friends were making bets, trying to guess my nationality. Nobody won.

    My mom and brother told me from an early age that a person's education never ends. There are always new things to learn (maybe that's the reason that I am 42 now and my brother still calls me to quiz me about some current events, every now and then, God bless him).

    When I went back to the DR on vacation, 9 years later (I was 20), it was like I never left. I was not an stranger in my own country like many dominicans that I know. Since I was up-to date with what was happening in the country, I felt right at home.

    All that said, now: "me pueden traer unas habichuelitas rojas con arroz blanco, ensalada verde, dos o tres tostones, una presidente y que no se te olvide el aguacate por favor si no quieres que te tire dos o tres dichos". Sorry, just practicing for when I get there, within days!!!.
    Last edited by miguel; 04-02-2005 at 06:58 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Para Miguel...

    Wow Miguel,

    Me emocionť. Me gustů mucho lo que escribiste. Gracias por compartir tu historia.

    Most of all I could see that you truly understand my message about education. I keep stressing this because I really believe itís the key to all hope when it comes to improving human relations and perception. All these issues that you and the others posters mentioned can be resolved by ďeducationĒ . What people have to realize is that education is not only in book form. Itís a culmination of learning processes via different methods. For example books, travel, mingling with other cultures, language and living the true cultural components everyday in and out of the home as you mentioned. Thereís still hope in terms of changing the stereotype.

    Thanks again,

    Lesley D

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