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These for me hit close to home that’s because it was in my home of Washington Heights. This series was from a protest fighting anti-blackness in the Latin American community and especially the Dominican community. We all know too well the concept of “Pelo Bueno- Pelo Malo// Good Hair/ Bad Hair” that in Latin America people of lighter shades are predetermined to do better in society because of the color of their skin. I’ve had my own experiences both for my favor and against where in The Dominican Republic I am favored because of my lighter skin, however in the U.S Its been mixed more negative – more on that some other time. This was a protest identifying and honoring our African Roots and fighting along side our black brothers and sisters in this climate and that we too have fallen victim to police brutality.
Although the three understand that there certainly are racial divides within Quisqueyanos, they believe that education and cross-cultural discourse is the path to shedding anti-black thoughts and behaviors. Not just in the Dominican Republic, but also across all of Latin America. Even within Latino communities in the United States.
“It’s education. I’m not saying that there’s a lack of education in the Dominican Republic. What I’m saying is that when we are educated, the history books are always written by the oppressor, so the stories and how we’re educated about who we truly are usually tends to be false,” Aida explained. “When they give us our history, it never tells us about our glorious ancestors. It usually begins with our enslavement during colonization, so we don’t have a sense of pride of who we are. Dominican people are a beautiful mix of Africans and the beautiful Taínos, and for some reason we tend to glorify the Spanish blood. It’s like the adage that says until the lion learns how to write, the story will always glorify the hunter,” she added.
“Everything starts with education,” Goris said, adding, “This is what governments should concentrate on—the upbringing of our future, of the young crowd. I have a strong belief that if we start teaching them at a young age, things are going to get better. It’s important to educate junior high school and high schoolers on things that are going on, so that they could do something about it.”
But, when our institutions of education fail us, Carlito, says another essential tool is dialogue. “Nobody likes to be scolded, but definitely call [racism] out,” he said, adding, “But do it with one-on-one conversations or even a group of people. Sometimes there’s no time for civil discourse with all this shit that’s going on, but if we’re talking about teaching, and the waking up of people, what’s not going to work is yelling, ‘You should know.’ You’re right—we should know—but our slave masters made sure we didn’t, though. But this is how we start teaching each other.”
Throughout the years, rays of light have pierced through the murky clouds of racism hovering over the Dominican community. That light shined over the very Dyckman area where the aforementioned viral video was filmed. The weekend following the Dyckman incident, a group made up of Dominicans, Haitians, and other individuals from a myriad of races, gathered in Washington Heights for a peaceful march against police brutality, racism and inequality.
Further, as you read this article, there are also countless others from many fields—be it education, politics, journalism, arts and entertainment. They are putting in work to free, not only the Dominican Republic, but the entire world from racism and social inequality. Whether it takes the next 20, 50 or 100 years, the hope is that one day our people will live in a more inclusive, post-racial society.