Friday, April 23, 2010

Notes from my native land...

I really don't like abandoning my blog for so long, it's one of the ways I escape, a place where I feel comfortable, a place where I can deposit my feeling and thoughts. I have been in this country for a little over seven months! Wow! Time really flies, I mean it was seriously just yesterday when I was in Dubai and decided to buy a ticket to come here.

So seven months later, you might ask "and, how is it?" I have to say that it has honestly been a seven month long roller coaster, and I really don't like roller coasters, nonetheless the ride has been a very important and meaningful one. In seven months I opened up a bank account, got a cell phone plan, found an apartment on my own, have the electricity bill on my name, and have kept the same job that has facilitated all of these commodities. I have lived relatively modest.I have met many interesting people and found great friends. I have marched against the privatization of beaches, for Pro-Choice legislation, I have stood up for the rights of LGBTs, which to me only means that I have fought for my own rights as a citizen. On a professional level, I have traveled to Haiti several times, have written grant proposals, have learned tons of spanish and I really gotten a front row seat at the way NGOs and International Organizations work in the "third world".

I have missed my family and friends, but continue to be excited and grateful for having this opportunity to live here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I demand respect!

Those of you who know me, know that I sometimes like to wear my hair out in a fro. I embrace my frizz and when I opt for not relaxing my hair, I also happily embrace my new growth. Today was one of those days where I decided to wear my hair in "un pajon" like Dominicans refer to it. On my way home from work the armed security officer that stands outside the metro (and yes there is a metro in the DR), said to me in a very serious and authoritative voice "excuse me young lady, you are not allowed to walk in the metro with "that pajon!"." He then laughed hysterically. I was infuriated! I went down the stairs and asked for the manager. This young lady asked me what happened and I told her that I was disrespected by the security officer that was at the entrance. She then asked me if I wanted to file a complaint and I said well of course I do! She said, "Follow me upstairs so that we can have a talk with the gentlemen."

The manager asked him what happened and he looked at me and said "Oh no! You are going to make them fire me?" I said, in my best spanish " You disrespected me, you are an armed officer and are here to protect me not to insult me, it's my hair and I chose to wear how I please, you acted in a very unprofessional and rude manner and I will not tolerate it!" He apologized and promised to not do it again. The manager then asked me if I was satisfied, that if I wished they can take lager measures. I told her that I was ok with just giving him a piece of my mind and letting him know that it is not ok to do that.

Dominican men are VERY fresh and disrespectful and it is not a stereotype or a judgement. It is a fact. Out of every 10 Dominican men in the streets (no matter what profession they might have, what color they may be) at least 8 will say something about what you (you being a woman) are wearing, how you are walking, how your body looks, your skin color and in this case the way you are wearing your hair.

I DEMAND RESPECT especially from a person in a uniform who is suppose to "protect" me. I remember telling my mom about the guards in the Presidential Palace and how they were so vulgar towards me, she said, "Sweetie, that is normal." Well guess what, I don't care if it is normal, heck, I don't care if there is a Law that allows men to disrespect women, I will not tolerate it. Sadly, I can't ask all the men I encounter daily to respect me because it is simply not doable, there are not enough hours in the day for it. However, every men who is in a space where they can get reprimanded for their disrespect, I will make sure to demand to be treated right!