I wrote Yo Soy Yo after being so overwhelmed from all of the experiences here in the Dominican Republic. This weekend during my hiking/beach trip I encountered a situation that has become too familiar. I was at the beach and decided to sunbathe, something that I absolutely love and have been practicing for over 7 years. First, an older woman who accompanied us on the trip came by and said to me: “you are the first black girl I have ever seen sunbathing, it doesn’t make any sense.” Another one said: "girl get out of the sun right now, you are going to turn like a carbon." I ignored them and smiled and continued to enjoy the make out session I was having with the sun.
The conversation continued under the shaded area of a beautiful palm tree with folks that were of my generation. The comments were honestly the usual—nothing that they said surprised me. Some of the comments included: “I don’t understand why she is under the sun, she is going to get purple like those African people,” “she is going to end up looking like a Haitian,” etc. I couldn’t help it; I got up to talk them and very politely excused myself for intervening. I told them that I was very interested on hearing why they felt those things, considering the fact that I was the “culprit” in the situation. I then started by saying that the “purple” Africans that they were referring to are beautiful people and that they are also human beings and that Haitians are not only our neighbors but they were our brothers and sisters, hence why so many of us look like them and so many of them look like us. They were offended. One of the young men said that he was a reporter and wouldn’t look good on camera, the other lady said that we have to cherish our “native Indian” culture and the ideals of our motherland. Spain.
About a hour later when I went into the water and laid back and allowed the sun to kiss me yet again, they decided to continue the conversation. They persisted and said they had formed two clubs “the white Dominicans who don’t like the beach because of the sun” and the “black Dominicans who don’t want to get blacker because of the sun,” they even made acronyms for their “clubs”.
Now here is the scary part, most of the people who were involved, were brown skin. This was the all too familiar self-hate theory that was taking place in my country, and has taken place for longer than I can count (I immediately recognized it since it a common practice in the States). They saw me in them and they saw themselves in me and hated the fact that I wanted to be blacker or that I appreciated my blackness.
Now are you ready for the cherry on top? These were all environmentalist, leftist, “socially conscious” people and yes they are the same racists and homophobes that are fighting for human rights.
I also wrote in Yo Soy Yo about being an American. This is something that I have decided that I will no longer compromise or be apologetic for. I am completely aware of all that it represents, that I grew up in America and that I speak English, but it is who I am. I will elaborate more later, Yo Soy Yo, I Am Me.