Republica Dominicana: one of the most racist countries I've experienced, with the worst kind of racism, the one where you hate and FEAR yourSELF! Today someone told me: "why did you leave your hair like that, it looks like an afro, from Africa, makes you look less pretty" she continued, "but you must have put something to make it like that, your natural hair is not like that." The person who said this to me watched me grow from the day I was born until now. She made herself believe this entire time that my “natural” hair was what it looked like when processed with a relaxer and completely refused to believe that the state in which my hair is right now, is natural. She said that she is SURE that I put some kind of chemical in it to make it look like this and that I should come back to visit her when the hair grows back.
I want to make sure that she doesn’t become the center of this discussion because she only represents the views and feelings of most of the Dominican people. She as many others, see themselves in me and reject me while rejecting themselves. When I later said, “oh yeah, and by the way my hair looks African because I am black and have African ancestry.” She said, “you really must be going crazy, you are not black, you are “triguena,” don’t call yourself that.” Triguena best translates as a brunette or Indian complexion. Of course I debated it and stated my case, but all in vain. Her response: “I am not saying black is bad, but you are not that, so just don’t call yourself that.”
I’ve studied racism, I’ve experienced it in many corners of the world, at school, with my family, but I have failed to understand its complexity HERE! I know the history of Trujillo and what he did, I understand the anti-Haiti-ism and where it came from, I get all that, but it just doesn’t explain the entire picture of this hate and most important FEAR of everything African and everything Black. It is so ingrained and oh so deeply rooted that even those progressive folks say things like, “he is so black, BUT he is a smart man.” I catch these things, I point them out and they themselves can’t understand why they said it and then end up apologizing to me. I don’t need an apology because this is not about me. It’s about an entire country whose children grow up hating themselves because of their dark complexions, kinky hair, or noses. I am not making this up, a five-year-old boy told me the other day, “I wish I was white and had nicer hair.” I of course asked him why, his answer: “I don’t want to be like a Haitian, their dumb.” He is five! Lets just say that for now this is all beyond me. Meanwhile, I won’t stop looking for answers and making people aware whenever possible of the hate they are inflicting.