I contributed a piece in today’s New York Times called “My Caribbean: 5 Vignettes” which was published as the Travel section’s coverstory. I contributed a postcard, if you will, about a recent trip to my ancestral land, the Dominican Republic. I had gone there on a production jaunt earlier this year for a documentary I’m currently in production on called Deconstructing Latina (working title). It was a magical trip on most fronts (but I’ll get into those details later when we’re closer to finishing the film).
I have a love-hate relationship with D.R.: I hate it for many of its backward policies like omitting the identifier “indio” from it’s cedula (an I.D. card). That move was an attempt to whitewash the island’s Indigenous history: totally ass backwards if you look at how Indigenous culture is a main artery of the nation’s fabric and is being found in the DNA of its people, including my own. And, of course, the more outrageous plan to strip Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship, is repulsive to me and many Dominicans here and on the island. These are two of a long laundry list of issues that make me want to give D.R. a time-out.
And yet, despite its ruling class and questionable policies, the island is pure magic. Santo Domingo is the seat of the Americas, for better and for worse, and is the New World’s original melting pot. It’s history is tragic and epic. The Dominican Republic is the site of the first slave rebellion in the Americas, in 1522, and has some of the oldest Indigenous cave art in the Caribbean. There are so many things about Dominican history, its real history—not the misinformation we’re taught in school and the self-loathing one-note narrative the media recycles (which is mostly fiction)—that make me proud to identify as a Dominican-American, or rather, a dominiyorkian, that I don’t have the room to list them all here. But folks, if you only knew the truth, you’d fall hard for her too. —> READ MY VIGNETTE HERE.