Black in a Foreign Land: In Defense of Dominican Identity

Black in a Foreign Land: In Defense of Dominican Identity

The Huffington Post

César Vargas

I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic until I was two months shy of turning 13. The Dominican Republic has a peculiar color metric system–not necessarily on race. So it should go without saying that I wasn’t exposed to the clear cut Americentric, and very binary, concept of race in America until I set foot in the United States.

Since a very young age, I was aware of how both colorism and classism were prevalent back in the island. I noticed how people were treated and often saw how the socioeconomic standing of an individual trumped their color–up to a point if we’re to test folks by the brown paper bag. I’ve said once or twice that a Black man with money is more white than a white poor man. In a third world country where the majority of people are mulattoes, and most of the darker population would be of Haitian descent, you’d be hard pressed not to find people of most shades within families. Some of those family members were better off than others, and often, I’ve found, they could be of any shade.

Of course, like any nation of the world colonized by Europeans, power and wealth is usually concentrated with their descendants, but it would be dishonest to say that most of the power and wealth in the Dominican Republic is owned and controlled solely by its small white population. There are people of color (and visibly so), in most power and entertainment structures. A lot more, I dare say, than most Latin American countries. If we go by the one drop rule, there have been Black public figures, Black businesspeople, Black athletes, Black entertainers, Black generals, Black presidents, and so on. If you put them next to most African Americans, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference…

Read the entire article here.

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