Where is all the Dominican hate that I heard so much about? Word is, Dominicans, even the black ones, don't like black folks. It's only been a month since my return to New York City after spending most of my adult life in Oakland, CA where there are very few immigrants from the Dominican Republic.
Since my arrival, my interactions with Dominicans in Manhattan's Washington Heights and in the Bronx, so far, has been 100% positive. Some thought that I too was Dominican because of my Spanish, and others could tell that I am American, but were still cool. Am I missing something here? Do tell!
I shared my experience with a black Latino who was quick to tell me, from his personal experience, that I need to remember that a lot of African Americans are very hostile towards Latinos, even the black Latinos, and he does not know why? I've heard similar comments from other black immigrants to this country that as soon as black Americans realize they are immigrants they experience animosity. As a result, my friend continues, you have ignorant Latinos acting hostile towards black Americans.
Another friend who is half Dominican and half Cuban reminded me bluntly of another point of view that I've certainly known for many years. The Dominican Republic has a very long, complicated, and difficult history. It is very present with racism along with all the light-skinned/dark-skinned color-ism among the Afro-Dominicans.
The Dominican Republic's historical conflicts with Afro-centric Haiti played a large role in their anti-black sentiments. The former racist dictator of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, had many black Dominicans accused of being Haitians slaughtered, and the black Dominicans who were not harmed were convinced by this dictator that if they have one drop of Indigenous blood, they were not black, but Indio (Indian). The former baseball star, Sammy Sosa, was said to have “Indio” listed as his race on his passport.
As much as I like being around Afro Latinos, I don't discuss race unless they bring it up and acknowledge their own blackness. Especially Dominicans! Depending on the context of our discussion, I may bring it up by talking about areas of their home country that I know are predominately black or have a large black presence, and how their music influenced the rest of the country, without ever mentioning the word “black.”