On International Woman’s Day I want to shout out all the enlightened and empowered women I met last week at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz cultural center in New York City.
This group of about 50 proud Dominican women (and some men) gathered last Saturday, February 27 to commemorate their national Independence Day.
Dominicans celebrate their Independence from Haiti not Spain and this group questioned not only the racism embedded in that celebration but also the racism that remains pervasive within the Dominican community, on the island and abroad.
They spoke of what it means to be an Afro Latina in the Dominican Republic, to be a Dominican who acknowledges her African roots and even wears her hair short and natural (no matter how tight the curl).
Some had their own waitress experiences and tales of not fitting in, of feeling unwelcome in their own homeland, and of being denied access to hair salons and nightclubs.
I thanked the group for existing because I’ve always felt alone when discussing this issue with fellow Latinos. It’s exhilarating to know that I’ve come late to this party and that this movement is growing.
Thank you to:
Eileen Z. Fuentes the Afro-Latina who invited me to this event, after a chance meeting at work.
A Tribe Called Curl for uniting us all under the common bond of “hair issues”
Ynanna Djehuty for sharing her journey to self-awareness which started with “the big chop”
There are more stories to come from this event.
The struggle continues.