Dominican-Americans - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 18, 2010 03:00pm | Post a Comment

In the US, what the word "Latino" connotes varies regionally -- often, regardless of accuracy. In the southwest it usually means "Mexican," in the northeast it means "Puerto Rican" and in Florida, "Cuban." Indeed, those are the three largest populations of Latino-Americanos in the country, although obviously not the only ones. Each have their own distinct culture, history, and place in America. This entry is about the fifth largest Latino population, Dominicans.

At last count, there were approximately 1.3 million people of Dominican descent in the country, the majority of whom are descended from a mixture of Spanish, West African and Taíno (the country's indigenous people). There are also large numbers of Jewish, Japanese, Korean, Lebanese and Syrians in the country, as well as immigrants from throughout the Caribbean.

Genocidal Domincan dictator Rafael "el Jefe" Trujillo was assassinated on May 30th, 1961. Due to fear of retaliation by Trujillo's allies and the ensuing political instability, many Dominicans fled the country for the US, mostly setting in New York and New Jersey. After, the Dominican Republic briefly moved to the left; in April, 1965, Lyndon Johnson sent Marines and the Army's Airborne Corps to the country to make sure they didn't become "another Cuba." Right wing Joaquín Balaguer came to power in the wake of Operation Powerpack, and unleashed twelve years of repression. As a result, more Dominicans fled the county and immigration continued into the 1980s, by then due additionally to high levels of unemployment on the island.

The millions of immigrants brought with them aspects of their Dominican culture. Their food, a combination of Spanish, Taíno and West African, includes arroz con dulce, la bandera, batata, batida, beer, bizcocho dominicano, casabe, caña, chaca, chicharrón, chimichurris, dulce de leche, flan, fro frío, habichuelas con dulce, mabí, mama juana, mangú, morir soñando, pasteles en hoja, pastelitos, quipes, rum, sancocho, sofrito, tostones and yuca.

They also brought Dominican music and dance, including bachata, palos, salve and above all, merengue, which has evolved into merenhouse and merenrap.

Dominican-American musicians include salsa pioneer Johnny Pacheco, Proyecto Uno and Charytín, among others.

                                                  José Guillermo Cortines                                                               Judy Reyes

Maria Montez

                     Merlin Santana                                   Rosanna Tavarez                                 Victor Rasuk

Dominicans aren't exactly courted by a disinterested and detached Hollywood mainstream but a few have gotten on the screen, including those shown above. 

A Dominican baby - just because

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Latino/spanish (3), Dominicans (1), Latino Cinema (7), Dominican-americans (1), Hispanic Heritage Month (34), Caribbean (4), Latin America (3), Latino/spanish Cinema (9), Latino (8)