If countries were assigned a report card, the Dominican Republic would get a big fat F-. Yes there are beautiful beaches here, palm trees everywhere, fresh coconut water and avocados, but the racial climate here is simply insane.
I was born here, raised in the US and then decided to come back here to learn more about my country. It’s been two years and very little has changed. I may sound like a broken record to many, but I just can’t get over it.
I’ve been natural for about a year and a half now and as my hair grows so do the negative, offensive and hurtful comments. Let me sum up a typical day where I am either walking to work, on my way to the grocery store or simply out and about:
A guy yelled, “Is that a wig?” and proceeds to putting his hands in my hair, literally pulling it to see if it was in fact a wig. I laughed and kept walking because I didn’t’t know what I would’ve done had I stayed a second longer. That same day, a girl looked at me all perplexed and asked, “How did you get it like that, doesn’t it feel weird.” I told her that I used some water and coconut oil and that it didn’t feel weird because it grew out of my head that way.
Just the other day in a matter of 5 minutes I was called a match, told that I had a ‘big mess in my hair’, that I must have a terrible barber, that I have lice in my hair, that I looked like Medusa, that I looked like a thug, that they would pay my bill at the salon and the list goes on and on…and on!
They say all of this brusquely without hesitation. I do walk tall and proud and I am completely unapologetic for rocking a fro, but that just doesn’t work here.
This ish is crazy and I know that I should ignore them and keep it moving, but it gets to me sometimes. Most days I just brush it off and block all comments, but some days I cry because I feel powerless and incapable of changing the situation at the time. Yes I am hopeful and optimistic and I prove this day in and day out by supporting women who are going through the process and by being a loud advocate for natural hair in the country, but sometimes I lose faith y’all. I feel like things won’t change and when I hear little 5 year olds taking about wanting to have fair skin and “good” hair, it makes me want to vomit.
I could leave here if I wanted to, but is escaping this reality the right thing to do? Is fighting it worth it?