What does it feel like being Dominican at a Predominantly White Institution?

By Dianna Tejada on October 29, 2013

As a Dominican

woman at a Predominantly White Institution(PWI), I always have to answer questions revolving around the ambiguity that is living in an over-colonized body. The Dominican body is one that has had to reclaim its freedom on multiple occasions, but has been able to prosper despite the circumstances they found themselves in. To be Dominican is to fit into so many groups, yet none at the same time. So, in essence, Dominicans can stand in solidarity with so many groups, yet when it comes time to fight for the rights of Dominicans, we often stand alone.

One night, I sat alone with my thoughts and came up with a poem to describe what it felt like to be the 'middle person' in every group- to be the person who is always underrepresented.

They say I'm

Not Dominican enough,

Not Black enough,

Not Latina enough,

Not American enough.

I occupy so many spaces, yet I go unseen and unrecognized in every goddamn one of them.

Who the fuck are you to tell me how I should identify?

Who the fuck are you to tell me where I don’t belong?

Soy Caribeña,

Americana, y

soy parte de la diaspora.

You have placed me in a box while also exiling me.

I occupy so many spaces.

I search high and low for the space that everyone claims I’ll find.

You know, the safe ones and shit.

But, I don't think I'll ever  find them.

Because

Some say I’m too ‘bougie’,

Some say I’m too ‘hood’.

Honestly, I don’t give a fuck!

I

am

enough.

I’m the sazón in this salad of life,

and the color in this world of black-and-white.

I’m the grey area in this world of binaries.

My identities combine in ways you will never understand,

and use them to paint a picture you've never seen.

Pick up your paint brush,

paint a picture using your elaborate strokes,

showing the world your complexities.

Labels mean nothing.

Be you in the most natural and simple sense.

We are like onions,

peeling layer upon layer without any ending uncovering new possibilities,

new identities,

and new realities.

We occupy spaces,

but, also none at the same time.

All we have is each other and our reality to make us feel safe

Safe enough to navigate the world

Safe enough to navigate each other

Dianna Tejada is an Afrodominicana who attends Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She majors in Africana Studies and double minors in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. She plans on going into Educational Policy in the long run, focusing much more heavily on the Educational Systems in place in more Urban areas.

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