Thursday, July 17, 2008

black denial in dominican republic

Nearly all Dominican women straighten their hair, which experts say is a direct result of a historical learned rejection of all things black.

SANTO DOMINGO -- Yara Matos sat still while long, shiny locks from China were fastened, bit by bit, to her coarse hair.

Not that Matos has anything against her natural curls, even though Dominicans call that pelo malo -- bad hair.

But a professional Dominican woman just should not have bad hair, she said. "If you're working in a bank, you don't want some barrio-looking hair. Straight hair looks elegant," the bank teller said. "It's not that as a person of color I want to look white. I want to look pretty."

And to many in the Dominican Republic, to look pretty is to look less black.

Dominican hairdressers are internationally known for the best hair-straightening techniques. Store shelves are lined with rows of skin whiteners, hair relaxers and extensions.

Racial identification here is thorny and complex, defined not so much by skin color but by the texture of your hair, the width of your nose and even the depth of your pocket. The richer, the "whiter." And, experts say, it is fueled by a rejection of anything black.

"I always associated black with ugly. I was too dark and didn't have nice hair," said Catherine de la Rosa, a dark-skinned Dominican-American college student spending a semester here. "With time passing, I see I'm not black. I'm Latina.

"At home in New York everyone speaks of color of skin. Here, it's not about skin color. It's culture."

The only country in the Americas to be freed from black colonial rule -- neighboring Haiti -- the Dominican Republic still shows signs of racial wounds more than 200 years later. Presidents historically encouraged Dominicans to embrace Spanish Catholic roots rather than African ancestry.

Here, as in much of Latin America -- the "one drop rule'' works in reverse: One drop of white blood allows even very dark-skinned people to be considered white.

read the rest of the article here:

here, people wish they had our curly hair...everytime we go to D.R. people look at us funny because of our hair. i just wish our people can begin to embrace our culture and history and stop denying the roots in which we came from.


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