The awkward in-between

Here’s a little insight into my life and heritage.

I am a woman of color, of Hispanic and Caribbean/English descent. More specific I am Afro-Dominican.

I cannot pinpoint exactly what my heritage is because the truth is no one in my family really knows for sure. We have a bunch of mixtures. But below is a general breakdown.

My Parents

Place of Birth Relative
Dominican Republic Mother
Dominican Republic Father

Mother’s Family line

Maternal Great-Grandfather
Maternal Great-Grandfather 
Place of Birth Relative
Dominican Republic Maternal: grandmother
Dominican Republic Maternal:  grandfather
Place of Birth Relative
Dominica Republic Maternal: grandmother’s mother
Dominican Republic Maternal: grandmother’s father
Place of Birth Relative
St. Martin, this island was mixed with Afro-Caribbean, Caucasians, Chinese and Indian people. It was taken over by the Dutch and French. Maternal: grandfather’s mother- She was a colored woman with curled hair. Spoke British English and very little Spanish.
Tortola now called British Virgin Islands. This island was first inhabited by Indians and later taken over by the British who also brought African slaves. Maternal: grandfather’s father-  A white man with blue eyes and straight hair. Also spoke British English and very little Spanish.

Father’s Family line

My Father family (Parents and siblings)
My Father family (Parents and siblings)
Place of Birth Relative
Dominican Republic Paternal: grandmother
Tortola Paternal: grandfather Spoke British English and broken down Spanish.
Place of Birth Relative
Caribbean/English Islands, not sure which. But there is definitely a mixture,  some of my uncles and cousins have Green/gray eyes. Paternal: All 4 Paternal great grandparents

Because all my ancestors ended up living in the Dominican Republic that is the culture that was adapted and passed on from generation to generation, very little Caribbean/English traditions were inherited.

People that went from English islands to the Dominican Republic were called “Cocolos.”They were discriminated and looked down upon. Today even though speaking English in the Dominican Republic is viewed as superior there is still a lot of racism and discrimination against dark skin.

So there you have it that is how I got my last name which I am so proud to carry, WELLS.

Explaining my complicated heritage wasn’t exactly easy when I was younger. The moment I began school I became conscious of my skin color and aware of discrimination.

As most probably experienced every school I attended was divided by racial cliques. During these years everything is judged based on appearance.

So there I was a dark skin girl with the last name Wells and Dominican.

When it came to making friends or choosing where to sit at recess I was always hesitant. Do I sit with the group that shares my culture and customs but questions me for my last name and skin color or do I sit with those who have my same skin color but single me out for my Spanish accent?

Where do I fit in? That was my constant question. Truth is I never felt completely comfortable in any clique. Which lead me to isolate myself most of the time, thankfully I was confident enough to stand alone. But a part of me still wanted to be accepted and belong to a group.

Luckily I was never bullied; for the most part everyone was nice and respected me. But my mind was never at ease when I was in a group. I was always alert and nerves as to when the next racial slur would come out. Even though it was never really directed towards me I still took offence to it.

Actually there was this one incident when I was in the first grade. I had this frenemy, we secretly competed grades wise but one day she said something really hurtful. She said she was pretty because she was white (Dominican) and I was ugly because I was black.

I don’t exactly remember what my mother said but she helped me understand the ignorance associated with race and color. She also taught me to love myself just the way I was.

One of the factors that helped me love myself and my complexion was the fact that my color comes from my father (my mother has a lighter tone). I have always had a special connection to my father and I knew if I rejected my color I was rejecting my father and that was not going to fly with me. Despite the rude comments I was never ashamed because I am a representation of my father.

Being in a Hispanic clique I would always lash out when anyone used the word “prieta.” Even though in some Hispanic cultures it simply means a dark person when a Dominican uses it it is usually in a derogatory way. My friends would usually respond don’t get upset “tu eres una morenita bonita pero no morena cocola y ademas tienes el pelo Lindo.”This translates to you are a cute brown girl but you are not black as in African-American and besides you have nice hair. My hair is actually what both Hispanics and Blacks used to measure my race. When I was younger I had long hair and because of it everyone automatically assumed I must be Hispanic. (Going by the ignorant belief that black people have short hair.)

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Then when I hung out with black friends they would always point out my accent which really annoyed me. They would all also refer to Hispanics in foul language like Hicks. Or for instance if I listened to Spanish music I would get comments like “Ew take that guala music off or bodega music”.

Watching the movie Selena I heard a quote I immediately identified with. It went something like too Mexican to be American too American to be Mexican. In my case too dark to be Dominican too Spanish to be black.

What bothered me most wasn’t fitting in, it was the racial barriers due to racism. I find it absolutely ridiculous for their to be racism among minorities as if we don’t have enough of it coming from other angles. It is sad to see that even though our ancestors fought so hard for equality, us, our own people, minorities alienate and segregate each other.

As for me:
Yo soy Cocola y Dominicana y super orgullosa de mis raises.
I am Afro-Dominican and super proud of my roots.

9 thoughts on “The awkward in-between

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