Dominican Presence in Academic Spaces Extra Credit

The conference was a great space for integration of ideas and concerns that many Dominicans have at the moment of express their comments about academia. Academic spaces suffer a lack of representation by latino community in general.  On the other hand, it was interesting to learn about people of color that highlight because of their impact in academia and also learn about the ones that did a magnificent work but because of their color there is no recognition for them

The research that the department is doing to support and encourage Dominicans and people, in general, to learn about the culture is important to increase awareness.

Unsteady

Blackness and brightness
All together as one
Should I be worried? should I be fine?

Blackness and strength
Together but not as one
Am I strong enough? Am I fine?

Blackness and me
I am the middle
I am blackness and brightness
I am fine

My strength is my blackness
My reflection is my brightness
I am fine

I can get confused
but I am the middle
I will be fine
I am fine

Letter to my mom

Mom,

Art is such a short word that contains many different ways of expression. Theater is one way. Our body is one of the most powerful tools at the moment of express and free ourselves. Through theatre we broke stereotypes, we broke barriers, we broke everything that limit our way of expression. As Nao Bustamante expressed “Using the body as a source of image, narrative and emotion, my performances communicate on the level of the subconscious language, taking the spectator on a bizarre journey, cracking stereotypes by embodying them. I disarm the audience with a sense of vulnerability, only to confront them with a startling wake up call.” I want to say thank you art, thank you theatre. Thank you mom for introducing me to this world.

At the same time I want to say sorry, sorry for never appreciate theatre as I needed to. Sorry for underestimate the power of the body to express ideas and concepts. Sorry for letting you down when I didn’t want to see the local plays because i thought that they were not worthy of my time. I am nineteen years old now and I know better.

Mom, reading about the work of Bustamante was awakening. Do you remember when I told you about Ana Mendieta? Bustamante used her nudity to express ideas just as Ana, but she did it in a theatrical way. Nao Bustamante challenged her audience and the critics by expressing such controversial ideas. For me “America the beautiful” contained things that no one have the guts to say before her such as the perception of ‘blonde’ in different cultures.

I know that we need to appreciate theater and for that I am grateful to you. You teach me that. I am learning about the importance of the body and the ways that different latinas used to expressed things that everyone should be aware of.

In one month I will be back home and  I want to be back on our art dates. I want to perceive art as you perceive it. Please don’t let me fall in technology, don’t let me be a millennial that doesn’t appreciate art. I wanna learn more about our culture through music, paints, plays, etc.

Thank you mom

Everyday I am aware of new things that I need to thank you for. You are the best.

Gabriela.

Differences

I always believe that we should embrace our differences in order to be better,  in order to grow. Sometimes you don’t want to be different you want to be accepted. Two years ago when I was teaching to little kids I could see how they bullied a kid because of his skin and I felt disgusted. At the moment I only thought how mean the little kids were but I stooped myself and I did not shout, I silence myself and run to hug the kid. Instead of making a big deal out of it I hugged the fears out of the kid, the black kid, Tino.

At the moment I understand that shout to the kids would only scared them and it would be a short term solution, the long term solution would be doing the opposite of what they are expecting. I hugged Tino but later in the class we talked about our differences and the fact that we need to respect them.

 I needed to put myself in both sides.That day I learned that we can not be guided by our emotions, we need to be rationals and do our best.

Response to “Everyday Grace” by Mirtha Quintanales

Curves

Dear curvy girl, stop.

You are always worried

You are always scared

You are not yourself

Stop

 

Every curve in your body highlight

In the front , in the back

But you are not loving yourself

Stop

There is one that is hidden

The one in your face

The one that is the most important

Stop

 

Please STOP

Your body can be sexualized

Your body can be objectified

But not your soul

 

Be free, be you.

Cadenas

When I was younger I wanted so badly to be a man, I did not want to be a woman that everyone tells what to do or how to act. In my home I was free to be as “machona” as I wanted to be but as soon as I stepped out of my house I felt unprotected, I felt pointed out, I felt minimized.

I have two brothers that I love with my life, I am the middle child but my mother sees me as the big child because of my attitude. As a child I only had amigos hombres because I was always out with my brothers. I played soccer with them, I was the referee in many of the games, I was one of them and I felt great until I started noticing the gaze of the neighbors. I noticed in their face the expression of worry and listened how they talked about me and my parents: “how their parents let her be with so many boys” and the inevitable “she should be with girls playing dolls”. I hated that about me, I HATED BEING A WOMAN, I hated so much, not because I didn’t like dolls because I love them but for the small talks, for the roles that they already had for me.

One day I was crying because my mother didn’t let me go out with my brothers, she didn’t want that people talk about me. That day I felt minimized, I felt less but the same day I felt great. My brothers had a talk with me, they told me that I always will be invited in their games and that I should never cry because of the chismes “ellos no saben lo que hablan”.

Since that day I never cry for being who I am: A WOMAN.  I am still learning about myself and I love it. Right now for me being who I am is power, is a poem, is everything.

God

Testimonia

Do I believe in you?

Being a kid that was always afraid of the world I used God as my shield to protect myself of the bad things. My mother taught how to pray, how to be good christian and how to see church as my second home. I am 19 years old now and I can say that religion is not the path that I am following.

When you came from a latino family, you know that you only have two choices: or you are a christian or you are a “muchacha del diablo”. When you are a kid the only thing that you do is follow, you follow what others do and say, you don’t want to be nothing related with the diablo because that is bad and you know it.

God was my shield back in the time because I used to be scared, I didn’t know of what I was scared until now. I WAS SCARED OF GOD HIMSELF. Religion was used on me as an oppression system, where he rewards you if you are good, and he punish you if you are bad. Being a kid and be scared caused me problems, I get to anxious of simple things because “bad things were coming”. My father notices that I was anxious and he asked me what was happening to me, and I didn’t know my answer every time was “I am scared”. My father never believe in God as a superior power, but he was the one that teach me to believe in myself and not to be afraid of future bad things, that the only thing that you need is to be a good person and not to harm anyone. Little by little I understand it and I was not longer afraid of being outside, I was not longer afraid of the darkness, I did not longer believe in the diablo.

Until today, religion is used as a system to scare people. People still believe that in order to be a good person you need to believe in something, otherwise you are not complete. Society needs to understand that religion is good to use if you want to teach someone to be a spiritual person or to search in their soul, but it is not okay to use it to spread fear, specially on kids.

As Martha Quintanales, I grew up and I use education an science as my guide.  I still think in God as a superior power, but he is not my answer for everything  anymore.

 

To my grandmother

My abuelita

Blanca

Four years pass by since you left abuelita but I am still crying your departure. This letter is for you, to thank you for all the things that you did for my mother, aunts and uncles. You struggle, you fight and you succeed. All of my love is for you, always.

My mom told me that being a parent of nine kids was hard, but it was harder for you to race them in the poverty because you wanted to give them all, but you couldn’t. You never wanted that your kids work with my abuelito but he needed help and you needed the money to feed them, to dress them, to put a techo over their heads. Let me tell you that you didn’t do anything wrong, if my abuelito left you, it was not your fault. I know that being a single mother was a motive to being pointed out, but you did it beautifully. You thought your daughters that being pointed out wasn’t a motive to die, las personas pueden hablar, but you know who you are and what is your value. I remember that you were always saying to me “mijita si tu esposo no te valora, dejalo, lo unico que necesitas son tus estudios.”

Blanca, your name, is pureness. I couldn’t call you by your name not because I hate it, but I love to call you abue, mi abue.  I know that you suffer when you saw your kids leave you in order to look for better future. You hate the airport, you hate to say goodbyes, you hate to be here without them but you also hate not to be in Duran, your home. I want to tell you that now I am in New York, New Paltz, learning more about how to empower myself as a woman like you always wanted. I’m not letting anyone to stop me to pursuit my dreams and goals, I will make you proud. Don’t worry, I’m coming back to Ecuador, I am not leaving my effort here to develop this country, I will make my country big.

I loved you and I always will, tears come to my face when I think about you. I learned from you more than I can possible ever learn from anyone or anywhere. Your wisdom was inspiring.

 

Por siempre, Gaby.

Education

My kids

Reading about Pura Belpre was like making a revision of what I am doing for my society to be better and I remember the kids who I teach  back in Ecuador. We find diversity in my country, but sometimes, our kids don’t respect each other because they never learn about that, they had the idea that white is more powerful than black and mestizo. When I was teaching I change the way they see black kids, I always started the class with “We are equals, we all need to be respected, we all need to be loved”, all the kids in my classroom treat each other with love and the division based on color of the skin, stop.

I want to keep doing this, keep teaching the kids that we are equals, but now I will work not only with kids but with their parents. All of us need to chance or improve the way we treat each other, we need to leave the racial stereotypes and cliches behind.

 

 

Gratefulness

A collage by Gabriela Soriano

Maria Amparo Ruiz De Burton was a woman with a powerful voice, that since the begging she proved that she as a woman was worth it. The thing that impact me the most about her, was the decision of choosing her mother name instead of her father, something unusual at the time.  Even though she was projected as a “pretty woman”, she does not allow herself to be limited by that, Maria Amparo took advantage of the social circle that she was into because of her marriage and transformed the important events into literature, art, expression. Reading about her traced a smile in my face. Knowing that in all her work, Maria Amparo sense of identification, nationality and her sense of Latin is intact, makes me proud and grateful.”

Who would have thought it?” is a great representation of that, now there are so many presentations of one of the most important books for Chicano/a literature, and not only for them, but for latinx population in general. The only thing that changes is that now her name is in the cover page and not hidden.