Jes Perez in her own words: "In many Latin American countries, and also in the states, the issue of black heritage is considered a bit taboo. There is much talk, but it is known as something no one wants to hear or speak about. Especially being from the Dominican Republic, it is common for many people not to identify with his or her black heritage. I personally think they don't know the truth about their own story.


In my case I still see myself as the only person in my family who really identifies as an Afro-Latino. Most of my family sees themselves as just Latino(a), even though the color of their skin says otherwise. Growing up I remember my grandpa calling me, "La Negra." It wasn't a big deal but I was aware that I was a little darker than my cousins.

Let's take it back to 1804 when Haiti gained its independence and the remainder of the island made a bid for its own independence in 1821. When this attempt failed the Dominican Republic was ruled by Haiti for the next 22 years. And although the Dominican Republic gained independence in 1844, much  of the historic prejudice against Haitians stems from this 22 year period preceding independence. There's no single individual who has been more influential in how Dominicans view their own blackness than El General Rafael Trujillo. During his approximately thirty year dictatorship, he had a long-lasting effect on how Dominicans viewed race, blackness, and their own African heritage.
There is this hiding within the Latino culture, the hiding of the darker ones, the hiding of the ones who have curlier hair or bigger lips or a bigger nose. I have had encounters, even in the Latin entertainment field, where people didn't know where to place me or they didn't get me... because Dominicans can look like anything so..."

Read Issue 8