Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    I found a way to cure the Self-Hating Latin Fetish, or any ethnic/racial fetish. Go directly to the country!

    Let me stress, I never had a Latin fetish, but having just spent time on the Island of Hispaniola, if I did—it would officially be wiped away. After seeing immense third world poverty, machine guns at the entrance of restaurants, the evilest customer service next to an Iraqi public restroom at the Coral Hamaca in Boca Chica, tons of hustlers—basically anything that could have happened in Harlem! Don’t be fooled, this goes both ways—for all the Latins and white folks who think black Americans are some Mandingo fantasy, spend the night in North Philadelphia! Basically, there isn't much difference between any of us and to eroticize each other to our ethnicity or race is pointless.

    D.R. is a beautiful country with beautiful people, but it’s not paradise (not that I thought it was -- the myth of the Caribbean being a paradise was debunked when I went to Jamaica years ago). Here are just a few things I learned in the Dominican Republic.
    This is MY experience—I'm not saying every Dominican is this way (good or bad), so don't email me with the madness or use this entry as a source for an upcoming term paper (yes, I’ve gotten those emails too!).

    DOMINICANS ARE NOT JUST BLACK FOLKS WITH AN ACCENT
    Sorry people. I know some (especially those black men who just love to date Dominicans and say there is no difference) would like to think that Dominicans are just black folks with an accent, but I would beg to differ. Language, culture, religion, music—in every way shape and form they are not "black" as we know it in America. They will identify as Dominican, Latino, Islander, African, etc.—black might eventually make the list, but it’s pretty low on the list.

    Now of course I completely agree when someone who is Dominican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban says they are black. However, as I said in my Self-Hating Latin Fetish post, if I meet a Dominican who doesn't call themselves black, I am okay with it—I understand why they wouldn’t, especially going to the country and not spending everyday on a resort.

    Sure, a lot of Dominicans are dark-skinned; however, skin tone is not the only basis for race. To say all Dominicans and black Americans look alike is like saying all Asians look alike. Also, there were so many Dominicans I saw who in no ways looked “black.” If someone doesn’t look black in America, it is rare they will be identified as black. Yes, Dominicans are more African than black (for those who think the two are synonymous I don't have the strength to write a dissertation), I met some who were proud to say they were African...but black—HELL NO. I even know West Africans who do not call themselves black. Funny thing is African-Americans have less African retentions than Dominicans—therefore, that is what makes our culture so different. Yes, Dominicans are African, but they are not just black folks with an accent.

    THE DARKEST ARE THE POOREST
    Of course it wasn’t a shock. Most of D.R. seems to have issues with class rather than race, on the other hand, where you saw mainly poor people, there were dark-skinned people. I have met many black Americans who say that Dominicans in New York are racist (although I haven't experienced that), but what I realized is that the Dominicans who have the funds to move to New York are usually (not all) those who are from more of an upper-class background, therefore, their constructs of classism might translate to racism in the States.

    IS THE DOMINICANS HATE HAITIANS MYTH TRUE?
    One person cannot speak for an entire island, but I did ask, "You know how the rest of the world hates Americans because of President Bush. Do Dominicans feel the same?" One guy laughed and replied with, "No! The only people Dominicans hate are Haitians! Keep a Haitian 1,000 miles away from me!" Sad thing is if it wasn’t for the Haitian revolt in 1804, there would be no Dominican Republic. However, this is a structure from the ruling class to keep both third world countries oppressed.

    “BLACK AMERICANS ARE UGLY!”
    Oh yes, someone told me, "You are so attractive to be black American." Now, if this was a white person from Switzerland I might have gotten offended, but being that this person was darker than me it was almost comical. So, I asked him to elaborate, "Well, you don't act all hip-hop. I hate that!" Okay, if I was Dominican I would probably say the same, considering the only representation of black men in the media are thugs. Then he adds, "Plus, you have pink lips." "What?" I asked. "Pink lips! Black Americans have black lips—like Whoopi Goldberg!" I rolled my eyes and dunked my head in the ocean.

    DOMINICANS HATE THEMSELVES JUST AS MUCH AS BLACK FOLKS!
    Oh, yes, I used to be one of those who would say, “We as black people bring each other down the most. We hate on each other the most. We are like crabs in barrel”, blah, blah, blah…Some of the things I heard Dominicans say about each other—I thought I was listening to Klansmen whittling wood on a Georgia porch in 1863! When an older Dominican woman who left in the 1950's found out my friend and I were going to D.R. her response was, "Why would you want to go to that retched place!" Rest assured black folks, we are not the only self-hating group.

    GAY DOMINICANS
    I went to two gay clubs in D.R., Jay-Dees, a Latin version of Chi-Chis without the smell of fried chicken and Vaseline—I actually enjoyed myself. Also, Club Cha, owned by the legendary and beautiful Chachita Rubino, I had a great time. However, the clubs close at 2am so right when you are ready to get your life, lights out.

    D.R. has no homothugs, which was refreshing, but there was an "I'm so pretty vibe" where people would just stare and emote in tight jeans and gelled hair. When the men tried to approach me they would talk through my friend, one boy, who was as dainty as a fuchsia unicorn with black eye liner, said,"Bring him to me!"

    Another man said he was twenty-two and I explained he was too young. He replies with, "Love has no age"—giving me the exact lip quiver in Vanity’s "Under the Influence" video!

    I met one hustler who had four kids (showed me pictures of his kids) and a wife -- he claimed he could show me a good time and if my friend, who is a female, wanted a little "lickey-lickey" he could work that out too. I wondered if this type of man is labeled as "DL" in D.R. and blamed for the HIV/AIDS epidemic, like the States.

    Whenever I go out of the country I see how connected and similar we truly are. We don't need our race or ethnicity to be the same, but I wish our racial constructs in the States were similar to the Islands -- when you analyze race it's illogical and lost in translation.

    I will say this, my Negro side really acted up. The music to me was just so unfamiliar and I have to admit it…when they played Beyonce I nearly threw myself on the dance floor and reenacted the "Deja Vu" choreography because I was excited to hear American music!

    D.R. is such a beautiful country and for all of you who lust for the Latin boys, pasted below are pictures of strippers! Oh…sorry, the pics are carefully censored, but I’m sure this is enough—make sure you clean off your keyboard when you are done!

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 21 comments

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