Local September 7, 2022 | 9:05 am

Elites deny African roots of Dominican Republic culture

In the configuration of the Dominican identity, the dominant elites have always tried to exclude the Afro-descendant characteristics to highlight only the Hispanic heritage, which represents a discriminatory Eurocentrism and denial of important roots of the national culture, said anthropologist Tahira Vargas.

“There has been an eagerness to deny us, that is why we have no identity, because if they have not forged you an identity based on the Afro-descendant presence, but sell you only the Hispanic roots, then you cannot speak of identity.

“Then comes in the contempt towards the popular because it is barrial, chopo, wawawa, there is always a term to say that you are not part of that group because they are bullosos, beben….but the other group does it too, what happens is that they do not go to a colmadón or to a corner, they go to a bar.”

Interview with Ms. Tahira Vargas, Anthropologist.

Vargas explains that this prejudice towards blackness persists because political and economic power strata have strengthened it for decades.

“Our elites are of foreign origin, Europeans, Arabs, but they came to the country without a penny and irregularly. These elites did not arrive with money or documents, but they have always strived to sell a Hispanicized Dominicanity, as was done during the regime of the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.”

In this sense, Vargas affirms that they have gone so far in constructing an identity without Afro-descendant traits that they have tried to extract from historical events that dismantle this purpose.

“We have been sold that our independence was from Haiti, but 17 years later, we were occupied or annexed to Spain, the real independence is in the Restoration, but we cannot present it that way because it was against Spain, and secondly, because the heroes of the Restoration were all black, starting with Gregorio Luperón, who was the son of a Haitian woman.”

Intellectuals and the Afro-descendant denial
The diffusion of identity criteria passes through the yardstick of intellectuals. From that perspective, Vargas considers that, specifically in the Trujillo era, they forged a national history loaded with distortions.

“Intellectuals affiliated with the Trujillo regime were the forgers of a history that was not, written full of distortions, absences and gaps, because even the Taino culture itself is taught very little. “There is no mention of what exploitation meant, the rape of women, the relationship between the Taino population and the African population that arrived, the children of that relationship….es a history full of fragmentations and ruptures.

“Then it is obvious that we cannot have a clear identity construction when we do not have a clear historical construction, but a confusing one full of ambiguities, contradictions, negations,” Vargas expressed.

A divorce with reality
Vargas considers that denying the African presence in the Dominican culture has caused a divorce between the dominant elites and the popular sectors.

That denial, she says, makes popular culture be seen as something negative, despicable, that should not be strengthened.

“Because popular culture is totally Afro-descendant in all its expressions, in food practices, in magic-religious beliefs, in music, and even in the way of speaking,” she said.

The role of the school
Vargas questions that, being the school the environment in which social and cultural cohesion should be fostered, it has turned its back on this process in the context of African roots.

In her opinion, the Dominican school has not dedicated itself to integrating this culture in the classroom, “how can you pretend to have a strong cultural identity if you do not work on strengthening your Afro-descendant roots.”

“The Dominican school does not accept a stick dance, the artisan of the community to teach the children how he makes crafts, you can not play drums, dance, or disclose what people do with home remedies.

“In the school there is no dialogue of knowledge, as there should be. If you have a country that has had dictatorial regimes and a vertical style of doing politics, and vertical schools, how do you recreate identity, from where are you going to spread it,” Vargas said.

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September 7, 2022 9:13 am

Well said! Amen.

luis pena
September 7, 2022 9:13 am

here we go with this load of crap again.

September 7, 2022 12:04 pm
Reply to  luis pena

Why is it crap to you because you feel that this isn’t fact or due to your hidden racism or intellectual dishonesty?

luis pena
September 7, 2022 4:31 pm
Reply to  Larry

its not a fact, because if you look around african heritage is everywhere, these people are US educated morrons that want to bring their tribal mentality to DR.

Larry Thomas
September 11, 2022 6:13 pm
Reply to  luis pena

“These people?” Most of the so-called ‘Blacks’ in the United States are no more African than the man on the moon being many generations removed, and to reference them as such shows your pure ignorance; however, we do have our roots in Africa but are far removed from being considered African. You are the one who is demonstrating militant ignorance by not understanding the difference and showing the same indifference as the white man who groups everyone in the same category with racist intent. Luis, you are a myopic fool.

December 10, 2022 1:54 am
Reply to  luis pena

what is a “tribal mentality”? Yes, African Heritage is everywhere! But what the article is saying (and what these so-called “US-educated morons” are saying) is that Dominicans fail to recognize those things as African or coming from our African heritage. El Mangu, Bachata, even our Spanish… it all has African roots. But no one is talking about it, no one honors that. That is the problem.

September 7, 2022 9:25 am

lol Whats garage piece of article. This is all Afrocentric

September 7, 2022 3:22 pm
Reply to  Jennifer

Is it hard to hear the truth.? That is why you truly do not know your identity. I’m Dominican! Yeah, what is that??? What is that comprised of??? You see, when you start believing the lies to pacify your racist inner self, your children will believe them too. That is why generationally your identity has become a farce and a widening departure from reality. Also why Sammy Sosa believes that he is a white man trapped in brown skin. He has successfully bleached his way into the cotton candy hall of fame and has turned his skin pink panther pink. Google his image!

Last edited 1 year ago by Sillyputty
Juan Soto
September 7, 2022 4:20 pm
Reply to  Sillyputty

African and Afro Americans continue to Light their Skin. Many are saying it makes them feel better and more beautiful. Let’s not forget what the King of POP did, Michael Jackson’s look reconfigured his entire face and looked like Casper the friendly ghost. Haiti has been in Chaos for years but not neither did the USA, France, UK, and Canada come 
to help them. Does this country really care about black people? Haiti had to repay the French government and former slaveholders equivalent of US$105 billion and the United States government refused to recognize Haitian independence and set a blockade on every port. These people screw Haiti.

Larry Thomas
September 11, 2022 6:20 pm
Reply to  Juan Soto

Juan, the sad part about your comment is that you believe it. Nothing you have mentioned is a fact-only supposition and, in my opinion, a bald-faced and racist lie. I would call you intellectually dishonest, but you aren’t an intelligent man.

Juan Soto
September 7, 2022 4:30 pm
Reply to  Sillyputty

Before you mention Sammy Sosa have you seen how many blacks have been lightening their skins? Google the Info is free.

September 7, 2022 9:53 am

Ms. Vargas is a truth teller and hence, has earned my utmost respect. Look Dominicans, you were lied to, you were deceived, and you were brainwashed. Trujillo, was the watered down Hitler in your front yard. He knew well enough about forcing and enforcing his racist ideologies on you. You didn’t voluntarily drink the Kool Aid, it was jammed down your throats. He used FEAR to make you submit and boy did you submit! How could you ever have freed yourselves from slavery if not for the tenacity and bravery of the Haitian people? The Haitians are still exploited and relegated across the white world because of what they did. Saving their skin and yours in the struggle against real brutality and rape of Hispaniola’s women. During those times, slave children were made to act as the pets of slaveholder’s children. This is well documented.

Anti-haitianismo was a state sanctioned policy giving the common citizen the rights to hate and denigrate another race and culture. One example of the racist propaganda circulating in the DR was to convince you that Haitians prevented cock fighting and Spanish from being spoken. No books ever written can be found to account for these mandates by the state under Haiti’s ruling years over the DR. However, look at what Ms. Vargas has stated:

“Because popular culture is totally Afro-descendant in all its expressions, in food practices, in magic-religious beliefs, in music, and even in the way of speaking,” she said.

“The Dominican school does not accept a stick dance, the artisan of the community to teach the children how he makes crafts, you can not play drums, dance, or disclose what people do with home remedies.

These are their Hitler-like tactics and preventative strategies, not the Haitian’s. Perhaps if they outlaw mangu and hibituelas dulce, the people will finally look to reclaim their rights to express their Africanism.

September 7, 2022 10:03 am
Reply to  Sillyputty

and stop speaking Spanish (the language of the pp that enslaved the DR)… Would be like an Egyptian hearing Jews speak in there language

September 11, 2022 4:15 pm
Reply to  there

The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish, so no. By your logic, afro americans should stop speaking English. Also, the Spanish language spoken by us is influence by African and Taino vocabulary. Dominican Spanish is not the same as Spaniard Spanish.

bernie sierra
September 8, 2022 2:38 pm
Reply to  Sillyputty

You don’t know what you are saying and that woman is lying when she said that we don’t recognize Gregorio Luperon as our second most valuable person that ever walked and lived in this country. Restoration day is a holiday just like the 27th of February. But the only reason why we called our independence from Haiti was because of the way that they treated us. The Spaniards came back to try to take the island that they left but we fought them without being enslaved for 22 years like the Haitians did to us.

Carib explorer
September 7, 2022 10:12 am

The “bullosos”may be criticized by the more affluent but they’re considered snobbish and boring by those they criticize. Everyone tries to enjoy life within their means. You’d have to be blind not to see at least a 95% mix of the African race in the DR. Everone knows about their ancestry. At least the racial divide isn’t a great here as it is in other place s and you don’t hear about it daily, at least between the Dominicans.

September 7, 2022 11:54 am

Maybe we should all focus on the present and the future. you know, work together with love and respect for each other. Figure out how to take care of the trash and garbage, healthcare and schooling. Such a beautiful country that could be even better.

September 7, 2022 12:33 pm

It is a tragic fact that the DR is a racist country especially in the middle classes.. Dark skin is a drawback to progress in the commercial world and also it seems in the arts and cultural areas.

Juan Soto
September 7, 2022 1:12 pm

We are a mixed culture period. 22 years Ruled by Haiti and Invaded over 20 times by the Haitians.
How has Africa helped Dominican Rep? Africa doesn’t even help Haiti. In Haiti or Africa are they teaching Dominican History? NO

December 10, 2022 1:44 am
Reply to  Juan Soto

How has Africa helped the Dominican Republic? Sir, you are asking how an ENTIRE CONTINENT helped the Dominican Republic… you do know Africa is a continent made up of 54 different countries each with its own unique history/culture/people/politics, right? so again, how are you expecting an entire continent to help the country of the DR?

If African countries had to learn about every country their people were enslaved in, they would have to learn about the entire world essentially.

At its foundation, those we recognize to be Dominican are genetically composed of Spanish, Taino, and African ancestry. Due to the messy nature of slavery, we cannot pin point exactly which African countries the enslaved population comes from —

September 7, 2022 2:38 pm

Tahira Vargas es una activista prohaitiano financiada en moneda extranjera para conspirar a favor de la haitianizacion…

Last edited 1 year ago by master
September 7, 2022 3:05 pm
Reply to  master

You’re crazy! The Haitians don’t even have money to buy gas or gasoline and they will waste it on financing Ms. Vargas? What Coo Coo clock did you pop out of. Crazy azz!

Jean de Langeron
September 7, 2022 2:51 pm

This lady is saying the truth. And no one is more hated then the one who says the truth.

Ramon Garcia
September 8, 2022 7:38 am

To understand this ‘article’ one must know who is really behind it, which none profit organization paid these people to write it. We are mix get over it, but we have a strong connection with Africa via Haiti (the most Africanized country in America)Dominicans have been represent themselves as a mix culture, Taino, Spanish and African. This is evident in the language, the food, and values. Unlike the Haitian who committed a genocide in 1804 killing every one of light skin, we, on the other hand, accepted the three races. This looks an innocent article, but s paid afro-centric propaganda and part of the unification of the island by outside interests.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ramon Garcia
Ramon Garcia
September 8, 2022 7:42 am

The Haitian have always tried to make us more like them, including their African Voodoo curse.

J. T.
September 13, 2022 7:53 pm
Reply to  Ramon Garcia

Maybe you should know what you are talking about before spewing forth!

Dr finest
September 11, 2022 4:04 pm

lol here we go again with the bull shit in a sence its true when the country was funded it was done by the colonizers europeans , they ended up mixing with the remaining indians majority died because of all of the disease they brough , since they could no longer slave the indians they brough in the africans …. so maybe they are people who dont have african in their dna or what ever but majority of us have african in us , the media just like making headlines .. thats all the problem we have with the haitians in more territorial than a weird color problem like in america
and its true majority of the people who hold wealth are white folks in the whole continent
which was an indian continent ….worked by african slaves who own the least of the continent dont make much sense to me but w.eeee its capitalism for you ..

J. T.
September 13, 2022 7:51 pm

The truth? Its what you are told it is. Use your brain, each and every one.