Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Dominican Heritage Month, Day 1

Hi, I'm Raquel (don't forget to roll that R!) Ivelisse (pronounced ee-veh-LEE-seh) and I'm of Dominican ancestry, first generation of my family born in these United States of America. This means Spanish was my first language and I was well-versed in many (but definitely not all) Dominican customs and traditions by my stay-at-home grandmother, Rafaela "Fela" Bermudez Ortiz (God rest her soul), who raised us kids while our parents worked nine-to-fives. When I was little my world consisted of whatever was encased within the walls of my grandmother's home; that was all I knew. I wrote about it briefly in a small piece called I Used To Only Be Dominican. Read it and then come back. We'll wait for you.

Ready? OK.

This month, New York State honors our heritage (although good luck finding events outside of the Bronx. WOMP.) and I realized that in the five years of having this blog I've done very little to educate y'all on the beautiful people whose blood courses through me. And yes, I know it's Black History Month, too, but that mostly celebrates the accomplishments of African-Americans. Dominicans are African, too, but not from this part of America, you feel me? So I'm gonna go ahead and assume you've had your fill of tales about MLK and Malcolm and all those cool cats, and expose you to some tidbits of Island history, mythology, culture and let's face it, tomfoolery.

Today, however, all you need to know is that los Leones del Escogido are representing the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series (February 2 - 8), which is being held in Santo Domingo. Damn I wish I were there!

You should also go to your library or local bookstore and pick up one of Junot Diaz's books. He DID win a Pulitzer Prize, you know. The least you could do is see for yourself why this Dominicano ROCKS the literary world.

Finally, look up singer and band leader Johnny Ventura, one of my favorite Dominican artists of all time. Play some of his songs while dancing with wild abandon in your living room. It might give you a small taste of what it was like to have grown up like me.

Wonderful, beautiful, Dominican me.

*besos...hoping you stay for the full ride*
and if you don't it's not like I'll notice anyway...