This past week something happened to a friend of mine who I’ll call Lucy*. (Names are changed for privacy.) I was speed-walking to class when I ran into Lucy pushing her children in a stroller and crying. Not just silent crying but sobbing.
She told me that someone had said just said a hurtful comment to her, and I immediately became angry. My friend is a recent immigrant to this country and her English is not the best, but she is the sweetest and most hard-working person. I quickly assumed that some stranger had made a racist comment. Although this is not considered a hate crime it is harassment and I at least wanted to see the person who I thought hurt my friend in case some other incident happens.
Like many Dominicans, my family has a long history in New York City. And as an aspiring journalist, of course I want to live in the Big Apple. Getting to work for an important network and helping the city one person at a time. Four more years here at UI and I’m buying my one-way ticket across the country. My dad was more realistic than me and suggested we go to research a local charity for an internship before I get stranded alone in the city. That is how we ended up running through the downpour in West Harlem, taking shelter at City University of New York. Wandering inside the campus we came across the Dominican Studies Institute, “the nation’s first university-based research institute devoted to the study of people of Dominican descent in the United States and other parts of the world.” There we talked with Sarah Aponte and Jhensen Ortiz about the history of my ancestors in Dominican Republic and the States. Most of the history shared in this blog comes from extensive research from the Dominican Studies Institute (DSI).
Los Dominican Yorkers
Juan Rodriguez is not a household name amongst New Yorkers, but he should be. As the first non-native settler of Manhattan, Rodriguez was born and raised in the Spanish settlement of Santo Domingo, the capital of what is now Dominican Republic, by his Portuguese father and African mother. He became a talented linguist and was hired by a Dutch captain as an interpreter in his voyage to the Native Americans living in Manhattan at the time. When the ship and crew returned to the Netherlands, Rodriguez stayed behind, marrying a native woman, raising his family, and owning a trading post. DSI considers him to be “first immigrant, the first person of African heritage, the first person of European heritage, the first merchant, the first Latino, and the first Dominican to settle in Manhattan.”
Rodriguez unknowingly became the first in a trend of Dominican migration to New York City, a trend that continues to this day. According to Migration Policy Institute, forty-seven percent of Dominican Americans live in New York. Many came over during the three-decade dictatorship of Trujillo from the thirties to the sixties. While many Cubans were escaping communism to Miami, Dominicans found their safe haven in New York City. Dominicans in the twentieth century strongly believed in the American Dream and anyone who could make it out of the country was believed to have equal opportunity to prosper. Women especially saw the opportunity to get an education and enter the workforce. Continue reading “Quisqueyans en America (Dominicans in America)”→
It’s no secret that there is a lot of drama on the University of Idaho campus right now. Students are protesting. Students are irritated. Students want their voices to be heard and they want a say in how they are treated on this campus. Things are starting to heat up, and if the students don’t get their way, it may become an even bigger issue.
If you’ve been keeping up with the UI Women’s Center blog, then you already know about the drama surrounding Rob Spear and how the university is handling it. If you are confused, here is a basic rundown:
About five years ago, a female swimmer for the University of Idaho reported sexual assault allegations against a football player to the Athletic Director, Rob Spear. Spear decided to not report it to the Dean of Students Office and claimed because the assault happened off campus, there was nothing he could do to help her. It wasn’t until the female athlete went to the UI Women’s Center that the Dean of Students Office was informed. To this day, Rob Spear is still the athletic director at U of I and has only apologized this year due to pressure from the media. Groups of students have voiced their opinions and signed petitions stating that they want Spear fired.
There is obviously more to the story; however, this is what is causing all the ruckus on campus.
The issue is not necessarily with the university itself. When it was reported to the Dean of Students Office, things were sort of taken care of. The issue is also not with the athletic department as a whole. The issue is with Rob Spear and why the university has not terminated his employment after 5 years.
As I write this article, I want to make it known that the sex industry is not always positive for women and girls. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, sex workers around the world have a 45 to 75 percent chance of experiencing violence during their careers.
When sex workers do experience violence, they are not protected by rape shield laws and are not eligible for compensation funds.
Many see sex workers as objects, non-human, and second-rate members of society. This makes sex workers even more prone to being victims of violence.
Women are forced into sex work without their consent, others are forced into sex work because of financial situations, and some choose sex work as their profession.
America has seen firsthand the creation of discriminatory policies in its history, but it has also seen these policies be overturned in favor of equality. To this day, people are working hard to have their voice heard and represented in American society. But it takes a special person to destroy a prejudiced institution, armed with nothing but their own bravery.
Luckily for UI students, we have the opportunity to meet and hear from one of these special people: Major Margaret Witt – an activist, an author, a wife, and a woman who made way for LGBTQIA+ people to serve openly in the military.
Maj. Witt had an exemplary career with the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserves until she was discharged in 2007 under the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The policy prohibited known gays and lesbians from serving in the U.S. military and expulsed more than 13,000 gay servicemen and women already enlisted.
“You have 3 sisters? Your poor dad!” This is a common reaction when I tell people that my family is almost all girls. Why my “poor dad”? Do they assume he is not happy with only daughters? Is the amount of estrogen intimidating? Do they think his life would’ve been better with the grace of a son? Why is my mom left out of this? I still can’t wrap my head around the insinuated preference for male children and the overall more positive perception of what raising a male child is like in our world.
When we think of male child preference, we tend to think of countries like India and China that have been markedly fixated on the economic prospects that a male child may bring and that a female might cost. These cultural norms are perpetuated through deeply ingrained beliefs that males will be more successful and ultimately benefit the family, whereas females are seen as a liability that may eventually lead to expenses such as a dowry, which a lot of families struggle to afford. In some cases, families will even turn to breaking the law to reveal the sex of the child during pregnancy and abort female fetuses.
In the United States, although not as severe, child gender preference has implications that not only effect how children of different genders are raised within a family, but also effects the likelihood of families staying together, proving more likely if there are male children. With new technological advances, it has also become easier for parents everywhere to potentially choose the sex of their child via preimplantation genetic diagnosis and in vitro fertilization. These preferences are affecting sex ratios, perpetuating negative stigmas about the worth of women and girls, and attributing to the different treatment of girls and boys within families.
Sex crimes are unique because they are extremely private yet prevalent. Every sexual assault is unique to the victim; yet so many women, and sometimes men, have had similar experiences. Falling victim to a sex crime is an experience that makes the victim feel ashamed of something that happened to their own body.