Identity Politics

By Vicky Diloné

You are betraying your race.

This statement and others like it have been directed towards me throughout my adult life. I have been called a tool of the patriarchy, an extremist, and yes, someone who hates minorities. Having said that, this post isn’t about me being a victim to hateful comments or discrimination. In fact, it is the opposite.

I am not a victim. I am not oppressed by white supremacy or the patriarchy. My failures or hardships are not the result of nationwide systematic racism. The rise of identity politics seeks to make me a victim, one that can never be saved because of who I am.

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Source: David Klein

Identity politics is defined as “politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group.”

At first glance identity politics doesn’t seem bad, nonetheless people tend to forget the last part of the definition. Claiming to be a part of a specific group does not automatically grant anyone special authority outside of that group. We are all given equal inalienable rights; we should all be seen as human and given fair treatment. If one comes from a different or even problematic culture, they are to be treated with respect.

I’m not saying that fair treatment is always given or that discrimination doesn’t exist. Boxing ourselves into an infinite number of identities and checking our “privilege” does nothing but make us hyper aware of our differences. Continue reading “Identity Politics”

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No Choice

By Vicky Diloné

As many know, America has a dark side to its history. What is supposed to be the Land of the Free has at times been a country where freedom of choice is denied.

Imagine this, you’re in the hospital after spending hours in labor and are given strong drugs to reduce the pain. The nurse says you’ll need a C-section, but first you need to sign some papers. She won’t tell you what they’re for, only that if you don’t sign them, your baby will die. Even though you are in pain and can’t even read the English, you sign them and they put you under for the C-section.

Months later you’re with your baby boy and happy to start your new life. Then you get the call, you discover were sterilized. During the C-section the doctors also gave you a tubal ligation and whether you wanted or not, you cannot have more kids. This is the reality for many women, most who are in poverty or are immigrants, around the world, even in the United States. Continue reading “No Choice”

Quisqueyans en America (Dominicans in America)

By Vicky Diloné

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).

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A stretch of Broadway was renamed Juan Rodriguez Way in New York City.

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)”

Dominican Republic 101

By Vicky Diloné

Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month is upon us! Here in Idaho many would assume that I am only Mexican. While I am extremely proud to be Mexican, I am equally proud to be Dominican. I would love to show you, the reader, the complex and beautiful history of Dominican Republic.

The Good People

The Taino were the first people living in the Dominican Republic. They were a part of the Arawak people who originated from South America. Their name means “the good people” and they were described as peaceful, resourceful, and spiritual. They called their island Quisqueya, meaning “mother of all lands” and shared it with Taino people of Haiti. Christopher Columbus described them in his writings:

“They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will…they took great delight in pleasing us…They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal…Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people…They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.”

Continue reading “Dominican Republic 101”

¿Hablas Español? (Do You Speak Spanish?)

By Vicky Diloné

I am always proud to talk about my Hispanic heritage. I grew up watching my parents host salsa dancing parties at home, eating tacos de lengua and mangú, and spending a couple of summers in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. But there was one thing I did miss, the language. Like many first-generation Americans, I didn’t grow up speaking the language of my parent’s home countries. They would talk amongst themselves in Spanish but to my brother and I, they would speak mostly English with an occasional Spanish word thrown in.

I don’t blame them at all for this. Spanish was my brother’s first language. But when my mom took him to the pediatrician for a regular checkup, they told her he wasn’t hitting the markers for normal development, mainly in speech. You see, when they tried asking my brother questions he would only respond in Spanish. The doctor told her that he wouldn’t develop properly if they didn’t choose one language to teach him. It would confuse him and he wouldn’t learn either one. So following her doctor’s advice, she only spoke English to my brother and I. We now know that this is ridiculous. There have been a number of studies showing that being fluent in two languages can increase intelligence, even in young age. Continue reading “¿Hablas Español? (Do You Speak Spanish?)”

Las Niñas del Buen Pastor (The Girls of Buen Pastor)

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The internado sits behind the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

By Vicky Diloné

I first came to UI in 2016. I was here for a semester and doing well academically but I was struggling with anxiety. After talking with my parents, it was decided I would go live with them in Mexico. It was a decision I wasn’t all too excited about, but I came to be grateful for the opportunities it gave me. I found myself in my mom’s home state of Guanajuato and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I was taking Spanish classes (a story that deserves its own post) and exploring the state’s beautiful capital city. But I wasn’t feeling all that productive. I wanted to do something meaningful so that I wouldn’t feel bad for leaving university. I was prideful and the cure for pride is humility.

That is when I found out about the Convento del Buen Pastor (Convent of the Good Shepherd), and I immediately knew I wanted to volunteer my time with them. Though their website hadn’t been updated since 2011, others confirmed that it was still open, and I was able to talk with the social worker on the phone. Buen Pastor is a church-run  and state-sponsored foster home for girls and a women’s shelter that supports those in and outside of the state. The website describes their mission: Continue reading “Las Niñas del Buen Pastor (The Girls of Buen Pastor)”