parades Archives - The Jose Vilson


This Is Not a Parade Post

by Jose Vilson on August 14, 2007

dominicandayparade.jpgAfter this post, you would think I’d be done with analyzing portions of my background. Then Sunday arrived: the annual Dominican parade. I had a meeting I couldn’t cancel in a place I couldn’t avoid. I had questions I couldn’t avoid like “Are you going?” and “Why not?” and “What’s good with the girls?” They’re all very valid questions but …

It’s not that I hate parades. I like parades. I think. Well at least I thought I did. Then, I got a little knowledge, and for the life of me, I realized that more than 1/2 of the people in the Dominican Day parade had no reason to truly celebrate. After all, if they knew that Rafael Trujillo instilled Dominican pride by belittling their African roots and hence by killing Haitians, they might not be so loud and proud. If they knew that even to this day, Black Dominicans in Dominican Republic who wish to express themselves through their art and culture often get dismissed, stripped of funds, or told to “take that down.”

If they knew that the view people have about what Dominicans look like is as limited as the spaces they often travel. I know too many of mi gente that never leave their barrios, whether it be Bonao or the Heights, and only look at themselves as the standard for what it means to be Dominican when in fact, there’s no way to tell whether someone’s truly Dominican or not.

Then again, I see all these other parades for the Irish, Puerto Ricans, Columbians, Italians, Indians (and by that I mean people from India), West Indians, and a million other parades, and come to the fact that it’s cool to have a celebration just to have a celebration. Often, we lose sight of our culture because there’s this constant amalgamation in America. We incorporate other people’s foods and language at a rather steady rate, merging us into this stew pot of bits and pieces. Therefore, for many of us, it’s important to have these moments when people from the same or similar culture can have a time to celebrate what’s left and the progress they’ve made. It’s not self-segregation, but recognition of one’s ancestors.

Plus, one can make the case that the higher-ups in America would prefer to water down our culture in favor of assimilation into the more dominant culture (that’s easily seen in our schools, jobs, and everyday life). So instead of tearing some of these jerks a new hole for acting so pretentious, I just nodded and walked away, hoping information like this might infiltrate the subconscious of a people with transfigured roots …


p.s. – By the way, I just wrote an article about Common’s recent rise to pop star. Common’s definitely not common …