NALs: I find many of the responses made by Dominicans concerning the lack of mention of the Taino cultural/genetic component quite amusing. Not amusing in the sense an afro-centric probably finds them (the audience has already been inoculated in the video, thus any response from any Dominican concerning Tainos will be seen as proof of the denial). My amusement (fear is more like it, but this is more of a forced laugh to prevent a cry type of thing) is how ineffective the average Dominican is when rebutting false information. It makes perfect sense why so much bs has been spread of Dominican culture/identity with not much effective counterarguments.
Aside from not understanding that the audience has already been put on the ‘road’ of disbelieving anything a Dominican says regarding Taino ancestry/influence, its clear that most (if not all) don’t know a thing about Dr Gates.
Had they known that a few years ago Dr Gates did a series (can be accessed in the PBS website) titled “African American Lives.” In this series, he did DNA tests to various high profile African Americans (Oprah was among the chosen) and managed to develop their own ‘forgotten’ family history all the way back to slavery and what happened to their ancestors post-slavery. Well, Dr Gates also did his own personal story by taking a DNA test himself, and much to his surprise, most of his genes hail from IRELAND. In essence, Dr Gates is nothing more than a Mulatto. But the reason I mention this is because despite he having discover the truth about his genetic make up, the fact that he is MIXED, he did expressed on the show that he ‘envied’ many of the other African Americans who, apparently, had a majority African derived DNA.
Why did he ‘envied’ them? Shouldn’t a person who wants to know the truth about himself, simply accept what science, in this case DNA testing, has proven? Why would a mixed blood or Mulatto ‘envied’ other people for being less mixed than himself?
Furthermore, many months after the series in which he made public his own results, an incident occurred at his home when he was returning from a trip in which he was handcuffed by the police since one of his neighbors had called them, thinking he was a thief. Keeping in mind that he already knew he was of mixed ancestry, he insisted, apparently at the time screaming, that that was nothing more than an act of racism because he’s a “Black” man.
That he already knew his genetic reality, that he is not ‘Black’, but rather mixed or Mulatto; and despite his claims to adhere to the truth; it is quite telling that he insist on denying HIS REALITY.
Now, its not as if I don’t understand why he still thinks in such way, I’ve researched/compared and contrasted American identity structures vs Dominican and other Latin American types, and understand very well where the flaws lies when one group tries to judge the other without taking into account the very real, albeit often perceived invincible, cultural differences and points of views.
But, and yes, there’s a but; he falls squarely in the definition of denial. And there lies the amusement, a person whom himself refuses to accept his reality (the occasional lip service notwithstanding) and now wants to talk about other peoples ‘denial’ (his very obvious rejection or ignorance of essential aspects of Dominican culture comes to light from the very beginning of the documentary with the Cuban son being portrayed as Merengue) is a little, but just a little hilarious.
To conclude, I wasn’t expecting anything different, since Dr Gates reaction to the DR is practically a by-the-book example of how Americans of various backgrounds initially sees the DR. I am simply hoping that he forms part of a minority of Americans that do dig deeper into Dominican culture, beyond what they first scratched, and eventually, will come to terms with the reality of the Dominican people, identity, and heritage.
And since he did the usual American faux pas through what will be a widely distributed video, I hope he will do a follow up or a ‘revised’ version describing the REAL Dominican society, identity, heritage, etc and not the misconception that always arises when some people forget to take off their American goggles.
When you’re outside of the US, you can’t continue to function and interpret things as if you’re still in Kansas.
The Haiti part appears to have been well covered, but understanding where Dr Gates comes from (his mindset) and the ideals Haiti has represented since its inception, its really not much of a surprise.
© 2011, Chantilly Patiño. All rights reserved.