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  • Writer's picturedanyeli

a poem of reclamation for papi

Dominican racism and patriotism

are the perfect couple:

Cupid? U.S Imperialism.

Trujillo, the perfect priest, married them on Haitian blood and called them beautiful.

They danced Bachata dressed in white and changed their last names to social class.

They killed Yoruba ancestry with Spanish bible verses y Colon churches.

They built a home on Taino land and used Perejil as a bodyguard.

They slashed over 10,000 lives and justified genocide.

Then they migrated to New York, and separated themselves,

From cocolos, haitianos, and kinky-haired negros con sus trensas y mala musica.

They scrubbed away West African blood, and bleached themselves Hispanic,

As if Spain has ever given a damn about our ancestry.

Dominican racism and patriotism are the perfect couple,

But me? I’m a bastard child.

I took it five centuries back and call myself black,

La negra con tumbao, the one Celia sings about.

Si, Papi.

You heard me right.

I’m a negra,

I’m slave’s masterpiece,

And you can see it in this hair, and in this nose and these lips.

At only age 10, you shoved colorism down my throat.

Te desheredo si te metes con un prieto, your favorite quote.

Told me how bettering the race better not have been in vain,

‘cause mami was the light skin girl meant to rid me of your dark stain,

but your daughter fell in love with a black man.

A man with skin so dark, I had to pray away the cops, the gunshots, and even phone calls to ICE.

A man more mami than I could ever be, who cleaned houses and dance studios,

And wove his dreams around basketball seams.

So papi please forgive me,

Maybe it was the cocola in me,

Or the brujeria that I just can’t shake off,

That made me this berrinchuda,

This cabezadura,

But papi can’t you see?

How this resilience and this surviving,

And being this amount of odds defying is the damn blackest thing to be.


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