By: Magnolia Vilma — “Wait, say your last name again?” If I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase I’d probably own ten mansions, swimming pool, and jacuzzis attached. I would have maybe five or ten people’s student loans fully paid off in cash money.
I sleep, breathe, eat, and dream of the Dominican Republic. Yet, I don’t quite look like the cookie-cutter long-haired Dominicana. I was unaware of “a type” until I watched telenovelas with my mom as a kid. Even as a young middle schooler, when a friend called my home, I’d get the “wow, it sounds like a bodega there.” Instant facepalm.
But as I got older, and learned more about my family’s beautifully rich culture, I learned to love all of the complexities behind it. Undoubtedly, I got tired of people asking me to say this or that in Spanish as if I needed to prove my heritage.
My Afro-Latinidad makes me who I am proud to be. The bachata loving, Anthony Santos is definitely a go-to in my Apple Music. My 4C hair having, don’t touch my kinky curls please, and thank you! I can spit a freeway verse. “ What We Do” is my favorite song. I am a care-free Afro-Latina and Brooklyn born and raised but never away from my heritage as a result of my parents. They never shied away from talking about being “back home” in the D.R and I am forever grateful for the stories.
Stories like my dad and mom meeting in Barahona and falling in love. Stories like these that I too will get to pass down. I can still recall the warm and inviting scents of being in the Dominican Republic at 11 years old. Being engulfed by that warm humid air and taking a sip of Tang from a glass filled with ice at my tia’s house. Visiting the beach and feeling that warm sand on my toes.
Smelling the most fragrant flowers. Still this day, I have never found anything close to that smell. Having my clothes washed then hanged to dry by the sun; then later feeling the sun almost kiss my skin. It’s moments like that, especially in the current climate that we’re in, that makes me crave those times. This would’ve been the year where I trekked back and visit the land that made my parents, yet 2020 and Covid-19 had other plans.
However, I am eternally grateful for the little moments I have that remind me of the Dominican Republic. So I’ll take my Arroz Con Habichuelas y bistec any day. I can’t forget my plátano frito and simply say: Don’t let anyone question who you are or even make you prove it. Stand tall in all of your glory and don’t forget to smile. La Republica Dominicana will always be in me in the way I swing my hips,(I am a master at dancing, shout outs to my folks) roll my r’s, but also walk with grace and power no matter the space I enter and the people I meet.
Magnolia Vilma is serving as a guest contributor for the #IAmEnough blog. She is a 28-year-old educator and creative hailing from New York City with the Dominican Republic running through her veins. Her love affair with writing began when she started her website, Takemetotheheights.com. It began as a sacred space for her to talk about all things fashion and everything in between.
The site has then blossomed into a platform to share with other creatives, small business owners as well as entrepreneurs who look like her. Through her writing, she’s delved deeper into self-awareness and self-work. She hopes to inspire others through her posts and have them believe they too can tap into themselves through faith and ultimately ascend to the “heights.”