It was a banner day. My downstairs neighbor invited me for a ladies’ luncheon. It is almost a year that I have been in this apartment complex, a small older condominium in the older, no longer quite chic part of the city. I am the only foreigner which makes me feel very safe.
Crime is on the rise here, Ten years ago, Santo Domingo was known as one of the safest cities in the hemisphere but since the US changed its deportation policies, the nation has been plagued with crime. They refer to it as “delinquencia” acknowleging that it is mostly the young men who are at fault. I talk with them when I can, telling them that they must change the word. It is not “delinqencia” when the perpetrators are armed, when they go after credit cards and passports.
But today I felt safe and warm. My hostess used to live in NYC, where she worked for the United Nations. My neighbor from across the hall was there as well and we chatted away, jabbered away in Spanish.
We talked about Quakers (que es eso?) Bush, and Iraq, and racism, and Haiti, and Obama and Hillary. About how most Americans are taught a clean version of history, how they do not know about the number of times the army occupied the DR, and Haiti.
We talked of the African American’s dislike of Latinos, and how these Dominicans could not understand why American blacks had not risen, since they had access to higher education.
I did some shameless campaigning for Barack. How proud I am that he received the majority o the votes of the WHITE MEN in Georgia. Proud of us. How far we have come in only one lifetime.
I reminded them that the United States had a form of racial segregation that was akin to apartheid.
And my hostess remembered. She had been in NYC when Harry Belefonte and Petula Clark held hand, exchanged a chaste kiss on Ed Sullivan – the uproar that ensued.
It is not that “no hay racismo aqui” as they say. Hay racismo. But the racism is a bit softer, a bit easier. For the most part, this is a lovely mixed race nation.
I was almost dancing during my evening walk along the Malecon, feeling the salt water whipping up over the coast line, listening to Wyclef Jean in my Ipod, working up a sweat.
I thought of all the pictures of the winter weather and wondered why more of you are not here.
Seems a pity.