Dominican Immigrants and other Ethnic Groups

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Puerto Ricans

Dominicans and Puerto Ricans have frequently conflicted with each others’ interests for a long time. There are a couple of reasons why.

According to Novas in Everything You Need to Know about Latino History, many of the Dominicans, in order to escape poverty, migrated to the “Mona Lisa” passage to Puerto Rico, often with all their accumulated wealth.[1] This is a highly dangerous journey because most of them go by rafts, which results in many deaths. If they made it to Puerto Rico successfully, they tried to earn as much money as possible there. Along with the new land, they also forged a new identity, as Puerto Ricans. Then, when obtaining the right opportunity, they usually migrated to America by either using the Puerto Rican International Airports or through container ships. When they arrive in America, they utilize their fake Puerto Rican identity, taking advantage of the fact that passports or visas are not needed to migrate to America. This has caused a huge problem in the United States, because the Puerto Ricans feel that their identity is being taken by the Dominicans. As a result, in heavily populated Puerto Ricans areas, especially in Eastern Harlem, Manhattan, many Dominicans, due to their Spanish language accentuation, and cultural references, are constantly being attacked. In retaliation, many Dominicans teenagers attack their Puerto Rican counterparts at nearby parks. Both have formed local gangs which attempt to attack each others’ interests.

Another, rather common barrier between them is skin color, found in Race in the Hood.[2] Puerto Ricans, although coming in many different colors, and shades of colors, traditionally identify themselves as brown or white rather than black. Dominicans, in general, tend to be of darker skin. As a result, some of the lighter skinned Puerto Ricans tended to discriminate against them, just like whites have done to blacks. Traditional stereotypes include: They engage in narcotics, play loud dirty music; they are responsible for pollution and more…

For Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, such perverse interaction seems to be influenced by their surroundings. According to Race in the Hood, many Puerto Ricans seem to be influenced by their fellow countrymen, in that they feel that their traditions and ideas differ strikingly from that of the Dominicans. Despite this idea, many young members of both sides are questioning traditional ideas. Many peer groups have been formed, for example, which combine Dominicans and Puerto Ricans who believe in a mutual understanding and respect. These types of groups are trying to instill a sense of understanding to some of the intolerant individuals of both sides.


Due to the dichotomous system of classification, according to Tamara Katayama, a student at Barnard, the Americans usually classify Dominicans as black, even though they weren’t so in their countries. In fact, it seems that the Dominicans have been split up into two distinct groups in New York City, white and black. Therefore, it seems although some try to maintain their own heritage, it is actually their inhabited area which determines their identity. For example, if the Dominicans live in predominantly black areas, Dominicans will likely prefer dressing, speaking and any musical preferences that blacks may prefer. It is seen that Americans who prefer to assimilate into black culture are most disrespected by white Americans, who think that such a style is uncivilized. Conversely, it is more likely that white Hispanics, such as White Dominicans, are more likely to assimilate into mainstream white society.


According to Julia Alvarez, Dominicans have a rather positive interaction among themselves. Due to there common heritage, many Dominicans live in tightly knit groups. For example, she lives with her family in Harlem. She also claims that Dominicans also provide jobs to other Dominicans because they truly want each other’s success, as they want to make each other feel “right at home.” While there are occasional conflicts, it seems that their difficulties in America lead to their cohesion rather than division.


  1. Himilce Novas Everything You Need to KNow about Lationo History Plume
  2. Howard Pinderhughes Race in the Hood Universtiy of Minnesota Press, 1997