So you’ve learned to trill your “r” in the Spanish word for parsley. They don’t care. ¿dónde está tu país?
You were born in the Dominican Republic; everyone in your family–dating back to 1929–has a lot of Dominican in them. You call yourself Dominican. You feel Dominican. You speak like a native-born Dominican. They don’t care. ¿dónde está su casa? Naciste dónde? ¿When? Ten years ago? They tell you that’s just not good enough.
Dominican. The word is written in blood, your blood. The word filters through your veins, delivering borrowed memories to your heart. Si usted nació aquí antes de 1929, you’re so good to go, you can stay. If you were born in the Dominican Republic, say way back in 1928–that would make you 85 years old. At 85, no one expects you to have any babies. If you’re 85 and up, you’re safe. You can breathe now.
¿Hablas kreyòl ayisyen? Good, because now you have been elected maestra de vocabulario for children who don’t know the other place and don’t speak the other language. They’d never set foot on the other soil. They have to learn the other ways quickly. Here’s the vocabulary you have to teach : Dominican. Illegal. Immigrant. Citizenship. Revoked. Stateless. Homeless. Crisis. Paradise. Lost. Big concepts for children to learn, but you have to start teaching your lesson. You have to use every strategy you know. Teach them to make connections: Text to self; text to world; text to text: Haitian. Not. Illegal. Teach the children why the word Antihatianismo has been in their common core for a long, long time. Teach them before putting them to bed at night When morning comes, maybe they’ll think it was all just a dream. A dream from far away. Far like paradise. A dream that must be forgotten. Fast.