Here's My Life: I Am Afro Latina

Happiness. A word that has a subjective definition. How is it defined to those who haven't been exposed to much in comparison with those who've seen it all? I'm sitting on the beach in a third world country, and to these people, I look like a queen. I have it all: a designer bag, the latest phone, well-kept footwear that I took off because I had that option; not because I had to. My watch carries stones that look like diamonds, albeit they are false, they still sparkle in the sun I used to know and love.

This country, which I experience in part about once a decade, has a beautiful rhythm that can only be explained with a ballad or with the sweet taste of sugarcane. Every drink of water I'm used to has been replaced con una fría de Presidente Light because the regular one engorda. Every step I take is like a signal for men to refer to me as menor. As if it were a requirement for them to let me know que yo si toy buena.

Sitting on the beach here in the "lit" part of Boca Chica, I keep pulling my medicated bug spray out of my Maiko Koa bag and spraying it on my untanned legs. The natives let me know que soy blanca. No vamos Americana? Is a constant question, as if it's written on my face. I've been told "you walk like a tourist, your back is straight but your butt isn't poked out, so I know you're not from here." I seem to have developed an automatic "no, está bien, gracias" without even looking up. Leave me be, I think. I just want to eat my yaniqueque in peace; I never get to finish one of these. I'm not wearing shades, the sun isn't out. But here in Santo Domingo, si no tiene Gafa, no acaba. That's also how they know.

Being multinational is one thing. But when you're Americanized and have immigrant parents, your Spanglish is poppin' but your proper etiquette is lacking for your native country. When they tell you that If you're nice, te roban; if you're mean se te ve que es mala. I was born in America, but I'm not American. I'm Dominican, but I’m not Dominican because I barely know the culture. What I am is stuck in the gray area — where I eat Dominican food but don't want to marry and serve a man. I'm stuck in a place where I won't listen to bachata and merengue unless I have to, pero cuando me pongo a bailar, I be killing them. Soy Dominicana. Americana. Blanquita. Afro latina. This is my 50 shades of Grey.

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