Headaches of Stereotypes: A 16 Year Old Dominican Girl's Story

It’s unbelievable when I tell people I’m Dominican because for a millisecond I see the surprise on their faces and I know why. I know it’s because they have this stereotypical assumption of you once you say you're Dominican... I already know what’s going on through their mind in that fraction of a second; they’re assuming that I’m from Spanish Harlem, Washington Heights, or the Bronx. The Bronx is personally true for me, but that’s not the major problem here- the problem is the stereotypical look that they pair me up with, and they’re surprised when I  don’t fit in with that look.

They are surprised that I don’t have straight hair that is sleek to the touch. They are surprised that my outfit is not accompanied with big fake gold hoops. They are surprised that I am not wearing Jordan's, and when they realize that I probably don't have a collection of them, they are baffled. They’re surprised when they realize I don’t have a son, or a daughter, and I don’t have baby daddy issues- “you’re only 16?” they say,  “How are you not dealing with this?” They think. They are surprised when I don’t talk in slang, and they're surprised I don’t speak in “Spanish ghetto girl talk” – whatever that is.

See, I  know that they're thinking this because I see the evident shock in their eyes that gleam for about two seconds that they quickly try to cover up. I see that little jaw drop that they will pick right back up to make it seem as though they never had the expression in the first place. After all this, they will end up just saying: “Oh, okay”, and in my head I have the instinct to bite back and say: “What does that even mean?” but I don’t say it. They already showed me more than what they could tell me and if I do ask them, I really just want to hear someone else say the truth that I have been telling myself every time this happens.