Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Who am I ?
WHO AM I?
I've never asked myself this question before...I always knew I was Elaine Micheline Hodge. But today I was chatting with a friend and that subject came up. He claimed that I was making him blush,...and so I said to him " You mean you're shining, because black people don't blush". Then I caught myself and added, well that's if you consider yourself black. He then said to me " I consider myself Hispanic". This is when I got confused... because one can be black and Hispanic, right? Suddenly I felt as if I needed to question myself too, because like many people are nowadays...I'm what most consider a mut.
He broke it down to me and made it look so simple...his parents were both born in Cuba, so he's of Cuban descent...but what about me? My parents weren't both born on the same island....so I dug a little deeper only to find that my parents' parents (my grandparents) weren't born on the same island nor were my great-grandparents. So where does that leave me? How can I classify my ethnicity if the list goes on and on? Should I just use my race as my defining characteristic? That's what I usually did, to make it easier to explain to people, because if not, I'd have to sit them down and go down the family tree only to find that like my pops , I just happen to be born in Aruba. Why does it all have to be so complicated? So what am I supposed to tell my kids (whenever I have them,lol).
My homegirl Bianny (aka B) came into my office all excited because she wanted me to watch a couple commercials for Barcelo Rum; apparently every commercial denoted something special about a region in DR. And anything that has to do with DR excites me, besides..it's part of me too. So all of a sudden we're watching this commercial for the rum, and JLG comes on singing "Good Morning Good Morning Guaveberry"...and I asked her " B, all of the other commercials were in Spanish, why was this in Spanish and English ?" Then she told me something that made everything make sense to me.." ooh that's because that's what many people in San Pedro speak!" So you could only imagine...I was excited..and was on a quest to learn more! I started my research by searching online, calling my great aunt, etc. trying to piece together information so it would all make sense.
I learned that my great grandmother Ivanni Hodge was one of the first to immigrate to the Dominican Republic ( San Pedro de Macoriz to be exact )in 1884 from either St.Kitts or Antigua..that seems to be unknown. They moved to DR because the Sugar Plantation industry was booming and the shortage of workers made way for my family and many other West Indian families. They were known as the Cocolos by the native Dominicans, which was supposedly a derogotary term that described their darker skin colors and others claim it was just a name they gave the West Indian Immigrants. A positive of having the Cocolos in DR working in the sugar plantations was because they all spoke English and the US was DR's biggest sugar importer, so it worked for their benefit to have these Cocolos communicate with plantation managers. So there..we made it to DR....something that always surprised me was that my grandfather- Dominican born and raised always spoke English to his kids..and all of my Domincan relatives who still reside in San Pedro or Consuelo still maintain the English language in their homes!
So here I am many many years later thanking my homegirl B for coming into my life...and making everything make sense to me.Okay that was kinda deep, but it really is! I feel as if I'm found....ask me the question again...and I'd answer you proudly;I'm Elaine Micheline Hodge, descendant of Cocolos that lived in DR in the 19th century!
The commercial that inspired my research: