Jade and her story
Jade is 26, from Berlin. She grew up there all her life. She never studied because her passion is music. For a while, her parents were concerned because they wanted her to take a more traditional path, to pursue higher education. In order to prove to them that she is a responsible person and to show that she made the right decision, she decided to be financially independent since she was 17 years old. She went to live in Zambia and the United States for some time to live new experiences, to use these as inspiration for her music. Then she learned more about herself and realized that she was a mixed woman.
Many years before accepting herself as a woman of color
For a year, Jade lived in New York and worked as a barista. She loved New York very much, but you have to have multiple jobs to survive. During her stay, she lived in the Brooklyn borough. Brooklyn well known since many hip-hop artists come from there. In recent years, it has become a must-see place and unfortunately a victim of gentrification. The neighborhood where she lived was mainly a predominantly black and mixed-race neighborhood. The inhabitants of the district considered her as a woman of color since in their eyes her mother is a woman of color. She was even more confused because she was never considered as she was in Germany. For the first time, she realized she was a mixed woman. It took her 24 years. She really enjoyed living in this neighborhood because she felt integrated into this community, she felt free to be herself, a feeling she never had in Germany.
She took actually a step back and reflected on her childhood. Growing up as a mixed person could be difficult in Germany. The most tactile, the loudest, the most active was her. Somehow, she always felt like she never did enough right. Nevertheless, she finds this attitude normal because it is part of Dominican culture. One way or another, she’ll never be German enough even if she from there, she speaks the dialect. Our increasingly multicultural societies are facing new challenges, including accepting the differences between others and not trying to change them. Berlin is a city where many people feel free to be the ones they really want. Nevertheless, much remains to be done.
Ignorance and racism, again and again
She rarely had racist experiences. The worst experience was one day when Nazis insulted Monchichi and refused to let her go. She has friends who have the same complexion as her but who have an afro and it is much more complicated for them. Having become aware that she is a woman of color, she is much more vigilant, especially since her boyfriend is black. She had a conversation with him about how he is so used to racism. He grew up in the United States and his first racist experience was in a store. The seller warned him not to steal anything. For him, if every time we took every racist act into account, we would be angry every day. But for her, it’s so frustrating that she’s not ready to get used to it.
One day, she had gone with her boyfriend to a family friend’s wedding. She was pretty sure he’d be one of the few black people. People first saw him as a black person. She sees him first as a human person. She presented it and soon after the comments and acts somewhat inappropriate began.
Some have said of him that he must be a great dancer. She felt embarrassed. Why such an assumption? Later that evening, they joined the dance floor. When they started dancing, one person came and do to him the sign “Westside”, others wanted to confront him in a dance battle. Her boyfriend explained to her that this was the reason he stayed seated all night. He knows that when there are only white people around him, they watch how he dances, start doing dance duels. He finds it very embarrassing. We are in 2018, they live in Berlin, in a multicultural city. Being ignorant is always a choice.
Jade wants the Dominicans to accept themselves as they are
Since she accepted herself as a person of color, she sees her mother’s country of origin in a different way. Last year, she returned to the Dominican Republic for the first time in 16 years. She stayed there for three weeks and rarely saw people wearing their natural hair. The majority of them straightened their hair. Most Dominicans have African, Taino and Spanish origins. There are all types of hair and skin color, from lightest to darkest. However, they are convinced that being beautiful means having fair skin and smooth hair. According to Jade, the Dominican Republic is a country with a black population that does not want to accept itself as it is. In fact, that’s all we taught them, to deny the African heritage.
Rafael Trujillo, the former Dominican dictator, is at the origin of an anti-Haitian and more generally anti-Black ideology. This made it possible to create the Dominican identity which wants the inhabitants to have only Taino and Spanish origins. This is why the Dominicans would say they have no African origins.
One day, during a family meeting, one of her cousins with dark skin and natural hair was there. She explained how she was constantly bullied for being chosen to take responsibility for herself. What she does can be seen as a militant act as all she represents is what society wants to completely erase. Jade moreover constantly reminded her family members that they were black with Spanish origins and had been for generations. They have listened to it but do not really realize it yet. She dreams of a career as a singer. She sings mostly about love. But with her music, she also hopes to help people accept themselves as they are.