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Many Dominicans who arrive in the US are from the country’s rural areas and barely have any formal education or work skills to help them in their transition. Once they come to the United States they struggle with the language barrier of learning English, and to find work outside of the framework of typical Dominican business. Most Dominicans who arrive in the United States have some family connection there, and once they arrive they enter into bodegas, international phone calling centers, restaurants, remittance wiring, taxi companies, travel agencies and accountants as a means to make a living. In the state of New York alone Dominicans account for close to 25,000 small business owned, mostly in the area of food (restaurants, bodegas) taxi services, or remittance wiring.

What characterizes Dominicans as an ethnic group in the United States is that they, unlike other groups that have come to the US, haven’t assimilated in the same way. Remittances from Dominicans in the US amount to an estimated 2 billion dollars a year, second only to Salvadoran remittances, which indicates a strong connection to the land of origin. Dominicans in the US also carve out particular enclaves within American cities, and tend to segregate themselves from other Hispanic and non-Hispanic groups. This is made evident by communities such as New York’s Washington Heights, which has the largest per capita concentration of Dominicans in the US

Spanish is the language of choice for most Dominicans, and another aspect that is characteristic of Dominicans is that they, unlike many other ethnic groups, refer to themselves as Dominicans, and not Dominican-Americans. Cubans, whether born in the US or not, call themselves Cuban-Americans, Puerto Ricans are referred to as Puerto Rican-Americans (or Nuyoricans in some cases), and Mexicans born in the United States are referred to as [email protected], all reflecting a joint level of pride for both heritages, but Dominicans have yet to embrace this as part of their identity. They are ultimately very nationalistic, and the resounding idea among many Dominicans is that they are only in the US for limited periods of time in order to make money. Dominicans are inherently tied to their roots, and hold an overwhelming level of pride towards their culture and customs, which they aren’t willing to give up easily.
This encapsulation of Dominicans, and their almost unwillingness to fully integrate into the US cultural landscape, is due partly in fact to the disenfranchisement of many Dominicans, and the mostly uncharitable welcome they have received from the start. Dominicans have become one of the most stigmatized groups in the US. The American eye clearly associates Dominicans with the vices of poverty, crime, violence, drugs and lawlessness. Aside from the fact that Dominicans have made strides in the sports world, which too has come at the price of stereotyping young Dominicans as only baseball players, they are labeled as menaces. The news media almost always identifies Dominicans as drug traffickers or the ringleaders of other illicit activities, as they have become the poster children for illegal immigration, money laundering, document falsification or marriage fraud. Dominicans have been radicalized and criminalized in many aspects, which has lead to a separation from the American culture at large.

Ultimately, the racial aspect has differentiated Dominicans in another way. Dominicans often shun the strict rules of racial classification in accordance with the American model, and rely on the Dominican model as the default concept with which to classify themselves. In the United States there are specific categories for classification. It seems almost impossible to be something other than white or black. But Dominicans refuse these narrow classifications as they prefer to label themselves as racially mixed, neither black nor white, but a variety of other things. Because the American model for racial classification doesn’t capture the spirit of multiracial people, Dominicans have contested the country's conventionally limited view on race. They have expanded the racial possibilities and have made it critical for the public to recognize that Dominicans don’t fit into a conventional mold.

The situation for Dominicans in the United States is changing. With the growth of a more educated and skilled second generation, and an emphasis from within the Dominican community to integrate, it is only a matter of time before Dominicans become a more prominent part of American society, leaving behind the tainted image they have; though this won’t be easy. In the process, the Dominican community must come to terms with the creation of a bi-cultural generation of youth that is unable to find its own voice, while at the same time providing disenfranchised young people with the assurance that they are accepted members of both the Dominican and American communities. Alongside the cultural struggles that face the future progress of the Dominican community is the advancement towards economic prosperity that can only further consolidate stability for this ethnic group.
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