Dominican Americans (Dominican Republic)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Mostly concentrated in New York City, New Jersey, South Florida, Boston, Providence, and Philadelphia|
Predominantly Roman Catholicism|
Minorities practicing Protestantism · Jehovah's Witness.
|Related ethnic groups|
|White Latin Americans, Afro-Latin Americans, Mulatto, Hispanic and Latino Americans, Afro-Dominicans, White Dominicans|
Dominican Americans (Spanish: domínico-americanos, norteamericanos de origen dominicano or estadounidenses de origen dominicano) are Americans who have full or partial origin from the Dominican Republic. Although their emigration began in the sixteenth century, thousands of Dominicans passed through the gates of Ellis Island in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The most recent movement of emigration to the United States began in the 1960s, after the fall of the Trujillo regime. In 2010, there were approximately 1.41 million people of Dominican descent in the US, including both native and foreign-born. Dominican Americans are the fifth-largest Hispanic group in the United States.
Since the establishment of the Spanish Empire, there have historically been immigrants from the former Captaincy General of Santo Domingo to other parts of New Spain which are now part of the United States, such as Florida, Louisiana, and the Southwest.
The first recorded person of Dominican descent to migrate into what is now known as the United States, outside of New Spain, was sailor-turned-merchant Juan Rodriguez. He arrived on Manhattan in 1613 from his home in Santo Domingo, which makes him the first non-Native American person to spend substantial time in the island. He also became the first Dominican, the first Latino and the first person with European (specifically Portuguese) and African ancestry to settle in what is present day New York City.
Dominican emigration to the United States continued throughout the centuries. Recent research from the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute has identified some 5,000 Dominican immigrants who were processed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924.
From the 1960s onward, after the fall of the dictatorship of General Rafael Trujillo, larger waves of emigrants have thoroughly transnationalized the Dominican Republic, metaphorically blurring its frontier with the United States. With increased emigration, Dominican diaspora communities have sprouted in New York metro area, New Jersey, Boston metro area, Providence, South Florida, and Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania.
Smaller waves of emigrants have settled in the metropolitan areas of Orlando, Tampa, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Baltimore, Columbus, Rochester, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Detroit, Charlotte, Raleigh, and New Orleans. Dominican emigrant communities have similar settlement patterns to that of the Puerto Rican population.
Almost half of all the Dominican Americans today arrived since the 1990s, especially in the early part of that decade. There has been another surge of immigration in recent years as immigration from Mexico has declined, which allowed more backlogged Dominican applicants to obtain legal residence. Dominican Americans are the fifth-largest Hispanic or Latino American group, after Mexican Americans, Stateside Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and Salvadoran Americans.
As of 2010, the five largest concentrations of Dominican Americans are in New York (674,787; 47.7%), New Jersey (197,922; 14.0%), Florida (172,451), Massachusetts (103,292), and Pennsylvania (62,348). Rhode Island is the only state where Dominicans are the largest Hispanic group. Dominicans are the most dominant Hispanic group in most of southeastern New England (Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts). Dominicans are also starting to be pretty dominant in many areas in North Jersey and the Lower Hudson Valley. In New York City, the borough of Manhattan (New York County) is the only county in the country where Dominicans are the largest ancestral group and its Washington Heights neighborhood has long been considered the center of the Dominican American community. The 2010 Census estimated the nationwide Dominican American population at 1,414,703.
About 41% of Dominican Americans live in New York City alone. Many of New York's Dominicans live in the boroughs of the Bronx and Manhattan, and a few live in Queens and Brooklyn. There are also large populations in other parts of New York State, including Long Island and the Hudson Valley. Across the Hudson River, in New Jersey, a rapidly growing population of up to 250,000 Dominicans reside, topped by Paterson in absolute number and with Perth Amboy having the highest proportion in the U.S. Other states with large Dominican populations include Massachusetts, with very large populations throughout the eastern part of the state including the Boston area, the Miami, Orlando and Tampa metro areas in Florida; the state of Rhode Island, and to a lesser extent Connecticut, in the metro areas of Waterbury, Danbury and Bridgeport, and in Pennsylvania, particularly the eastern portion including Hazleton, Allentown, Reading, and the Philadelphia area. There are smaller and growing Dominican populations in states like Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Texas, and California.
According to recent 2014 estimates, Boston and New York City are the only major cities where Dominicans are now the largest Hispanic group, recently surpassing Puerto Ricans in both cities, due to slower growth (or decline) of the Puerto Rican populations in those cities and much faster growing Dominican populations. However, in both cities, Dominicans make up only a plurality of the Hispanic population.
Race and ethnicity
The prevalence of the 'other race' category probably reflects the large number of people who identify as mixed African and European ancestry in the Dominican Republic, where 68% of the population identified as being of mixed African and European descent, commonly known as mulatto. Genetically, some are tri-racial, however, having also Taíno Native American ancestry.
|Race by Hispanic Origin Group|
|US Census Bureau||White||Black/African American||Asian; American Indian and Alaska Native; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander||Some Other Race||Two or More Races (Multiracial)|
- New York – 2,674,787 (3.5% of statal population)
- New Jersey – 197,922 (2.3% of statal population)
- Florida – 172,451 (0.9% of statal population)
- Massachusetts – 103,292 (1.6% of statal population)
- Pennsylvania – 62,348 (0.5% of statal population)
- Rhode Island – 35,008 (3.3% of statal population)
- Connecticut – 26,093 (0.7% of statal population)
- North Carolina – 15,225 (0.2% of statal population)
- Georgia – 14,941 (0.2% of statal population)
- Maryland – 14,873 (0.3% of statal population)
|District of Columbia||2,508||0.4%|
|Total US Dominican Population||1,414,703||0.5%|
- New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA MSA - 835,402
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL MSA - 95,966
- Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH MSA - 91,252
- Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA MSA - 36,931
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL MSA - 35,486
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA - 28,276
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA - 17,750
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA - 17,639
- Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ MSA - 13,081
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA - 12,155
- New York, NY – 576,701
- Lawrence, MA – 30,243
- Paterson, NJ – 27,426
- Boston, MA – 25,641
- Providence, RI – 25,267
- Philadelphia, PA - 15,963
- Yonkers, NY – 15,903
- Perth Amboy, NJ – 14,773
- Jersey City, NJ – 13,512
- Newark, NJ – 12,527
- Passaic, NJ - 12,340
- Union City, NJ - 10,020
- Miami, FL - 9,668
- Allentown, PA - 9,340
- Reading, PA - 8,716
- Elizabeth, NJ - 7,073
- Freeport, NY - 5,539
- Hazleton, PA - 5,327
- West New York, NJ - 4,935
- Pembroke Pines, FL - 4,804
- Clifton, NJ - 4,561
- Miramar, FL - 4,529
- Orlando, FL - 4,278
- Worcester, MA - 4,221
- Haverstraw, NY - 3,847
- Lawrence, MA – 39.7%
- Haverstraw village, NY – 32.4%
- Perth Amboy, NJ – 29.1%
- Hazleton, PA – 21.0%
- Paterson, NJ – 18.9%
- Sleepy Hollow, NY – 18.7%
- Passaic, NJ – 17.76%
- Bronx, NY – 17.4%
- Haverstraw, NY – 17.2%
- Union City, NJ – 15.2%
- Providence, RI – 14.2%
A significant number of Dominican Americans are young, first-generation immigrants without a higher education, since many have roots in the country's rural areas. Second-generation Dominican Americans are more educated than their first-generation counterparts, a condition reflected in their higher incomes and employment in professional or skilled occupations and more of them pursuing undergraduate education and graduate degrees.
Over 21% of all second-generation Dominican Americans have college degrees, slightly below the average for all Americans (24%) but significantly higher than US-born Mexican Americans (14%) and US-born Puerto Rican Americans (9%). In New York City, Dominican entrepreneurs have carved out roles in several industries, especially the bodega and supermarket and taxi and black car industries.
Over two dozen Dominican Americans are elected local or state legislators, mayors or other in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Dr. Eduardo J. Sanchez was the Commissioner of Health for the state of Texas from 2001 to 2006, and New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, has held her post since 2007.
The electoral participation of Dominicans in the United States may improve as a result of the 1994 approval of dual citizenship by the Dominican legislature, which makes it easier for migrants to become US citizens without relinquishing their Dominican nationality. A 1997 Dominican law, which took effect in 2004, allows Dominicans living abroad to retain their Dominican citizenship and voting rights even if they become citizens of another country.
Traditionally, Dominicans living in the United States are passionately involved in politics "back home", but unlike other Hispanic or Latino national groups, such as Cuban Americans and Mexican Americans, they are not as inclined to take an active part in US politics, but there are more recent increases in involvement in US politics.
Dominican American people and culture
Arts and literature
Junot Diaz drew on his life and the Dominican American experience generally in authoring Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the latter of which won him the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008 and made him the first Dominican American and the second Hispanic or Latino American in history to win the Pulitzer Prize. Julia Alvarez is the nationally recognized author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents. Nelly Rosario, born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City, also won critical acclaim for her debut novel Song of the Water Saints.
Traditional Dominican cuisine has translated well to the United States as Dominican Americans have opened reputable restaurants throughout the diasporic communities. Traditional cuisine is very colorful with red and green peppers and cilantro. Traditional cuisine consists of rice, beans, tostones (known as fritos), and a meat like chicharrón de pollo (deep-fried chicken), Mangú (mashed green plantains served with sautéed onion), slices of avocado, fried eggs, salami, empanadas and pastelitos (fried meat pies), and sancocho (stew of meats, potatoes, and vegetables).
The most well known drink is "Morir Soñando" which translates to "die dreaming." It is a drink of orange juice, cream, and vanilla. Desserts include flan, bread pudding, rice pudding, and tres leches. Dominican restaurant owners in the diasporic community really aim to conserve the taste of the mainland as they feel that is what immigrants seek out when looking for authentic Dominican cuisine.
Achieving that taste is not hard in the United States as most grocery stores stock Dominican, Puerto Rican, and other Latin American products made by Goya Foods. Dominican Americans take pride in their food from their homeland and they use it as a symbol in times of celebration. For example, when the Dominican Republic won the World Cup of Baseball, Dominican Americans cheered carrying plantains.
The experience of Dominican-American cuisine goes beyond the consumption of the food, however. It is vitally integrated into the everyday culture of the Dominican-American community. Through the sensations of eating, to the act of cooking, Dominican-American food is part of the Dominican-American experience.
Dominican food is an integral part of the formation and maintenance of the Dominican diaspora. According to Liberato and Feagin's section in the Other African Americans eating traditional Dominican food ties second generation Dominican Americans to the diasporic homeland. Dominican food and other cultural practices like speaking Spanish help newly immigrated Dominicans situate themselves in the racial hierarchy of the United States. The US Census data from 2000 showed that Dominicans "have the largest concentration of people below the poverty line." When racial categories that apply on the island are no longer pertinent in the US and Dominican immigrants use features of Dominican culture- like cooking traditional fare- to differentiate themselves from Native Black Americans to help themselves establish a unique identity.
Fashion and design
Designer Oscar de la Renta, born in the Dominican Republic to a Dominican mother and a Puerto Rican father, is one of the most recognized names in the fashion industry.
Film, stage, and television
María Montez was dubbed "The Queen of Technicolor" for the numerous Hollywood adventure films that she starred in the 1940s. Zoe Saldana, the female leading star of the movie Avatar, is an actress born in New Jersey to a Dominican father and a Puerto Rican mother. Michelle Rodriguez, born of a Dominican mother and a Puerto Rican father, is known for her roles in the television series Lost and the movies The Fast and the Furious, S.W.A.T., and Resident Evil.
Dania Ramirez is known for playing Callisto in X-Men: The Last Stand, Sadie in Quarantine, Alex in Entourage, and Maya Herrera in Heroes. Merlin Santana was a New Yorker whose most notable role was as Romeo on The Steve Harvey Show. Carlos De La Mota, born in New York to Dominican parents and raised in La Vega, and José Guillermo Cortines are popular telenovela actors who often work stateside.
Claudette Lali is a former model turned actress also born in New York and raised in the Dominican Republic. Charytín is an actress, singer, dancer, and television host who has been a longtime fixture in the US Hispanic/Latino media. Tina Aumont, Miguel A. Nuñez, Karen Olivo (a Tony Award-winner), Victor Rasuk, Judy Reyes, Shalim Ortiz (son of Charytín) and Tristan Wilds also have Dominican origin.
Government and politics
Also increasing is the Dominican American profile in government and politics. Milestones along the way have been marked, among others, by Guillermo Linares and Kay Palacios, the first Dominican Americans elected in the United States, as former New York City Council Member and former Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey city council respectively; William Lantigua, the first Dominican American mayor in the U.S., who was appointed as Acting Mayor of Lawrence, Massachusetts; Passaic, New Jersey mayor Dr. Alex D. Blanco, the first Dominican American mayor ever elected in the United States;
The first Dominican American New York County Supreme Court Judge was Rolando T. Acosta; Camelia Valdes, the first Dominican American to become a head Prosecutor or District Attorney in U.S. history; Adriano Espaillat and Grace Diaz, respectively the first Dominican American person and the first Dominican American female to be elected to a state legislature in the United States; Juan Pichardo, Rhode Island State Senator, the first Dominican American to be elected State Senator in the United States.
President Barack Obama made his first major Dominican American appointment on March 13, 2009 when he nominated Thomas E. Perez to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Perez was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 6, 2009. Angel Taveras, mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, is the first Hispanic mayor of the city, the third elected, and the fourth serving Dominican American mayor in the United States.
Juan Manuel Taveras Rodríguez was a Professor Emeritus at Harvard Medical School and Radiologist-in-Chief Emeritus of the Massachusetts General Hospital. He is widely regarded as the father of the medical specialty of neuroradiology, having co-authored the first textbook of this specialty and founded both the American Society of Neuroradiology and its journal, of which he served for several years as editor.
Dominican music includes above all merengue and bachata. Bachata, as well as reggaeton, have become popular among many Dominican American youth, as have house, salsa, rock, hip hop and other musical genres.
Some notables in the music industry include: bachata singers Prince Royce and Leslie Grace, Fuego Merengue singer, Ralph Mercado, founder of RMM Records and music producer; Johnny Pacheco, singer, godfather of New York salsa; Karina Pasian, singer and pianist; Proyecto Uno, merengue hip-hop group; Anthony Romeo Santos, singer and songwriter; Rosanna Tavarez, Rita Indiana, singer and songwriter, singer and television host.
Dominican Americans have made great strides in the field of baseball, the community's favored sport. Alex Rodriguez, New York-born, is the most well-known Dominican American in this field. He is the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball (MLB), and one of the most famous athletes in the United States. The larger portion of MLB players of Dominican origin immigrated from the Dominican Republic, number in the hundreds, and count among them Robinson Canó, Rafael Soriano, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramírez, Bartolo Colón, and Hall of Fame members Juan Marichal and Pedro Martínez.
Some of them, including Pujols (2007), Canó (2012), and Colón (2014), have obtained US citizenship. Dominican natives Felipe Alou and Tony Peña were managers, and Omar Minaya is a general manager in (MLB). Basketball has seen the likes of Felipe López, Francisco Garcia, and the father-son pair of Tito and Al Horford, all originally from the Dominican Republic, as well as Charlie Villanueva and 2015 NBA draft top pick Karl-Anthony Towns from the New York area. In the National Football League (NFL) there are Luis Castillo, Tutan Reyes and Dante Rosario.
Among other notables of full or partial Dominican origins are Nancy Alvarez, sexologist and talk show host in Spanish-language media; Susie Castillo, Miss USA 2003; Mary Joe Fernández, a tennis player and television commentator; Geovanny Vicente Romero, a community leader and educator in Washington, D.C.; Providencia Paredes, an assistant and confidante to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; Ilka Tanya Payan, an AIDS/HIV activist, actress, and attorney; and Wolf Hudson, a pornographic film actor.
- List of Dominican Americans
- Dominican people
- Dominican Republic
- Demographics of the Dominican Republic
- Culture of the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Day Parade
- Dominican immigration to Puerto Rico
- Hispanic and Latino Americans
- Puerto Rican American
- Cuban American
- Haitian Americans
- West Indian American
- Spanish Caribbean
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