The resilience of Dominicans in the Bronx

As always in summer, and now despite the aftermath of the pandemic, that area is a hive where small businesses, most of them owned by Dominicans, struggle to survive.

The resilience of Dominicans is in sight. It is a community characterized by unity and strong ties to its culture, values ​​that have been the foundations that have helped small businesses cope with the impact of the crisis.

“The worst is over. Now we have to keep working to get up,” said Ramón Ramos, an employee of the Imperial barbershop, on Burnside Avenue, in one of the many commercial corridors that form when it intersects with the Grand Concourse, which runs along the west side of the Bronx. .

Like him, the majority of employees and owners of small businesses such as restaurants, wineries, beauty salons, pastry shops, mechanical workshops and the sale of used parts, hope to recover from the disaster left by the health crisis.

Belkys Ventura, who came to the island 30 years ago from Santiago de los Caballeros, says that now she can pay the rent and have what she needs in the fridge to eat.

“The last three years have been difficult, but little by little we are moving forward,” Ventura said from her nail salon on Jerome Avenue.

On the other hand, the enthusiast Felipe Sánchez improvises a grocery store with fruits and vegetables on the sidewalk of Fordham Road, just where the 4 train line passes through the upper part.

“I earn my cheles selling fresh produce at a fair price because things are tough. There are people who during the pandemic didn’t even have enough to buy a banana,” says Sánchez.

Actors of the revival

Most of the Dominican diaspora in the Bronx are entrepreneurs, accustomed to making a living with their own efforts and, in practice, they are the ones who drive the economic revival of Salsa County.

Among the Dominican businesses named, the most common in the area are barbershops, beauty salons and restaurants. If something distinguishes the men and women of Quisqueya, it is always being well ‘shaven and brushed’ and eating as God intended: a good mangú for breakfast, rice with beans, meat, chicken or pork rinds for lunch and to quench thirst, a ‘president’, the best beer in the world, according to them. Dining is another story, Dominican cuisine is lavish in countless food that can be found on every block, which ratifies the predominance of this community in the Bronx.

Political presence and power

Washington Heights, in Upper Manhattan, was considered the bastion of the Dominican community in New York, but over the years, that population moved and continues to move to the Bronx. Nearly all of the western neighborhoods like Morris Heights, Mount Eden, Morrisania, East Tremont, and University Heights are populated by Dominicans.

“The center of the Dominican community in New York moved from Washington Heights to the Bronx”, confirmed the writer and political analyst JC Malone, “the schools are full of Dominican students, teachers and principals, which speaks of future projections of the population”.

Today it is estimated that the Bronx has a population of 1.4 million inhabitants, of which nearly 500,000 are Dominicans. In fact, this county is where there are more Dominican political representatives in the city.

Dominicans, added Malone, follow a migratory pattern that has been followed by other communities from Upper Manhattan to the Bronx and from there they move to Reading or Allentown, Pennsylvania and even Florida.

In the Bronx there are three members of the municipal council of Dominican descent: Pierina Sánchez, Amanda Farías and Oswald Feliz and three state assembly members, Yudelka Tapia, Amanda Séptimo and George Álvarez, there are two other Dominican-Puerto Rican council members and assembly members. But where the greatest political weight achieved by the Dominican community is evident is in the vice presidency of the county, which is occupied by the young Janet Peguero.

The Dominican parade in the Bronx returns with more force

The Great Bronx Dominican Parade returns with all its color and joy this Sunday, July 31, as part of the celebration of Dominican Day in that county.

The initiative started in 1989 by community activist Felipe Febles, has been consolidated after three decades in an expression that reaffirms the influence and importance of the Dominican community in the Bronx county.

Girls from a troupe that will take part in the parade. (OBBP)

This year, the parade is dedicated to independence heroes Juan Pablo Duarte Sánchez, Ramón Matías Mella and the secret society that organized independence known as La Trinitaria.

The godmother of this edition is the publicist and show promoter Isveny Pichardo. The parade will take place as is tradition through Grand Concourse Avenue, starting at 176th Street to 167th Street starting at 12:00, according to information provided by Edderkys González, executive secretary of the Great Bronx Dominican Parade.

Gibson highlights legacy of Quisqueyans

Vanessa Gibson, president of the Bronx Borough promoted a recognition event

to the organization of the Great Dominican Parade, in which he highlighted the rich culture and contributions of Dominican-Americans to that county.

“We are proud and excited to host La Gran Parada Dominicana on Sunday here in the Bronx, in the county with the highest concentration of Dominicans of any county in New York City,” said Gibson.

“After everything was put on hold due to COVID-19, we are ready to celebrate the legacy of the Dominican-American community on Sunday, July 31 in the Grand Concourse. Thank you to the Great Dominican Parade for highlighting your culture and history in our county,” added the president of the Bronx.

To mark the occasion, Gibson issued a proclamation and honored several Dominican leaders for their commitment and service to their communities. Among those who received recognition were several of the artists and influencers such as Jalexiz “El de la bandana”; Raymundo Aquino “El Ray Studios” and El Grupo D’Now.

Peguero: a key Dominican

At the event held on Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Hall, special emphasis was placed on Janet Peguero, the first American of Dominican origin to serve as vice president of the Bronx County.

Felipe Febles, founder of the parade, flanked from left. to right by Vanessa Gibson and Janet Peguero, President and Vice President of the Bronx. (OBBP)

“As someone born in the Dominican Republic who also proudly calls the Bronx home, I am honored to be one of the thousands of Dominican Americans living in the United States and in this county pursuing our hopes and dreams,” she said. in his intervention Peguero.

Peguero grew up in the Bronx and is currently 32 years old. Prior to his current position, he worked at the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS).

“We want to thank the Bronx Great Dominican Parade for celebrating Dominican culture and contributions. Thanks to Felipe Febles for his leadership in defense of the community,” added Peguero.

The Dominican is a graduate of Binghamton University, of the State University System (SUNY) and studied in the New York City public school system.