Today

It’s July in NYC and Covid is ‘gone’.

And Covid is not gone… the restaurant below my apartment building abides by the social distancing rules. People wearing and not wearing masks.

I bump into the proprietor of Solace, Dominican entrepreneur realizing his American dream and throwing in the towel as he tells me about the wears of restaurant entrepreneur’s in the aftermath of Covid..

as I sit at Lyn’s place, a ‘healthy eating’ spot that took over the once Mexican spot right below the apartment my family has lived in for nearly 50 years..

‘I’ve been in this for far too long, to not know what’s coming’.. that’s what I heard.

My daughter just graduated high school, I’m done. This is the providers mindset..

A father looking to cash out because his obligations have been met. I will never know what that’s like.

But I do know that as a woman of Dominican descent it gave me great pleasure to see one of ‘my own’ prosper in my neighborhood.

‘I went to PS 192 and IS 195 and G. Dubs (the natives call George Washington High School ‘G. Dubs’) and I appreciate hearing what you’re saying but I’m tired.’

‘When you look like me, there’s so much weight on your shoulders.’

Translation = I can pass for Black and as such, the cards are stacked against me and the obstacles are not fairly adjusted. Whereas a White proprietor can be more fortunate with the roadblocks, I will not.’

The death of George Floyd ignited a movement which the young continue to brave and even though I may not completely understand restaurant business despite the lessons passed on by the person I call father, I know it isn’t easy. Passion is not the only factor that will see you through in the kitchen, yet I have this unmovable faith in our young. 

‘Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times.” 

‘I can’t afford to give up. I must let our students know that they can, even if you’re tired, and rightfully so, they must know that it’s worth fighting. They too must believe that they can realize their dream.’

The cards may still be stacked but we gotta ‘vote in’ a new dealer while changing the rules of the game.

I look around my neighborhood and it surely has changed… and so have I.

I never was what you think of when you hear ‘Dominican’. 

New students still think I’m Asian when they first see me, and so my appearance may break stereotypes as soon as I open my mouth.

I’m the ‘exotic cheese’ eating, PBS, ‘Frasier’ and ‘Columbo’ rerun watching, once in a while ‘Good Times’ grabbing, ‘fix your face’ teaching, no bullshit tolerating, gossip hating, all Latin loving, specific hip hop listening, mask wearing, traveling sapiosexual.

It is hard living in my skin in this time of Covid.

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