Recently, a popular Latino variety show featured actress, TV host and 2008 Miss World Dominican Republic Geisha Montes de Oca, imitating Amara “La Negra” — which would have been nothing new except she was wearing blackface.
This is Montes de Oca out of blackface.
And this is Amara “La Negra,” the woman being imitated:
Many viewers were upset about the imitation, and left a slew of comments on the show’s Instagram page.
However, some defended Montes de Oca, attributing the controversy to a difference in cultures between those in the US and Dominicans.
In a now-deleted Instagram post Montes de Oca further explained the situation and responded to those criticizing her, saying Dominicans celebrate all aspects and don’t view color in the same way.
Amara also reposted the blackface photo to her Instagram, but it’s unclear whether she supports or is offended by the costume, because she did not leave a caption on it.
Of course, we all know that blackface is a major offense in the United States, and to many of us, it’s even more surprising that a Dominican woman (who doesn’t seem to identify as black) would paint her face in such a manner to imitate another Dominican, then respond seeing nothing wrong with it. But is it more complicated than that? Is it truly part of Dominican culture to do something like this for the sake of good fun or to pay homage to another person? Given the tension in the country among light and dark skinned Dominicans and an ongoing idealism of anti-blackness, we aren’t so sure. Skin bleaching is prominent in the Dominican Republic, and there have been historical efforts to lighten the Dominican race (even one of the commenters cited Rafael Trujillo, a former Dominican President responsible for the Parsley Massacre that annihilated thousands of Haitians). So even as a Black American, I’m skeptical regarding Montes de Oca’s view of a lack of racism in the country and the rest of us not understanding her culture.
What do you think, BGLH readers? Is blackface in the Dominican Republic offensive or not?