Dominican American

Dominican American
Dominican American
Alex RodriguezZoe Saldana
Karina PasianJulia Alvarez
Junot DiazDania Ramirez
Al HorfordProvidencia Paredes
Alex RodriguezZoe Saldana
Karina PasianJulia AlvarezJunot DiazDania RamirezAl HorfordProvidencia Paredes
Total population
0.44% of the US population (2009)[1]
Regions with significant populations
New York City, New Jersey, South Florida, Boston, Providence, Philadelphia

Spanish, English


Predominantly Roman Catholicism
Minority Protestantism

Related ethnic groups

fellow Hispanic and Latino Americans

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A Dominican American is any American who has origins in the Dominican Republic.[2]

Immigration records of Dominicans in the United States date from the late 19th century, and New York City has had a Dominican community since the 1930s. From the 1960s onward, after the fall of the Rafael Trujillo military regime, large waves of migration have thoroughly transnationalized the Dominican Republic, metaphorically blurring its frontier with the United States. In 2009, there were approximately 1.36 million people of Dominican descent in the US, inclusive both native and foreign-born.[1]



Other Dominican communities are found in New Jersey, the Miami area, Philadelphia, Providence, Rhode Island, and Boston, Massachusetts. Smaller waves of Dominicans have gone to the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Illinois; Washington, D.C.; Houston, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and New Orleans, Louisiana. The Dominican population has similar settlement patterns to that of the Puerto Rican population.[3]


Almost half of all the Dominican Americans today have arrived since the 1990s, especially in the early part of the decade. There has been another surge of immigration in recent years as immigration from Mexico has declined, allowing more backlogged Dominican applicants to obtain legal residence. Dominican Americans are the fifth-largest Hispanic or Latino American group, after the Mexican American majority, Stateside Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and Salvadoran Americans.[4]

As of 2006, the largest concentrations of Dominican Americans are in New York (659,962), New Jersey (167,689), Florida (136,891), Massachusetts (83,700), Pennsylvania (36,091), Rhode Island (30,876), and Connecticut (17,213) — the seven U.S. states with 10,000 or more Dominican Americans. The Census Bureau estimated the nationwide Dominican American population at 1,217,225 in 2006.[5]

Since 1980, the Census Bureau has asked U.S. residents to classify their race separately from their Hispanic or Latino origin, if any. In 1990, 29.2% of Dominican Americans responded that they were white, while 30% considered themselves black. A plurality of 39.8% chose the category 'Other race'.[6] The prevalence of the 'other race' category probably reflects the large number of people of mixed African and European ancestry in the Dominican Republic, where 73% of the population are of mixed African and European descent, commonly known as mulato.[7] Many are triracial, however, having also Taíno Native American ancestry.[citation needed]


The top 10 US communities with the highest percentages of people claiming Dominican ancestry are:[8]

  1. Haverstraw (village), New York 26.95%
  2. Lawrence, Massachusetts 22.47%
  3. Perth Amboy, New Jersey 18.81%
  4. Passaic, New Jersey 13.06%
  5. Sleepy Hollow, New York 12.67%
  6. Union City, New Jersey 11.46%
  7. Haverstraw (town), New York 11.37%
  8. Bronx, New York 11.21%
  9. Paterson, New Jersey 10.29%
  10. Manhattan, New York 8.87%

Of places with 500 or more residents born in the Dominican Republic, the ten with the highest percentages are:[9]

  1. Haverstraw, New York 22.6%
  2. Lawrence, Massachusetts 21.4%
  3. Perth Amboy, New Jersey 16.4%
  4. Sleepy Hollow, New York 14.9%
  5. Passaic, New Jersey 12.5%
  6. Union City, New Jersey 10.9%
  7. Paterson, New Jersey 9.6%
  8. Bronx, New York 9.3%
  9. Fort Devens, Massachusetts 8.7%
  10. Manhattan, New York 8.1%

Adjustment and development

A significant number of Dominican Americans are young, first generation immigrants without a higher education, since many hailed from the Dominican rural countryside. Second generation Dominican Americans are overwhelmingly more educated than their first generation counterparts, a condition reflected in their higher incomes and employment in professional or skilled occupations. Over 21% of all second-generation Dominican Americans have college degrees, slightly below the average for all Americans (24%) but significantly higher than U.S.-born Mexican Americans (14%) and U.S.-born Puerto Rican Americans (9%).[10]

Participation in U.S. politics

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.[11] Dr. Eduardo J. Sanchez was the Commissioner of Health for the state of Texas from 2001 to 2006,[12] and New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, has held her post since 2007.[13]

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 U.S. 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.[citation needed] 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, Dominican Americans are not as inclined to take an active part in U.S. politics, partly because many dream of eventually returning back to their home country.[14]

Dominican American culture


Dominican music includes above all merengue and bachata. Bachata, as well as reggaeton, has become popular among many Dominican American youth, as have house, salsa, rock, hip hop, and other genres.

Notable Dominican Americans

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.[15][16] 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.[17]


Dominican Americans have increasingly made a presence in the financial industry. Cid Wilson was ranked #1 Wall Street financial analyst in the Specialty Retailing category by Forbes in 2006.[18][19]

Fashion and design

Designer Oscar de la Renta is one of the most recognized names in the fashion industry.

Film, stage, and television

María Montez was an actress in 1940s Hollywood. Zoe Saldana, a star of the movie Avatar, is an actress born in New Jersey to a Dominican father and 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, 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, the first Dominican American elected in the United States, as former New York City Council Member; Marcos Devers, 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;[20][21] the first Dominican American New York County Supreme Court Judge Rolando T. Acosta; Camelia Valdes, the first Dominican American to become a head Prosecutor or District Attorney in U.S. history;[22][23] 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.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26]


Some notables in the music industry include: Kat DeLuna singer; 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 Santos, singer and songwriter; Rosanna Tavarez, singer and television host.[27]


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 Pedro Martínez, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramírez, and Hall of Fame member Juan Marichal. Some of them 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 Lopez, Francisco Garcia, and Al Horford, all originally from the Dominican Republic, and Charlie Villanueva from New York. In the National Football League (NFL) there are Luis Castillo and Tutan Reyes.


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; Providencia Paredes, an assistant and confidante to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; and Ilka Tanya Payan, an AIDS/HIV activist, actress, and attorney.

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b "S0201. Selected Population Profile in the United States; Dominican (Dominican Republic)". 2009 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. United States Census Bureau.;ACS_2009_1YR_G00_S0201PR:405;ACS_2009_1YR_G00_S0201T:405;ACS_2009_1YR_G00_S0201TPR:405&-qr_name=ACS_2009_1YR_G00_S0201&-qr_name=ACS_2009_1YR_G00_S0201PR&-qr_name=ACS_2009_1YR_G00_S0201T&-qr_name=ACS_2009_1YR_G00_S0201TPR&-ds_name=ACS_2009_1YR_G00_&-TABLE_NAMEX=&-ci_type=A&-redoLog=false&-geo_id=01000US&-geo_id=NBSP&-format=&-_lang=en. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  2. ^ Not to be mistaken for Americans whose origins are in the Commonwealth of Dominica.
  3. ^ "Ancestry Map of Dominican Communities". Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  4. ^ "B03001. Hispanic or Latino Origin by Specific Origin". 2009 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  5. ^ "Custom Table - American FactFinder; C03001. HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN". 2006 American Community Survey, 2006 Puerto Rico Community Survey. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  6. ^ Rodriguez, Carla E. (2000). Changing Race: Latinos, the Census, and the History of Ethnicity in the United States. New York University Press. p. 9. 
  7. ^ Latinos: Remaking America. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2002-06-17. 
  8. ^ "Ancestry Map of Dominican Communities". Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  9. ^ "Top 101 cities with the most residents born in the Dominican Republic (population 500+)". Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  10. ^ Castro, Max J. (2002). The Dominican Diaspora Revisited, Dominicans and Dominican-Americans in a New Century. 
  11. ^ "Elected Officials". Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  12. ^ "Dr. Eduardo Sanchez addresses DANR 8th Annual National Conference". 
  13. ^ "NY Sec. of State Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez to addresses DANR 11th Annual National Conference". 
  14. ^ Yahaira Castro (2004-10-26). "FRONTLINE/WORLD. Election 2004 - Dominican Republic". Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  15. ^ "DANR Congratulates Junot Diaz as first Dominican American To Win Pulitzer Prize". 
  16. ^ "Junot Díaz wins Pulitzer for 'Oscar Wao'". 
  17. ^ "Amazon listing with reviews". 
  18. ^ "DR-1 Daily News - May 4, 2006". 
  19. ^ "The Best Analysts - Earnings Estimators". Forbes. 
  20. ^ Coyne, Kevin (November 28, 2008), "Dominican Wins City Hall and a Community’s Pride", The New York Times,, retrieved May 22, 2010 
  21. ^ Pizarro, Max (June 30, 2009). "Corzine to swear-in Blanco tomorrow with Menendez also in attendance". PolitickerNJ. Retrieved November 3, 2009. 
  22. ^ "DANR Congratulates Camelia Valdes As The First Dominican American In U.S. History To Head A Prosecutor's Office". 
  23. ^ "Valdes sworn in as New Jersey's first Latina Prosecutor". 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "President Barack Obama nominates Tom Perez as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights". 
  26. ^ Smith, Michelle R. (January 3, 2011). "New Providence Mayor Angel Taveras sworn in". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved January 3, 2011. 
  27. ^ Ralph Mercado, Impresario, Dies at 67 from The New York Times 11 March 2009

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