Friday, March 30, 2012

Brewers and their cultural immersion program for Latin and Dominican players

Currently every single MLB team has a Dominican baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.  However, only 5-6 teams have a full time staff dedicated to cultural immersion of Latin and Dominican baseball players, the Brewers are one of those teams.

The Dominican Baseball Guy is a trained anthropologist, so he could tell you all about culture shock, language acquisition, cultural relativity, and many other issues facing people moving to a new country and culture.  Dominican players coming stateside face all these issues and more.

One of the anecdotes that the Dominican Baseball Guy has heard many times, both in print and from Dominican players, is that when they first get to the states they do not realize they fall into the "black" racial category.  Most consider themselves Latin and feel like they fit in with the Hispanic population, because of their shared language.  In the Dominican Republic, many of the players that are categorized as "black" in the states are categorized as "prieto" or some other racial classification.

The racial classifications are much more free flowing in the Dominican Republic.  The Dominican Republic is mainly a homogeneous population, and the racial classifications are more descriptive characteristics based on shades of skin color.  This is a complicated issue, so for simplicity sake: whereas in the United States, the racial classifications fall into black-white-brown-yellow, in the Dominican Republic the classification are more like black-dark brown-light brown-yellowish brown-whitish brown-white.  Even Dominican family members may be classified as a different "races" due to their skin color.

However, the skin color does not necessarily decide a Dominicans "ethnicity," as in the States.  Everyone is Dominican, and there is no separation of ethnicity like in the United States.  With that says it does have an affect on social standing.  As with many parts of the world and world history, "white is right."  The famous Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo was said to have whitened his skin, and many think Dominican baseball player Sammy Sosa did the same.  And the lowest members of Dominican society are the Haitian immigrants, also the darkest in complexion.  Haitians in the Dominican Republic are often discriminated against.

As you can see, it is a complicated issue, and it is just one issue Dominican baseball players face when moving to the states.  Others are of course language, food, treatment of animals, and travel.  The Brewers up and coming Latin baseball players and Dominican players are lucky to have Rolando Valles.  Rolando is native of Maracaibo, Venezuela played for twelve years in the minors.

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