There's no doubt, as was pointed out in a recent analysis of Hispanic news stories, that a Puerto Rican was the Hispanic highlight of 2009--Sonia Sotomayor. But if we can point to one Latin nationality that has been making their presence very well known in American culture, it has to be our Dominican brethren.
Sure we've had a Dominican make a huge splash in the world of fashion (De Le Renta for those of you who are dominicano-challenged) and Dominican power has certainly been felt on American baseball diamonds. But 2009 has shown us how far Dominicans have established themselves on the American cultural and entertainment scene--music, film, TV.
Let's start with Aventura, the Dominican, Bronx-bred group who is the best-selling Latin music group of 2009. If just five years someone would have suggested that a Bachata group would be the #1 Latin group in the country, they would have been laughed at. But that is exactly what Aventura has attained. And their 2009 Tour has been selling out everywhere, not just in their Big Apple domain.
Last week, Aventura sold out two shows in the Mexican city of Los Angeles, at the world-famous Staples Arena. Previously they sold out their tour stop in Houston, and last Saturday they sold out American Airlines Arena in Miami. And who can forget Aventura becoming the first Dominican music group to ever perform at the White House, at Obama's celebration of Latin music in October.
Or what about Martha Heredia, the 18-year old Dominicana who single-handedly created a national holiday on December 10, when she one this year's Latin American Idol competition. I arrived in Santo Domingo on December 11, and my friends there were still recuperating from the celebrations.
Then there's American urban, hip-hop culture paying homage to their Dominican brothers. Jay-Z, in his current hit with Alicia Keys ("Empire State of Mind"), gives a shout-out to his "dominicanos."
And who can forget last Saturday's hilarious spoof of Dominican television on Saturday Night Live: "The Manuel Ortiz Show." The skit had all the over-top color of Escandalo, with a female character that reminded me of Charytin.
Then there's Hollywood. This year, it was a Dominicana who certainly made a splash on the big screen, Zoe Saldana. Whether it was this summer's hit "Star Trek," or this month's "Avatar," Saldana has put platano power front-and-center in 2009. She recently graced the cover of Miami's "Ocean Drive" magazine.
But it seems that Dominicanos are planning to continue their parade in 2010. Aventura has already sold out three shows at Madison Square Garden in January and February, and have added a fourth. Who would have ever thought that half an island in the Caribbean, or the upper part of another island called Manhattan, would have had so much influence on American culture.
Ya tu sabes....have yourself a feliz Navidad!