La Galeria Magazine started off as a conversation on longing and the need to connect with the motherland of the Dominican Republic.
The first print edition, “La Galeria Magazine: The Dominican Dream” has a glossy cover and the minute you open it, you are drawn into the world of the Dominican diaspora. You are exposed to voices, opinions, perspectives, and visions of a people redefining themselves under their own terms. It’s a dream that journalist and co-founder and editor-in-chief Amanda Alcantara can finally hold.
CREDIT: Courtesy of La Galeria Magazine
The seed of La Galeria broke ground when Alcantara went back to the Dominican Republic after five years of being away. “I had been really depressed. I hadn’t been back and I grew up in the Dominican Republic, it was like I was away from home. I went back and felt really connected and knew this is what I needed,” she said. So when she came back, she connected with a friend and writer of La Respuesta, a Puerto Rican publication. That’s when it sparked for her. Her friend said, “You should start the Dominican version of La Respuesta”. She put out a call which led her to connect with her future co-founders, Carmen Mojica and Isabel Cristina.
Starting off as an online publication aimed to celebrate their community and create opportunities for dialogue, La Galeria recently published their first print edition and held a launch event in New York. It took hard work, patience and most of all, community effort to create this project. With over 30 contributors of essayists, journalists, photographers, and poets, the print magazine bears fruit of a vision representing what the Dominican community looks like today. From stories like “Plantain Magic” to pieces highlighting LGBT rights in the Dominican Republic, this print publication is a testament and archive of contemporary Dominican thinkers and creators. It’s a versatile and diverse magazine diving deep into the history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, documenting the life of the undocumented and re-imagining a transnational, Caribbean, immigrant, Black culture full of pride and dreams. It’s something that Alcantara and other Dominicanas never saw growing up.
CREDIT: Courtesy of La Galeria Magazine
She recalls only ever seeing white Latinas and lighter skinned straight-bodied women being displayed in magazines.
“I didn’t even realize I wasn’t be represented. I was thinking, ‘I need to be more like this. I thought that was the norm and understood that white was beautiful and everything that wasn’t white, wasn’t beautiful. Therefore I wasn’t beautiful. Throughout all my life I’ve had to unlearn all of that and reimagine what beauty means. To see the magazine now—in print— feels like it’s real. Imagine if I had this when I was a little girl, I would have been able to see myself as beautiful,” Alcantara said.
With art direction led by Joan Encarnacion, the visuals and layout of La Galeria are stunning. It visually tells a deep and rooted story of the often forgotten Dominican history in the United States. Documenting everyday working-class life, protests, and celebrations, it truly captures a time in the collective memory. The publication, both online and print, fills a space that has long been needed in this community, allowing an opportunity to explore political and cultural narratives. For Alcantara, the Dominican diaspora represents a pride that unapologetically bursts through the seams.
“To me, we’re constantly reclaiming ourselves. These exaggerations of platano power, rocking the flag and saying ‘we’re Dominican’ all the time is a form of nostalgia for home. And a romanticization of a better world because we are oppressed in the U.S and in the DR. When I think of the Dominican diaspora, I think of that. For very long, it was about reclaiming Domincanness and celebrating our nationality. Now we’re seeing that evolution and reclaiming our Blackness and power. And recognizing that we have built community here. In a way we are our own thing,” said Alcantara.
With journalistic roots, political drive and artistic framework, La Galeria Magazine’s first print edition is a love letter to the Dominican diaspora full of expression, color, and dreams.