Cultura y conciencia

Oral History: Merelis Ortiz

Historia oral, Oral HistoryNelson Santana1 Comment

By Nelson Santana
October 30, 2017

Merelis Catalina Ortiz is an Afro-indígena Dominican woman. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Merelis is proud of her Dominican heritage. Her father is from San José de las Matas (Sajoma) and her mother from Inoa.

Merelis is a multifaceted creative force. As an entrepreneur and socially conscious person, she co-founded Woke Foods, “a woman-owned cooperative that taps into the healing traditions of Dominican food to create recipes, host cooking classes, offer meal planning, and cater events.” As an activist, she participates in social movements to ensure that the underserved have a voice. As an undergraduate student, Merelis played a fundamental role as member and former president of the Dominican Students Association (DSA) at The City College of New York. During her tenure in DSA she helped found several initiatives including “Típico Night” to kick-start the fall semester in September and “Afro-Latin@ Encuentro” every February.

In this interview, Merelis discusses her heritage and identity as well as her formative years growing up and how her experiences and interactions with others have shaped her life.


Photo:  Merelis Ortiz/ Source:  Nelson Santana 

Photo: Merelis Ortiz/Source: Nelson Santana 

Merelis Catalina Ortiz es una afro-indígena dominicana. Nacida y criada en Queens, Nueva York, Merelis está sumamente orgullosa de su herencia dominicana. Su padre es originalmente de San José de las Matas (Sajoma) y su madre de Inoa.

Merelis es una fuerza creativa multifacética. Como emprendedora y persona con conciencia social, fundó Woke Foods, “una cooperativa creada por mujeres que utilizan las tradiciones sanadoras de la comida dominicana para crear recetas, organizar clases de cocina, ofrecer comidas y organizar eventos”. Como activista, ella participa en movimientos sociales para asegurar que los marginados tengan voz. Cuano era estudiante subgraduada, Merelis desempeñó un papel fundamental como miembro y ex presidente de la Asociación de Estudiantes Dominicanos (DSA) en The City College de Nueva York. Durante su permanencia en DSA, ayudó a fundar varias iniciativas, entre ellas, “Típico Night” para dar inicio al semestre de otoño en septiembre y “Afro-Latin@ Encuentro” que toma lugar cada febrero.

En esta entrevista, Merelis habla de su herencia e identidad, así como de sus años de formación y cómo sus experiencias e interacciones con los demás han formado su vida.

Support Woke Foods by donating to Indiegogo campaign

• Interviewee/Entrevista: Merelis Catalina Ortiz
• Place of Birth/Lugar de nacimiento: Queens, New York
• Interviewer/Entrevistador: Nelson Santana
• Interview Date/Fecha de entrevista: August 6, 2017
• Interview Location/Lugar de entrevista: Queens, New York
• Published date/Fecha publicada: October 30, 2017
• Format/Formato: Digital, MOV
• Length/Duración: 18:47
• Resource Type/Tipo de recurso: Audiovisual recording, oral/Grabación audiovisual, oral
• Direct link/Enlace:
• Copyright/Derechos de autor: ESENDOM

Nelson is the producer at ESENDOM and he splits his time between New York and the Dominican Republic. He loves comics as much as he loves bachata and típico. He is currently an assistant professor and collection development librarian. His work has appeared in diverse publications including the first translation project pertinent to the writings of Juan Pablo Duarte. Feel free to hit him up at nelson.santana[at]