Photo Courtesy of Dorian "Dot" Cabrera
Photo Courtesy of Dorian “Dot” Cabrera


Dorian “Dot” Cabrera, Licensed Optician

Have you ever had a good friend you’ve known for years but only understood them at a surface level? You see this person, interact with them, laugh, and make memories, but they don’t really… well, there’s a section of their life you just don’t know about. Dorian “Dot” Cabrera is that friend.


Listen to Dorian “Dot” Cabrera tell his Story


Call it intuition, that little voice, but when I started my conversation service, something told me I needed to talk to Dot. And when we sat down at his home in Queens at the time, the conversation did not disappoint. Even though I’d known my friend for years and had mad love for him, I was extraordinarily surprised by his story. Telling stories like this isn’t easy, so I am forever grateful that Dot could share a slice of his life with me.

Dot’s story is not just his own. It mirrors the complex realities of urban life, the profound impact of family dynamics, the seductive dangers of street life, and the importance of understanding the world and one’s place.

Our conversation began with the importance of understanding self-identity. Dot emphasizes the necessity of knowing oneself and illustrates how, without a firm grasp of our identity, we become vulnerable to external influences, allowing others to shape our perceptions and paths. This insight underscores the value of introspection and self-awareness as foundations for personal independence and strength.

The conversation then veered toward collaborative relationships, highlighting another critical lesson: the importance of mutual respect and shared vision in partnership. Reflecting on past collaborations, Dot and I recognized that true collaboration extends beyond monetary transactions to encompass shared goals and mutual admiration. This principle applies in personal relationships and professional environments, fostering a culture of cooperation and mutual growth.

Dot shared his childhood experiences growing up in Brownsville, where he was raised by Dominican immigrants. He described a community that faced economic hardships but was rich in creativity and unity. Challenging common assumptions about poverty and wealth, highlighting the actual value of a community—its spirit and cohesion rather than its material wealth.

Moreover, Dot’s journey from an aspiring architect to a figure embedded in the local drug scene stresses the critical role of family dynamics and personal aspirations in shaping our lives. It emphasizes the impact parental influence and life’s unforeseen turns have on our developmental paths, for better or worse.

He and I got to talking about the challenges of cultural and racial identity, with Dot sharing his experiences of discrimination and identity struggles growing up Dominican in a predominantly African-American neighborhood.

I sat up as Dot began to reveal his involvement in the drug trade, the cycle of crime and violence, and his periods of incarceration. These experiences laid bare the harsh realities of street life and the systemic challenges that perpetuate cycles of crime. Yet, the fact that I was talking to Dot as a co-owner of the best shop in the heart of downtown Brooklyn illustrates the power of change and the potential for individuals to redefine their paths despite their pasts.

Dot’s reflections on desensitization to violence, the lure of materialism, and the pivotal moments that led to his significant life changes were particularly impactful. Dot’s story is a warning and a demonstration of the desire to overcome and evolve.

This short reflection on my conversation with Dorian “Dot” Cabrera offers a glimpse of his story. However, for the full spectrum experience, try scrolling back up and listening to the entire conversation to unlock the complete story.

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