These non afro latino writers are also treat ed as if

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These non-Afro-Latino writers are also treat ed as if they were black, and they too begin to negotiate a racial identity unimaginable in their country of origin. In her essay "Black Behind the Ears," Alvarez claims an Afro-Dominican identity that i.S also hers. In How the Garda Girls Lost Their Accents (1991), Yolanda searches for a childhood past in the Dominican Republic, perhaps before she lost her accent. Under different circumstances, prosperous Dominicans do not see the black maids. However, the author's alter ego's linguistic, cultural, and racial isolation motivated her to consider the racial conditions present in the Dominican Republic but ignored by many inhabitants and writers. At the physical end of the novel, or the chron- ological beginning of the protagonist's life, she finds and embraces the "invisible" black Dominicans, who also influenced her life. In Loida Maritza Perez's Geographies of Home (1999), university students call the protagonist "nigger," and target the main 4?. 453
AFRO-LATINO/A LITERATURE AND IDENTITY character for her dark skin . This act forces her to seek shelter in he r home envir- onment and, ironically, exposes her to the family trauma; she becomes a victim of incest rape in the presumed sanctity of the household. Afro-Latino images will continue to challenge the national and transnational dis-- courses on identity as more Dominican writers explore the racial tensions they see and experience on the mainland and look for ways of interpreting their parents' culture. One of the mQre successful writers to do this is Junot Diaz, whose 1996 collection of short stories, Drown, became an instant success. His stories are already marked by race, evident in the title "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie." Though gender is an issue, race becomes a concern for dating women, each requiring a particular strategy. However, in his The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar W ao (2007), Diaz weaves together two geographical spaces and cultural identities where race becomes all too noticeable. Oscar, defined as a dark-skinned Dominican, and mistaken for a Puerto Rican, struggles with his identity. Oscar's mother, Belicia, is a black Dominican, an adjective in the Dominican Republic more aptly reserved for Haitians, and her own daughter, Lola, identifies her as a Haitian. All are des- cendants of Afro-Dominicans, a terminology Dominicans at home reject, but many Dominican-Americans are more willing to consider given the racial conditions of their city of residence, according to Ginetta Candelario, in the Black Mosaic of Washington DC. Afro-Dominican writers such as Blas Jimenez and Norberto James Rawlings, who at one time or another made the United States their home - Rawlings lives in Boston - draw upon their US experience to underscore race matters many Domini- cans refuse to consider, a position also expounded by Alvarez, Perez, and Diaz. Both Jimenez and Rawlings write in Spanish for a reader in their home country, but also for those in the United States, and challenge the "imagined" national and geographic identity

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