Junot Díaz On The Challenges of Growing Up Afro-Latino

Dominican American writer Junot Díaz didn’t always feel accepted as a child. In an interview with Fox News Latino, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author spoke about growing up in the 80s as an immigrant and feeling rejected by both his Latino and black peers.

“I was neither black enough for the black kids or Dominican enough for the Dominican kids,” the 42-year-old writer told the website. “I didn’t have a safe category.”

Pulitzer Prize Winner Junot Díaz on 'Oscar Wao', the movie

Díaz, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his 2008 novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, immigrated to the United States in the 70s from the Dominican Republic. According to Fox News Latino, the author/professor recalled wanting to belong with both blacks and Latinos, but feeling ousted. “Long before the idea of multiculturalism,” he said, “in public people could say almost anything to you and get away with it.”

In its report, Fox News Latino suggests that Díaz’s childhood memories may resonate with other Latinos at the time and that their African lineage is what ties many Latinos together – and separates others. A glimpse into the Hispanic identity, the website reports, is not complete without studying the complex relationship many have with their African roots.

One Afro-Latina said she didn’t consider herself black until she started attending school. Dominicana Solange Rosario, who works as a data specialist in New York City, said everyone would ask her why her last name was Rosario or why she spoke Spanish. “I was always so confused, until I got it,” she said, “I looked black.”

Díaz shares the same African roots, which he described to Fox News Latino as the reason why he’s from the Dominican Republic. “My African roots made me what I am today,” he said. “They’re the reason I exist at all.”

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