Domino/Dominó is a body of work in which I 
reflect my process of acculturation as a 
Puerto Rican who has now lived in the 
United States almost as much time as I 
lived in the Island, where I was born and 
raised. To acculturate means "to modify 
one's own cultural parameters through the 
prolonged and continuous interaction, 
involving intercultural exchange and borrow- 
ing, with a different culture."! To assimilate 
is "to take into the mind and thoroughly 
comprehend or to absorb into another cultural tradition."2 While I may acculturate, I resist assimilation.

Given the tremendous racial and cultural 
hybridity in Puerto Rico and the colonial 
relationship that exists between the Island 
and the United States, the question of how 
much acculturation or assimilation has formed the character of Puerto Ricans is a constant in our communities. Such a definition is inextricably tied to the Island's colonial status since Columbus arrived in 1493 and to the recurrent conditions of loss and absence that are always present in our consciousness. The extermination of the indigenous people of Puertp Rico (the Taínos) and the importation of and enslavement of Africans on the island left as sense of rupture and displacement that could not be healed by our colonized embrace of Spanish culture. 

The 1898 Hispanic-American War and sub
sequent invasion of Puerto Rico by the 
United States brought a different language 
and set of cultural values that further con- 
fused us, but to which we reluctantly adapt- 
ed. After debating our political status in 
three recent plebiscites, what constitutes 
Puerto Rican culture is ostensibly tied to 
whether we choose to continue our adaptation to U.S. culture or move away from it by 
embracing a new construction of our 
Spanish past.

Based on this history one could conclude 
that what characterizes Puerto Rican culture 
is not simply the mixture in us of four different cultures and three races, but more 
importantly, a sense of loss for the original, 
yet non-existent, Puerto Rican. Even when 
we are able to fully debate, articulate and 
establish a self-determined status for the 
Island, the fluxing tangents of history, poli
tics and culture will assure that puerto-
rriqueñismo is characterized, not by a singular definition, but by the shuffling that 
marks the ongoing processes of culture.
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