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White, Black, does it make a difference in America?

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Old 19th May 2007, 10:40
L_F_Miranda L_F_Miranda is offline
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White, Black, does it make a difference in America?

Since we were in the conversation of race, ethnicity etc. etc. I decided to start a new thread. In our constant preocupation of trying to figure out why we can't seem to get our act together, I'm proposing a new line of thought.

Why are other groups getting ahead while we seem to be stuck? Is it our identification with Blacks? Could it have been different if we identified with the White majority?

As a starter, for those who are interested in reading further about this topic and how it could apply to us, try to get a hold of David R. Roediger's, " WORKING TOWARDS WHITENESS." It covers and answers some of the questions we have brought up in a previous thread. The book is a bit dense, so I've placed a brief description below.

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WORKING TOWARDS WHITENESS, by David Roediger.

A preeminent scholar explores the history of the "new immigrants" who came to the United States in the late nineteenth century and describes how they became insiders by the end of World War II

At the vanguard of the study of race and labor in American history, David R. Roediger is the author of the now-classic The Wages of Whiteness, a study of racism in the development of a white working class in nineteenth-century America. In Working Toward Whiteness, he continues that history into the twentieth century. He recounts how American ethnic groups considered white today-including Jewish-, Italian-, and Polish-Americans-once occupied a confused racial status in their new country. They eventually became part of white America thanks to the nascent labor movement, New Deal reforms, and a rise in home-buying. From ethnic slurs to racially restrictive covenants--the racist real estate agreements that ensured all-white neighborhoods--Roediger explores the murky realities of race in twentieth-century America. A masterful history by an award-winning writer, Working Toward Whiteness charts the strange transformation of these new immigrants into the "white ethnics" of America today.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Further discussion:

I'm always asking myself, why doesnt any thing seem to work for us? We keep going deeper and deeper into a hole with no way out.

I've often wondered if its because Puerto Ricans have absorbed the Black cultural and political agenda. Have we chosen another road, different from other immigrant groups? Is it because despite being the whitest people of the Caribbean islands, we have nevertheless rejected to be pidgeon-holed by the Gringo white ethnics and forged our devlopment in tune with the Blacks?

In a way we may have been doing the right thing. Why? By not doing this we may have split our community along racial lines. The down side is that now all New York Puerto Ricans consider themselves Black instead of a bi-racial ethnic group, which we really are! Here is where Island Ricans and Nuyoricans can't see eye to eye.

Is this cultural alignment with Blacks the reason why our community remains stuck? If you look around, very few, if any, immigrant groups around the world align themselves with the marginal classes of the host society, we may be a FIRST!

Most immigrant groups around the world tend to align their aspirations with the way of life of the major host society, not so Puerto Ricans. We have done the opposite. Is this our problem?

I believe a cultural alignment with the ruling groups worked for Jews, Italians and recently, Asians. Even Darker Indians and Dominicans are following this trend. MMMMMMMM is this why this last group is moving ahead faster than Puerto Ricans and they only began arriving in the states en masse since 1964?

Food for thought.
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Old 19th May 2007, 14:48
Stanley Stanley is offline
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Miranda:


Let me tell you something:

PR is no different than other Latin countries. There is a “divide” among those that have roots closer to the light skin colonizers and those that are closer to the native population or African slaves. PR was well mixed, but the Cédula de Gracia promoted immigration of Europeans in the 18th and 19th century up to the moment the Americans invaded. Otherwise, without the Cédula de Gracia we would be somewhat similar to Domican Republic. The Cédula de Gracia also brought folks to Cuba. Apparently many immigrants preferred Cuba over PR. These folks were given some money and land by the Spanish as they tried to hold their last two colonies. As long as they were Catholic and sympathetic to Spain they were OK to immigrate. During those time there were economical hard times in Corsica and Canarias and that is how those people ended up in PR.

In my organic chemistry class in the UPR all the Ricans looked white and were solid middle class.

Suki, is going to hate me for this, but when I took a walk by the Ciencias Sociales building on campus the shades got darker in a hurry. The “Comercio” building was lighter, but not as light as Ciencias Naturales.

Then, when I entered Med school there was only one black Rican and a handful of typical PR trigueños. Many blanquitos from prominent families in many small towns were represented. At the time all these things did not register with me because I was a naive color blind Puerto Rican and never paid attention to skin color. I always saw a color spectrum, but never realized that my medical school class was in one end of the spectrum.

One thing I know: PR blacks from the 1950s had little consciousness of their blackness. Cepeda and Clemente had no idea about racism until they entered the major leagues in the late 1950s. I adored these two PR heroes and never considered the fact they were black. That thought pattern was not part of my mental process. That is why I get so angry with the Nuyorican obsession to classify people according to color.


In a sense the Nuyoricans have spoiled my innocence and as the Chinese proverb says “Once innocence is gone it can never be recovered”.

I never forget my 1st encounter with a Nuyorican tourist in the Condado beach. I started a friendly conversation with this young woman that had two little kids on the beach. She spoke English so I answered back in English. She noted my accent and asked me where I came from. I said I live here, this is home. She then said you cannot be from here you are white. I was very hurt by the comment and felt very sorry for her.

My family never considered leaving PR, in fact, no one in my entire family (on both sides) left PR until I took the plunge. Even then----I was suppose to come back in a couple of years.

Suki is not going to like this, but my parents had what I call the classic Latin American Hispanic culture that saw Spain as “La Madre Patria”.

The term “Madre Patria” was commonly used up till the early 1960s. In fact, there was a Spanish comedian that worked along side Agrelot that was nicknamed “madre patria”.

During my childhood my sister and cousins took Spanish dance and Flamenco. Academies that taught Baile Español were everywhere and it was a rite of passage for many PR girls to learn how to play “castañuelas”. It was not a conscious attempt to be Spanish, in fact as I said my family had Corsican roots. This was simply part of the culture that was prevalent shortly after the arrival of the USA. Then I took the plunge and became obsessed with rock music and was probably the 1st one in my family to become americanized.

In the 1960s I remember the two camps. We were the rockeros and we did not enjoy salsa. Likewise salseros despised rock.


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Last edited by Stanley; 20th May 2007 at 08:55.
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Old 19th May 2007, 16:56
L_F_Miranda L_F_Miranda is offline
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Stanley

When I refer to WHITE I'm not referring to race or skin color but to a cultural phenomenon. Maybe a better term is "WESTERN."When I use the word black its not about skin color either but a cultural phenomenon, a world view.

Black, as used in America is a history of a people, a culture, a world view, a civilization running parallel to the majority culture.

That might be why Blacks don't accept Barak Obama. Although Obama is Black, in the racial sense, he doesn't share their history, culture, struggles or world view. His mother was White ( not sure what ethnic group) and his father a "Real African", not the kind who dresses up in dashikis or Nefertiti hats.

Throughout Puerto Rican history our culture has been nurtured by Western culture, not by a "Black experience as Nuyoricans now try to push. All our great men and women were educated within the WESTERN tradition, meaning WHITE Western European. Betances, Baldorioty de Castro, Albizu Campos, De Diego, Hostos, La Hija del Caribe, Margot Arce, Muñoz Marín, Stanley and Miranda just to name a few.

All of a sudden when we arrive to the U.S. we are supposed to drop all this and become Black, Third world and adopt a new cultural discourse. Here is where a short circuit occurs between island Ricans and those on the mainland.

I don't deny that racism is endemic in Latin America. But its a strange kind of racism, not like that of the U.S. Yes all racism is undignified, but here is the twist, whether we accept it or not, "We Mix." Gringo Whites and Blacks don't, its not within their cultural tradition, and it makes all the difference.

In our racial pantheon the ideal may be to "look white." However because of so much mixture in our blood line we can't push the race card too much. Why? "a dark one might pop up in the family out of the blue, it'll then blow our cover". Thats why saying we are lilly white is treacherous, therefore we just coast on the race issue. LOL

Our way of percieving race is inconceivable in the gringo Black / White racial system. This is what makes us different and to a certain degree "superior" to them. This is why I get angry at those Nuyoricans who try to pin us into the racial system of gringos, having to pick between White or Black. Why should we drop a "superior system" to adopt one as flawed as theirs?

Nonetheless, this thread was started as a discussion trying to figure out why we have been shafted in this society while others who came after us seem to be moving up? Is it the cultural system we've dropped to adopt a new one that doesn't work for us?

Last edited by L_F_Miranda; 19th May 2007 at 21:39.
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Old 19th May 2007, 17:30
Stanley Stanley is offline
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Miranda:

I was implying a lifestyle as well.

Way back then as it is today my parents would encounter other PR people with completely different cultural outlook.

A ralea mother was proud because her young son got a woman pregnant. “Ese es un macho de verdad y preñó a Fulana de Tal”. The women had secondary pleasure as their young 13 year old kids became sexually active. "Ese si que no es pato, que macho".

The idea that when you love a man you want to give him a child. In the end the women end up with a ton of kids from different dads. IN PR they called them kids with the surname "Camacho". Camacho meaning de cada macho.

**************************************************************************
LA PERLA, Puerto Rico -- Thirty-two
years ago, University of Illinois
anthropologist Oscar Lewis made this slum
famous or infamous, depending on your
point of view, in his controversial work
about poverty among Puerto Ricans.

In "La Vida: A Puertan Rican Family in the
Culture of Poverty--San Juan and New
York," Lewis wrote of a Puerto Rican
family, headed by a matriarch who had
been a prostitute and was living with her
sixth husband in La Perla. She had children
by two of the husbands.

The book follows a daughter and son in
New York City and two other daughters in
La Perla, one of whom also becomes a
prostitute. The five major characters had a
total of 20 marriages.

"The people in this book, like most of the
other Puerto Rican slum dwellers I have
studied, show a great zest for life, especially
for sex, and a need for excitement, new
experiences and adventures," Lewis wrote,
generating protests from many Puerto
Ricans.

"Theirs is an expressive style of life. They
value acting out more than thinking out,
self-expression more than self-constraint,
pleasure more than productivity, spending
more than saving, personal loyalty more
than impersonal justice. They are fun-loving
and enjoy parties, dancing and music. They
cannot be alone; they have an almost
insatiable need for sociability and
interaction."

The 1966 book's depiction of Puerto
Ricans, particularly women as prostitutes,
was denounced as stereotypical and
offensive, but the U.S. literary establishment
awarded it the National Book Award for
non-fiction in 1967.

************************************************************************

In PR there is such a thing as the culture of the poor. And sadly this existed before the nuyoricanization.

BTW, in the 1950s we were a much more hispanophile culture. Movies with Joselito (a cute Spanish boy that could sing and act) were highly popular. Female Spanish singers like the blondie Marisol were huge stars as well as Raphael and many others. Instead of Regatón (which is basically rap) the PR girls had Sandro (from Argentina), Camilo Sesto, and many others.

Like you said before, middle class PR folks went to vacation in Spain and not in Orlando.


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Old 19th May 2007, 20:36
RPR RPR is offline
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Stanley said:

In PR there is such a thing as the culture of the poor. And sadly this existed before the nuyoricanization.




Holy Cow! Finally, we are getting somewhere for the problem has always been embedded within our colonial culture...
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Old 19th May 2007, 22:44
RPR RPR is offline
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Nonetheless, this thread was started as a discussion trying to figure out why we have been shafted in this society while others who came after us seem to be moving up? Is it the cultural system we've dropped to adopt a new one that doesn't work for us?


There are several things to consider when looking at PR progress in the states. The most defining aspect of our migration here in the US, is that it is non stop. Unlike other immigrants from the past or present and perhaps the future,we have easy access to the US. A friend of mine once said that if we would have the same struggles as other latin american immigrants then maybe we would be more appreciative of the opportunities we are afforded.Meaning,if we knew what it meant to get a green card or sneak across the border or married to be a citizen, we would "bust more ass". I sorta disagree. Before I get off track, let me just say that there was a thriving PR busines community in NYC during the late 50's through the 60's and even the mid 70's. This was the product of the Puerto Rican migration of the earlier decades. Our migratuion evolved to the point that we were able to support businesses that catered to us and that were mostly run by Puerto Ricans. Unfortunately, this all began to change in the late 60's in NYC. These businesses were sold off to newcomers who were mostly Dominicans. And we wondered why we can't avanced? We have no sense of community when it comes to building coalitions and supporting our own. At leat that has been the Nuyorican experience and this has define us Puerto Ricans in the US. Where is Little San Juan in the US? No lo hay...pero si hay una pequeña habana, chinatown,greek town etc....I got off track even though I didn't want to. Again, our migration has been nonstop ,so as a collective Puerto Ricans are not showing as improving economically or socially. However, this has been the biggest farce! As soon as Puerto Ricans did well enough to retired back to la isla,they did.Yet, the Quagmire has always been that our colonial status is not able to produce the economy to substain our people from migrating. And where do they migrate ? To the US. It's a vicious cycle
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Old 20th May 2007, 00:20
JaneMas JaneMas is offline
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Quote:
Stanley:

That is why I get so angry with the Nuyorican obsession to classify people according to color.


In a sense the Nuyoricans have spoiled my innocence and as the Chinese proverb says “Once innocence is gone it can never be recovered”.

I never forget my 1st encounter with a Nuyorican tourist in the Condado beach. I started a friendly conversation with this young woman that had two little kids on the beach. She spoke English so I answered back in English. She noted my accent and asked me where I came from. I said I live here, this is home. She then said you cannot be from here you are white. I was very hurt by the comment and felt very sorry for her.

Stanley I bet the woman was not as blanca as you are blanco. I bet the woman was either triguena, india or mixed afro in denial of Boricuas being other than what she looks like even though I'm sure she encounted many. PR is a nation of many different shades as is the USA. True we have more Indios who think they are blancos but that's the fault of the practice of La Hispanidad. I, a nuyorican, que soy triguena, would never make a comment like that because in my family there are people who are more blancos then those in Nueva York. In comparable to size, there are more euro decents in PR than in Cuba which has a huge Afro and indio and mixed population.

The problem with discussions like this is the terminology. We start talking about ethnicity and end up confusing it with nationality, cultural and pheno terms.

Miranda you said:

Quote:
When I refer to WHITE I'm not referring to race or skin color but to a cultural phenomenon. Maybe a better term is "WESTERN."When I use the word black its not about skin color either but a cultural phenomenon, a world view.
I understand your point. But see, like I just said, terms can confuse people. Is your "White" Western as in > Mainstream America? Does it mean middle class? Cause I've seen a lot of western whites right here who are just as embarrassing as the PR's I brought up on the other thread. Or is working upper class a better term?
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Last edited by JaneMas; 20th May 2007 at 00:36.
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