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Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics,

Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society

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Anyone But Blacks

Alan A. Aja a a Department of Puerto Rican & Latino Studies, Brooklyn College of the City University, New York, Brooklyn, USA Version of record first published: 05 Nov 2012.

To cite this article: Alan A. Aja (2012): Anyone But Blacks, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, 14:1-2, 88-116


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The Election Issue

Anyone But Blacks

Latin@s, El Nuevo Blanqueamiento (Neo-Whitening), and Implications for Black–Brown Alliances

Alan A. Aja

Toni Morrison famously argued in Time magazine that immi- grants become Americans by disassociating themselves with the black nemesis. Few would have questioned how her ‘‘any- thing but black’’ observation would occur not just in contrast with African Americans, but also within a burgeoning population (Latin@s) with many Afro-descendant members. In this article, I use the term ‘‘El Nuevo Blanqueamiento’’ (neo-whitening), a re-application of Latin America’s infamous colonial-era ‘‘whitening’’ policy, to discuss the extent of ‘‘anti- black’’ assimilation processes occurring amongst and within the racially diverse U.S. Latin@ population. While Latin@s have sometimes been projected as redeemers who bridge racial difference and represent the possibility of transcending race, I illustrate how the elastic privileges of ‘‘whiteness’’ extended to many members of the group only reinforces racial disparities, and underscore how ‘‘cultural’’ arguments have been used to further complicate the necessity of justice-oriented alliances between African Americans and Latin@s.

The author thanks Darrick Hamilton, Stephen Steinberg, E. Wendy Trull, William ‘‘Sandy’’ Darity, Jr., and Antwuan Wallace for feedback on this piece.

Souls 14 (1–2): 88–116, 2012 / Copyright # 2012 University of Illinois at Chicago / 1099-9949/02 / DOI: 10.1080/10999949.2012.718554

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The Election Issue



Keywords: African Americans, Afro-Latinos, Black-Brown relations, Blackness, blanqueamiento, colorism, culture of poverty, inter-racial marriage, Latinos, negrophobia, Racial Disparities, skin shade discrimination, Whiteness

Each semester, when the faces of undergraduate majors grow anxious over impending midterms, I interrupt my Latino Studies courses with an intentional ‘‘break’’ from the course schedule. On the overhead screen, I project the most recent Census short-form questionnaire, hoping that the individual survey activity would serve as a pedagogi- cal bridge to previously assigned readings on identity-formation. In one unforgettable instance, one of my students, ‘‘Doris,’’ commented with a nervous sincerity that the questionnaire reminds her of a source of tension in a present relationship. 1 Apparently her partner, a Latin@ immigrant, chooses to self-identify as ‘‘white’’ as a racial classification, despite his dark caramel skin shade and African ances- try. 2 Doris, who identifies as African American, is not only puzzled by her partner’s views on identity, but divulges that his family had raised objections about their relationship, arguing that any long-term commitments between the two would disallow him from ‘‘ mejorando la raza .’’ 3 Doris struggles to pronounce the phrase her boyfriend had taught her, apologizing for her poor Spanish while glancing at Latin@ classmates (most of whom were far from proficient in Spanish), but her honest attempt was enough to draw nods and facial expressions of mutual understanding. It was not the first time I heard this admission in my courses, given the legacies of discussions that benefit ‘‘white’’ and=or ‘‘lighter’’ interests even when white people are not central to, dictating or even participating as the numerically dominant group during inter-group debates on race and identity. Regardless of the historical-to-present imposition, my students sought to reclaim and redefine the conver- sation, responding with curious, rich and substantive reflection. For instance, after a short bout of facetious and humorous relationship advice, several students utilized Doris’ testimony to balk at the idea of ‘‘race’’ as a categorical distinction, citing their working knowledge on biological essentialism, social Darwinism and the Census’ historic role in shaping white wealth and power (a-ha, they read!). 4 Others added that we should move beyond race and choose ‘‘other’’ as collec- tive resistance against terms with no biological basis, with mind to retaliate against deliberate divisiveness by those in power (rabble rousers!). Some vocally agreed, but noted the importance of resource distribution supposedly guaranteed by public policy as a result of statistical knowledge, thus the need for understanding economic disparities despite the contradictions of using racial terminology (complicated).

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It was then that ‘‘Ernesto’’ halted the flow of general agreement, proudly claiming Puerto Rican roots and his preference for the option ‘‘Black or African Am., or Negro,’’ which he warranted by his pheno- type, experiences of racial profiling and hybridized cultural spaces he shared with African Americans while growing up in poor, segregated Brooklyn neighborhoods. Almost immediately a flurry of hands had risen to respond, when a fellow classmate, ‘‘Ana,’’ blurts out, ‘‘but if you’re Puerto Rican, how can you be Black? In the D.R., we told we’re Indio, but most people call themselves just ‘Dominican.’ Aren’t Puerto Ricans the same as us?’’ Ana’s query-comment ignited an immediate buzz in the room, with classmates anxious to respond. I quickly gestured with palms out for respectful quiet, making eye contact with Ernesto suggesting the right to retort should he choose. It was in that moment that the complex became rigid, the fluid reached a fixed point and experience nerved the personal. As Ernesto begins to respond, Doris interjects with apology, turns to Ana politely and says, ‘‘ Indio ? That’s the problem between us. Even if we’ve got similar roots, both treated badly by cops or something because of what we look like, some (Latin@s) might be down with us like Ernesto, but let’s be real, most just don’t want to be black.’’ 5

Revisiting the DebateThe Black/Brown Conundrum

Not long after July of 2001, the month Latin@s technically became the ‘‘largest minority group’’ after demographically surpassing the African American population; a spike in public interest and scholarly inquiry emerged on the myriad economic, social and political implica- tions of the long-imminent numerical reality. In studies to editorials, from title to argument, words and terms like ‘‘anger,’’ ‘‘conflict,’’ ‘‘clash,’’ and a ‘‘presumed alliance’’ were implored to describe domi- nant contours of the relationship. 6 From the surface, the use of abro- gating adjectives and catchy phrases invoke nothing other than images of constant inter-group tension: a strenuous relationship on life support needing immediate resuscitation and medical (policy) intervention. With some evidence in the foreground, there was ample reason to make such claims. Take for example a 2008 Pew Research Center nation-wide study on inter-group attitudes, which found that while African Americans feel they frequently face racial discrimination in everyday institutional spheres like housing, education, and employment, Latin@s, much like whites (non-Hispanic), were less sympathetic to their claims. 7 This is little surprise considering case study evidence from Los Angeles to Miami over the last thirty years, urban centers where African

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The Election Issue



Americans and Latin@s have struggled to gain political capital and fair resource distribution only to end up on opposing sides of referen- dums, elections and in worst case scenarios, violent outbreaks. 8 Such matters are only exacerbated by a sensationalist mainstream media culture that makes little or no mention of the overarching instigators of conflict: economic neglect, segregation, police brutality, market- based discrimination, and other ‘‘shared’’ environmental factors. 9 On the upswing, one could facetiously argue that the ‘‘Black– Brown’’ relationship has self-upgraded from critical to stable condition. The aforementioned 2008 study also found that African Americans and Latin@s generally believe they get along well, albeit this is true in counties with higher concentrations of the former. 10 Such a finding holds profound implications for cities where Latin@s are on the fast track to outnumbering African Americans, demo- graphic trends guided by macro-economic forces and driven largely by birth rates and immigration. 11 But again, not to worry, yielded a group of media outlets in April of 2010, when their nation-wide poll found that African Americans had a significantly more favorable view of immigrants than whites, an upward trend from similar surveys conducted earlier in the decade. 12 Notwithstanding sampling biases expected through telephone polling, the incessant tendency to conflate ‘‘Latino’’ or ‘‘Hispanic’’ with ‘‘immigrant’’ demands utmost scrutiny, given that the majority of Latin@s are native-born and even so a sizable portion tied to U.S. occupation of their lands during 19th-century eras of invasion and colonial annexation. 13 However, a greater proportion of today’s foreign-born population indeed hail from Latin America, in particular Mexico and Central America, pushed or pulled out of their homelands by myriad consequences of economic globalization: poverty, political persecution, labor recruitment and lack of economic mobility, not to mention the effects of economic and political imperialism on the part of the United States. 14 Acknowledging these contours in a more inclusive methodology, a 2006 study also found that African Americans hold more favorable views of immigrants as compared to whites, but specifically toward entrants from Latin America, even though they believe they are more adversely affected by them in the labor market. 15 And to further calm rough waters, leaders from the advocacy group level including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Asian Pacific American Legal Center and other organizations joined Latin@-based movements to rally against recent draconian state-level immigration legislation popping up from Arizona to Alabama. 16 Take the NAACP’s Chair Roselyn Brock’s powerful statement against Arizona’s contro- versial SB-1070, a bill first passed in April of 2010 with language

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recently upheld by the Supreme Court (5–4) that empowers state

officials to determine an individual’s immigration status upon ‘‘reasonable suspicion’’ during any lawful contact. Given the bill’s

not-so-subtle intentions, Brock wrote ‘‘

the State of Arizona enact a law that tramples on the civil rights of Hispanic persons, and one that cannot be enforced without resulting to racial and ethnic profiling.’’ 17 In retrospect, a critical assessment of the evidence suggests that the relationship between the two groups is increasingly complex, with cooperation and cohesion in particular instances and localities, conflict and resentment in others. Admittedly, this is an understate- ment when one only relies on static, fixed notions of ‘‘black’’ and ‘‘brown’’ to make inter-group analyses, ignoring the vast internal political, econ- omic and cultural diversity shared by and endemic to each group. As Suzanne Oboler and Anani Dzidzienyo underscore in their anthology

Neither Friends Nor Enemies, or more recently Carolyn Roman and Juan Flores in The Afro-Latino Reader, broad generalizations not only toss overlapping, congruent inter-group histories of oppression to the epistemological wayside, but also undermine exploring the fluid, complex layers of identity-formation and racialization occurring within a multi-faceted, internally diverse Latin@ population. 18 Explained differently balancing history and contemporary salience, more Africans (over 90%) were forcefully kidnapped and brought to Latin America than what became the United States, 19 not to mention that our Iberian roots were shaded with over 700 years of North African socio-cultural to phenotypical influence. Despite historical-to- present attempts to suppress these realities, only about 2.5% of the Latin@ population, a severe underestimate for reasons discussed below, self-reports as ‘‘black’’ in the United States. 20 While divergent colonial structures reared their ugly heads from southern to northern points of the Americas, creating social boundaries of difference and legacies still visible and prominent in pan-American societies today, what is undoubtedly clear is that Latin@s are settling more so into spaces and places where African Americans have created longtime institutions as the numerically dominant minority group. 21 In addition, the growing presence of Latin@s in said regions whom are phenotypically ‘‘black,’’ or Afro-Latin@s, represents a watershed opportunity for the future of race-relations, with specificity for building inter-group alliances to counter shared experiences of institutionalized oppression. 22 Undoubtedly, these ‘‘demographic moments’’ cannot be viewed without acknowledging their relevance to the impending presidential election. Once again, questions abound as to whether Latin@s, as a collectivity, will hold the electoral key to President Obama’s re-election in November. In 2008, Obama received 67% (2=3rds) of

it is disheartening to see

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the Latin@ vote; a numerical threshold that some observers sug- gested consolidated his victory. 23 This level of support was viewed as rather unexpected considering the ‘‘elephant in the room’’ narra- tive that unfolded after the 2008 primaries. After all, Latin@s voted for Hillary Clinton by a margin of 2 to 1 over Barack Obama, but after the latter secured the nomination, the question was posed: Would Latin@s vote for an African American in the general election? Once again, early signs indicate overwhelming Latino-based sup- port for Obama. However, this can hardly be construed as signifying political solidarity between blacks and Latin@s. More likely is that many Latin@s are reacting to Romney’s unabashed support for draconian immigration policies like Arizona’s SB1070, as well as the Republican party’s movement toward the extreme right. Especially for the many registered Latin@s living in ‘‘mixed-status’’ households who hold immigration high atop their list of concerns, this may very well trump Obama’s horrific deportation record and only recent attention to immigration reform via an executive order. Thus while Obama emerges as the default candidate for Latin@s if considering the issue of immigration alone, this does not come with- out strong reservation toward the state of politics in Washington, D.C. given the breadth of economic disparities and feeling of policy-level inaction affecting Latin@ and African American alike. As recent empirical evidence illustrates, the current recession and economic downturns of the new millennium have deepened the min- ority wealth gap to astronomical levels, occurring (by no surprise) at the tail end of the virtual dismantling of the only social policies left (e.g., affirmative action) to serve as necessary, albeit watered-down proxies of redistributive justice. 24 Such realities are undoubtedly perpetuated by an infamous ‘‘tea party’’ movement and its profound post-911, anti-Obama racial and xenophobic subtext; an obstructionist effort that while seeking to dismantle the government’s necessary role in subduing market mechanisms that allow institutionalized discrimi- nation has been met with an over-conciliatory, accommodative tone by the Obama administration. 25 Whether one considers bi-partisan support for a divisive and segregationist charter school movement, lack of meaningful reform to curb disproportionate sentencing and mass incarceration, continued practices of ‘‘environmental racism’’ in urban to rural communities and an overall ‘‘federal silence’’ toward poverty, political disenfranchisement, and racial profiling (read: stop and frisk), such local to national realities undoubtedly serve as sources of frustration and disillusionment across inter-group lines. Additionally, it has been over a year since an economically diverse but predominantly white-led ‘‘Wall Street Occupation’’ movement spread from city to suburb in line with other global ‘‘anti-austerity’’

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movements, only to be suppressed by a combination of police-state tactics and false corporate media-based narratives. Despite its perceived decline, this is a better-late-than-never challenge to years of greediness, reckless financial transaction and lack of regulatory oversight that allowed the accumulation of mass wealth to occur off the backs of the working poor and middle class, especially African Americans and Latin@s, chasing self-imagined or prescribed versions of the ‘‘American Dream.’’ Thus now more than ever, members of both groups must engage in collective action and ‘‘cultural work’’ to give further reason and meaning to future wealth-redistributive move- ments, otherwise our voices will be drowned out by well-intentioned progressives who both by design and accident subvert issues of ‘‘race’’ to strictly those of economics. To do so, we must first remove the underlying pressure on Afro-Latin@s to initiate inter-group alliances, one premised on their precarious position as both ‘‘Black’’ and ‘‘Latino,’’ and likewise off African Americans given the equally condescending argument that the Latin@ population clock and migratory patterns have been deemed ‘‘irreversible,’’ 26 so therefore they must learn to ‘‘adjust’’ to the imminence of demographic change. 27 Instead, as I illustrate below, members of all groups from the grassroots to the policy level, but in specific Latin@ leaders, scholars and policymakers who inform social processes, must address the intersecting structural forces that engender and exacerbate inter and intra-group tensions and deters necessary alliances, a space I call ‘‘el Nuevo Blanqueamiento.’’ 28 This working concept is inspired by a burgeoning literature that questions to what extent globalization and transnational forces are at play in the paths of incorporation of post-1965 immigrants and their children, and how they mesh with systems of American apartheid that have divided and disempowered groups of color for decades. Let me explain balancing substance and brevity.

El Nuevo Blanqueamiento:The Fly in the Ointment of Coalitions

In a 2006 study measuring inter-group attitudes in a southern city, a majority of Latin@ immigrants surveyed expressed negative percep- tions of African Americans, while also indicating that they hold more in common with ‘‘whites’’ despite the fact that said group did not necessarily reciprocate the same feelings. 29 While attitudes improved upon increased ‘‘contact’’ between groups (and with increased edu- cational attainment), the study reflects patterns found previously from local to national levels; that many Latin@ immigrants interna- lize and hold the same negative stereotypes of African Americans as

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do whites and other groups. 30 Moreover, the findings hold profound

salience because the South is not only home to the largest concen- tration of African Americans in the country, including a sizable Black middle-class population, but it has also been the most popular region

of settlement for Latin@ immigrants since the 1990s. 31 Thus a region

still grappling with myriad legacies of Jim Crow: inequitable resource distribution, social and economic segregation and inter-group con- flicts between black and white, is now further complicated with the growth and needs of African American ‘‘reverse-migrants’’ from Northern states, including a largely service-sector, low wage-earning Latin@ population (note: including many Afro-Mexicans). 32 If we were to explain the above ‘‘race-relations’’ dynamics through conventional lenses, a classic argument held by observers (including many Latin@s ourselves) it is that the ‘‘race bug’’ is caught in el Norte , given a profound history of genocide, slavery, de-facto segregation

and continued disparate treatment of people of color. This thesis relies on a set of myths that posit slavery in Latin America was not

as insidious as in the United States, given easier paths of ‘‘manu- mission’’ and subsequent economic mobility extended to Negros, Indios and mixed-race populations under the Spanish-Portuguese imposed sociedades de castas . 33 More cited is the belief that hundreds of years of open miscegenation in the Americas created a ‘‘racial democracy,’’ to which notions of nationalist pride during and after early 19th-century Creole revolts were centered around its supposed result: el mestizaje, a ‘‘space’’ where once-Europeans, Indians and (to

a lesser extent) Africans blended into new cultural spheres where

racism is deemed irrelevant to one’s social position. 34 Never mind the historical ‘‘glossing over’’ of the extent of rape and forced relation-

ships that occurred in colonial societies, that paternalistic assimi- lation policies expected people of indigenous and African ancestry to rise to the level of ‘‘whites’’ immediately after three hundred years of economic servitude, or that mestizos in general received better treatment under the caste system than indios and negros pre- and-post ‘‘ criollo -revolt’’ era. 35 Despite its continued prominence as an ugly scapegoat in addressing the racism central to the subservient economic and social position of Afro-Latin@s and dark-skinned indigenous groups from Santiago to Sonora, Bahia to Bayamo´n, the ‘‘racial democracy’’ argument has been well demythologized from case study to statistical analysis, ethnography to survey. 36 The more nuanced and empirically driven arguments are embedded within an epistemological space I call ‘‘ el Nuevo Blanqueamiento ,’’ literally translated as ‘‘the new whitening,’’ or ‘‘neo-whitening.’’ In Latino Spin , Arlene Da´ vila aptly differentiates between prevailing schools of thought on the intersections of Latin@s and whiteness. 37

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Thesis 1 (my emphasis) posits that Latin@s (and Asians) are essen- tially on their way to becoming the ‘‘next whites’’ by joining the main- stream, or rather remaking its contours via processes of ‘‘give and take’’ with the dominant majority. 38 Thesis 2 holds that most Latin@s will constitute a ‘‘buffer zone,’’ as ‘‘honorary whites,’’ between whites and African Americans (with some joining the latter as part of what Eduardo Bonilla-Silva framed as the ‘‘collective black’’), a system akin to social structures still pervasive in Latin America today. 39 Thesis 3 holds that today’s Latin@s will bend the traditional black–white binary, given their propensity to choose ‘‘some other race’’ or mixed-race identities in favor of an all-encompassing mestizaje: a ‘‘race’’ onto itself. 40 Da´ vila is critical of the ways mestizaje can obscure racial realities, and that theoretical frameworks that predict their ‘‘whitening’’ ignores how Latin@s are subordinated even while ascending (or subjected) into the mainstream. 41 But in this article I argue that such processes represent primitive, early incremental stages of what will or may happen, given the historical-to-contempor- ary structural forces that allow racialization processes to occur on the intra-Latin@ level. Thus El Nuevo Blanqueamiento’s present state allows for theoretical co-existence; a proposed bridge to span the edges of interrelated but competing perspectives. At the same time, dominant trajectories are underscored to inform future research pos- sibilities on inter-group relations, along with their grassroots to policy level implications. For instance, take legal scholar Tanya Hernandez’ well-argued perspective on the prospects and challenges of black–brown alliances. The author uses empirical evidence to forcefully opine that ‘‘anti- black’’ attitudes rooted in the Spanish colonial caste system drives Latin@s, especially younger generations, to engage in processes of ‘‘social distancing’’ from African Americans. 42 Economists William Darity Jr., Darrick Hamilton and Jason Deitrich also allude to ‘‘social distancing’’ in their analysis of identity and wage differentials, but within the Latin@ population. These ‘‘intra’’ group patterns, what the authors refer to as ‘‘bleach in the rainbow’’ is evidenced by an overall Latin@ aversion toward black identity and strong preference for whiteness. 43 Under the lenses of El Nuevo Blanqueamiento , the ‘‘fly in the ointment’’ of coalition potential is not necessarily found on the canvass of inter-group dynamics, but is plastered within the boundaries of the intra-group mosaic. In other words, pathways of incorporation and ‘‘citizenship’’ are not just occurring ‘‘off the backs’’ of African Americans and historically colonized minorities in the places and spaces groups intermesh, but begin as an intra -group for- mation specifically of fellow Afro-Latin@s and dark-skinned groups, immigrant and state-side born alike.

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To elaborate on El Nuevo Blanqueamiento ’s ideological subtext, we must revisit the theory held by cultural observers that due to immi- gration, birthrates, inter-group marriage, a Latin@-fused main- stream, the group’s growing ‘‘political capital’’ and other factors, a ‘‘browning of America’’ is occurring on cultural and political–economic grounds. 44 This thesis, sometimes overly celebratory, other times xenophobic, is driven by the underlying viewpoint that present-day socio-cultural processes (read: miscegenation) work to eventually ‘‘darken whites.’’ Time infamously asserted this position in its November 18, 1993 edition when its cover, concocted from the view- point of the magazine’s predominantly white, male readership, depicted the face of a computer-generated brown-eyed, dark-haired, olive-skinned ‘‘new face of America.’’ 45 El Nuevo Blanqueamiento , on the contrary, invokes a position that predicts the exact opposite. Its central ideological purpose works to ‘‘lighten,’’ not necessarily ‘‘darken,’’ the American mosaic, with eyes on newcomers and their children, while ensuring the subservient socio-economic position of dark-skinned, or Afro-Latin@s. 46 In retrospect, El Nuevo Blanqueamiento could be sociologically com- pared to a revised, newer offspring of the complex textures of colorism that have operated historically among African Americans in the United States. Intra-group whitening practices, rooted within the purposeful ‘‘divisions of labor’’ imposed during slavery that were believed to allow blacks of a lighter hue to receive less physically demanding tasks, created levels of intra-group envy, friction and division with visible long-lasting legacies. 47 Controversially observed are the ‘‘blue vein’’ societies and ‘‘paper bag tests’’ implored during Jim Crow’s wrath, despite the insidious ‘‘one-drop rule’’ and ‘‘de-jure’’ practices that guaranteed little to no ‘‘citizenship’’ rights, economic ownership nor immunity from violence. 48 Over time, such facets of internalized oppression led to modes of physical modification akin to that occurring among diverse populations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and ‘‘state-side’’ Diasporic communities todayfrom skin bleaching, to hair straightening, to adapting behavior defined by ‘‘whites’’ or light- skinned elites as normative. 49 While more scholarly research is emerg- ing on ‘‘pan-American’’ continuums and contrasts of ‘‘preferences for whiteness,’’ what remains constant across time and space is ‘‘colorism’s’’ incessant driving force: ‘‘negrophobia,’’ the collective state-induced, white-exploited, and group-internalized fear and disdain of Blacks or ‘‘Blackness.’’ 50 Under the lenses of El Nuevo Blanqueamiento, the long-existing, incubated variants of racism operating within U.S. boundaries not only allows a Latin-American fused negrophobia to be transferred onto African Americans via processes of immigration, but also onto ourselves and ‘‘our own,’’ operating through the very channels

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of intra-group ‘‘racial denial’’ and ‘‘anti-black’’ attitudes that have existed in Latin America for centuries. Before I continue, we must briefly differentiate contextual mean- ings of ‘‘ blanqueamiento ’’ throughout Latin America’s colonial to post-revolutionary history and what is happening in the United States. In the former, the term can refer to Spanish metropole’s three hundred plus year policies that offered free land and slaves to poor peninsulares in hopes that they would ‘‘whiten’’ and ‘‘civilize’’ already racially mixed populations through further intermarriage and accul- turation. 51 In some geographic contexts, the legacies of blanquea- miento’s ideological subtext contributed to inhibiting basic citizenship rights and even outright genocide against Afro-Latin@s, indigenous or mixed-race communities. In a U.S. context, I apply this concept with admitted limitations and room for more research, build- ing from a growing series of scholarly analyses that suggest U.S. society may be moving away from the ‘‘one-drop,’’ hypodescent rule toward a pigmentocratic logic similar to Latin America’s dominant social order. 52 In other words, ‘‘genotype,’’ which still matters, is interacting with the increasing significance of ‘‘phenotype’’ as popula- tions of diverse social origins interact and mix. 53 As these ‘‘value- constructs’’ intermesh and the latter seeks to replace the former, negrophobia remains the unmoved cultural and economic expression. Meanwhile, structural forces that reproduce and sustain the econ- omic privileges of ‘‘whiteness’’ (or lightness) rear their divisive heads, masked by and despite of the growing presence of people of color. In everyday policy practice, the insidious and unequal by-products of neoliberalism openly thrive on (and reinforce) El Nuevo Blanquea- miento, allowing ‘‘race’’ to take on a sinister import and become even more magnified in the United States, virtually displacing and out- right evicting ‘‘blacks’’ from the urban-to-suburban spaces deemed worthy of economic occupation (e.g., privatization, segregation, gentrification). 54 Thus while many Latin@s, Asians (and even light- skinned, ‘‘passable’’ African Americans) may serve as present-day ‘‘buffer zones’’ or benefit from an ‘‘honorary status’’ as argued by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, as long as dominant ‘‘anti-black’’ trajectories continue on both inter and intra group levels, an increasingly diverse yet ‘‘dark-distant’’ white-dominated mainstream culture is imminent. To be clear, I am not suggesting that post-1965 immigrants and their children, whether from vast, socio-culturally diverse regions of Latin America, Africa or Asia, are the cause of an ‘‘increasing signifi- cance of race’’ in the United States (to reverse William Julius Wilson’s words and intent). 55 El Nuevo Blanqueamiento ’s contemporary presence is inextricably linked to the insidious forces of economic globalization, a neoliberal fused movement that has dampened any

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sustainable resource-capacities of former ‘‘nation-states’’ and consoli- dates wealth into conglomerate-owning hands of northern countries (including elite commerce-centers of the southern cone), exacerbating the legacies of colonial era structures that allows migrants to carry myriad types of racism on their backs. 56 And given these legacies, I acknowledge that any neo-whitening presently varies from gener- ation to national origin, remaining privy to ever-changing power structures and fluidity of influential variables in the spatial, economic and social contexts various groups interact. Instead, what I am implying is that while cultural imperialists like the late Samuel Huntington, Peter Brimelow and more recently (yes, once again) Pat Buchanan spew their xenophobic-racist theories that Latin@ culture undermines WASP values central to the United States’ inception and contemporary cultural fabric, they ignore their own evi- dence that what they ‘‘wish for’’ may very well be happening. 57 In other words, despite ‘‘cultural hybridity’’ occurring between groups in institutional spheres and informal arrangements of contact, the ‘‘cultural-economic’’ spaces that Latin@s are pushed or pulled into via foreign (invasion, neoliberal intervention) or domestic (low wage to ‘‘high skilled’’ labor recruitment) policy are structurally designed to ensure that intra-group cleavages based on race grow even wider, forcing most members of the diverse group into bifurcated trajectories. Such processes of ‘‘disintegration,’’ to borrow Eugene Robinson’s phrase, hold specific policy concern not just to African Americans, but also to phenotypically darker Latin@s (Afro-Latin@s), Asians and other darker-skinned immigrants regardless of ‘‘status.’’ 58 But where exactly is the historical-to-contemporary evidence to back this up, and how specifically does it work?

Creating the ‘‘Contexts of Reception’’ 59

The larger historical context of El Nuevo Blanqueamiento’s contem- porary impact on inter-group friction could technically begin with the myriad ‘‘divide and exploit’’ policies implemented during violent eras of western (and southward) expansionism. We could cite the late 18th- to early 20th-century attempts to ‘‘civilize’’ native-Americans through ‘‘education,’’ ‘‘codes of conduct,’’ or ‘‘land rights’’ in the eastern lands and beyond the Mississippi (e.g., Dawes Act, 1887), efforts designed to acculturate a nearly exterminated but resilient population through methods of ‘‘negotiation’’ (see Indian Removal Act, 1830). These policies, carried out through ideological justification (manifest destiny) and military intervention (read: Invasion of Mexico, 1846–1848) in formerly Spanish-controlled southwestern territories,

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lead to treaties that allowed the U.S. government to colonize nearly 50% of a fairly new country’s (Mexico) resource-rich land (Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, 1848; Treaty of Mesilla, 1854). Little-discussed in popular historical narratives, but well-described by journalist Juan Gonzalez and scholar Rodolfo Acun˜ a in their respective works, is that U.S. soldiers and settlers engaged in rape, lynching and other forms of violence as psychological tools of subversion, meanwhile dubious legal tactics were implored to confiscate land and any remaining assets of a majority-minority population. 60 Scholars William Darity Jr. and Dar- rick Hamilton frame these realities within a macro-economic historical perspective, illustrating that occurrences of ‘‘white terrorism’’ (land seizure, riots, government fraud) inflicted upon African Americans post-reconstruction to early 20th century represent the structural beginnings of intentional processes that have allowed inter- generational material transfers (assets) to be passed down almost exclusively into the hands of the white population. 61 Today, the lega- cies of these histories have morphed into variant forms, yet maintain yesteryear’s diabolical purposes: from real estate ‘‘steering,’’ bank-led insurance ‘‘redlining,’’ predatory lending, to outright housing and labor market discrimination. 62 But despite cross-group experiences of ‘‘asset’’ seizure during the U.S. expansionist era and subsequent years, the U.S. government’s decision to legally classify newly ‘‘absorbed’’ Mexicans as ‘‘citizens’’ (and to hold such a status one could only be ‘‘white’’), should serve as a historical reminder of covert-to-obvious attempts to foil inter- group alliances. 63 The policy intent, far from inclusivity or privileges guaranteed by such a status, should be viewed as a means to secure exploitable pools of labor for newly annexed agricultural economies, while also to differentiate Mexicans from ‘‘ negros ’’ despite the parallel ‘‘culture of violence’’ they personally to structurally endured. And amidst policy deference (or lack thereof) to the massive waves of European arrivals for economic integration over African Americans and groups of color, alongside interdependent forces of urbanization and industrialization occurring through a post-isolationist foreign policy era that targeted Latin America as a playground for resources, playwright Zangwill’s utopian vision of the ‘‘melting pot’’ begins to gain force in popular folk and policy circles. 64 His symbolic prediction, one of eventual cultural assimilation for the ‘‘huddled masses,’’ sounds like one of blanket inclusivity, but it was performed amidst the rising tide of ‘‘anti-miscegenation’’ laws proposed (and in most states passed) from state to federal level. This, despite lawyer and educator Charles W. Chesnutt’s call that it is ‘‘only by becoming white that colored people and their children are to enjoy the rights and dignities of citizenship, and that they will have every incentive to

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‘lighten the breed,’ to use a current phrase, so that they may claim the white man’s privileges as soon as possible.’’ 65 Chesnutt, a descendant of ‘‘free persons of color’’ whose appearance allowed him to ‘‘pass’’ for white, invokes an argument that reflects his own social position of privilege. With credit to his life-long involve- ment in anti-segregation efforts and work with organizations like the NAACP, his view on miscegenation sells a subtle North American version of Spanish colonial-era blanqueamiento mythology, one that seeks to ‘‘lighten the breed,’’ while presupposing that mixed-race off- spring would exhibit physical features that favor European gene pools. And even if groups of color wanted to purposely engage in ‘‘subjective miscegenation,’’ government officials and their corporate bedfellows, informed by the current canon of Malthusian social policy, would have nothing of it. Not long after invading Puerto Rico, Con- gress passed the notorious Jones-Shafroth Act (1917), automatically granting the diversity of phenotypes of island-born inhabitants and mainland migrants U.S. citizenship rights. 66 Like it was for Mexicans, any ‘‘presumed whiteness’’ through citizenship was noth- ing but symbolic for Puerto Ricans, with unapologetic intention to guarantee myriad human to environmental resources from the island for the United States’ coffers (e.g., military bases, sugar and fruit production, cheap labor). And like African Americans, Mexicans and Asians, Puerto Ricans received no formal invitations into the melting pot, given that policymakers had already selected its future members. With eyes on religiously and culturally diverse ‘‘South Eastern Europeans,’’ the Americanization programs of the early 20th century were implemented to speed up their English language fluency and cultural accommodation, induced by studies (see Dillingham Com- mission) and subsequent passing of federal immigration laws (Johnson-Reed Act of 1924) that legally exposed who was deemed ‘‘assimilable’’ and who was not. 67 But despite the fact that European immigrant communities in cities like New York had higher population densities, it was Puerto Ricans who were deemed by eugenics-informed policymakers as out of ‘‘population control.’’ 68 In the late 1930s, the island government, via support through Washington, D.C., began to implement what was eventually dubbed ‘‘ La Operacion ,’’ a nearly 50-year sterilization (read: capitalist expansion) policy that ignored the ethics of ‘‘informed consent,’’ turning the island into the most sterilized country in the world. 69 And meanwhile, U.S.-born and immigrant Mexicans are tossed back and forth through deportation policies amidst the bur- geoning tide of xenophobia during the World Depression, only to be called back (e.g., Bracero programs) when a war economy made such policies fitting or booming regional agricultural markets stretched

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into an elastic frame that called for larger, exploitable pools of labor. 70 Similar ‘‘labor selectivity’’ was practiced on Puerto Rican women dur- ing the island’s forced industrialization policy Operation Bootstrap , who now with less children thanks to sterilization efforts, are seem- ingly more desirable workers as men are shipped off to military duty, agricultural or manufacturing economies on the mainland or simply ‘‘un-preferred’’ by employers due to desperate pools of exploitable women. 71 From the surface, the oppressive conditions that Latin@s and African Americans faced during the early to mid 20th century, as internally colonized groups within their own country, should be enough reason to engage in inter-group alliance against forms of American apartheid. But the divisive forces of ‘‘presumed whiteness’’ began to rear their ugly head: negrophobia at the heart of inter-institutional social distancing. Nancy Mirabal’s analysis of tobacco-rolling Cuban laborers in Jim Crow Tampa, Florida illustrates the ways in which white, black, and mulatto Cubans sat side-by-side in factories during long work days, only to go home to segregated neighborhoods and create political affinity groups, mutual-aid societies and cultural clubs along the imposed black–white racial binary. 72 Mirabal notes that white Cubans took advantage of their ability to ‘‘pass’’ in everyday institutions, but Afro-Cubans initially intended the same, attempting to privilege their ethnicity over their ‘‘race.’’ Over time, as Susan Greenbaum also documents in her ethnographic, inter-generational study, Afro-Cubans were viewed less as Cuban (read: white) and more as ‘‘black,’’ with eventual ‘‘integration’’ with African Americans, a process that at times was met with friction, but over time in fusion. 73 As the Civil Rights Movement begins to unfold, receiving more scholarly attention is that the monumental Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) had a state-level predecessor, Mendez vs. West- minster (1946) , that wrote the legal pretext for its landmark adjudication. In The Presumed Alliance , Nicolas Vaca dedicates a chapter to the California ruling, essentially arguing that African Americans should acknowledge that Mexican Americans helped pave the road for eventual school desegregation. 74 Vaca briefly emphasizes the coalitional value of Mendez’ triumph, given the legal assistance of organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), and the NAACP, who sent their up-and-coming lawyer Thurgood Marshall to argue the appeal as a litmus test for Brown . 75 Overlooked, however, is that the NAACP had already been arguing cases prior to Mendez that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment was systematically violated not

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because of school segregation, but because of their inferior resources and low quality of education. 76 Moreover, nowhere in Vaca’s chapter are mention of earlier anti-segregation court battles Independent School District v. Salvatierra (1930), nor Alvarez vs. Lemon Grove School District (1931), both respectively argued on the premises that since the U.S. government had essentially declared Mexican Americans as ‘‘white’’ via citizenship status, that they should hold rights warranted by such a categorical distinction (Mexicans had just lost the title, officially declared a ‘‘race’’ in 1930, but reclassified as ‘‘white’’ in 1940). 77 Not only are these drastically different legal grounds for ‘‘restorative justice,’’ but they also reflect the Latin@ susceptibility to the perceived allures of whiteness and beneficial distancing from ‘‘blackness,’’ despite the vast difference between law (a favored racial classification) and practice (Jim Crow, racial discrimination). Jump forward to the ‘‘identity-politics’’ years of the Civil Rights Revolution, and evidence of policy-induced inter-group prejudices have seeped their way into group level cultural expressions. The calling for a new Chicano identity, symbolized through the ‘‘brown is beautiful’’ rallying cries embraced by Puerto Ricans, Dominicans on the east coast alike, were inspired by the ‘‘black is beautiful’’ and ‘‘black pride’’ mottos central to an African American-led movement. But even during solidarity movements with best of intentions, negro- phobia had quietly paved its way into their underpinnings. Corky Gonzales’ inspirational I am Joaquin , with a rhythmic cadence and unifying language that helped define the Chicano movement, openly celebrates the mestizo ; the Indian and Spaniard, but there is no evi- dence of Mexico’s historical Blackness. 78 Afro-Mexican contributions are left in poetic obscurity, as if hiding quietly in the former palenques that are now the gulf communities of Tampico and Veracruz. Similar racial critiques can be made about ‘‘characters’’ in the late Piri Thomas’s 1964-published memoir, Down These Mean Streets , whose central protagonist struggles with complex layers of racial identity claimed by light-skinned family members, while at first negotiating yet eventually coming to terms with the racialized treatment Puerto Rican migrants like himself, especially those darker-skinned, face in the economically harsh grid-patterns of East (Spanish) Harlem. 79 By the mid to late 1960s, legislative acts are passed in sequential order (1964 Civil Rights Act; 1965 Voting Rights Act; Fair Housing Act, 1968) promising an end to group-based discrimination, and anti-miscegenation laws receive popular scrutiny and their eventual demise (e.g., Loving v. Virginia, 1967). Despite the legal potency of monumental legislation, inter-group leaders knew very well that federal-level commitments (executive orders) were needed to ensure

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‘‘results’’ in housing, job hiring and promotion, college admissions, government-contracting and other institutional spheres, hence the structural beginnings of ‘‘affirmative action’’ policies. 80 Meanwhile, the passing of the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act, which abolished the national origins quotas originally aimed at Eastern (read Jews) and Southern immigrants (read Italians), supposedly put all immigrants on an equal footing in terms of nationality (and hence race). 81 But despite attempts to eliminate racist quotas via family and skill-based preferences, the intersections of race, gender, and class remained embedded within the textures of policy formulation. Tied to post-WWII hegemonic notions, uprooted or recruited through intentional military, economic and political ‘‘relationships’’ with resource-rich countries of the south- ern cone, enter the new immigrants and political refugees, now mostly from vast regions of Asia and Latin America. 82 Over time, some arrive as semi-intact families with entrepreneurial skills or professional degrees, others undocumented, poorer, unskilled and alone (males), waiting to take their coerced, predetermined roles in the laissez-faire American economy despite the optimism central to individualism and meritocratic mythology many carry with them. 83 As ‘‘freedom songs’’ and pan-Latino ‘‘cancion protesta!’’ loses their crescendo amidst the rising tides of neoliberalism into the 1970s and beyond, questions are abound as to if and how the new immigrants and their children, now largely ‘‘people of color’’ and supposed unabashed ‘‘transnationalists,’’ will assimilate into the American life. Regardless, the tables of the ‘‘context of reception’’ are methodically set, a setting ripe for El Nuevo Blanqueamiento.

Enter ‘‘the Other’’New Immigrants, the ‘‘Cultural’’ Trope, and Intra-Group Discrimination

In September of 2011, the long-time prediction that the U.S. ‘‘white’’ population would shrink into numerical minority-status became official mythology. The Census Bureau released figures illustrating that thanks to the self-identification preferences of U.S. Latin@s, the ‘‘white’’ population had actually grown. Specifically, the share of Latin@s identifying as ‘‘White’’ rose to 53 percent from 48 percent over the last decade, meanwhile those who identified as ‘‘some other race’’ dropped from 42 to 37 percent. 84 The report came only a year after the American Sociological Review published an analysis of the New Immigrant Survey (NIS), whose authors Reanne Franka, Illana Akresh, and Bo Lu found that when Latino immi- grants were asked to self-identify, a greater proportion preferred a ‘‘white’’ racial classification over ‘‘black’’ or ‘‘other.’’ This finding also

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came with an important caveat. Using the survey’s ‘‘skin color scale’’ and applying rigorous quantitative techniques, the authors found that darker-skinned Latino immigrants experienced greater discrimi- nation as measured by individual earnings as opposed to ‘‘lighter- skinned’’ respondents, even when controlling for various demographic variables. 85 The results, in the authors’ words, illustrated that ‘‘there is a clear disjuncture between how Latin@s classify themselves and how they are treated according to their phenotype.’’ 86 Hold onto this thought. While the aforementioned may represent the mainstream methodo- logical awakening that Latin@s ‘‘can be of any race,’’ over the last two decades scholars had already been using various techniques and data sets to explore the ways in which ‘‘race’’ matters within the Latino population. For example, in John Logan’s analysis of 2000 Census micro-data (5% PUMS sample), self-identified Latin@s are disaggre- gated by ‘‘race’’ and national origin to examine their social position relative to other groups. Utilizing a series of socioeconomic variables, the author found that Latin@s who largely self-identify as ‘‘white’’ (e.g., Cubans, South Americans) reported higher incomes, more edu- cational attainment, lower poverty rates and live in greater proximity to non-Hispanic whites. Meanwhile, Latin@s with larger proportions of those who self-identify as ‘‘black’’ (e.g., Puerto Ricans, Dominicans), reveal relatively favorable levels of education, but exhibit high poverty rates, yield lower incomes and live in greater proximity to African Americans (non-Hispanic blacks). Taking a middle position is the ‘‘other’’ cohort (e.g., Mexicans, Central Americans), those who identified neither as black or white and wrote in their own terms like ‘‘Hispanic’’ or ‘‘Latino’’ (which he calls ‘‘Hispanic-Hispanics’’). This cohort was more likely to be new immigrants, occupying a relatively modest socio-economic position as compared to ‘‘white’’ Latin@s, but nevertheless exhibiting a more favorable economic position than ‘‘black’’ Latin@s. 87 The analysis alone could be enough to argue a disturbing repro- duction of Latin America’s caste system permeating within the U.S. Latin@ community. However, Logan emphasizes the point that very few Latin@s actually self-reported as ‘‘black,’’ making the small sam- ple size problematic in providing a more robust social analysis, and that the largest group was one that identified as neither black nor white, but as ‘‘some other race.’’ By 2011, studies make evident that the ‘‘other’’ cohort seems to play the second fiddle, with ‘‘whiteness’’ taking a more prominent position, specifically among immigrants. Of course, comparing incongruent methodologies and data sets has its observational limitations, as does using ‘‘self-reported’’ data, but taken together, overall patterns being to yield a set of salient,

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interrelated research queries. One is a general question as to what factors explain such varied intra-group disparities, specifically how they are linked to Latin@ preferences for ‘‘White’’ or ‘‘Other’’ over ‘‘Black’’? And subsequently, why does the latter group (Afro-Latin@s), despite comparable levels of education found in numerous studies, continue to occupy the lowest economic position? For answers, we turn to the vast interdisciplinary immigration, race and poverty literature, which provides theoretical debates over group and individual-level variables that explain how well or poorly groups of color, specifically immigrants and their children, fare in the American economy. Emphasis ranges from the amount of ‘‘human capital’’ (skills, training, educational attainment) individuals acquire or bring with them, the ‘‘status’’ given by government officials to refu- gees over immigrants (in which the former usually entails a limited amount of economic assistance not otherwise available to immi- grants), to the extent and value of ‘‘social capital’’ built through exist- ing ethnic networks and enclaves where groups initially settle or build long-term communities. 88 One theoretical explanation gaining prominent attribution is the ‘‘segmented assimilation’’ model, which posits that some children of immigrants incorporate alongside classic trajectories into the mainstream middle class echelons, others remain in self-segregated ethnic communities whilst experiencing relative levels of economic advancement, while others dive downward into the concentrated throws of the ghetto ‘‘underclass.’’ 89 Herein lies the ontological problem: the same misplaced variables used to explain ‘‘tri-furcated’’ paths of immigrant incorporation today, equally used by ‘‘color-blind’’ conventionalists to the ‘‘color-sighted’’ left, are embedded within the same theoretical distractions social scientists have used for decades to explain why African Americans and Latin@s, particularly Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, continue to be mentioned in the same economic vein. 90 In other words, the ‘‘down- ward assimilation’’ component of the segmented model sells a subtle variation of ‘‘social contagion’’ theory, hidden within the so-called popular resurrection of ‘‘culture of poverty’’ arguments made infa- mous in the 1960s by Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. This apparent theoretical revival was asserted by the New York Times in Patricia Cohen’s 2010 piece that headlined ‘‘Culture of Poverty Makes a Comeback,’’ based largely on the October, 2010 edition of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. In short, poverty can be empirically explained by a range of inter-generational ‘‘cultural pathologies’’ that are viewed to metasta- size if over-concentrated: single parenthood, welfare dependency, weak family structures, crime proneness, poor spending habits or an overall lack of financial literacy. Even obsessions with commercial

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Hip Hop lifestyles are thrown into the mix, tied to an overarching ‘‘oppositional culture’’ that guides dress and behavior antithetical to educational hence economic success. 91 To state the obvious, the notion that cultural arguments were swept under the rug during years of ‘‘political correctness’’ (as Cohen asserts) is a dubious claim, evidenced in speeches and essays, studies to editorials over the last 40 years by scholars and public figures like Glen Loury, Thomas Sowell, Orlando Patterson, Dinesh D’Souza, Bill Cosby, Linda Chavez, Richard Rodriguez, and more recently by once-disgraced yet temporarily resurgent Newt Gingrich. 92 And while these theoretical models have been well argued as ‘‘blame the victim’’ courses of dialogue, they nevertheless continue to set up struggling minorities as convenient scapegoats for the inter-twined roles selective immigration, class conflict, gender, locality, gentrification, network hiring, racism, and other factors play in allowing some ‘‘groups’’ to economically ascend while others remain mired in pov- erty. 93 In other words, do we conveniently suppress the violently intentional histories of disproportionate wealth distribution that heavily favored whites over ‘‘colonized minorities’’ in favor of argu- ments that reduce such systemic disparities as mere functions of financial irresponsibility? 94 Should we overlook the evidence that poor peoples’ ability to accumulate assets is often stymied by assisting fellow economically struggling extended family members, not because of the group absence of some sort of ‘‘frugality’’ trait? 95 Or that to assist or rely on such ‘‘kin networks’’ are creative forms of ‘‘social capi- tal’’ used to counteract the intersections of structural racism and neoliberal economic forces such as the ‘‘planned’’ exit of jobs, shift of resource capital to gentrifying groups or a criminal justice system that literally profits off disproportionate sentencing and destroys families? 96 And do we simply ignore Hip Hop’s roots as a creative, transformative response to the daily experiences of economic neglect and social isolation shared by African American, Puerto Rican, and Jamaican youth, not to mention its effectiveness as an interdisciplin- ary learning and teaching tool for students of all walks of life, especially for groups of color? 97 To rephrase the above in methodological speak, when we theoreti- cally position ‘‘culture’’ as an explanatory variable, essentially invert- ing cause and effect, we lose sight of the histories and present state of inter and intra-group discrimination against what Bonilla-Silva referred to as the ‘‘collective black.’’ 98 For instance, it was ‘‘culture’’ that William Darity Jr., Darrick Hamilton, and Jason Dietrich challenged in their study when they found that Afro-Latin@ men (regardless of national origin) experienced substantially more signifi- cant wage discrimination as compared to whites and their ‘‘non-black’’

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Latin@ co-ethnics. Hence individuals with similar ancestral origin but varied skin color experienced vast differences in labor market discrimi- nation. In contrast, in a second pseudo experiment, they disaggregated their sample of blacks by ancestral origin and found that across individuals with similar skin color but varied ancestral origin (as an indicator for ‘‘culture’’) similar levels of discrimination were promi- nent. In other words, wage inequalities had nothing to do with pro- ductivity, or economic behavior as predicted by cultural theorists, but discrimination (read: racism) on the part of those deciding the value of their labor. 99 And while the methodological problem remained that few Latin@s identify as ‘‘black,’’ the authors again re-emphasize the difference between ‘‘social classification’’ and ‘‘self-identification,’’ or how members of society see, label, and treat an individual vis-a`-vis how they see themselves. In other words, as expected via the trans- planted channels of racial denial (read: negrophobia), Latin@s exhibit a propensity to ‘‘pass on blackness’’ at rates unparallel to their pheno- type. This suggests that there is severe underreporting of labor market discrimination against, in the above authors’ words, people who ‘‘look black.’’ This is the crucial point made by scholar Juan Flores in a public rejoinder to Laard Bergad, whose book with Herbert S. Klein, Hispanics in the United States takes a culturally celebratory tone while relying on self-reported data as the legitimate proxy of empirical fact, a methodology that undercounts and overlooks the historical struggles and presence of Afro-Latin@s in the United States. Flores notes this type of analysis is ‘‘misleading and distorted since it ignores the deep-seated and ubiquitous stigma against blackness and equally per- vasive privileging of whiteness.’’ 100 Again, we return to the contemporary tenets of el Nuevo Blanquea- mientoby virtue of historical obfuscation and ‘‘racial denial,’’ the mal-appropriated premise that ‘‘culture matters’’ takes precedent over the overwhelming evidence that racism remains the unmovable constant. And when outspoken pop culture icons (scholarly and cel- ebrity alike) jump on the ‘‘cultural deficiency’’ bandwagon, informing policymakers and the general public that what they hold as theory as ‘‘fact,’’ they not only reinforce the same ‘‘divide and exploit’’ distrac- tions used for decades, but feed the contemporary space where El Nuevo Blanqueamiento derives its symbolic energy and epistemologi- cal meaning. In other words, fallacies that attribute the ‘‘economic behavior’’ of a few to the entire group, along with a ‘‘model-minority’’ narrative that neither holds up to empirical scrutiny yet pinpoints particular cultural patterns as endemic to hybridized forms of black– brownness, sends the pervasive, symbolic message that blacks (whether African American, Afro-Latin@, Afro-Caribbean or of various origins) must be avoided at all costs. 101 It is for these very reasons that

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in Race Relations: A Critique Stephen Steinberg bravely re-applied Park’s ‘‘contact, competition, accommodation, and eventual assimi- lation’’ Chicago School model to most of today’s Asians and Latin@s. His argument is that the fabled melting pot is, and has always been, ‘‘for whites only,’’ a prediction that like George Yancey’s view that Dubois’ classic ‘‘color line’’ hypothesis remains centrally relevant in the 21st century, has dire implications for the shifting racial dynamics of the post-65 immigration. Steinberg envisions a future where Asians are incrementally absorbed into the non-black melting pot and the segments of the ‘‘Latino’’ and ‘‘Caribbean’’ populations that are pheno- typically black melt into the crucible reserved for the racial ‘‘other.’’ Herein lies the crux of the intra-Latin@ dilemma. Hidden amidst the intellectual fanfare of a U.S.-style mestizaje, suppressed through the overemphasized ‘‘brown’’ supposedly central to our Latinidad, remains the unchecked forces of negrophobia crucial to building long-term alliances with African Americans. In demographic studies, the ‘‘brown’’ is equated with preferences for ‘‘other,’’ ‘‘some other race,’’ or ‘‘more than one race,’’ representing nuanced spaces of ident- ity that seek to bend the traditional black–white binary: a primary driving force into the ‘‘post-racial.’’ The New York Times ‘‘Race Remixed’’ series insinuates just that, examining the growth of ‘‘multi- racial’’ or ‘‘mixed-race’’ identities and relationships evidenced through Census figures. Among findings emphasized in the January 2011 piece, ‘‘Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above,’’ is that in 2009, 9% of marriages were either inter-racial or inter-ethnic, more than double the aggregate figures for 1980, and that 1 in 7 new marriages in 2008–2009 were between spouses of different backgrounds. 102 From the surface, such statistical ‘‘trends’’ seem like an honest movement to transcend race, to finally move beyond the rigid boundaries of duality and join the contradic- tions and complexities of post-modern hybridity. These are the ‘‘spaces’’ where peoples can manage multiple identities in what intel- lectuals like Salman Rushdie and Gloria Anzaldua have respectively called the ‘‘mongrel cities’’ and ‘‘borderlands’’ of everyday life. 103 How- ever, this is where terminology and incomplete methodologies, coupled by the well-intentioned hopes of multiculturalists, obscures the structural components and perpetual bases of racial inequality. Moreover, it may also be the biggest affront to sustainable Black– Latin@ coalitions, perhaps even as much that some immigrants and their children may choose ‘‘white’’ as a racial classification despite their everyday treatment. Let me explain. If we reexamine the pool of ‘‘choice’’ involved in marriage and part- nerships evidenced in the aforementioned New York Times analysis, a finding emerges largely ignored by the series’ obsession with the

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‘‘post-racial.’’ Of all racial-ethnic groups used in the Census data (Blacks, whites (non-Hispanic), Asians, Native-Americans, white Hispanics, Black Hispanics), more Afro-Latin@ men and women either married within their group (other Afro-Latin@s) or African Americans. In contrast, ‘‘white’’ Latin@s had higher rates of inter- marriage with other whites (non-Hispanic or Hispanic), with almost none marrying Afro-Latin@s. Again, the evidence relies on self- reported, sample-size data, but if we were to apply a pigmentocratic methodological framework that captures realities both by observers and respondents, then dominant trajectories become more vivid. For example, Darrick Hamilton, Arthur Goldsmith, and William

Darity Jr. found that light skinned black women (of all origins) had

a greater propensity to marry than those classified by researchers

with ‘‘medium’’ and ‘‘dark’’ skin shades, and when they do so, marry- ing ‘‘out’’ was far more likely. 104 Note that this complicates the same

wish Orlando Patterson argued in The Ordeal of Integration for ‘‘Afro Americans,’’ that ‘‘marrying out’’ would improve the group’s child- rearing practices, weak social ties, political capital and gender- marital ‘‘crises.’’ 105 Needless to say, for Patterson and others, inter-racial mixing (read: upward miscegenation) is the Latin America-like (and now U.S.-centered) answer for ‘‘integration,’’ rooted in the cultural assumption that ‘‘whites have it right.’’ Undermining the racism central to how people ‘‘choose’’ their partners, or how whites have been able to inter-generationally pass on wealth or

extend social capital to other whites or ‘‘new assimilables,’’ however,

is not.

Thus while more people may be choosing variants of interracialism as self-definitions, a dominant trajectory unfolds that Latin@s are marrying, associating, and ‘‘integrating’’ along variants of the classic racial binary, perpetuated via the complex pigmentocratic contours of El Nuevo Blanqueamiento. Thus its central ramifications can be stated bluntly: that if light-skinned Latin@s (and in some contexts African Americans) are disowning their dark-skinned sisters and brothers, falling for neoliberal induced selective miscegenation and contagion theories that have plagued both Latin America and the United States alike for centuries, then what hope is there for anti-racism efforts amidst attempts at Black=Latin@ alliances? Thus inter-group coalitional leaders, sometimes driven and informed by the works of scholar-activists, must be aware of the ways in which the growing popularity of a ‘‘celebrated Otherness,’’ or movements of identification that seek to bend the conventional racial binary through hybrid, transnational-infused identities, can also be a sus- pect argument, smokescreen and ideological cloak for addressing the long-time structures of racial balkanization. As other scholars

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have asserted, whether Latin@s and Asians essentially become the new mainstream whites, or we move toward a tri-racial order where light-skinned Latin@s and most Asians occupy a more privileged buf- fer zone as ‘‘honorary whites,’’ what is undeniably evident is that a sustained pigmentocratic social order has been incrementally unfold- ing, one that thrives off negrophobia and perpetuates variants of color lines central to (pan)-America’s longtime racial dilemma. Thus African Americans, Afro-Latin@s, along with other racialized Asians and darker-skinned mixed-race communities, are not only future- privy to the forces of structural, institutionalized racism, but will also remain victims of cultural arguments that seek to reduce their social position to a matter of simple ‘‘behavioral-economic’’ choice. If they choose to integrate, the accommodation is made less by the main- stream, but more by those wishing or forced to enter. Regardless, negrophobia remains the common thread; whiteness is the needle that sows it. This is what the future bodes unless there are profound and meaningful inter-group movements to collectively ‘‘re-occupy,’’ under- mine, and transform existing socio-racial hierarchies and the struc- tural forces that perpetuate them.


1. Psuedonyms were chosen by the author throughout this introduction to protect the identity of


2. I invoke the term ‘‘Latin@’’ thanks to the influence of a growing number of scholars and academic

departments to make a default sexist term (Latino) into one that is more gender inclusive. I make a concerted attempt to avoid ‘‘Hispanic,’’ only to use it when citing others’ use of the term, as I share the view that its overuse represents an elitist, Euro-centric intra-group distancing from the somewhat ambiguous yet more inclusive, grassroots (hence indigenous, Afro-Latin@) application of Latin@). For a good summary on the Hispanic=Latin@ debate, see Mike Davis, Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the City (London, New York: Verso Press, 2001), 12–13.

3. The phrase ‘‘ mejorando la raza’’ literally translates to ‘‘improving the race.’’ Its historical origins,

to which this article briefly explores, refers to the blanqueamiento (whitening) campaigns imposed through Spanish colonial administration policies from the 1500s–1800s in Latin America. Its intentions were rooted in structures and prejudices that occurred on the Iberian peninsula during conflicts between dark-skinned, Muslim North Africans (who were deemed religiously impure) and Spaniards (as Christians deemed as ‘‘pure-blooded’’ hence ‘‘white’’). See the entry ‘‘Blanqueamiento’’ in Miguel De La

Torre’s edited volume Hispanic American Religious Cultures (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2009), 480. I also recommend Arlene Torres’ ‘‘‘‘Ej Prieta de Belda˚ ’’ (The Great Puerto Rican Family is Really, Really Black),’’ in Arlene Torres and Norman Whitten, eds., Blackness in Latin America & the Caribbean (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1998), 285–305.

4. One of the readings I am referring to is Michael Omi and Howard Winant’s Racial Formation in

the United States (New York: Routledge, 1994). Also see Enumeration in ‘‘1790 Overview,’’ U.S. Census Bureau, History Main, (accessed September 14, 2011).

5. This discussion took place in an interdisciplinary course at Brooklyn College-City University of

New York. It is one of the few courses I teach where a diverse array of African American, Afro-Caribbean, and Latin@ students interact given that it is cross-listed with other major=minor programs where min-

ority students are widely represented.

6. An example ‘‘title’’ includes Nicolas Vaca’s The Presumed Alliance: The Unspoken Conflict

between Latinos and Blacks and What It Means for America (New York: Harper Collins, 2004).

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7. Richard Morin, ‘‘Do Black and Hispanics Get Along?’’ Pew Hispanic Center (January 31, 2008). (accessed September 14, 2011).

8. For example, see John J. Betancur and Douglas C. Gills, eds, The Collaborative City:

Opportunities and Struggles for Blacks and Latinos in U.S. Cities (New York: Garland Publications, 2000), 17–40. Also see Vaca, The Presumed Alliance, 85–169.

9. For a good compilation of analysis on African Americans and Latin@ portrayals in various media

forms, see Diana I. Rios and A. N. Mohamed, eds., Brown and Black Communication: Latino and African

American Conflict and Convergence in Mass Media (Westport, CT and London: Praeger Press, 2003). Also see Tanya K. Hernandez, ‘‘Roots of Latino=Black Anger, Longtime Prejudices, Not Economic Rivalry, Fuel Tensions,’’ Los Angeles Times (January 7, 2007),

printedition/opinion/la-op-hernandez7jan07,0,7937176.story (accessed September 15, 2011). For an equally applicable ‘‘suburban’’ perspective, see Sarah Garland, Gangs in Garden City (New York: Nation Books, 2010).

10. Morin, ‘‘Do Black and Hispanics Get Along?’’.

11. See ‘‘US Census: Hispanics Outnumber Blacks in Metro Areas,’’ BBC News (April 14, 2011), (accessed April 25, 2011). Also see Robert Suro and Audrey Singer, ‘‘Latino Growth in Metropolitan America: Changing Patterns, New Locations,’’ The Brookings Institute, Survey Series, Census 2000 (July 2007).

12. See Mark Murray, ‘‘On Immigration, Racial Divide Runs Deep,’’ NBC News (April 26, 2010). (accessed April 27,


13. Elizabeth Grieco, ‘‘Race and Hispanic Origin of the Foreign-Born Population in the United

States, 2007.’’ American Community Survey Reports, (January 2010).

releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb10-ff17.html (accessed February 13, 2010).

14. Mike Davis. Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the U.S. City (London, New York: Verso 2001),

11–33. Also see Alejandro Portes and Ruben Rumbaut, Immigrant America: A Portrait (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2006 edition), 12–33.

15. Carol Doherty, ‘‘Attitudes Toward Immigration: In Black and White,’’ Pew Research Center

Publications (April 26, 2006),

and-white (accessed September 15, 2011).

16. ‘‘Civil Rights Coalition Responds to Gov. Brewer’s Announcement in SB 1070 Lawsuit,’’

American Civil Liberties Union, Press Office (February 10, 2011),

rights-racial-justice/civil-rights-coalition-responds-gov-brewer-s-announcement-sb-1070-l (accessed Feb- ruary 12, 2011).

17. ‘‘National NAACP Joins its Arizona State Conference in Outrage over Racial Profiling Impact on

Arizona,’’ NAACP, Washington, DC (April 30, 2010),

joins-its-arizona-state-conference-in-outrage-over-raci/ (accessed May 1, 2010).

18. Suzanne Oboler and Anani Dzidienyo, Neither Enemies nor Friends: Latinos, Blacks, Afro-

Latinos (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Carolyn Roman and Juan Flores, The Afro-Latino Reader: History and Culture in the United States (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).

19. Hernandez, ‘‘Roots of Latino=Black Anger.’’

20. See ‘‘Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010,’’ U.S. Census Bureau (March 2011), http:// (accessed September 15, 2011).

21. Rakesh Kochhar, Robert Suro, and Sonya Tafoya, ‘‘The New Latino South, Context and

Consequences of Rapid Population Growth,’’ Pew Hispanic Center (July 26, 2005), http://www.pewhispanic. org/2005/07/26/the-new-latino-south/ (accessed September 15, 2011). I also recommend Helen Marrow’s New Destination Dreaming: Immigration, Race, and Legal Status in Rural American South (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011).

22. For a critical, succinct piece on coalition building in urban contexts, as well as the need for

cross-group ‘‘Diaspora-consciousness’’ to take on everyday institutional challenges, see Mark Sawyer in Roman and Flores, The Afro-Latino Reader, 527–539.

23. Mark Hugo Lopez, ‘‘How Hispanics Voted in the 2008 Election,’’ Pew Research Center, November

5, 2008, (accessed November 8, 2008).

24. See ‘‘Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics,’’ Pew Research

Center, Social & Demographic Trends (July 26, 2011), wealth-gaps-rise-to-record-highs-between-whites-blacks-hispanics/ (accessed September 15, 2011).

25. See scholar Melissa Harris-Perry’s editorial ‘‘Is this the Birth of a Nation?,’’ The Nation, The

Notion Blog, (March 22, 2010), (accessed March 27, 2010). The intersections between racial profiling, xenophobia, and the post-9-11 War on Terror is a profound source of present inter-group struggle, well-argued by Kevin Johnson in Oboler and Dzidienyo, Neither Enemies nor Friends, 247–264.

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26. The‘‘irreversible’’commentwascirculatedviasyndicatethroughoutthecountryinLatino-basednews

sites. See Miguel Perez, ‘‘The Latino Clock is Irreversible,’’ North County Times (September 2, 2011), http://

(accessed September 15, 2011).

27. This position is asserted (among other stipulations that suggest Latin@s are not responsible for

African American struggles) in Vaca, The Presumed Alliance. See 189–193.

28. In use of this term, I purposely place ‘‘Nuevo’’ (New) before ‘‘Blanqueamiento,’’ contrary to rules

of Spanish grammatical code (they technically should be reversed). My intent is to underscore the historically Anglo-based impositions of the dominant culture while using a Spanish-language term to symbolize the complex placement of Latin@s within the historical and present socio-political framework of the United States.

29. See Paula McClain, Naimbi M. Carter, Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto, Monique L. Lyle, Jeffrey

D. Grynaviski, Shayla C. Nunnally, Thomas J. Scotto, J. Alan Kendrick, Gerald F. Lackey, and Kendra Davenport Cotton, ‘‘Racial Distancing in a Southern City: Latino Immigrants’ Views of Black Americans,’’ The Journal of Politics 68, no. 3 (2006): 571–586.

30. Ibid., 572. Also see Howard Schuman, Charlotte Steeh, Lawrence Bobo, and Maria Krysan,

Racial Attitudes in America: Trends and Interpretations (rev. ed.) (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997); Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism Without Racists (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).

31. Kochhar, Suro, and Tafoya, ‘‘The New Latino South, The Context and Consequences of Rapid

Population Growth.’’

32. William W. Falk, Larry L. Hunt, and Matthew O. Hunt, ‘‘Return Migrations of

African-Americans to the South: Reclaiming a Land of Promise, Going Home, or Both?’’ Rural Sociology 69, no. 4 (2004): 490–509. Also see Lisa Hoppenjans and Ted Richardson in Roman and Flores, The Afro-Latino Reader, 512–519.

33. See the classic read by Leslie Rout Jr., The African Experience in Spanish America (Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 1976), 27–98. Also see Peter Wade, Race and Ethnicity in Latin America (London: Pluto Press, 1997), 27–28.

34. The ‘‘racial democracy’’ myth in contemporary mode is well framed in Ariel E. Dulitzky’s, ‘‘A

Region in Denial: Racial Discrimination and Racism in Latin America,’’ in Dzidzienyo and Oboler’s

Neither Friends Nor Enemies, 39–59.

35. These issues are substantively covered in Torres and Whitten’s Blackness in Latin America and

the Caribbean , 3–53. Also see Rout, The African Experience in Spanish America, 180–184, 313–322.

36. Dulitzky in Dzidzienyo and Oboler, Neither Enemies nor Friends, 46–50. Also, for case studies to

statistical debates on intra-Latin@ racism yesterday and today, see Roman and Flores, The Afro-Latino

Reader, 471–540.

37. Arlene Davila, Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race (Berkeley: University of

California Press, 2008).

38. For Thesis 1 scholars, see Stephen Steinberg, Race Relations: A Critique (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford

University Press, 2007); George Yancey, Who is White? (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Press, 2003); Frances Windance Twine and Jonathan Warren, ‘‘White Americans, the New Minority?: Non-Blacks and the Ever-Expanding Boundaries of Whiteness,’’ Journal of Black Studies 28, no. 2 (1997), 200–218.

39. For example of Thesis 2, see Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, ‘‘From Bi-Racial to Tri-Racial: Towards a

New System of Racial Stratification in the United States,’’ Ethnic and Racial Studies 27, no. 6 (2004),


40. For Thesis 3 examples, see Laura Go´mez, Manifest Destinies: The Making of the

Mexican-American Race (New York and London: New York University Press, 2007); Amitai Etzioni, ‘‘Leaving Race Behind,’’ The American Scholar (Spring 2006), leaving-race-behind/ (accessed September 15, 2011); Ian Hanley Lopez, ‘‘Race on the 2010 Census: His-

panics and the Shrinking White Majority,’’ Daedalus 134, no. 1 (Winter 2005).

41. Da´ vila, Latino Spin, 13.

42. Hernandez, ‘‘Roots of Latino=Black Anger, Longtime Prejudices, Not Economic Rivalry, Fuel


43. William Darity, Jr., Jason Dietrich, and Darrick Hamilton, ‘‘Bleach in the Rainbow: Latin Eth-

nicity and Preference for Whiteness,’’ Transforming Anthropology 13, no. 2 (October 2005): 103–109.

44. For example, see Richard Rodriguez, Brown: The Last Discovery of America (New York: Viking

Press, 2002).

45. ‘‘The New Face of America: How Immigrants are Shaping the World’s First Multicultural

Society,’’ Special Issue, Time (November 18, 1993).

46. Bonilla-Silva, ‘‘From Bi-Racial to Tri-Racial.’’ Bonilla-Silva’s ‘‘collective black’’ includes Afro-

Latinos, African Americans, Afro-Caribbean groups, African immigrants, dark-skinned, racialized Asians, and reservation-isolated Native Americans.

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47. See Margaret L. Hunter, ‘‘If You’re Light You’re Alright’’: Light Skin Color as Social Capital for

Women of Color,’’ Gender and Society 16 (2002): 175–193.

48. Verna M. Keith and Cedric Herring, ‘‘Skin Tone and Stratification in the Black Community,’’

American Journal of Sociology 97 (1991): 760–778.

49. For a compilation of essays and articles that allow for cross-hemispheric comparisons on

‘‘whitening’’ and the significance of skin shade, see Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Shades of Difference: Why Skin Color Matters (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009).

50. Here I am using a synthesized definition of negrophobia via various scholarly sources. For

instance, see Manning Marable, Beyond Black and White, Rethinking Race in American Politics and Society (Brooklyn, NY: Verso Press, 1995); Jody David Armor, Negrophobia and the Hidden Costs of

Racism (New York and London: New York University Press, 1997); also see Silvio Torres-Saillant, An Intellectual History of the Caribbean (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007).

51. Blanqueamiento, De La Torre, 2008. Also see more in-depth deconstructions of the policy’s

historical context in Miguel De La Torre, La Lucha for Cuba: Religion and Politics on the Streets of

Miami (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003) and Whitten and Torres, eds., Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean, 296–297.

52. Bonilla-Silva, ‘‘From Bi-Racial to Tri-Racial,’’ 931–950.

53. For an excellent review of the literature on ‘‘phenotype’s’’ influence on life chances, see Darity

Jr., Dietrich and Hamilton, ‘‘Bleach in the Rainbow,’’ 491–492.

54. Scholar Stephen Steinberg frames these ‘‘eviction’’ processes within a critical race-policy context

in ‘‘The Role of Race in the Devolution of the Left,’’ Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture 10, no.

4 (2011): (accessed November 16, 2011).

55. William Julius Wilson’s The Declining Significance of Race in the United States (Chicago:

University of Chicago Press, 1980).

56. For a critical view of globalization (and excellent teaching tool), see Sarah Anderson, John

Cavanagh, and Thea Lee, The Field Guide to the Global Economy (New York: The New Press, May 2005).

57. Peter Brimelow, Alien Nation: Common Sense about America’s Immigration Disaster (New York:

Harper Perennial, May 10, 1996); Samuel Huntington, Who are We?: The Challenges to America’s Destiny (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004); Pat Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America

Survive to 2025? (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010).

58. Eugene Robinson, Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America (New York: Random House,


59. By ‘‘contexts of reception,’’ I am intermeshing Alejandro Portes and Ruben Rumbaut’s use of the

term in Immigrant America: A Portrait, with Nina Glich Shiller and Ayse Gaglar’s equal utilization in examining the intersections of locality, space, and culture and their impact on the general receptivity of newcomers. See Shiller and Gaglar, ‘‘Towards a Comparative Theory of Locality in Migration Studies, Migrant Incorporation and City Scale,’’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 35 (2009), 177–202.

60. Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire (New York: Penguin Books, 2000); Rodolfo Acun˜ a, Occupied

America: A History of Chicanos, 7th edition (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010).

61. William A. Darity and Darrick Hamilton, ‘‘Bernanke Ignores History of Black and White Wealth

Rift,’’ The Grio (October 30, 2009): (accessed October 31, 2008).

62. Darrick Hamilton, ‘‘Testimony to Budget Deficit and National Debt Commission,’’ Congressional

Black Caucus, Washington, DC (January 28, 2011). Also see Gregory D. Squires, ‘‘Racial Profiling,

Insurance Style: Insurance Redlining and the Uneven Development of Metropolitan America,’’ Journal of Urban Affairs 25, no. 4 (2003), 391–410.

63. For a good ‘‘critical race’’ discussion from a legal framework, see George Martinez, ‘‘Mexican

Americans and Whiteness,’’ in Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, eds., Critical Race Theory, 2nd edi-

tion (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000).

64. Israel Zangwill, The Melting-Pot: Drama in Four Acts (New York: Arno Press, 1975; originally

published 1909).

65. See Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., Robert C. Leitz, III, and Jesse S. Crisler, eds., Charles W. Chesnutt,

Essays and Speeches (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999), 134.

66. Marı´a Pe´rez y Gonza´ lez, Puerto Ricans in the United States (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press,


67. Desmond King, Making Americans (Cambridge: First Harvard University Press, 2002).

68. This point was well illustrated in the compelling documentary by Ana Marı´a Garcı´a, ‘‘La

Operacio´n,’’ Latin American Film Project (1982).

69. La Operacion’s impacts were carried onto the mainland, as Puerto Rican women hold among the

highest rates of sterilization in New York City, and the United States in general. See Iris Lopez, ‘‘Agency and Constraint, Sterilization and Reproductive Freedom Among Puerto Rican Woman in New York

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City,’’ Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development 22, no. 3=4 (Fall and Winter, 1993), 299–323.

70. Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire, 203.

71. See Anthony Stevens-Arroyo’s piece for further elaboration on the unexpected role of the

Catholic Church on forced sterilization in Puerto Rico. ‘‘Family Planning in Puerto Rico,’’ On Faith, The Washington Post (March 28, 2011), family-planning-in-catholic-puerto-rico/2011/03/28/AFpvHZqB_blog.html (accessed September 15,

2011). Also see Palmira N. Rios, ‘‘Gender, Industrialization and Development in Puerto Rico,’’ in Chris- tine E. Bose and Edna Acosta-Belen, eds., Women in the Latin American Development Process (Philadel- phia: Temple University Press, 1995), 125–149.

72. Nancy Mirabal, ‘‘The Afro-Cuban Community in Ybor City, Tampa, 1886–1910,’’ OAH Magazine

of History 7, no. 4 (Summer 1993): 19–22.

73. Sharon Greenbaum, More than Black: Afro-Cubans in Tampa (Gainesville, University Press of

Florida, 2002).

74. Vaca, The Presumed Alliance, 62–84.

75. Ibid., 76.

76. See ‘‘The Lasting Impact of Mendez vs. Westminster in the Struggle for Desegregation,’’ Immi-

gration Policy Center (March 25, 2010),

dez-v-westminster-struggle-desegregation (accessed September 15, 2011).

77. George A. Martinez, ‘‘The Legal Construction of Race: Mexican Americans and Whiteness,’’

Latino Studies Series, Michigan State University, Occasional Paper No. 54 (October 2000). Critical race

scholars also note that LULAC lawyers advocated for a change in Mexican Americans’ Census status

back to ‘‘white’’ as a litigation strategy against Jim Crow practices rather than focus on coalition- building, another example of judicial ‘‘social distancing’’ from African Americans. See Steven H. Wilson, ‘‘Brown over ‘Other White’: Mexican Americans’ Legal Arguments and Litigation Strategy in School Desegregation Lawsuits,’’ Law and History Review 21, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 145–194. Also see Ariela Gross, ‘‘Texas Mexicans and Politics of Whiteness,’’ in above journal: 195–206.

78. Rodolfo ‘‘Corky’’ Gonzales, ‘‘I am Joaquin’’ (1965).

79. Piri Thomas, Down These Mean Streets (New York: Random House, 1967).

80. Several key books help frame the historical inception of ‘‘affirmative action’’ as a set of inter-

related actions implemented in different institutional spheres (instead of the conventional view that it is one coherent policy). See Cornel West, Race Matters (New York: Vintage Books, 2001); Derrick Bell, Silent Covenants: Brown vs. Board of Education & the Unfulfilled Hopes of Racial Reform (New York:

Oxford University Press, 2003); and also see Faye J. Crosby, Affirmative Action is Dead, Long Life Affirmative Action (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004).

81. See Mae M. Ngai’s critical analysis of the 1965 immigration act in Impossible Subjects: Illegal

Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).

82. For a good discussion on the intersections between U.S. foreign policy and immigration see

‘‘America’s Immigration Problem,’’ in Saskia Sassen, Globalization and its Discontents: Essays on the New Mobility of People and Money (New York: The New Press, 1998).

83. Portes and Rumbaut, Immigrant America, 19–34.

84. Press Releases, U.S. Census Bureau, (September 29, 2011),

releases/archives/2010_census/cb11-cn184.html (accessed November 10, 2011).

85. Reanne Franka, Illana Redstone Akreshb, and Bo Lua, ‘‘Latin Immigrants and the U.S. Racial

Order: How and Where Do They Fit In?,’’ American Sociological Review 75, no. 3 (June 3, 2010), 378–401.

86. Ibid., 395–397.

87. See John Logan in Roman and Flores, The Afro-Latino Reader, 471–484.

88. See Portes and Rumbaut, Immigrant America, 12–36, 178–184. Also see Nancy Foner, From

Ellis Island to JFK (New Haven, CT and New York: Yale University Press, 2000), 9–35, 70–107.

89. See Alejandro Portes and Min Zhou, ‘‘The New Second Generation: Segmented Assimilation

and its Variants,’’ The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 530, no. 1

(November 1993): 74–96. Also see Alejandro Portes, Patricia Ferna´ ndez-Kelly, and William Haller, ‘‘Segmented Assimilation on the Ground: The New Second Generation in Early Adulthood,’’ Ethnic & Racial Studies 28, no. 6 (November 2005): 1000–1040.

90. See National Urban League, State of Black America 2010 Jobs: Responding to the Crisis (March

25, 2010): (accessed November 10,


91. There is a plethora of literature on ‘‘oppositional culture,’’ especially in the disciplinary fields of

primary and secondary education. For example, see John U. Ogbu, ‘‘Cultural Diversity and School Experience,’’ in C. E. Walsh, ed., Literacy as Praxis: Culture, Language, and Pedagogy (Norwood, NJ:

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92. See Charles M. Blow’s ‘‘Newt’s War on Poor Children,’’ New York Times (December 2, 2011), (accessed December 2, 2011).

93. Stephen Steinberg, The Ethnic Myth (Boston: Beacon Press, 1981; 2005).

94. William A. Darity and Darrick Hamilton, ‘‘Bernanke Ignores History of Black and White Wealth

Rift,’’ The Grio (October 30, 2008), and-white-wealth-rift.php. Also see Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro’s Black Wealth, White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Equality (New York and London: Routledge, 1997).

95. I am purposely facetious here. For example, see Ngina Chiteji and Darrick Hamilton, ‘‘Kin

Networks and Asset Accumulation,’’ in Michael Sherraden, ed., Inclusion in the American Dream: Assets,

Poverty, and Public Policy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 87–111.

96. Stephen Steinberg, ‘‘Poor Reason: Culture Still Doesn’t Explain Poverty,’’ Boston Review

(January 13, 2011), (accessed January 14, 2011).

97. Raquel Rivera makes an important point that rap’s ‘‘appropriators’’ profited more from its main-

streaming than its original, main creators. See her piece ‘‘Ghettocentricity, Blackness and Pan- Latinidad,’’ in Roman and Flores, The Afro-Latino Reader, 373–386.

98. Steinberg, ‘‘Poor Reason.’’

99. William Darity Jr., Darrick Hamilton, and Jason Dietrich, ‘‘Passing on Blackness: Latinos, Race

and Earnings in the USA,’’ Applied Economic Letters 9, no. 13 (2002): 847–853.

100. Juan Flores, ‘‘Rejoinder to Laird Bergad and His Hispanics in the United States.’’ National

Institute for Latino Policy, Book Notes (November 29, 2010), (accessed December

9, 2010).

101. See William Darity’s critique on ‘‘self-defeating’’ or ‘‘dysfunctional behavior’’ in William Darity,

Jr., ‘‘Stratification Economics: The Role of Intergroup Inequality,’’ Journal of Economics and Finance 29, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 144–153. Here I am also referring to the myth that West Indians, as a black

immigrant group, fare economically better than African Americans, so therefore ‘‘racism’’ becomes

insignificant (and thus African Americans, including Latin@s in similar economic positions, have no excuse but to blame their ‘‘habits’’ as detriments to their economic capability). Also see William Darity, Jr., Jason Dietrich, and David Guilkey, ‘‘Persistent Advantage or Disadvantage?,’’ American Journal of Economics and Sociology 60 (2001): 435–470.

102. Susan Saulny, ‘‘Black? White? Asian? More Americans Choose All of the Above,’’ The New York

Times (January 29, 2011). Data analysis for the above piece was conducted by Andy Beveridge, Queens

College, 2011.

103. Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands, La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute

Books, 1999). Also see scholar Leonie Sandercock’s application of Salman Rushdie’s term in the context of urban planning and theory in Mongrel Cities in the 21st Century: Cosmopolis II (London: Continuum,


104. Darrick Hamilton, Arthur Goldsmith, and William Darity, Jr., ‘‘Shedding Light on Marriage, the

Influence of Skin Shade on marriage for Black Females,’’ Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 72, no. 1 (October, 2009): 30–50.

105. Patterson, The Ordeal of Integration.

About theAuthor

Alan A. Aja, Ph.D, is Assistant Professor and Deputy Chair, Department of Puerto Rican & Latino Studies, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Brooklyn, NY.