‘In the Hispanic world, black isn’t always black’

The Democratic Party’s failure to understand what distinguishes even moderate Cubans from other immigrants will, I hope, trigger an appraisal of their vote drive appeals. I’ve written often about my people’s unsubtle attitude toward their color, i.e. they ain’t Black and, besides, Uncle Sam said we weren’t. Pollsters like Carlos Odio have explained these phenomena too.

Reading Alex Perez’s “Who Cares About Race in Miami?,” I objected to his intimation that Black Lives Matter is as much a grift as Proud Boys, rolled my eyes when he referred to a “woke media class,” and recoiled from the a-plague-on-both-your-houses subtext. But his thesis — Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio as a familiar Miami type — rings true. Perez:

That Tarrio leads a white supremacist group can be explained not by national race relations, but by the fact that he grew up in Miami: a place where “whiteness”, as it’s defined by the woke media class, simply doesn’t exist – for the simple reason that there are basically no white people here. It’s the only American city where Hispanics completely dominate the political and cultural landscape, and the few white people who remain no longer feel themselves to be “culturally white”. Everything in Miami, including racial dynamics, is filtered through a Hispanic lens, not an American one. Miamians don’t even consider themselves Floridians, because the rest of the state resembles Miami as much as Zimbabwe does. Those who grew up here are unrestrained by traditional ideas of race.

I demur: if the “traditional idea of race” is, “I’m better than of you because of the color of my skin,” then Miami Cubans embody it. Whiteness versus a concept of whiteness, understandably, confuses Perez. For Cubans of my parents and grandparents’ generations, whiteness is a signifier of ascension and a guarantor of triumph.

In Miami, the main animus Hispanics have is with other Hispanics. The Puerto Ricans and the Dominicans have beef with one another. The Chileans and the Argentinians despise each other for reasons beyond just soccer. Hell, my people, the Cubans, have issues not only with other Hispanics, but with each other! The Cubans who immigrated shortly after Castro took power view themselves as entrepreneurial hard workers; they look down on the “newer Cubans” as lazy dope dealers and Medicare fraudsters.

I can’t speak for this alleged Chilean-Argentine fracas. He does, though, overlook the ways in which skin color influences reactions to mulattos and Afro-Cubans. Listen to Miamians of color as they share their experiences.

Finally, women can be misogynists, Black men and women can be racist, and queer people can be homophobic. If Clarence Thomas weren’t on the Supreme Court, it would not be unreasonable to assume he would join wife Ginni as a stalwart conservative provocateur. And Thomas’ conservatism comes from a different place, as Corey Robin explains in his excellent book on the justice. Delroy Lindo’s Paul from Da 5 Bloods would understand.

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