Copyright © 1999 International Development Options
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Volume One Winter 1998-Spring 1999 Numbers 3-4.
WHAT COLOR IS CUBAN? COMPLEXITIES OF ETHNIC AND RACIAL IDENTITY
Department of Sociology
New School for Social Research
65 Fifth Avenue, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10003
Published online: December 15, 2016
This article uses "autoethnography" to illuminate contemporary examples of the negotiation of racial boundaries, the boundaries of whiteness in particular. By turning the ethnographic gaze inward, the author, a "white" Cuban‑American, deconstructs these qualifiers in order to bring to the forefront processes of identity construction, social location, and cultural politics. The history of United States immigration and naturalization laws, social network theory, and sociological approaches to ethnicity provide a theoretical foundation through which to examine the shifting meanings of the terms Anglo, Latin, American, white, and black. Through the filter of her own family history, the author traces the rise of Cuban cultural, economic, and political hegemony from segregated 1950s Miami to the present. Challenging sociology's paradigm of immigrant assimilation, the Cuban community generated a unique process of acculturation in reverse and profoundly influenced the identities of Miami's other ethnic groups. An examination of the transformation of Miami's ethnic groups brings into relief the micro and macro social forces that shape the negotiation of cultural meanings and social structure, the operations of race and class.