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u3r-rivera - Ginetta E. B. Candelario ! and Murguia...

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Unformatted text preview: Ginetta E. B. Candelario ! and Murguia “Phenotypic Discrimination”; Leonard M. Baynes, "If It’s NotJust lilac]; and White Anymiire, Why Does Darkness Cast a Longer Discriminatory Shadow than Lightness? An Investigation and Analysis of the Color Hierarchy,” Denver Untoersxty Law Review 75 (131): 159—62. I . ” 4_1 Bonilla—Silva and Glover, “We are All Americans. CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE 42 Telles and Murguia, “Phenotypic Discrimination.” 43 Murguia and Telles, “Phenotype and Schooling.” B B I a C k n 44 Massey and Danton 1989. 45 Hunter,Race,p.37. ' I 46 See Lynn 3. Chancer, Reaanriiable Difirerences: Configuring Beauty, Pornography, and the Future :' 1 #Feminism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), p. l17. _ _ H I p H o p n e ‘ I i 47' Ginetta E. B. Candelario, Black Behind the Ears: Dominican Racial Identity From Museum to ‘ l l Beauty Shops (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007). Raquel Z. Rivera -~ Latina/cs and African Americans in the United States most commonly define ‘ I themselves and are defined by others as tva separate groups. Their cultures, , l histories, and identities are often imagined not to intersect, or at best, to overlap T l ' i only slightly. The ties that bind Latina/o subgroups (Mexicans, Nicaraguans, i ' Argentineans, Dominicans . . . ) to each other are usually thought to be stronger E and somehow more “natural” than those that might bind Latina/cs to African i Americans. E 3 These two groups are typically viewed as distinct “ethnic” groups, each one I 1 having certain cultural characteristics that distinguishes it from the other. They i are also misleadingly thought of as distinct “racial” groups where the members E of each collective supposedly share genetic ancestry and physical characteristics l 1 I . l l l 1 i g | I i in common and can be distinguished from the members of the other group.‘ , Particularly in the realm of popular culture, it is not uncommon to hear i Latina/cs be described (or describe themselves) as a race, though technically, I Latina Ios are an ethnic (or pan—ethnic)2 group and can be of any__race. To employ I I. the popularly used terms that fuse together race and ethnicity, while African ! ' Americans are described as “Black” (emphasis on ethnicity) or “black” (emphasis l- ' ‘ on race), Latina/05 are described as “multiracial,” “brown,” and even “butta f pecan.” These racializing terms serve their part in concealing certain realities, ; among these, that great numbers of Latina/cs are black according to this coun— , try’s racial standards (“blacker” than many African Americans, for that matter),3 3 and that most African Americans are multiracial,4 often just as brown or lighter— ‘ skinned than many Latina/cs. J It is important to keep in mind that blackness is anything but a static concept , 1‘ based on biological fact. The same goes for whiteness, multiracialness, and any 5 - I other racially based concepts. Race is an ever-evolving social construct which _. e-emzzmm-zzc .vw _ has different meanings depending on the context. In the United States, the way race is thought of in the-early twenty—first century is very different from racial ! . i _ I i i I 350 - 351 I Raquel Z. Rivera thinking in the early twentieth century.5 Present-day racial categories and dynamics in Latin America are quite different from those in the US.B While the ethnic term “African American" is substituted in everyday speech for the racialized term “Black,’1 the ethnic term “Latina/o” is often used inter— I'changeably with other ethnic monikers like “Hispanic” and even “Spanish.” Whereas Black is an overtly racial term, Latina/o, Hispanic, and Spanish are not explicitly but implicitly racial. Latina lo, Hispanic, and Spanish overtly point to a cultural group or a geographic region, not to a racial type or skin color; however, it is crucial to recognize that certain racialized physical characteristics and categories (brown, multiracial, mixed, butta pecan, “good hair") are asso- ciated with these terms. (The color/racial descriptions of Latina/0s may vary, but “black” is nearly always not one of them.) These varied ethnic terms to refer to people of Latin American ancestry also provide their own share of confusion. Latina/o (derived from the’ word “Latit1”), Hispanic (derived from “Hispania,” another name for Spain), and Spanish all privilege the European dimension of Latin American heritage while slighting its strong Native American and African dimensions — not to mention other ethnic influences such as Chinese, Japanese, Lebanese, and numerous others. Although as groups both African Americans and Latina/cs are multiracial, African. Americans are thought of primarily in terms of their African ancestry and Latina/0s primarily in terms of their European ancestry or their so—called mixed heritage (as if African Americans do not also have a mixed heritage). This veils the racial and cultural differences among Latina/05 as well as the similarities between African Americans and certain Latina/o groups. Latina/cs are most often thought of as not only non—Black (in the ethnic sense), but also as non-black in the racial sense. In the contemporary lotioidad/ blackness divide, Latina/cs of African descent are expected to choose [unaided over blackness. That is not to say, however, that there are or have been no Latina/0s who oppose the dichotomy. One of the most famous early twentieth— century examples is Puerto Rican Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, whose work as a researcher and collector focused on the history of Africans and their descend— ants? In the field of literature, contemporary writers like Piri Thomas, Willie Pierdomo, and Loida Maritza Perez (the first is Puerto Rican/ Cuban, the second is Puerto Rican, the third is Dominican) have also put into question the pre- sumption that being Latina/o makes a person non—black.g The New York Times published in 2003 an article entitled “For New York’s Black Latina/05, A Growing Racial Awareness”; it explored the intersection of race and ethnicity among people who, ethnically, identify as Latina/o and, racially, as black.9 , ‘ Puerto Rican hip hop and reggaeton artist Tego Calderon puts it succinctly: “I say I’m black first and then Boricua ’cause it don’t matter where I go, What you see is a black face.“m'When people hear a statement like his, they may .‘ assume one of Tego’s parents must he Puerto Rican and the other African ‘ American (as is the case with hip hop artist Noreaga, who describes himself asa “Nigga RiCan”). However, unlike Noreaga, Tego is not claiming a double ethnic 352 The Hip Hop Zone identity. For Tego, his ethnic and national identity is Puerto Rican; it is his racial identity that is black. . Do Puerto Ricans have more in common with-Mexicans. and Argentineans than they do with Jamaicans? Ask Tego and he might answer that he has more in common with a black Jamaican than he does with a white Argentinean, a white Mexican, or even a white Puerto Rican from the elite. Do Dominicans have more in common with Salvadorians than with Haitians? Not necessarily. It depends on what social sectors (class, race, geographic region, etc.) we focus on and also what cultural aspects are given emphasis in identify— ing commonalities. For example, if official language is taken to be the defining factor (which it often tends to be), then the existing similarities between Spanish— speaking, Anglophone, and Francophone people will remain unexplored. Although Puerto Ricans, Argentineans, Dominicans, and Salvadorians all share a history of Spanish colonialism, they differ widely in terms of the specific impact that Africans and their descendants have had on their respective national histories. Furthermore, centuries of intense migration within the Caribbean islands, the - United States, and the Caribbean coastal regions of Central and. South America account for striking cultural similarities among groups like African Americans and Cubans, Jamaicans and Panamanians, Puerto Ricans and Haitians a ethnic groups that are usually placed in opposing sides of the larinided / blackness divide. . The often-invoked separation based on language between Latina/05 and African Americans also gets complicated by the fact that the first language of great numbers of US—raised Latina/cs is actually English and not Spanish. New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone I wrote the book New York Rimmfi'om the Hip Hop Zone“ with various pur- poses, among these: highlighting and celebrating Puerto Rican contributions to the development of hip hop art forms; explaining how the experience of Puerto Rican hip hoppers is an important part of the history of Puerto Rican culture; and offering New York Puerto Ricans who participate in hip hop as an example of the similarities and shared histories between “Latina/o” groups and “Black” groups. “Why are you guys trying to take hip hop away from us?” I was angrily asked by a non—Latino Caribbean (“West Indian”) student at John Jay College during a presentation of my work. I was momentarily stunned by the hostility of her tone and body language, and by the approving nods and comments her statement generated among some of the other students. I had just explained that celebrat- ing Puerto Rican participation in hip hop is not an attempt at undue recognition. I had also explained that carving out a much-deserved space for Puerto Ricans within hip hop history does not take-anything away from African Americans or West Indians; on the contrary, it uncovers and celebrates our shared histories. The self-identified Latina/05 in the room were open to and curious about my 353 Raquel Z. Rivera arguments. But my message was generating anger and resentment among many of the self—identified African American and West Indians students. The gulf that was imagined to separate “us” Puerto Ricans/Latina/os and “them” African Americans/West Indians was thought to be not only immense, but somehow “natural.” Within that context, my arguments seemed counterintuitive and even outrageous. (Would my ideas have been perceived any'differently had I been a dark-skinned Puerto Rican? Perhaps, though I will never know for certain, since I can only speak from my light—skinned body.) ' Hip hop is most often historically defined in terms of music, visual arts (graffiti), and dance (breaking, popping, locking, rocking).12 Language, mannerisms, fashion, and other expressions of culture are considered by some to also be defining aspects of hip hop. Hip hop, like earlier cultural expressions, has in many senses served as a bridge between Puerto Ricans, other Latina/cs, West Indians, and African Americans.13 Conflicts have always existed between these groups, but they also share a century-long history of joint political and cultural action.‘4 During the 1970s in New York, there may have been ethnic tension among them. Still, together they developed hip hop. Davey D Cook, an African American who grew up during this time in the South Bronx, explains from his popular website Davey D’s Hip Hop Comer: “Hip Hop was multicultural in the sense that it was Blacks and Puerto Ricans who put this whole thing down. We lived next to each other and for the most part shared the same urban problems. We also shared the same legacy of exploitation, oppression and colonization.” Nevertheless, particularly in terms of hip hop’s musical component, Puerto Ricans‘- cultural “entitlement” has been a realm of contention, ever since the earliest days of DJing and rhyming in the early 19705. During rap music’s earliest years as commercial music (1979 to early 19805), notable Puerto Rican Djs and MCs included DJ Charlie Chase (Cold Crush Brothers), Whippet Whip and Rubie Dee (Fantastic Five), and DC. and Devast— ating Tito (Fearless Four). Many of these artists, plus famous Puerto Rican and Latina/o graffiti artists and dancers, were featured in the 1982. movie Wild S tyle. This film and its ethnically diverse cast provided an accurate portrayal of the vibrancy of the early hip hop scene, before the musical aspect of hip hop gained supreme ascendancy over the other hip hop art forms — and before hip hop was branded “black” to the exclusion of Latina/os. There; is a scene in Wild Style when the Cold Crush Brothers face off the Fantastic Five in .a basketball court. I use it during lectures as an example of how the myth of Latina/05 being non—black or lighter-skinned than African Americans gets perpetuated. When I show it, I ask those present to point out the Puerto Ricans. DJ Charlie Chase is always easily singled out from the group of brown-skinned men because of his cream—colored skin and barely wavy hair. But then viewers are at a loss. “Oh, the one with the straight nose is probably Puerto Rican, right?” someone may say, pointing out Rubie Dee. And then there IS usually silence. There are more I’uerto Ricans in that scene? Which one? Howto pick out the other Puerto Rican from the group of black men? So much for the 354 The Hip Hop Zone fabled golden—skinned Butta Pecan Rican! However, it is easy to picture how the myth gets perpetuated. We can imagine audiences throughout the world watching the film and assuming that, aside from Charlie Chase, the other men are black. And they are black, according to racial categories as they are most commonly defined in the United States.16 But what cannot be deciphered by the naked eye is that two of those (racially speaking) black men are not (ethnically speaking) African American, but Puerto Rican. In the mid—19805, as graffiti and the “breakdancing” craze faded into the media background, hip hop music became commercial popular music and thought of as almost exclusively African American. Back in the 19805 most people in the US did not know or care what a Puerto Rican or a Latina/o was.'There was no Ricky Martin, no J—Lo. Latina/0s were not yet “hot.” Rap was celebrated as “a black thing — you wouldn’t understand.” Black was being used, of course, in its narrowest ethnic sense. However, that is not to say that there were no Puerto Ricans involved in commercial rap music during that time. Prince Markie Dee Morales of the Fat Boys, the Real Roxanne, and producer Ivan “Doc” Rodriguez __ were active and had a strong commercial presence during this period, though their ethnicity was not openly flaunted as became common with other Puerto Rican and Latina/o artists later on. A particular commercial space dubbed “Latin rap” was occupied most pro- minently by non—Puerto Ricans like Kid Frost and Mellow Man Ace in the late 19805, to mention only two examples. However, these artists were largely per- ceived not to be doing “real hip hop” but a type of “Latina/o hip hop” catering to that particular ethnic group. Notice that because his music was infused with Spanish lyrics and alluded to his Latino identity, Mellow Man Ace, a black man born in Cuba, was not perceived to be doing “black” music (real hip hop) but a Latina/o version of hip hop. He was placed in the same musical category as Kid Frost, a Chicano who has no obvious African ancestry. I How were the record companies supposed to market a Puerto Rican or a Latina/o rap artist within the realm of “real hip hop”? Back then, not many seemed to have a clue. Rap’s blackness was a big part of its commercial appeal. But it was not clear if Latina/0s were a lighter version of black or not black at all. The industry gatekeepers were not often willing to take a risk by signing Latina/es. That is, until Latina/os, and particularly Boricuas, became a ghetto— tropical fad in the mid—1990s and then it became trendy for Latina fos and non— Latina/os to include words in Spanish and references to Latina/es in rhymes and have Butta Pecan Rican mamir adorning videos. The market was then par—- ticularly ripe for Puerto Rican hip hop artists like Fat Joe, Big Pun, Angie Martinez, Hurricane Gee, and D} Tony Touch. The media “Latino explosion” branded Latina/05 as commercially hot in the latter half of the 1990s. And, suddenly, hip hop became known as a “Black and Latino” thing. Nowadays, most people recognize that Latina/OS have been part of hip hop since day one. But there is still plenty of confusion regarding what that means. 355 Raquel Z. Rivera When hip hop is described as “Black and Latino,” pioneering D] Kool Herc, a black man born in Jamaica, is thought of as part of the Black contingent, while black men born in Cuba like Mellow Man Ace and his brother Sen Dog (of the group Cypress Hill) are assumed to be part of the Latina/o contingent. Granted, when Mellow Man Ace and Sen Dog identify themselves as Latina/cs Within hip hop, they become part of an ethnic group that includes people of much lighter hues. These black Cuban brothers, as Latina/OS, are part of a group that includes great numbers of people Whose ancestry_(genetic and cultural) lS heav1er on the European and indigenous side, than it is on the African side. Nevertheless, how does a black Latina/Q’s ethnic affiliation end up making them perceived as somehow less black? Aren’t we doing a disservice to Afro-diasporic history when we exclude from blackness huge numbers of people of African ancestry, just because they were born in (or their immediate ancestors hail from) lands where Spanish is the official language? Part of the reason for the somewhat precarious position of Puerto Ricans and other Latina/cs within hip hop — particularly its musical zone w has to do with the fact that understandings of blackness and Afro—diasporic cultural identity frequently are fractured along national or ethnic lines. Thus, the cultural connec— tions —- past and present —— among African Americans, Jamaicans, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, Trinidadians, and Cubans, among others, remain virtually ignored. Much of the history of political thought, activism, and cultural expression regarded as either discretely African American or Puerto Rican actually has been a product of various Afro-diasporic ethnic groups. However, it is all too common to ignore the complexities of the African diaspora, relying instead on narrow visions of history and identity. The result, unfortunately, is that the connections between those populating What Paul Gilroy has termed “the black Atlantic’m are camou— flaged, particularly when it comes to Black and Latina/o groups. _ ‘ . Hip hop music’s ruptures in the rhythmic structure, syncopation, repetition of a certain rhythm and/or melodic phrase, and call—and-response patterns, as well as its heavy emphasis on lyrical competition, boasting, improvisation, and commentary on current events are characteristic of most African—derived music, in the Americas.18 However, since hip hop music often is described only in terms of US—based blues-derived traditions and African American oral practices — and from there the historical jump is made to West African cultural sources — the myth of separation between Afro—diasporic cultures in the Americas is perpetuated. The rise in the 1970s of the particular style of rhyming over a musicai back- ground that became known as MCing or rapping is an example of the existing similarities among various Afro—diasporic traditions and the way in which they feed into hip hop. David Toop has noted the variety among rap’s forebears, including “disco, street funk, radio DIS, Bo Diddley, the bebop singers, Cab Galloway, Pigmeat Markham, . . .acappella and doo—wop groups, ring games, skip-rope rhymes, prison and army songs, toasts, signifying and the dozens, all the way to the griots of Nigeria and the Gambia.”19 The Hip Hop Zone Not only have New York Puerto Ricans participated along with African Amer- icans in many of these rap antecedents — such as street funk, doo-wop groups, and children’s games — but island musical traditions like plane, bombs, and musics fibers can be invoked just as easily among rap’s forebears. Verbal duels featuring boasting, trading insults, sexual innuendoes, and improvisation are common in all three. Like rap, they are notorious for historicizing everyday events. Djs use their turntables as percussive instruments whose scratching sounds recall those of plane’s and musics jibam’s ever—present, gz'r'iro or gourd scraper. Bombs shares with rap the use of the voice as an instrument that foregrounds tonality and rhythm as much as w— and sometimes more than —- meaning. When New York Puerto Rican youngsters began participating alongside African Americans in the early development of MCing as a lyrical/musical style, they were not exactly “defecting” from Puerto Rican tradition. In terms of social function and aesthetics, Puerto Rican oral and musical styles can be invoked as precursors of MCing as much as African American ones. By the time hip hop surfaced in the early 19705, there was already a longstanding tradition of Puerto Rican participation in genres most commonly identified as African American, such as jazz in the early decades of the twentieth century, doo—wop and rhythm— and-blues during the 19505, and boogaloo and Latin soul during the 19605 and 19705.10 Even the use of English lyrics among Puerto Ricans was nothing new, as evidenced through these music genres that preceded hip hop. Then there is the issue of breakbeats relying heavily on music thought of as African American. But what would breakbeats be without the decades-old influence of Puerto Rican and Cuban musical traditions on African Americans in New York City? Those timbales and conga solos that were the heart of so many breakbeats got into soul and funk records from Africa via the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. The construction of Puerto Rican identities in New York City often has relied on drawing sharp distinctions between us and African Americans. While the European aspect of Puerto Rican heritage gets highlighted, African Americans are associated primarily with the African side of their ancestry. No wonder, then, that the relationship of Puerto Ricans to hip hop music and dance has been so often misunderstood. What to make of those Puerto Rican youngsters who started rhyming in English and dancing to breakbeats right alongside African Americans and West Indians in the 1970s? What to think of all those English—dominant “Spanish” kids with nappy hair and dark skin who no longer were easily distinguishable from the murmurs? Unfortunately, many opted for the easy way out by ignoring the areas of cultural overlap — past and present — between African Americans and Puerto Ricans, choosing instead to explain the presence of the latter in hip hop as their treading on African American territory. . The myth of hip hop being an African American realm and representing a rupture in Puerto Rican tradition has served to weaken Puerto Ricans’ perceived entitlement to hip hop; it has prevented young African Americans, Puerto Ricans, 357 Raquel 2. Riviera and other Caribbean folks from fully understanding their shared heritages; and it also has perpetuated frictions between these groups. This myth, in turn, is one of the many factors that make us all — whatever our ethnic background may be — more vulnerable to the dictates of the entertainment industry, which has turned the desire for roots, purpose, self-definition, and collective identity of the hip hop generations into a multimillion—dollar empire. Why My Book Is Not Called "Latinalos from the Hip Hop Zone" Although the book sounds interesting, I think a more comprehensivedook at Latina/05 in Hip Hop would give the book more resonance. Cubans for instance have made huge inroads. Kid Frost, a Chicano, in the late 805 until present day. . . . Sounds like the book only presented a piece of the pie when it could ve served the whole thing. (eseguerrito) The above is an excerpt from a lengthy chatroom discussion on the website www.migente.com which took place right after my book .Nezr York Rimes fiam the Hip Hop Zane was published in 2003. Migente.com is a websrte that caters mostly to young US Latina/es. Many of the entries, like the one’above by “eseguerrito,” suggested that not focusing on Latina/cs as a whole was a missed ‘ opportunity for my book. Some entries even claimed that the book was part of a larger phenomenon of Puerto Rican chauvinism which makes Puerto Ricans think “we” are better than other Latina/o groups. _ I use the migente.com electronic conversation as an example of a question and/or criticism I am frequently faced with: Why focus my research and writing on hip hop solely on Puerto Ricans? Puerto Ricans have not been the only Latina/0s involved in hip hop. So why focus specifically on them? I _ Some participants of the migente.com discussion defended my decrsron to make the book specifically about Puerto Ricans (and, to get even more specific, ' about New York Puerto Ricans): the author focuses on puerto ricans cuz back in the 705 and 80s puerto rica‘ns were clearly the majority in NYC. as far as mexicans and cubans go the book is about NY not the west coast or florida. (nuyoricanOS) As for Chicanos being included in this book —— why does everything have tobe pan— “Latina lo,” let Puerto Ricans have their time to shine. . . . People write books about Mexicans all the time — isn’t it OK to write one about Puerto Ricans? They have their influence . . . you have yours. (La_Manita) The discussion also included blatant examples of the aforementioned Puerto Rican chauvinism, exemplified in this brief exchange: 358 The Hip Hop Zone Boricuas are number 1 when it comes to Latina/0s contributing to hip—hop cul- ture and rap music! You can’t deny us, why would you want to you need us. (GULLYseeGULLY) Ayo Im speakin up for all ma dominican gente..is true as a Dominican we dont get alot of attention..da Boricuas swear they da only ones who know about da game and hey maybe they do but lemme tell ya Dominicanz have helped Hip Hop . . . (HotDominicana) Dominicans HA, HA, HA . . . you’ve gotta be kidding . . . The only way Domin— icans might have affected the Hip—Hop game back in the day was the Dominicans selling drugs to people within the Hip—Hop culture up in Washington Heights. (GULLYseeGULLY) This last comment generated a heated debate that included an assortment of ' stereotypes and insults directed at different Latina/o subgroups. A few particip— ants periodically intervened, trying to steer the conversation away from petty name—calling and focusing more, on the merits of the historical revisions and thematic emphasis of my book: Once again, migente posts delve into childish azz debates over which Latina/o group is better. The Bottom line is that Puerto Ricans deserved their shine, as do all other Latina/es in the foundation of hip hop culture. All this other beef is pointless. (power_rule7) My book documents and celebrates New York Puerto Ricans’ contributions to hip hop. Never does it suggest that other Latina/o groups are unimportant to the history of hip hop. However, it seems that my choosing to highlight and examine the specificities of the experience of one group is automatically deemed by many to be a problem because it allegedly excludes, ignores, or minimizes the import- ance of other groups. I argue throughout the book that, on the contrary, the gravest danger is ignoring the specificities of each Latina/o group by lumping them all into a pan-Latina/o mass. That is not to say that a book that focuses on Latina/05 in hip hop as a whole will necessary slip into this pitfall. My point is that we need books about the general Latina/o experience in hip hop and also about the specific experiences of different subgroups within the Latina/o experi- ence. Because of numerous factors, Puerto Ricans and African Americans have tightly interwoven histories; hip hop is a case in point. Puerto Ricans fit into the Latina/o category and into the African diaspora in very particular ways. Those particularities deserve to be explored with care. . In theory, there is nothing wrong with focusing on specifics. However, we must acknowledge that chauvinism and inter—Latina/o rivalries are strong, dan— gerous, and debilitating and must be combated. However, we can explore our differences while still acknowledging commonalities, having solidarity with each other and even a common political agenda. 359 Raquel Z. Rivera . . . this is just one of many stories that need to be told. So ya’ll can stop uippin on - each other about kid frost vs. big pun, friioles vs. habichuelas, yuca vs. platanos, whatevall! (power_rule7) It gave me immense satisfaction that, though an academic book, New York Rimes from the Hip Hop Zone was being discussed in popular forums such as these. Even people who might never actually read the book were exposed to some of its ideas through this forum. ' This chatroom debate, classroom discussions with my students, and plenty of other instances have highlighted for me the importance of furthering a dialogue about race and ethnicity in the United States, particularly in terms of the way these concepts impact Latina/o lives. The richness of our actual lived experi— ences is too often stifled by the assumption that our realities have to fit into oversimplified identity categories. Thus, we must continue to explore and celebrate the amazing diversity which exists among Latina /os; we also have to seek a greater understanding regarding the intersections and commonalities that Latina/08 have with other groups. Conclusion Blackness and lotioidod are often imagined as discrete categories that do not intersect. This leads to two related problems: one is that widely diverging Latina/o experiences tend to be homogenized; the second is that the cultural convergences between Latina/0s, African Americans, and non—Latina/o Canbbeans are frequently glossed over. . Though blackness and lorioidad most frequently continue to be misrepresented as mutually exclusive categories, there are scores of hip hop artists, musrcrans in other genres, writers, educators, and activists challenging that lamentany prevailing view. Tego Calderon is certainly not alone when he claims blackness as an integral part of his experience and identity. With the increasing growth of the US Latina/o population, there is- also a growing tendency to naturalize the ties that bind Latina /os to eachother and to gloss over the internal variety within the collective, the SpeClfiCltlBS of each subgroup, and the historical relationship that each Latina/o subgroup has to other ethnic groups. There is a dire existing need for artistic, activrst, educa— clonal, and scholarly work that explores Latina/o experiences within the context of the African diaspora in the Americas (as well as within other contexts). There is also a strong need for work that dismantles the myth of racial democracy in Latin America and among US Latina/05. We have yet to adequately confront our lasting legacy of Eurocentrism and racism w a legacy which many still. want to deny and which is one of the many reasons why the blackness vs. iatmzdod false dichotomy keeps being perpetuated. As Tego said in his 2003 song entitled “Loiza”: .“They want to make me believe that I’m part of a racial trilogy/ Where 360 The Hip Hop Zone everyone’s the same, no one receives special treatment/ I know how to forgive, the problem is you don’t know how to apologize.”21 Within the field of Latina/o studies, I strongly advocate for educational and scholarly work that focuses on the Specificiu'es of the different Latina/o populations and institutional support for such work. Currently, academic institutions (and also cultural ones) are under pressure to shift from serving specific national— origins groups to serving a wider Latina/o population. However, though there is a pressing need for pan—Latina/o work and institutions, we must also bear in mind the crucial importance of work and institutions which focus on specific national-origins groups and their connections to non—Latina/o populations. Notes I For readings that address the conceptual differences as well as the intersections between race and ethnicity, see F. James Davis, Who 15 Black? One Notion'r Definition (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001):, Ramon Grosfoguel and Chloe Georas, “The Racialization of Latino Caribbean Migrants,” Comm (1996): 97-418; Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States: From the 19603 to the 1990: (New York: Routledge, 1994). 2 For a critical assessment of "Latino" as a pan-ethnic label, see Juan Flores, “Pan-Latino/ Trans—Latino," in From Bomber to Hip-Hop (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000}, pp. [41—66; Suzanne Oboler, Ethnic Looeh, Latino Lives: Identity and the Politics of(Re)preren— nation in the United States (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995). 3 See George Reid Andrews, AfiouLaIin America 1800—2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); Minority Rights Group, No Longer Invisible: Afi'o-Lorin Americans Today (London: Minority Rights Publications, 1996). 4- See Davis, Who 15 Black? 5 See Jonathan W. Warren and France Winddance Twine, “White Americans, The New Minority: Non—Blacks and the Ever—Expanding Boundaries of Whiteness,”]oumoi ofBiack Studies 28: 2 (November 1997): 200—18. 6 See Andrews, Afio—Larin America 1800—2000; Minority Rights Group, No Longer Invisible. 7 See Winston James, “Afro»-Puerto Rican Radicalisrn in the United States: Reflections on the Political Trajectories of Arturo Schomburg and Jesus Colon,” Ceoiro (1996): 927127. 8 See Piri Thomas, Down These Mean Streets (New York: Vintage Books, 1967); Willie Perdorno, Where a Nicks! Com a Dime (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996); Loida Maritza Perez, Geo- graphies of Home (New York: Penguin, 2000). 9 Mireya Navarro, “For New York’s Black Latinos, A Growing Racial Awareness,” New York Times, April 28, 2003. 10 Edwin Houghton, “Beenie Man and Tego Calderon,” The Pad” 23 (August 2004-): 86433. 11 Raquel Z. Rivera, New York Rimm from the Hip Hop Zone (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003}. ' 12 See Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal, That's thejoirit! The Hip Hop Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 2004); Steve Hager, Hip Hop: The Illustrated History ofBreakdancing, Rap Music and Gmfiiti (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1934); Tricia Rose, Bloch Noise: Rap Music and Blade Culture in Contemporary America (Hanover, NH: ‘Wesleyan University Press, 1994). 13 See Juan Flores, “Cha-Cha With a Backbeat: Songs and Stories of Latin Boogaloo,” in From Bombs to Hip-Hop (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), pp. 797114; and Juan Flores, “Puerto Rocks: Rap, Roots and Amnesia,” in From Bomber to Hip-Hop, pp. 115—40. 361 Raquel Z. Rivera 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Sec Michael Abramson and Young Lords Party, Palam‘e: Young Lords Party (New'York: Pantheon, 1971); James Early, “An African American—Puerto Rican Connection: An Auto- Bio—Memory Sketch of Political Development and Activism,” in Andres Torres and josé E. Velazquez (eds), The Paerto Riran Movement: Viewsfiom the Diaspora (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998); James, “Afro-Puerro Rican Radicalism”; Andrés Torres, Between Melting Pot and Mosaic: Afn'ran Americans and Puerro Rieam in the New York Political Economy (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995). Davey D. Cook, “Why Is Cleopatra White?” FNVNenasletter (May 21, 1999), at: wwwdaveyd. corn /fnvmayZl .html. See Davis, Who Is Bloch?; Omi and Winant, Racial Formation in the United States. Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993}. See Cheryl Keyes, “At the Crossroads: Rap Music and Its African Nexus,” Ethnomusioology 40: 2 (Spring/ Summer 1996): 223747. David Toop, The Rap Attack 2: African Rap to Global Hip Hop (London: Serpent’s Tail, 1991 , . 19. See Illciares, “Cha—Cha With a Backbeat”; Ruth Glasser, My Music Is My Flag: Puerto ‘Rican Musicians and Their New York Communities, 1917—1940 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997);]ohn Storm Roberts, The Latin Tinge: The Impact ofLatln American Music on the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979). The translation is mine. 362 E—a CHAPTER THIRTY~TWO Afro-Latinas/os and the Racial Wall Silvio Torres-Saillant Situating Afro-Latinas/os Afro—Latinas/os occupy a peculiar spot in this country’s ethnoracial bandwagon insofar as the label that names them combines blackness (Afro), as a racial designa— tion that stretches across numerous ethnicitics, and Hispanicity (Latina/o), as an ethnic category that encompasses multiple races. Conceivably, an Afro—Latina/o may come from two black parents of Latin American origin, a black and a non- black Latin American parent, 3 black non—Hispanic Caribbean parent and a Hispanic parent of any race, a US Hispanic of any race and a black African, as well as an African American and a US Hispanic of any race, among other variations of mixed parentages. The variegated nature of the assorted ancestry of Afro—Latinas/os comes to further expose the precarious constitution of the official classification that breaks the US population down into five presumably distinct communities of descent. Since 1977 the US Census has acknowledged one ethnic and four racial branches to catalogue the country’s population. The category of Hispanic or Latina/o, consisting of people who, regardless of race, trace their origins to the Spanish—speaking countries of the Americas, constitute the one ethnicity. Then follow the four groupings that make up the races. American Indian or Alaska Native describes an individual ancestrally connected to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Asian or Pacific Islander refers to a person with origins traceable to the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including such countries as China, Pakistan, and the Philippines, as well as to Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. Black or African American applies to a person who descends from any of the black racial groups of Africa. Finally, White denotes a person of European, North African, or. Middle Eastern origins. The unstable nature of the classification system currently in place was borne out by the voices that contested it during the 1990s, as policymakers and activists, venting their dissatisfaction with its logic, contemplated. the possibility of modifying 363 ...
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