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(Re) framing the nation : the Afro -Cuban challenge to Black and Latino struggles for American identity

  • Author(s): Gosin, Monika
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation interrogates the complexity of late 20th and early 21st century racial projects, focusing on conflict and convergence among African Americans, Cuban exiles, and Afro-Cubans in the United States. A textual analysis of the African American Miami Times and the Spanish language El Herald/El Nuevo Herald during the 1980 Mariel exodus and 1994 Balsero crisis, reveals the concerns of Miami African Americans and Cubans related to issues of race, immigration, and national belonging. The dissertation argues that the racializing discourses found in the Miami Times, which painted Cuban immigrants as an economic threat, and discourses in the Herald, which affirmed the presumed inferiority of blackness and superiority of whiteness, reproduce the centrality of ideologies of exclusivity and white supremacy in the construction of the U.S. nation. These discourses rely on three principle racializing frames: the black/white frame, the morality framing of good and bad citizens, and the native/foreigner dichotomy. Despite often antagonistic attitudes between African Americans, exile Cubans, and newer Cuban immigrants, however, the findings expose a shared underlying critique of the continued disenfranchisement of people of color. The analysis of newspaper text is supplemented by an analysis of talk, i.e., in-depth interviews conducted with black Cubans from Miami and Los Angeles, in order to understand their negotiations of the U.S. racial structure. The experiences that Afro-Cubans recount contradict the tenets of exclusivity upon which definitions of "authentic" U.S. citizenship rests, and their positioning as blacks and as Cubans challenges the notion that African American and Cuban American communities are bounded, racially distinct groups. The dissertation makes the case that we must root out and expose white supremacy in all its covert manifestations, in order to understand interethnic conflict more broadly, and Black/Latino conflict specifically. Though the study focuses on Miami and Los Angeles, it has national implications, as it concerns the ways in which the power of whiteness prevails even as the nation's population shifts from majority white to "majority minority.".

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