“You Ain’t Black, You’re Cuban!”: Mariels, Stigmatization, and the Politics of De-Racialization (1980–1989)

  • Alan A. Aja
Part of the Afro-Latin@ Diasporas book series (ALD)


This chapter captures the impact of monumental events (Mariel Boatlift 1980; US intervention in Central America) on the demographic make-up and economic relations in South Florida, with focus on the racialization of Cuban immigrants. No longer viewed as political “exiles” like their 1960s’ predecessors, many of this decade’s arrivals not only primarily emigrated for the same economic reasons as other Latin American immigrants but also begin to represent the diverse “phenotypes” of the island nation. Using Census data, I underscore the now more vivid racial and economic disparities among Cubans in the region and frame this within the backdrop of racial tensions that occurred between established Cuban exiles and other groups in South Florida (African Americans, Haitians). Like Chap.  3, I complement data with testimonies and personal narratives from Afro-Cuban informants, and find that Cubans, looking engaged in black self-assertion, are repeatedly pressured by local white Cubans that they should engage in “de-racialization,” given that in a racially democratic ideology, racial identities are viewed as divisive.


Racial Identity Ethnic Enclave Civil Unrest American Opponent Home Ownership Rate 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan A. Aja
    • 1
  1. 1.Brooklyn College, CUNYBrooklynUSA

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