“They Would Have Tossed Him Back into the Sea,” Balseros, Elián, and Race Matters in the Miami Latinx Millennium (1990-present)

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


This chapter focuses on the waves of Cuban immigrants that arrived after the fall of the Soviet Union (1990), Cuba’s most important political and economic ally. By now, research shows that Cuban immigrants possessed less skills and were darker-skinned than previous arrivals; meanwhile, their search for jobs and housing came amid a more economically and racially diverse city (at the same time, that by the end of the decade, more affluent, socioeconomically mobile white Cubans have moved out of the enclave and vicinity altogether). Census data begin to reveal sharper economic disparities between “black” and “white” Cubans in the region, and geographic differences by race are more pronounced in the region. I complement the data with perspectives by Afro-Cuban informants, underscoring that while their white Cuban counterparts are less ideologically conservative as in the past, ultimately race supercedes common ethnicity within the insular confines of the Miami Cuban community. The infamous Elían Gonzalez custody battle and the subsequent 2000 general presidential election are applied as backdrop to emphasize how anti-black racism became more exposed in the Cuban community, equally affecting the identities of local Afro-Cuban Americans.


Racial Identity Median Household Income Ethnic Enclave Latin American Immigrant Cuban Government 
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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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