Beyond blanqueamiento: black affirmation in contemporary Puerto Rico

Beyond blanqueamiento: black affirmation in contemporary Puerto Rico

Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies
Volume 13, 2018 – Issue 2
pages 157-178
DOI: 10.1080/17442222.2018.1466646

Hilda Lloréns, Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Rhode Island

If, according to turn-of-the-twentieth-century observers, black Puerto Ricans were destined to become racially white in a few generations, how did 12.4 per cent of the population manage to remain black in 2010? And how did they survive in the face of both national and everyday forms of racism? How is the persistence and even increase in black identity in Puerto Rico supported? This article argues that there is a covert and largely unexplored social current at work in regard to how black Puerto Ricans live and reproduce their blackness. This is the desire to maintain and celebrate blackness. Using ethnographic data gathered during nearly two decades, the article illustrate that many Puerto Ricans have chosen not to engage in blanqueamiento, instead affirming their blackness, marrying within their communities, and valuing their own cultural practices and beliefs.

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