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Black Histories in Cuba and Its Diaspora (December 2016): Postrevolutionary Cubans in Exile

by Bonnie A. Lucero

Postrevolutionary Cubans in Exile

A library collection on the historical experiences of black Cubans would not be complete without the growing number of works on the experience of Cubans in exile. A historic moment in redefining the racial parameters of Cuba’s diaspora came in 1980 with the Mariel boatlift. While the prevailing vision of the Cuban community has largely presumed whiteness, the influx of 125,000 Cubans into the United States transformed the racial and sexual demographics of Cuban American communities, introducing significant numbers of black and homosexual Cubans. While most studies of Cuban exiles in the US neglect race, Cheris Brewer Current examines the specifically gendered and racialized experiences of first- and second- generation Cuban immigrants in Questioning the Cuban Exile Model: Race, Gender, and Resettlement, 1959-1979. Michelle A. Hay responded to the virtual invisibility of black Cubans in the United States by examining their perceptions of race in “I’ve Been Black in Two Countries”: Black Cuban Views on Race in the U.S. Susana Peña explores the political organization and cultural production of gay Marielitos in ¡Oye Loca!:  From the Mariel Boatlift to Gay Cuban Miami. These nuanced studies of Cuba’s diaspora help challenge the historic presumption of Cuban immigrants as white, well assimilated, and successful in the United States.