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The Racial Struggles of Puerto Ricans

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The Racial Struggles of Puerto Ricans

Another large component of Puerto Ricanness is Race. All of the different cultures that have throughout history combined to form Puerto Rico effect their nationality, history, lifestyles, traditions, music, and foods.

The "discovery" or infiltration of the island of Borinquen (or Puerto Rico as it was later renamed) in 1493 by Spain resulted in the decimation of the native Taino population. With the loss of an immediate source of cheap labor to work the fields for their sugar cane industry, they introduced African culture into the region by importing slaves to replace the Taino field workers. In addition to the introduction of African culture into Puerto Rico voluntary immigration brought further divergence from the native population of the island through the influx of foreigners of European descent. The prosperous sugar and coffee industries during the Spanish rule attracted foreigners seeking economic prosperity from area such as France, Italy, Spain (primarily Corsica and Mallorca) and other areas in Europe. The arrival of the foreigners resulted in the "whitening" (Gonzalez) of the racial mixture of the island’s inhabitants.

Through the Spanish colonial era briefly describe above, it is evident that Puerto Rican society was a very culturally diverse island. Despite this there has always been heavy emphasis placed on the whiteness of the society by the white elite that dominate the island. José Luis González wrote a controversial article titled Puerto Rico: The Four-Storeyed Country in which he expressed his view that Puerto Rican society was not predominately white but rather black because of the thousand of slaves that were taken to the island to work on Sugar plantations. Gonz...


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...aven, 1997)

Guerra, Lilian. Popular Expressions and National Identity in Puerto Rico: The Struggle
For Self, Community, and Nation. (University Press of Florida: Gainesville, 1998)

Dietz, James. Economic History of Puerto Rico. (Princeton University Press: Princeton,
1986)

Glasser, Ruth. My Music is My Flag: Puerto Rican Musicians and the New York Communities. (University of California Press, Berkaley 1995)

Scarano, Franciso. Sugar and Slavery in Puerto Rico, 1815-1849: An Overview from: Scarano, Sugar and Slavery in Puerto Rico: "The Plantation Economy of Ponce, 1800-1850. (Madison U. of Wisconsin Press, 1984), 3-34.

Morris, Nancy. Culture, Politics, and Identity. (Wetsport: Praeger, 1995)

Ferre, Rosario. The House on the Lagoon. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995)

Lopez, Tania. Personal Web Page http://frontpage/tlopez

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