I ask because much of U.S. punditry (on both left and right) don’t seem to regard the Cuban-American Republican presidential candidates as either “white” or “Hispanic.” And I’m pretty sure they’re not black.
Let’s have a look at some recent coverage. And here I’ll borrow a line from the old Crossfire program: On the Left here’s MSNBC’s Chris Matthews from just last week:
“I'm not sure the right word is Hispanic for them (Rubio and Cruz), because they are Cuban nationals or whatever, or come from Cuba."
And here’s The Daily Beast from a couple years ago:
“Rubio put a kind, nonscary --and nonwhite-- face on a party dealing with an image problem—and seemed to have dry mouth with his reach for water.”
Now on the Right, here’s Breitbart News from Feb. 2013:
“Apparently, the Washington Post and New York Times don’t like the idea of a non-white U.S. Senator acting all uppity...both news outlets ripped into Texas Senator Ted Cruz for not knowing his place.”
And here’s The Wall Street Journal from Aug. 2012:
“Mr. Cruz’s triumph also shows the degree to which the GOP now has a growing number
“White” used to be synonymous with “Caucasian,” also meaning European. Spain is a nation in Europe comprising most of the Iberian Peninsula which was known as Hispania when part of the Roman Empire. This area of Europe was originally peopled mostly by Celtic tribes.
Unlike the rest of what came to be known as Latin America, when Columbus landed Cuba had a tiny indigenous population. Most of these hapless Native Americans quickly perished, mostly from disease also from brutalities by the settlers. So by the 1700 Cuba was populated overwhelmingly by Spaniards. Later African slaves were brought in to work the sugar plantations. But according to the UN in 1957 Cuba’s population was 71 % white.
For the crime of presenting these historical facts I’m about to be denounced as a “racist.” I can sense it. So here I’ll turn over the floor to a Marxist Mexican: "Cuba has a tremendous advantage in national integration over other Latin American countries because of a largely homogeneous white Spanish immigrant base,” wrote UN economist (and Mexican Marxist) Juan Noyola who in 1960 was invited to Cuba by the island’s “Minister of Economics” Che Guevara. “Cuba’s smaller Negro population is also culturally integrated. Those feudal modes of labor that exist in the rest of Latin America, don’t exist in Cuba. The Cuban campesino does not resemble the one in the rest of Latin America The Cuban campesino, in all respects, is a modern man. They have an educational level and a familiarity with modern methods unseen in the rest of Latin America."
“Gosh?” Cuban-Americans often hear during introductions at social settings. “But you don’t look Spanish?”
“That’s probably because we’re actually from Spain,” we snark back.
Technically—of course—Matthews is wrong about Cruz and Rubio’s non-Hispanicism. But in the ebonics of current American political discourse he’s right. In current American political usage “Hispanic” has come to mean a person of mostly native American ancestry whose ancestors were conquered by people from the former Roman province known as Hispania.
So please give the American pundits I mentioned above a break. After all, most Americans have no idea what a Spanish person looks like. Immigrants from Spain were relatively rare in the U.S., even during the Great 1880-1924 spasm of European immigration. During this spasm Spain’s “huddled masses” went mostly to its former colonies, with economically developed Cuba and Argentina as top destinations.
So people with Spanish surnames in the U.S. don’t look like people with Spanish surnames in Europe, where the surname originates.
Most immigrants arrived in America poor (especially by U.S. standards.) Some arrived destitute. Almost all Cubans arrived destitute. The Castroites stole everything they owned. Yet in his classic work, The Spirit of Enterprise George Gilder titled a chapter, “The Cuban Miracle.” “No other immigrant group so quickly and successfully transformed a city, while achieving such multifarious business breakthroughs as the fugitives from Castro’s regime who made Miami their home after 1960.”
More infuriating still (for the Democrat-Media Complex,) the 2000 census showed that second-generation Cuban-Americans have educational and income levels higher–not only than most ethnic groups who dutifully punch the clock at the Democratic plantation –but also higher than the U.S. population in general.
Naturally none of these characteristics endear Cuban-Americans to liberals, especially as Cuban-Americans have traditionally voted Republican.
Forget all the $500 per-hour, carefully -coiffed and useless (if not actually harmful) Republican campaign consultant s. If you have many Mexican-American or Puerto-Rican friends ask around (discreetly) how they feel about Cuban-Americans. Best (i.e. most honest) answers will issue forth after a few Margaritas, PinaColadas or Coronas……….
See what I mean?
Liberals claim this ethnic resentment issues from the preferential treatment Cuban immigrants get vs the hard-line against other “Latino” immigrants. The “noble Cuban political refugee” vs “job-stealing wetback” immigration syndrome. But in discreet settings older Cuban-Americans will relate how this ethnic resentment far predates the Cuban Revolution.
Oh….and among the very few Cubans with both indigenous and black ancestry was Castro’s predecessor Fulgencio Batista, the grandson of slaves who was born in a palm-roofed shack and received the support of Cuba’s communist party when in elected in 1940. You’ll find him characterized in the mainstream media and Hollywood as a lily-white, right-wing oligarch.