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Latinas/os on the East Coast

A Critical Reader

Series:

Edited By Yolanda Medina and Ángeles Donoso Macaya

Latinas/os on the East Coast: A Critical Reader provides a comprehensive overview of established and contemporary research and essays written about communities that represent the Latina/o diaspora on the East Coast of the United States. Collectively, it contributes to the historical, cultural, political, and economic dynamics that affect the Latinas/os’ lived experience of the country. Analyzed through an interdisciplinary lens, this reader offers a critical examination of the policies and the practices that affect the following current and emerging themes and topics: History; Ethnicity and culture; Immigration, transnationalism, and civil rights; Education; Health; Women’s studies; Film and media studies; Queer studies; Literature; Visual and performing arts.
This book is an indispensable resource for scholars, researchers, educators, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as any individual, group, or organization interested in issues that affect Latinas/os in the United States in current times.
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“Neither Hispanic, nor Black: We’re Brazilian”

Extract



Ana Cristina Braga Martes

(translated by Allan Vidigal)

Within the United States, the terms Latino and Hispanic are considered synonyms and are often used interchangeably. This practice applies as much to common perceptions and official statistics as to certain academic studies. Immigrant groups settling in the United States have imposed different meanings on these terms, however, thereby taking part in a dynamic process which allows established historical and cultural categories to be reinterpreted and given new uses, and which itself is a result of the possibilities for these new immigrant groups to integrate into specific local institutional contexts.

In this chapter I submit the results of a survey1 carried out among Brazilian immigrants in Boston—results which show that Hispanic and Latino are two distinct categories that are not only different in content and scope (Oboler; Cashmore; Margolis 1998 and 2002; Marrow 2002) but are also mutually exclusive when subordinated to national affiliation. To be more precise, I will argue that an affiliation2 to the label Hispanic excludes the possibility of affirming Brazilian identity; and, indeed, in many cases, being Brazilian stands precisely for emphasis on the negative statement: I am not Hispanic.

Like ethnic categories, racial categories are social constructs; Brazilian immigrants use different racial affiliation criteria from those appearing in the U.S. racial affiliation “pattern.” As first-generation immigrants, Brazilians apply the same criteria they used previously in Brazil. Just as they do not define themselves as Hispanic, they...

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