Sociedad La Union Martí - Maceo,
Than Black: Afro-Cubans in Tampa
by Susan Greenbaum
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This engaging book follows Cuban exiles from Jose Marti's revolution to the Jim Crow South in Tampa, Florida, as they shape an Afro-Cuban-American identity over a span of five generations. Unlike most studies of the Cuban exodus to the United States, which focus on the white, middle-class, conservative exiles from Castro's Cuba, More Than Black is peopled with Afro-Cubans of more modest means and more liberal ideology. Fifteen years of collaboration between the author and members of Tampa's century-old
Marti-Maceo Society, a mutual-aid and Cuban independence group, yield a work that combines the intimacy of ethnography with the reach of oral and archival history. Its weave of rich historical and ethnographic materials re-creates and examines the developing community of black immigrants in Ybor City and West Tampa, the old cigar-making neighborhoods of the city. It is a story of unfolding consequences that begins when the black and white solidarity of emigrating Cubans comes up against Jim Crow racism and progresses through a painful renegotiation of allegiances and identities. Building on Marti's declaration that being Cuban was "more than white, more than black," this study views, from the vantage of a community unique in time and place, the joint effects of ethnicity and gender in shaping racial identities. Photographs of individuals, families, and events, both historical and contemporary, complement the highly readable text.