By Sergio Giral
In film making terminology Fade to Black means just what it implies, the disappearance of the image on the screen until all colors become black leaving nothing but a black screen. Something similar happens with Black Hispanics on television networks.
Latino immigration has caused a major shift in the demographic complexion of United State, where Cubans have gone to be the largest, living about 80% in Miami. Among these growing demography are the Black Latinos, who have gone largely unnoticed, not only to White and Black Americans, but also to Latino Americans whose own social structure historically has alienated them as a result of race.
To this end, popular culture may provide some insight, especially if we examine television – the epitome of an American popular culture. It’s known that television’s publicity spots and commercials are targeted to attract consumers and soap operas pursue ratings to accomplish sponsors investment, yet Latino TV producers avoid the presence of the Black talents on their programs. Let’s take Miami for an example.
It's seldom when nor isolated to find Black performers, anchors and programs conductors in Miami Spanish networks. Yet sport, musicians and singers are exceptions. I have the experience to be invited to a TV program and asked if I'm a musician. Why not a philosopher, a politicians or a film director? It's clear the own network suffers from lack of Black talents.
In 1959, Fidel Castro attacked the existing racial discrimination encouraging the idealistic view that it was possible to forget about racism. The case was declared solved. Since then, discussions and studies of race and racism providing an accurate picture of racial divisions on the island have been officially silenced and provoked for many years that any approach toward racial inequalities in Cuba were considered shameful and unnecessary and finally a Taboo issue.
Regardless the Cuban government promised social achievements such as free education and free health care, Cuba continuously fall down into economic crisis lower down white middle class into the traditional Black population economical status, creating a false impression of an egalitarian society. Cubans living under a totalitarian have developed a system of survival for their needs according to what restrictions are imposed the State. Consider well the Black population.
For many years Blacks in Cuba were wrongly perceived as supporters of the Castro’s regime, due to the myth of an improved quality of life. Opposite to this believe Black Cubans suffer discrimination and are considered alleged delinquents and drifters by the authorities. The penal population is almost exclusively Black. Currently, blacks and mulattos continue to be discriminated against in government leadership positions.
Focusing on Cuba’s exiled community, the first leap to Miami was wealthy and well-educated white elite who spoke English and settled in South Florida where topographical, cultural and language similarities afforded them the easiest opportunity for assimilation into U.S. society. Assimilation, however, proved to be more to difficult for Black and mestizo Cubans, especially in the traditional, racial social structure of South Florida and Miami-Dade County, in particular.
Castro’s own propaganda about social equality in Cuba and traditional racial discrimination in United States accomplished Blacks Cubans fear to be exiled.However, by 1965, the United States’ history of segregation and racism was superseded to by the achievements of its Civil Rights Movement. As a result, the potential for racial equality in the United States soon became a contributing factor in many Black Cubans’ decision to immigrate to the United States on the Mariel’s migration and the 1995 boat lift. To this end, many Black Cubans migrated to cities like New York, where other Black Latino groups had established a large and important presence.
Lately the significant compositions of Black Cuban political dissidents visiting USA has produced their presence on some Miami TV programs, proving the importance of this ethnic group on social and political Cuban life. But once again the absence of Blacks on regular programming appears to prove that Black Latinos and especially Black Cubans are a non-existent in United States or are obviously insignificant in contemporary American society.
It’s difficult to assess the impact and role of Black Latinos in American society today, as even Census data fails to accurately report upon them, allowed for the counting as “Hispanics”, but limited the reporting their race or ethnic. In South Florida, for example, 2010 census declare 75% Florida’s population to be white (57.9% were Hispanic white) and the second largest ethnic group were Black or African American at 16%, but never reported on the percentage of the count that was actually multiracial or specifically, Black Latinos. In other words, without specific data on Latino African descendants seems hard to accomplish a recording of the Black Latino and Black Cubans presence in U.S. Nevertheless Black Latinos and Black Cubans represent a demography minority group in South Florida and especially in Miami, they have played an essential cultural and social role in their nation’s history that should be recognized on the American popular culture, avoiding them to Fade to Black on the small screen.