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Contemporary afro-cuban voices in tampa :
b reclaiming heritage in "america's next greatest city"
h [electronic resource] /
by Linda Callejas.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
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Dissertation (PHD)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
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ABSTRACT: This dissertation presents findings from ethnographic research conducted with members of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo, established by segregated Black Cuban cigar workers in Ybor City in 1904. For decades, Tampa officials have initiated numerous urban revitalization projects aimed at developing a world-class tourist destination and metropolitan center. Often, these efforts have centered on highlighting the ethnic history of Ybor City, from which the participation of Black Cubans and the Mart-Maceo Society have been actively excluded or ignored. The main issues related to contemporary Afro- Cuban identity in Tampa and which will be examined in my dissertation, include the changing nature of the Afro-Cuban community in Tampa in light of increases in migration of Cubans and other Latinos of color to the area; Mart-Maceo members' struggle to reclaim an Afro-Cuban heritage within Tampa's larger historic preservation efforts over the past decade; and an examination of the Mart-Maceo Society as a voluntary association that appears to have outlived its usefulness in present-day Tampa despite efforts by elderly members to sustain and expand it.
Advisor: Susan D. Greenbaum, Ph.D.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Contemporary Afro-Cuban Voices in Tampa: Reclaiming Heritage in Americas Next Greatest City by Linda M. Callejas A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Anthropology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Susan D. Greenbaum, Ph.D. Kevin A. Yelvington, D.Phil. S. Elizabeth Bird, Ph.D. Cheryl R. Rodriguez, Ph.D. James C. Cavendish, Ph.D. Date of Approval: October 14, 2010 Keywords: identity formation, historic preservation, voluntary associations, Cuban Diaspora, African Diaspora Copyright 2010, Linda M. Callejas
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TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES iii LIST OF FIGURES iv ABSTRACT v CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 1 Background: Establishment of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo 3 The Ybor City Historic District a nd Its Ethnic Mutual Aid Societies 7 Research Goals and Questions 18 Assigning Names/Assuming Identitie s: A Note on Nomenclature 20 Reflections on the Role of the An thropologist in this Research 23 Dissertation Organization 26 CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW 28 Lo Cubano: Cuban Nationalist Discourse 29 Understanding Race in Cuba in the 19 th Century 37 Constructing Identity in the United States: Black or Latino? 41 Nostalgia and Memory in Afro-Cuban Historic Preservation 52 CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY 59 Analysis of Qualitative Data 60 In-depth Interviews 61 Surveys 64 IRB Approval of Study 66 CHAPTER FOUR: THE EVERYDAY BUSI NESS OF BLACK CUBAN HERITAGE REPRESENTATION 68 Cubans in Tampa: Common Hist ory, Different Trajectories 68 Initial Impressions: The Mart-Maceo So ciety Is a Private Organization 80 Charting a Course for the Future 84 An Offer to Merge and Make History from Havana to New York 96 Where Do We Go From Here? 110 i
CHAPTER FIVE: WHILE WE REME MBER OUR PAST, LET US NOT FORGET THE FUTURE 118 It Is Vital that We Update Our Image, Goals, and Expectations 118 Participating in Ybor City Cultural Events: Local Festivals and Parades 129 A Change in Leadership 132 CHAPTER SIX: BLACK CUB AN IDENTITY IN TAMPA 144 We Are Cubans First, Black or White 144 Individual Perceptions of Racial and Ethnic Identity: Survey Results 154 Comparison of Responses Related to Identity 157 Forging a Collective Identity 175 CHAPTER SEVEN: RECLAIMING AN AFRO-CUBAN HERITAGE IN AMERICAS NEXT GREATEST CITY 183 The Politics of Historic Preservation in Tampa 185 Marketing Ybor City Heritage 194 CHAPTER EIGHT: WITH AN EYE TO WARD THE NEXT 100 YEARS 204 We Need to Do Something: Recommendations from Members 204 Collective Identity and Organizational Memory 214 Conclusions 222 CHAPTER NINE: REFERENCES CITED 232 ii
LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Composition of Cuban Populati on Free vs. Slave, Percentage Distribution, 1755-1817 39 Table 2. Racial Composition of Cuban P opulation, Percentage Distribution, 1841-1899 39 Table 3. Ethnic Identity, Self-Report 158 Table 4. Ethnic Identity of Current/Most Recent Spouse 160 Table 5. Use of Spanish Language and Transmission within Family 162 Table 6. How Often Eat Cuban Food 163 Table 7. Preferred Media Outlets 164 iii
LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. The former El Centro Espaol de Tampa. 13 Figure 2: LUnione Italiana located on 7 th Avenue and 17 th Street. 14 Figure 3. The first Mart-Maceo Soci al Hall, originally located on 6 th Aveunue & 11 th Street. 15 Figure 4. The current Mart-Maceo Social Hall. 15 Figure 5. El Crculo Cubano de Tampa, located on Palm Avenue and 15 th Street. 16 Figure 6. El Centro Asturiano de Tampa. 16 Figure 7. Modified version of the Y bor City Historic District Map 19 Figure 8.Distribution of Survey Responses 155 Figure 9. Respondents Place of Birth 155 Figure 10. Respondents Place of Birth 156 Figure 11. Parents Place of Birth 156 Figure 12. Respondents Highe st Grade Completed 157 Figure 13. A full rendition of the Ybor City Historic District Map 190 iv
Contemporary Afro-Cuban Voices in Tampa: Reclaiming Heritage in Americas Next Greatest City Linda M. Callejas ABSTRACT This dissertation presents findings from ethnographic research conducted with members of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo, es tablished by segregated Black Cuban cigar workers in Ybor City in 1904. For decades, Tampa officials have initiated numerous urban revitalization projects aimed at deve loping a world-class t ourist destination and metropolitan center. Often, these efforts have centered on highlighting the ethnic history of Ybor City, from which the participation of Black Cubans and the Mart-Maceo Society have been actively excluded or ignored. The main issues related to contemporary AfroCuban identity in Tampa and which will be examined in my dissertation, include the changing nature of the Afro-Cuban community in Tampa in light of increases in migration of Cubans and other Latinos of color to the area; Mart-Maceo members struggle to reclaim an Afro-Cuban heritage w ithin Tampas larger historic preservation efforts over the past decade; and an exam ination of the Mart-Maceo Society as a voluntary association that appears to have outlived its usef ulness in present-day Tampa despite efforts by elderly memb ers to sustain and expand it. v
1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION ItÂ’s embarrassing to have to give a fi nal report like th isÂ…Unfortunately, the majority of our members have pa ssed, are elderly, are sick. We need a new generation of people. Having a function doesnÂ’t mean you open the doors and the function happens. It requi res a lot of legw ork, a lot of phone calls, a lot of time, a lot of people. And we donÂ’t have that many people. (Mart-Maceo treasurer, general memb ership meeting, November 13, 1999). The work here presented is based on fieldwork conducted over a decade with a historical ethnic society in Tampa, Florida. My work with the Sociedad La Unin MartMaceo began in August of 1999, when I en tered the doctoral program in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Flor ida. Having worked previously on projects examining questions of ethnic identify fo rmation and community representation among Cubans in Miami, Florida, IÂ’d come to Tampa to investigate racial identity among contemporary Cuban-Americans. In this disse rtation, I focus on the question of identity as it relates to the efforts of current memb ers of Sociedad La Union Mart-Maceo to reformulate their ethnic social club, which be gan as a mutual aid society, into a viable community organization. The question of id entity emerges as a continuous theme among Mart-Maceo members as they struggle to keep their organization in existence in a
2 historical context vastly diffe rent from the one in which the organization developed and thrived. The quote that opens this chapter aptly illustrates the membersÂ’ feelings and perceptions about their expe riences and their organizati onÂ’s future. Although the quote was recorded during a general membership m eeting in 1999, similar sentiments continue to be expressed a decade later. This chap ter outlines the main issues related to contemporary Afro-Cuban identity in Tampa and examined in this dissertation: the changing nature of the Afro-Cuban community in Tampa given increases in migration of Cubans and other Latinos of color to the area, efforts to reclaim an Afro-Cuban heritage within TampaÂ’s larger historic preserva tion efforts over the past decade, and an examination of the Mart-Maceo Society as a voluntary association that appears to have outlived its usefulness in contemporary Tamp a despite efforts by elderly members to sustain and expand it for the past ten years. This research aims to contribute to th e anthropological literature on identity formation, memorialization, hist oric preservation, and volunta ry associations, as well as literature in the areas of migr ation studies, Latina/o studie s, and the African Diaspora. The dissertation expands on fieldwork conducte d with the members of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo by examining the issues outlined above among contemporary AfroCubans in Tampa, who have, over the past half a century, experi enced a generalized dispersion of their once insula r and close-knit community.
3 Background: Establishment of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo The historic organization known today as Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo was officially formed in Ybor City in March 19041. Its members, mostly Black Cubans, had originally come together with White Cubans in 1899 to form an integrated mutual aid society for cigar workers i nvolved in the Cuban independe nce war effort known as El Club Nacional Cubano, Octubre 10 (See Gree nbaum, 2002: 104; Mirabl, 1998: 48-50). The Club Nacional Cubano had been establishe d that year in acknowledgement of the shared struggle against Spanish rule by Cubans, Black and White. This solidarity, however, was short lived and th e reason given for the ejectio n of Black members was not officially accounted for in the contem porary organizational documents of the organizations that eventually formed as a result of the break (Greenbaum 2002: 104-106; Mirabl 1998: 49-50). However, the enmity that this split engendered has remained for a century. The Black Cubans who were expelled from the Club Nacional Cubano met independently, and formed Los libres pensadores de Mart y Maceo (Greenbaum 2002:108). Eventually, this organization merged with another Black Cuban mutual aid society and became what is now known as th e Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo or the Mart-Maceo Society, in English. The White Cubans that remained in the original organization subsequently adopted a new name, El Crculo Cubano de Tampa which is also still in existence. Interviews with me mbers of the historically White Cuban club and the current official version of Mart-MaceoÂ’s inception attribute the split to segregation 1 Today, the Mart-Maceo Society recognizes Octobe r 26, 1900 Â—the date on which the Club Nacional Cubano was foundedÂ— as its original founding date. The organization has updated its by-laws and other official documents using this date to illustrate the continuous existence and participation of Black Cubans in Ybor CityÂ’s cigar industry and ethnic societies.
4 laws of the era, which prohibited or violently discouraged racial solidarity, and minimizes prevailing racial prejudices with in the Cuban immigrant community. Interviews with contemporary members of the Mart-Maceo Soci ety have elicited different opinions as to the causes for the split. Some of them do a ttribute the ejection of Black members to the prevailing laws and customs of the era, which discouraged the establishment of interracial organizations. However, others believe the split had more to do with racial prejudice on the part of White Cubans who no longer saw a need for racial fraternity given the successful conclusion of th e War of Independence against Spain.2 The lack of official record makes it difficult to ascertain which of these reasons may have produced the break ultimately and in all actuality, a combination of these reasons and perhaps, other unknown forces may have been responsible. Black Cuban cigar workers and their families comprised the smallest proportion of the immigrants that settle d in Ybor City. In 1890, the census estimated a total of 1,313 Cubans in Tampa, and of these Greenbaum (2002: 98) estimates that 197 were Black Cuban. By 1910, their numbers had grown to about 900, compared to over 5,000 White Cubans, nearly 4,000 Italians, and approxi mately 3,700 Spaniards (Greenbaum, 2002: 98). The eventual establishment of the Soci edad La Unin Mart-Maceo by this small sub-population within the immigrant enclave und erscores a number of important factors. The first is that Â“Mart-Maceo became a formal arbiter of color classification within the Latin communityÂ” (Greenbaum 2002: 119). Those who chose to join and those who were told they had no other option became marked racially as being distinct from the members of the Crculo Cubano and the other White et hnic populations in Ybor City. Despite their 2 For a more thorough recounting of the ejection of Black Cubans from the Club Nacional Cubano and of the establishment of the Soci edad La Unin Mart-Maceo, s ee Greenbaum (2002: 103-108).
5 relatively small numbers, however, Black Cuba ns were able to pool together economic, social, and cultural capital to establish an important communal center that made resources available to Black Cubans which would have otherwise been denied them. The subsequent construction of th eir two story social hall, which included a ballroom and cantina was a physical testament to the esta blishment of communal resources. However, because of its smaller membership the social hall was much less grand than the ornate buildings constructed by the other mutual aid societies in the area. Historical research shows that racial segregation of social clubs and other facilities had been an established norm in Cuba, where slavery continued officially until 1886 (Robinson 2000; Helg 1995), and which pe rsisted following manumission. Either way, the organizationÂ’s name appears to have been a statement on the part of MartMaceo Society founders invoking the two grea t Cuban independence heroes who called for racial solidarity in the fight for inde pendence from Spain, Jos Mart and Antonio Maceo. In her work with this community Greenbaum (2002: 171) characterizes the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo as Â“emobod[yi ng] the social and cultural capital held by Afro-Cubans in Tampa, functions that were highly intertwined with the economic capital that it represented.Â” The main function of the organization was to provide medical and death benefits for its members Â—primarily ma le cigar workersÂ— who paid a nominal fee in return for coverage of lost wages in the event of illness and/or burial benefits in the event of death. However, the organization pr ovided much more to its members and their families, who were very much involved in a variety of additional social and educational activities. The society held numerous pr ograms for youth, a Â“ladies committeeÂ” that organized dances, picnics, and other celebrati ons, cultural events that celebrated their
6 Cuban heritage, as well as plays and other performances (Greenbaum 2002: 172). The society eventually also included a librar y. The organization, then, provided TampaÂ’s Black Cubans with a nearly all-encompa ssing venue for social, cultural, and other resources that, in effect, shield ed them from the many privati ons that the prevailing racial customs may have placed on them. Moreover, as a result of their ties to the organization and the fact that they lived in Ybor City Â—where residential segregation was much less stringent than the rest of TampaÂ— they were able to avoid some of the more dehumanizing aspects of the local Jim Crow strictures of the day. Despite purported restrictions on public organizing between Whites and Blacks in Tampa, Black Cubans worked alongside White Cubans and other White immigrants in Ybor CityÂ’s cigar factories, an anomaly give n the racial norms of the time. Although they were unable to reach the more prestigious pos itions within the factories (Mirabl 1998: 50), Black Cubans received comparatively more pay than their African American contemporaries (who by and large did not work in the cigar factories as rollers). In addition, the benefits afforded through member ship in Mart-Maceo provided them with Â“access to financial and organizational resource s far in excess of what was available to African Americans during the Reconstruction eraÂ” (Greenbaum 1991:10). The realities of segregation, however, meant th at Cubans who were Black experienced discrimination and segregation within their neighborhood, as well as in the larger public sphere outside of Ybor City (Mirabl 1998: 51-52). Nevertheless, Afro-Cuba ns were generally accepted as fellow immigrants, evidenced through the relatively cordial relationships they maintained as neighbors and co-workers w ithin the Ybor City immigrant community.
7 GreenbaumÂ’s research in the 1980s with members of the Mart-Maceo Society, (most now deceased) does indicate that a numbe r of Afro-Cubans experienced the abrupt termination of friendships that had survived migration to Tampa from Cuba. In addition, some present-day members have recounted knowledge of being passed on the street by extended family members who no longer acknowledged them because they were generally identified as White within the wide r immigrant enclave. Others have recounted experiencing discrimination at popular Ybor City establishments where they were expected to use back doors or small windows. 3 As Greenbaum notes: Â…white immigrants did practice active discrimination Â—they often reflected subtle racist attitudes in th eir interactions, and gained certain obvious advantages from the exclusion of blacksÂ— because the setting both encouraged and permitted them to do so. It was part of learning to be an American, a prerogative attached to their white skin (Greenbaum 2002:108). The Mart-Maceo Society provided members with the means by which to differentiate themselves from African Ameri cans in the eyes of the local White racist power structure and the other Wh ite immigrants of Ybor Cit y, despite the social status they shared with African Am ericans as second-class citizen s. One fundamental strategy used by first, second and perhaps even, some third generation families was to maintain 3 The fact that White immigrants, including White Cubans, practiced overt discrimination has rarely been addressed in historical accounts of immigrant life in Ybor City (See Mormino and Pozzetta 1987; Pacheco 1994). However, a number of my informants have ou tlined specific instances and locales within Ybor City where they were expected to accept, and in fact, did accept such practices as a matter of course.
8 strong ties to other Cuban families thereby cultivating friendships and marriage partners for younger generations. As one informant notes Â“We were taught [by our parents] that, although we were black, we werenÂ’t supposed to do the things that Black Americans do, because we were better than Black Ameri cansÂ” (Greenbaum 2002: 224). This practical strategy helped to maintain a relatively pros perous Afro-Cuban encl ave in TampaÂ’s cigar worker community into the 1930s and evoke s research with Black immigrant groups today (See Bailey 2000; Benson 2006; Butc her 1994; Waters 1990). However, the Depression and the eventual decline of the cigar factories signaled the end of Black Cuban isolation from African Americans. Fo llowing this period, Afro-Cuban ties to the African American community grew due to increased contact between the Black Cuban and American youth and young adults, interma rriage, and Black Cuban involvement in the Civil Rights Movement (Greenbaum 2002:224-302). From 1940-1965, membership in the MartMaceo Society began to decrease substantially as many members migrated to Ne w York and other Northeastern states to look for jobs following the increasing mech anization of TampaÂ’s factories. Urban Renewal4 in Tampa dealt a particularly harsh blow to the organization when the original Mart-Maceo Social Hall (known colloquially as the Â“Cuban Club PatioÂ”) was bulldozed in 1965, along with over 50 per cent of the properties and ho mes in Ybor City (Garcia 2006; Greenbaum 2002: 294-295). The Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo attempted the first of numerous contemporary efforts at re vival in the 1970s fo llowing the purchase of 4 The federal Urban Renewal program was established with passage of the landmark Housing Act of 1949, which allowed for Â“slum clearanceÂ”/land acquisition, construction of public housing projects, and redevelopment of U.S. cities. Its implementation between 1950 and 1970, at times undertaken in conjunction with the construction of interstate highways, often resulted in the disproportionate displacement of Blacks and other urban populations of color and the destruction of their neighborhoods (See Bright 2000; Gotham 2001).
9 an old warehouse on Ybor CityÂ’s main avenue. As members worked to revive the organization, factions emerged that emphasi zed ethnic and intergenerational differences among them. By this time, members who had migrated to New York had returned to Tampa and began frequenting the organiza tion once again. However, as Greenbaum notes (2002: 298-299): [t]his emergent awakening was not without friction. The New Yorkers Â…tended to hang together because they knew each other better. Many of them married Puerto RicansÂ…some ha d married other Cubans, but very few married African Americans. Most of the Afro-Cubans who stayed in Tampa had married African Americans. The new mixture of spouses and in-law s, whose ethnic differences aligned with the old-timer/newcomer split, also a black/Hispanic split, was another subtle distinction and a factor th at unsettled the Cubanness of the club... Some of [the members] who stayed in Tampa criticized what they perceived as an air of superiority in the New Yorkers, based on these various differences, and their greater educational and employment a dvantages in New York. Their childhood friends, who moved away and avoided many of the problems that they had to face growing up in the South, did not seem to appreciate the battles they had fought. Mart-MaceoÂ’s membership has continued to wax and wane since the 1970s; the official membership roster currently enum erates over 100 members. However, monthly
10 general membership meetings rarely generate attendance of more than 20 members, and some meetings may only include 12 to 15 member s in total. Of the members that attend general membership meetings regularly, about 15 are descendents of early members who were active in the Mart-Maceo Societ y prior to 1930. The cleavages Greenbaum identified in her work with the club rema in among contemporary members, although they have somehow managed to co-exist, if awkwardl y at times. With regard to current efforts aimed at revitalizing the club in the face of numerous chal lenges to their continued existence, the question of collective identi ty emerges as a salient one. As current members of the Mart-Maceo Society struggle to chart a course for the future, questions about identity representation, the organi zationÂ’s place among contemporary Cuban clubs in Tampa, and the past they seek to Â“pre serve,Â” abound. These questi ons follow historical trajectories developed throughout the rich a nd multi-layered history of TampaÂ’s AfroCuban community. The Ybor City Historic District and Its Ethnic Mutual Aid Societies Much of the literature focusing on the historical development of mutual aid societies emphasizes the importance of community developed among its members. Williams and Williams (1992: 26) define mutual aid societies as those organizations that exhibit the following Â“common characteristicsÂ”: (1) some kind of formal, institutionalized structure; (2) the exclusion of some people; (3) members with common in terests or purposes; and
11 (4) members with a discernable sens e of pride and feeling of belonging. Although Williams and Williams (2002:4) assert that mutual aid societies Â“are not based on kinship or territory,Â” Greenbaum (1991:97) de fines mutual aid as Â“an extension of the kinship groupÂ…a system of generalized exchangeÂ” within which members of an association take care of one another (See also Uehara 1990; Sahlins 1972). For the purposes of this discussion, I define a few term s that will help clarif y the type of mutual aid that was provided by the et hnic societies esta blished in Ybor C ity between 1890 and 1902. A mutual aid association refers to voluntary exchange relationships, formal and informal, developed and maintained by individu als for the purposes of communal benefit. A prime example of a mutual aid associati on is a rotating credit association, used by social groups around the world to pool individua l funds with a set number of participants toward the creation of an accumulated savi ngs and credit funds, accessible to those members on a regularly recurring basis (Pur cell 2000; Velez-Ibaez 1983; Geertz 1962; See also Huggins 1997; Brown 1992). Another prime example is the Jewish Â“family circleÂ” chronicled by Mi tchell (1978). While such associations may be highly formalized, they are often limited in size a nd are not highly bureaucratized. Mutual aid organizations or societies refer to formal, corporate organizatio ns, voluntary in natu re, and established specifically to provide benefits to workers and their families Â—most often in the event of illness or death. Mutual aid societies are much more highly bureaucratized than mutual aid associations; they have been identified by a variety of names including mutual benefit societies and benevolent societies. Exampl es of mutual aid societies include the Unin Mexicana in Laredo, Texas (Zamora, Orozco, and Rocha, 2000) and the Sociedad La
12 Unin Mart-Maceo the focus of this dissertation. A proliferation of such organizations emerged in this country in the nineteenth centu ry and used ethnicity and/or religion as the common point for connection among their re spective members (Be ito: 2000; Burnham 1997; De Len 2001; Greenbaum 1991; Nolt 1998; Williams and Williams 1992). The widespread nature of these ethnic societies, despite mainstream di sapproval at the time for ethnic maintenance and/or communalism, has been linked to the immigration waves that characterized much of the nineteenth century and the rise of industrialization in this country (Burnham 1997; Garca 1996; Soyer 198 8). Although many of them incorporated native traditions of communal organization, such as European artisan guilds or the Cuban cabildo, such organizations became an important and defining feature of the American landscape (Rosenband 1999; Epstein 1998; Howard 1998; Nolt 1998; Burnham 1997; Garca 1996). Burnham (1997:13-14 ) characterizes the creation of these organizations at the turn of the 20th Century as one of a series adaptive strategies that immigrants used to create viable economic institutions and which, in turn, provided an effective mechanism for easing the process of assimilation by providi ng Â“financial security in very insecure circumstances.Â” The benefits provided by mutual aid orga nizations included payments to sick members who could not work, payments to assi st in membersÂ’ burial costs and/or other forms of financial assistance for members in need. These members were expected to pay dues Â—relatively small, but regular payments as a condition of membership from which benefits were generated.5 Aside from providing sick and death benefits, such organizations have been characterized as providing a sense of shared communal tie 5 When the Sociedad La Un in Mart-Maceo was established, its memb ers were expected to pay dues of 25 cents, each week (Greenbaum 1991: 95).
13 Figure 1. The former El Centro Espaol de Tampa. This building, their second, was constructed in 1912. through a variety of cultural and social activities (Beito 1994 ; Garca; Soyer 1988; Williams and Williams 1992). The first mutual aid society establis hed in Ybor City, Florida was the Centro Espaol which was formed by Spanish factory owners and their workers in 1892. The membership included Spaniards mainly from the regions of Galicia and Asturias, bringing together individuals with regional differences and conflicts in their native Spain. Along with mutual aid benefits, the society establ ished its own hospital in 1904 (Long 1965). The Centro Espaol closed in the late 1950s, and its build ing faade forms part of the Centro Ybor shopping complex on Seventh Avenue, Ybor CityÂ’s main thoroughfare (Figure 1). LÂ’Unione Italiana (also known today as Â“The Ita lian ClubÂ”) was formed in 1894 by workers and merchants who were part of the cigar industry economy. As with the Centro Espaol the organization brought together individuals who tended to view themselves by their regional affiliations rath er than as fellow countrymen (Mormino and Pozzetta 1998:188-193), According to Mormino and Pozzetta (1998), LÂ’Unione Italiana was modeled very closely on the Centro Espaol and in addition to mutual aid benefits, the organization constructed a cemetery for its members. LÂ’Unione Italiana is still in
14 Figure 2. LÂ’Unione Italiana located on 7th Avenue and 17th Street. existence today and perhaps, boasts the larges t, most active membership of the remaining ethnic societies in Ybor C ity. The building is owned by a non-profit corporation, The Italian Club of Tampa, Inc., which is responsible for decisionmaking and general upkeep of the building. Building costs are generally covered through rentals and multiple fundraising campaigns held by the members of LÂ’Unione Italiana (Figure 2.) El Club Nacional Cubano, Octubre 10 was founded in 1899 and included both White and Black Cuban cigar workers, most of whom were highly involved in supporting the independence effort against Spain. As noted earlier in th is introduction, the organization split in 1900 when Black Cubans left the organization. The Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo was established by Black Cuban cigar workers in March 1904 (after merging with another Black Cuban mutual aid society), and construction of their social hall was completed in 1909. The two-story building, which included a ballroom and cantina, was located on 6th Avenue and 11th Street in Ybor City (Figure 3.). Of the remaining ethnic societies in Ybor City, the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo is the only one in which the general membership reta ins collective ownership over its current property and owns it outright. See Figure 4. Th e general membership is responsible for
15Figure 3. The first Mart-Maceo Social Hall, originally located on 6th Aveunue & 11th Street. decision-making related to upkeep and other issues pertaining to the building. As a consequence of the loss of its first social hall to the Urban Renewal program in 1965, it is also the only one of the historic societies that has not been deemed eligible for listing as a state or national historic landmark. However, the organization incorporated as a federal non-profit corporation in 2004 in hopes of securing grants and external funding to help them with efforts to improve their property. The White Cuban members of the Club Nacional remained in the organization, but renamed it in 1902 as El Crculo Cubano and eventually erected their building on Palm Avenue and 15th Street in 1917 (Figure 5). The Crculo Cubano building is owned by a non-profit organization formed by a group of local investors, The Cuban Club Foundation, Inc. The foundation is responsible for Figure 4. The current Mart-Maceo Social Hall. It is located on 7th Avenue, just east of Nuccio Parkway.
16 mortgage payments on the building, general decisionmaking about how the building is used, and general upkeep of the building. The buildingÂ’s future has been in jeopardy in the past decade due to financial difficulties, which nearly resulted in foreclosure (Ackerman 2001). Costs are covered through aggressive building rentals and some fundraising efforts on the part of Crculo Cubano members. El Centro Asturiano was founded in 1902, and it was th e largest of the mutual aid societies in Tampa. The organization provided a space for immigrants from the Asturias region of Spain. However, its membership requirements were relatively relaxed and included members of various ethnic groups including Italians, White Cubans, and Sp aniards from other regions (Greenbaum 2002:153-154; Mormino and Pozzetta 1998:182). In addition to the mutual aid benefits Figure 6. El Centro Asturiano de Tampa. The building is located on the corner of Ne braska and Palm Avenues. Figure 5. El Crculo Cubano de Tampa, located on Palm Avenueand15 th Street.
17 the society provided, it established a hospita l and two cemeteries for its members. The Centro Asturiano property (F igure 6) is owned by a non-prof it corporation, the Centro Asturiano De Tampa, Inc. Ownership and upke ep of the building is maintained through building rentals and fundraising activities on the part of members. The Centro Asturiano membership is still active, and hosts a number of activities for its members and participates in multiple community activities in Tampa. The first floor of the building, which used to serve as its cantina, now hosts a restaurant. Each of the organizations profiled in this section faced a decline in membership and activities, which was precipitated by the ge neral decline in the ci gar industry in Ybor City beginning in the 1930s. By the 1980s, th ey were all struggli ng not to close their doors as the Centro Espaol had done thirty years earlier (Greenbaum 2002:306). The research literature on mutual aid societies poi nts to a general decline in their existence around the country, especially after the Second World War. Researchers speculate that this decline was spurred in part by: the em ergence of the welfare state (Beito 1994); and the emergence of commercial insurance agen cies (Nolt 1996:43). Over all, the research literature on mutual aid societies leaves the impression that such organizations have all but outlived their usefulness. Fo r the ethnic societies of Ybor City this means that the mutual aid benefits that they once offere d are no longer availabl e to their members. However, the maintenance of social and ki nship ties and an empha sis on shared cultural and social celebrations has assumed a more important role among those that remain in operation today. Although these functions were secondary to the economic benefits that were originally distributed among members of the early ethnic societies, the social
18 aspects of these organizations were also extremely important and provided a communal gathering place for the ethnic immigr ant populations of Ybor City. Figure 7 is a modified versi on of the Ybor City Histor ic District Map (City of Tampa 1996-2010) which highlights the location of each of the ethni c societies outlined above. Research Goals and Questions The main questions addressed through this research are: 1. What purpose does the Mart-Maceo Societ y serve in the lives of its current members? Does this voluntary association continue to be an adaptive mechanism for TampaÂ’s Afro-Cubans (see Woodard, 1987; Sa ssen-Koob, 1979; Kerri 1976), or is it an organization that has outlived its purpos e? If so, why do members continue to struggle to maintain the Mart-Maceo in operation although the organization no longer serves large numbers of Black Cubans? (See Wacquant, 1998; Saltman, 1990.) 2. How do the current members of the Mart-Ma ceo Society and their relatives identified in the United States as Â“BlackÂ” or of African-descent) self-identify? Does their presence or experiences in this country confound theorizing in th e areas of immigrant assimilation or identity formation as various authors suggest? (See Rodrguez 2000).
19Figure 7. Modified version of the Yb or City Historic Dist rict Map. The full map shows the boundaries of the local and national historic dist ricts and is one of the sources used by the city to determine whether a structure is contributing or non-contributing to th e historic district (City of Tampa 1996-2010). The map shows the location of each of the historic ethnic societ ies in Tampa and highlights the former location of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo.
20 3. Does an Afro-Cuban American community ex ist in present-day Tampa or is this community (and associated ethnic identity) tied to the continued existence of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo in the Ybor City Historic District? Assigning Names/Assuming Identities: A Note on Nomenclature As Greenbaum (2002:27) notes, "the slip pery nature of racial and ethnic categories" provide anything but "objective clarity" with re gard to use of such terms especially in the case of the Black Cuban community of Tampa. The term afrocubano is often attributed to Fernando Or tiz, who used it in 1906 in his book Los negros brujos a study purporting to link criminality with African ancestry and which has been characterized by some as ascribing a negativ e connotation to the term early on in the creation of the Cuban nation (Dhouti 2001; Ortiz 1995). However, archival research suggests that in this work Ortiz was consciously reinterpreting the term, which Cuban historiographers argue is more aptly attributed to Antonio de Veita, who used it in 1847 with little popular reception (See Di az, 2005:230; Rodrguez-Mangual, 2004:16). Despite his early negative characterization of African religions and their adherents in Cuba, Ortiz explained his use of afrocubano as well as the widely cited Â“transculturation,Â” as necessary to more accurately convey the dual nature of Cuban identity and the complex creolization process which forged it.6 Nevertheless, although the 6 Researchers continue to go back and forth on whethe r OrtizÂ’s early bias against African religious practices in Cuba ever allowed him to accura tely examine the contri butions of African-descent peoples to Cuban cultural development. Rodriguez-Mangual (2004) suggests that the work of Lydia Cabrera, OrtizÂ’s sisterin-law, more ably placed Afro-Cuba ns at the center of the ethnogra phic enterprise in this regard.
21 Afrocubanismo movement in Cuba briefly celebr ated the contribution of Africaninfluenced cultural forms during the 1920s and 30s, afrocubano did not gain wide acceptance for use among Cubans, especially those identified as Black and Mulatto, precisely because of this negative associat ion (See Moore 1997). My research with current members of the Mart -Maceo Society suggests that this negative association persists. On several occasions, I have been directly challenged about the continued use of the term Â“Afro-CubanÂ” on the part of Â“int ellectualsÂ” by Mart-M aceo Society members who claim to have "no relationship to Af rica" (Callejas 2001). Members making this argument insist that identifying oneself as a hyphenated Cuban diminishes one's identity as a Cuban, first and foremost a discussion that appears to corrobor ate de la Fuente's characterization of the way in which the C uban ideology of racial democracy operates (2001:52-54). Current members vary widely with regard to self-identification preferences, as this research will show. With regard to the title of this study, I have decided to use the term Afro-Cuban to describe communities within larger Cuba n populations in this country who have historically experienced segregation, discri mination, and/or marginalization because of their ascribed or embraced "racial identity," whether in the United States or Cuba. The underlying marker of this iden tity is Blackness, whether de fined by other Cuban migrants or the wider (White) U.S. society, which serv es to tie these groups to larger groups of African-descent peoples with a not-so-distant history of slav ery and/or state sanctioned segregation and discrimination. For analytical purposes, I therefor e seek to link the communities to be studied to a larger African diaspora, as well as a Cuban diaspora.
22 However, I do this with the recognition that such nomenclature appe ars to go against the expressed wishes of some of the informants w ho have helped me to date. In deference to these considerations, I use the term "Black Cuban" more often Â—which seems more palatable to the majority of current MartMaceo membersÂ— albeit interchangeably with "Afro-Cuban." I will continue to do so in any future publ ication of this research. As to the capitalization of racial cat egories, after much consideration and reference to the existing research literature I decided to capitalize th e categories, Â“BlackÂ” and Â“WhiteÂ” and do so when these are paired wi th an ethnic label, as in Â“Black Cuban.Â” Although the anthropological di scipline has been clear th at race is not a biological determinant and thus, not an accurate ba sis upon which to classify or separate populations, the political and social realitie s of post-colonial nations like the United States and Cuba require more nuanced examin ation of the use of such labels. Scholars who study the racial labeling of African-descent peoples in this country have noted that along with struggles as to the actual terms us ed, capitalization of r acial labels has been advocated for as a means of affording a modi cum of discursive pa rity (superf icial though it may seem to some) between the U.S. Bl ack population and other ethnic groups (See Smith, 1992; Litwack, 1980:541; Be nnett, 1970:378). Capitalizati on of racial categories in this work therefore in keeping with this tradition, as well as literature that suggests ongoing preference for the continuing use of the term Â“BlackÂ” Â—especially among individuals who pointedly rec ognize a political dimension to their racial identity (See Brown, 1999).
23 Reflections on the Role of the An thropologist in this Research When I began fieldwork with the So ciedad La Unin Mart-Maceo and its members, I expected my Â“entry into the fiel dÂ” to be fairly smooth for a number of reasons. I had previously worked on various projects with Cuban populations in Miami, and felt that my ability to speak Spanish a nd my previous experiences would help me transition easily into the field and estab lish relationships with key informants. I was also to be Susan GreenbaumÂ’s assi stant, who had been working with the organization since the mid-1980s when member s at the time asked her to research the communityÂ’s history and counteract efforts to exclude them from the Â“official maps and documents identifying Â‘significant structuresÂ’ in the projected Y bor City historic district (1990:68). Like community resi dents elsewhere who had esta blished relationships with anthropologists (e.g. Halperin, 1998), the me mbers of the Mart-Maceo Society were mobilizing to check unrestrained development that threatened their physical location by reclaiming and celebrating their heritage. By the time I began working with the organization and its members in 1999, Greenbaum served as the organizationÂ’s histor ian and as an advocate who could help the members address concerns over local redevelopm ent in the area. What I didnÂ’t realize at the time was that I would be one of severa l students who were already working with the organization. In addition, the fact that the members were mostly elderly made establishing relationships a little more di fficult than IÂ’d anticipated. Many of them assumed that I was a young undergraduate st udent (as they assumed the other USF graduate students were), and although they were nice and made small talk from time to time, they were not as easy to approach as IÂ’d initially hoped. My fluency in Spanish did
24 help over time in the establishment of persona l relationships. However, strict rules about who could participate actively in meetings also meant that USF students (myself included) were to remain quiet and observe during meetings. My ability to speak Spanish allowed me to take copious notes fairly unobt rusively and allowed me to observe rather freely in the first six months of fieldwork. Over time, however, the members began to rely on me more and more Â— especially once our initial project was completed and GreenbaumÂ’s continual presence at the organization diminished somewhat. As I outline in subsequent chapters of this dissertation, after a year and a half of watching me take no tes and provide clarification when questions arose as to events at m eetings or during Mart-Maceo activities, the members asked me to help them ensure the accuracy of meeting minutes. The organizationÂ’s record-keeping was done enti rely by hand, in composition books or spiral notebooks. This not only made minutes difficult to read du ring meetings, it made going back to verify certain votes or events a chal lenge, as well. At each meeting, I would bring my previous notes typed, which helped in th is regard. By late 2002, I had been given the opportunity to become a dues-paying member of the organization, which I did in order to provide them with the much needed funds e xpected from regular members. In return, I was given the privilege of voting in meetings and to benefit from any privileges afforded to members (mostly, discounts in the cost to attend Mart-Maceo events). In 2003 when a new governing board was voted in, I was no minated to serve as Vice-Secretary. Although I accepted the opportunity to b ecome a dues-paying member without too much consideration, I did have serious reservations about s itting on the governing board of the organization Â—albeit in a very limited capacity. I questioned just how much
25 I would be able to continue to observe and document Mart-Maceo membersÂ’ efforts to contest efforts to exclude them from the ongoing development and hi storic preservation efforts in Ybor City without trying to consci ously manage this pro cess myself. My intent, in working with the Sociedad La Unin Mart -Maceo was to engage in what Lynn-Callo and Hyatt (2003:177-178) call Â“engaged ethnogra phy,Â” which seeks to Â“make visible the concrete programs and policies that have been used to create a single narrative in which poverty and inequality are made to seem the natural and inev itable upshots of evolutionary processes, rath er than the conscious and planned outcomes of a very deliberate set of human interven tions.Â” As such, I was aware that I would be approaching this work with a perspective that was symp athetic to the Mart-Maceo Society and its members. However, I was also mindful that as a member and later, an acknowledged Â“organizational leader,Â” I might become more involved than w ould be helpful or practical for my research. Although I wanted to be engaged, I did not envision my ethnographic endeavor as one in which I should agitate for specific outcomes in keeping with AlinskyÂ’s (1972:98-103) radical community organizer role. Eventually, it became more important to focus on minimizing the organizationÂ’s dependence on me. While I could help with taking notes, typing up minutes, publishing a regular newsletter, I became aware that the mo re of these roles that I took on, the more the organization depended on me to carry them out Â—without working to incorporate these as part of the organizationÂ’s day-to-d ay operations. While my concern over these relatively small tasks, I began to question how my eventual disengagement from the field would affect the organization. Would they be able to carry out these duties? What about other more important and ambiguous roles wher e I was expected to make decisions that
26 could affect the organizationÂ’s direction? As I began to ponder such questions, I tried to be as clear as possible with members (and othe rs) who asked me to speak on behalf of the sociedad or to give my opinion regarding events that might lead the governing board to take one course of action over another. Midw ay during my fieldwork experience I also began to try to get other members involved in some of the duties that IÂ’d assumed. My intent was to give the boar d and the members an opportunity to consider whether these duties were important for the organizationÂ’s eventual success and th en, decide whether the organization should allocate resources for their conti nuation. Although some of these duties eventually fell by the wayside, I felt that it was best for the membership to determine whether or not they were cr itical to the organizationÂ’s success. Dissertation Organization I begin this dissertation with a brief pres entation of the Sociedad La Unin MartMaceoÂ’s history to date to give some context for the complex development of Black Cuban identity in Tampa, and follow with an outline of the main issues related to this identity that will be explor ed further in the disserta tion. Chapter Two outlines the literature related to Cuban na tionalist discourse and identit y, as well as a discussion on Black Cuban identity and its construction vis-vis this larger discourse. The literature review then moves toward disc ussion of racial/ethnic identi ty among Afro-Latinos in the United States. Chapter Three presents the rese arch methods used in this study, as well as a brief discussion on analysis of data. Ch apter Four documents my entre into the organization and the lives of its members a nd presents an ethnographic profile of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo through 2003. It touches on some of the organizational
27 challenges the society has faced as it trie s to grown beyond the limited capacity with which it closed the 1990s. Chapter Five pr ovides additional ethnographic data on the organization with a focus on changes in l eadership from 2003 to 2009, and efforts to establish regular events and activities duri ng these years. Chapter Six examines more closely the racial discours e engaged in by Mart-Maceo members and a comparison of survey responses taken members interv iewed in 1989 and in 2008-2009. Some general comparisons on reported racial/ethnic ident ity between sample groups, which are then used to examine how individual understandings of racial identity affect efforts to develop a collective identity for the organizati on. Chapter Seven examines Mart-Maceo membersÂ’ efforts at reclaiming their presen ce and heritage within the context of redevelopment efforts in Ybor City over th e past decade. The chapter examines the ongoing exclusion of the Mart-Maceo Societ y and its members from the neighborhoodÂ’s ethnic history that has been elaborated fo r tourism purposes. Chapter Eight presents discussion of the perceived future of the So ciedad La Unin Mart-Maceo as articulated by interview respondents and key informants. It also closes the disse rtation and presents conclusions related to the original res earch questions outlined at the outset.
28 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter explores issues of natio n-building, racial and ethnic identity formation, and nostalgia as they relate to the current experien ces and practices of members of the histor ic ethnic society, the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo in Ybor City. Since the celebration of the organi zationÂ’s centennial in 2000, members have worked to reformulate the social club in to a viable community organization. Throughout my fieldwork with the MartMaceo Society, members have discussed their views with regard to development of a collective vision for building th e organization further. Such discussions have often been informed by membersÂ’ personal understanding and interpretations of race and ethni city, their relationship to th e larger Cuban community in Tampa, as well as individual and collective memo ry with regard to the history of the club Â—its historical relationship to Cuba, and its continued existence through the changing racial order of this country. As noted in GreenbaumÂ’s history of TampaÂ’s Afro-Cubans (2002:334), Â“The long history of this small community has relevanc e for theories of how race and ethnicity are constructed.Â” This chapter seeks to outline the literature that informs the historical context and shapes the discourse surr ounding efforts to establish a presence and a collective identity for the Sociedad La Uni n Mart-Maceo within Ta mpaÂ’s historic Ybor City neighborhood. The review that follo ws begins by outlining literature on the
29 development of Cuban national identity, as we ll as the role that race was accorded within this discourse on the island. It continues by ex amining the literature on racial and ethnic identity among Afro-Latinos in the United St ates, and concludes by considering the role of nostalgia and memory as part of Mart-Ma ceo membersÂ’ efforts to contest the official history constructed to market historic preservation efforts in the Ybor City neighborhood where immigrant cigar workers, incl uding Black Cubans, first settled. The issues explored in this chapter can be seen as taking pl ace within a Â“national processÂ” characterized by Williams ( 1991) as one surrounding the creation of postcolonial nation-states, of which a ma jor aim is to homogenize heterogeneity. According to Williams (1990:30), Â“[t]his process is fashioned around assimilating elements ofÂ…heterogeneity through appropriati ons that devalue them or deny the source of their contribution, it establishes what Gr amsci (1971:58) referred to as a transformist hegemony.Â” Although this process seeks to ma intain the domination of a ruling group by delegitimizing cultural forms that fall outside of a proscribed mainstream (See Williams 1993:148), it allows for the inclusion of subor dinate cultural forms within a larger national identity thereby securing their loya lty to the hegemonic or nation-building process. Â‘Lo CubanoÂ’: Cuban Nation alist Discourse and Race The construction of Cuban national identi ty owes much to the political and intellectual contribution of its citizens in exileÂ—including Felix Varela and Jos MartÂ— particularly in Key West, Tampa and New York (Greenbaum 2002; Perez 1993). Â“Â‘CubannessÂ’ has been defined across divergent and often contradictory positions based
30 on the intersections among class, ethnicity, race, gender, gender, generation, ideology, and place of residence among other variab lesÂ” (Duany 2000:17). However according to Duany (2000:35), the dominant discourse within the literature fre quently overlooks the transnational nature of the Cuban diaspora, most often focusing on a fixed essence of Â“ lo cubano Â” (Ortiz 1994) situated on the island, fr om which exiles are substantively excluded. The exclusion of this vital component of Cuban social hi story has served to facilitate the creation of selective po pular images of the contemporary Â“Cuban communityÂ” in the United States. As Castro (2000:296) notes in his critique of Life on the Hyphen: The Cuban-American Way, th e Â“emergent Cuban-American identityÂ” popularized by Prez-Firmat (1994) is one th at Â“represent[s] the whitest, most urban, most middle-class, most capitalist, and most pro-AmericanÂ” faction of the Cuban diaspora. Moreover although the Miami exile community, which this characterization most closely represents, has achieved a gr eat deal of Â“economic success and political empowermentÂ…in a single generation, a pro cess probably, without pa rallel in American history,Â” this success has ge nerated a backlash from ot her segments of the local population, including Â“Anglos,Â” blacks, and even, other Latin American immigrants (Castro 2000:303). The proliferation of this narrowly defi ned representation of the Cuban exile community is one that tends to overshadow the continuous existence of generations of Cuban exiles in other cities in Florida and in the U.S. Northeast that were decidedly less White and middle class in their compositi on (Castro 2000). As Greenbaum (2002) notes, however, representations of Cuban identity in Tampa have also generally been constructed to omit the presence of Afro-Cuba ns over the last centur y. This practice of
31 identity construction by omission may well be rooted in the r ace-neutral dicta of revolutionary leader Jos Ma rt (Dhouti 2001:24-29). MartÂ’s exhortations that all Cubans should deny the existence of race with regard s to the construction of a new Cuban nation also ultimately facilitated the preservation of an atmosphere where racial prejudice and discrimination were overlooked or denied desp ite evidence to the contrary (Greenbaum 2002:101-103). Within the larger discourse of Cuban nati onal identity, discussion of race or racial discrimination has acquired a taboo statusÂ—seen as being unseemly or inappropriate for public discussion (Greenbaum 2002:301). According to de la Fuente ( 2001:3), this social taboo traditionally engendered a lack of seri ous scholarship on race relations in Cuba. This lack of scholarship corres ponds with a dominant, long-term interpretation of Cuba n nationalism that posits the divisiveness and dangers involved in this discussion of a subject that might threaten national unity and CubaÂ’s racial fr aternity. Indeed, according to this vision, it is not only dang erous and unpatriotic to inquire about raceÂ—as a white intellectual put it in 1929, Â“The black problem exists only when it is talked about, and that is to play wi th fireÂ”Â—but unnecessary as well, for race has no role among true Cubans. To discuss race in Cuba, then, was seen as disruptive to the stab ility of the emerging nation-state. The suppression of race as an adequate subject for discussion among Cubans has been documented by a variety of cont emporary researchers focusing on the socio-
32 political discourse in Cuba and throughout its diaspora from the postcolonial era to the present day (Greenbaum 2002; de la Fuen te 2001; Ferrer 1999; Mirabl 1998; Muiz 1958). The Cuban Independence effort was couche d in explicit antiracist rhetoric (Ferrer 1999:195). Ferrer (1999) argues that the Independence Movement was a missed opportunity to reinvent racial relations in CubaÂ— given the ambivalence of CubaÂ’s White citizens to a multiracial vision of the future and the subsequent intrusion of segregated American armed forces. However following the U.S. invasion of the island in 1899, CubaÂ’s White elite were supported and favor ed by American troops so that, Â“[a] group that might have been displaced by the revol utionary coalition, was, as a result of intervention, guaranteed con tinued access to powerÂ” (de la Fuente 2001:24; see also Prez 1983; Scott 1998.). The establishment of tr ue racial solidarity in an independent Cuba could not occur in such an envir onment, although competing notions of Cuban national identity emerged during this time (Dhouti 2001). De la Fuente (2001:23) further notes, Â“Despite their differences, all these definitions had a comm on element: the shared belief that Â“raceÂ” was at the very core of the nation.Â” The main question within the national discourse of the tim e centered Â“on how racially inclusive and egalitarian postcolonial Cuba should b eÂ” (de la Fuente 2001:23). As de la Fuente (2001:25) recounts the establishment of the dominant political parties of the era, he outlin es the development of Â“an interpretation of Cuban nationalism that denied or minimized the existence of a Â“race problem,Â” avoided or condemned its public discussion as an affront to the nation, and Â“contributed to maintaining the status quo.Â” This form of Cuban nationalism, which facilitated the development of official
33 Â“whiteningÂ” policies, existed in contradiction to and alongs ide an ideology of racial democracy strengthened by the national cele bration of Afro-Cuban war heroes and their large-scale participation in the War of Independence (de la Fuente 2001:23-53). The nationalist discourse thus contained contending racial ideologies during th e early republicÂ…creat[ing] a range of often contradictory possibilities fo r social organization and political action. Under CubaÂ’s racial demo cracy, blackness was frequently denigrated as atavistic and savage, ye t this ideology also called for all Cubans to be equal members of an ideal republic with all and for all (de la Fuente 2001:52). The new nationalist ideology pr esented an obstacle for Cuban political elites and U.S. military leaders seeking to completely disempower Black Cubans and exclude them from the national political process because it cr eated a discursive space in which racial discrimination could be challenged (de la Fuente 2001:53-54). CubaÂ’s Constitutional Convention of 1901 granted universal male su ffrage, despite the objections of U.S. authorities (de la Fuente 2001:54). Paradoxical ly, then, universal suffrage meant that national-level politicians were dependent on widespread Black support despite their efforts to repress CubaÂ’s Black populati on through growing violence, beginning in 1906 and culminating in the brutal massacre of 1912, resulting in the death of thousands, principally in Oriente province (de la Fuente 2001:73-90; Helg 1995:120; Scott 1998:726-727; see also Gu ridy 2010; Bronfman 2004).
34 de la FuenteÂ’s (1999) examination of th e racial democracy ideal in Cuba as a nationalist ideology challenges the notion that the ideal, the disc ourse related to it, and its implementation is simply a Â“mythÂ” as it has b een labeled by scholars of this key principle in Cuba and other Latin American nations most notably Brazil (Bronfman, 2004; Guridy, personal communication ; see also Helg 1995, 1990; Bailey 2004).7 For de la Fuente dismissing racial democracy as a myth or rhetoric used primarily to reinforce the suppression of Blacks and Mulattoes, as Helg (1995) contends, negates evidence that Afro-Cubans in the emerging Cuban nation were able to use the discourse of racial democracy to challenge discrimination and limited options for socio-political advancement. The widespread proliferation and eventual hegemonic ascendancy of this ideal also made it difficult for whites to de ny Cubans of color universal suffrage and greater mobility in some public spheres such as education and politic al participation (de la Fuente 1999:54-60). Conversely, he argues, the racial democracy ideology also gave state sanction to the violent repression of the armed uprising led primarily by members of the Partido Independiente de Color (PIC) that culminated in the massacre of 1912.8 However, the PIC program did not advocate racial separatism, pledging allegiance to the Cuban nation and advocating goal s with broad popular appealÂ…the partyÂ’s name suggested that the organization was only for people Â“of 7As part of his argument, de la Fuente (1999: 51) highlights the fact that in articulating his vision of Cuban nationhood, Jos Mart emphasized Â“coexistence, not synthesisÂ” among Â“whites, blacks, and mulattosÂ” as opposed to other examples that emphasize mestizaje in Latin America which fo cus on the creation of one race, created out of the biological mixing of existing races, for instance VasconcelsosÂ’ raza cosmica (1925). 8 See de la Fuente (1995) for a thorough explanation of how various segments within the Black Cuban population addressed the development of the emerging nation and the degree to which the PIC was able to fully participate in nation-building efforts. His positio n on the PIC differs marked ly from HelgÂ’s (2005).
35 colorÂ” who were organizing Â“independe ntly,Â” that is, separately from whitesÂ” (de la Fuente 1999:64). In the emerging Cuban nation, the importance of language, itself, and naming within the discourse on race and nationhood was critical a nd often just as important Â—if not more soÂ— than the actions underlying the terms being used. This particular episode in Cuban histor y can be seen as exemplifying the way in which Â“state routines, rituals, activities, and policies, which are themselves cultural forms, constitute and regulate the social making of meaning and subjectsÂ” (Corrigan and Sayer 1985:191). Thus, state dominance rests Â“not so much on the consent of its subjects but with the stateÂ’s regulative and coercive forms and agencies, which define and create certain kinds of subjects and identities wh ile denyingÂ” others (Corrigan and Sayer 1985:102). In this case, state regulation reinfo rced the prevailing and sanctioned racial discourse on the island through violent means. This episode also illustrates the way in which hegemonic dominance is maintained. As Williams notes (1991:31): Within a transformist hegemony, the marginalized citizens of the state may continue to value highly objects to adhere to practices, and to maintain commitments to ideas that are devalued in the putatively homogenous brew. As long as they lack the political and economic power necessary to insist on a redefinition of what are ideologically defined as the core or the central ingredients of the [nation], or to insist on a
36 revaluation of the status of their group identities and their cultural productions, these remain out side the Â“mainstream.Â” News from the island regarding the massacre and other critical events traveled to Tampa through cigar worker networks and factory workers listened as lectores read the latest Cuban newspapers and literature wh ile they rolled ciga rs (Greenbaum 2002:130; see also Prez 1995:73-74). In her hist ory of TampaÂ’s Afro-Cuban community, Greenbaum (2002:15) calls for recognizi ng the population as Â“transnationalsÂ”9 rather than Â“Â‘immigrantsÂ’ in the conventional sense of the termÂ” (See Zhou 1997; Portes and Rumbaut 1990; Handlin 1973). With continued travel and communication to and from the island, this Cuban exile community in Tampa, Florida, remained very much a part of the social, political and intellectual developments in Cuba at the turn of the twentieth century. Furthermore, TampaÂ’s Afro-Cuban exiles were in a position to affect the events in their home country through a variety of effo rts, ranging from fundraising to political support (Greenbaum 2002:96-137). The early de velopment of an Afro-Cuban community in Tampa therefore laid the foundations for the development of a sector of the Cuban diaspora very much tied to issues of na tional identity formation on the island, with intimate knowledge of the role that race played in Cuban national affairs. Their experience living in and raising families in Tampa forced them to rely on their understandings of this phenomenon as they carved a narrow space for themselves amidst the brutal realities of the Ameri can racial order in the South. 9 Basch, Schiller and Blanc (1994: 7) define Â“transnationalismÂ” as Â“the processes by which immigrants forge and sustain multi-stranded relations that link together their societies of origin and settlement.Â”
37 Understanding Race in Cuba in the 19th Century Despite the racial democracy ideal and some of the social mobility that it afforded segments of the Black Cuban population, the lived experience of Cubans of color at the close of the nineteenth century was circum scribed by discriminati on and a racial order that viewed Blacks as being primitive and backward on one end of the racial spectrum and Whites as superior and the ultimate sta ndard of culture (See Bronfman 2004; de la Fuente 1999; Helg, 1990). However, the racial system of classification in Cuba, as in other former Hispanic Caribbean colonies, ha s often been characterized by scholars as more fluid and understated when compared with the North American system, which emphasized the Â“one drop ruleÂ” and served to severely restrict upward social mobility for Black Americans (Alleyne 2002; de la Fuente 1995; Mintz 1989; Moore 1997; Tannenbaum 1992). Evidence of this fluidity is seen in the nomenclature associated with various acknowledged Â“racesÂ” construed to exist along a spectrum (e.g. blanco, negro, and mulato )10 and the multiple terms used colloquially to recognize differences in various combinations of phenotypic features such as skin color, hair texture, and facial features, coupled with more open and cordial social re lations between Whites and people of color. As noted earlier, in an emerging nation premised on an ideal of racial fraternity, the rigid racial segregation found in North America wa s seen as antithetical to nationhood and to the shared Cuban struggle for independe nce from Spain, which was buoyed by MartÂ’s rhetoric after his death early on in the war. Yet, social mobility for CubaÂ’s Black and Mulatto masses was limited in a number of wa ys, and the prevailing racial order was a 10 These categories obviously do not include populations other than Black, White or a mixture of these, such as Indians, a population which Childs (2006: 5256) asserts still existed on the Island and were eventually subsumed into the White or Free People of Color categories. The preoccupation with counting Blacks, Whites, and Mulattos primarily reflects the in creased racialization of Cuba following the increase in slave importation.
38 complex one given CubaÂ’s relatively large pr oportion of free Black s and Mulattoes, as well as the continuous importation of slaves well into the mid-1800s. Although Spain began importing slaves into their Caribbean colonies in the 1500s, the importation of great numbers of slav es for plantation labor did not develop on a large scale in Cuba until the mid-1700s, reachi ng its peak intensity a century later just before abolition became official on the island (Alleyne 2002: 116-117; Childs 2006:4677; Mintz 1989:69-75; Moore 1997:15-17; Schmidt-Nowara 1999; Scott 1984). Table 1 and Table 2 provide a breakdown of the Cuban population from 1755 through 1899 using Cuban census figures compiled from different sources by Childs (2006:50) and de la Fuente (1995:135).11 The tables vary in the categories used to classify subgroups within the population according to the original sour ces that were used to ascertain census figures. Despite the interruption in date s from 1817 through 1841 presented by these figures, the Cuban population exhibits a steady increase in growth and shows that from 1792 onward, Cubans of color outnumbered Wh ites. The sizable decline in CubaÂ’s population of color in 1899, shown in Table 1.2, is attributed by de la Fuente (1995:135) to the following factors: the interruption of th e slave trade in in th e 1860s, the increase in immigration of White Europeans, the causalit ies experienced by Cuba ns of color in the War for Independence12, and relatively low birth rates among Cuban slaves. 11 Childs (2006) and de la Fuente (1995) provide useful explanations of the difficulty in assembling accurate counts for the Cuban populatio n. de la Fuente (1995 ) does include the categ ory Â“AsiaticsÂ” in his table, a category that was counted following the importation of Chinese and other workers from Asia. See also Mintz (1989: 72-73); Yun (2008). 12 According to Ferrer (1999) and Helg (1995), Cubans of color made up over half the total forces fighting for independence from Spain.
39 Year White Blacks Mulattos Â“AsiaticsÂ” Total 1841 42 49 10 no data 1,007,624 1846 47 42 11 no data 898,752 1861 56 44 no data no data 1,359,238 1899 67 15 17 1 1,572,797 Scholars have also noted that that the treatment of sl aves, on Cuban plantations especially, was brutal and resulted in high mortality rates that generally estimated life expectancy for slaves to be an average of no more than 10 years on a given plantation (See Childs 2006:58-60; see also Mintz 1989:68 -70). Nevertheless, official policies existed that sought to curtail excessive punish ments (mainly out of fear for fomenting an overthrow of the colonial government simila r to that which had occurred in Saint Domingue/Haiti, 1791-1804) and that allowe d for slaves to purchase their own manumission (Childs 2006:46-60). A number of scholars have also examined the influence that the various slave cultures had on the larger Cuban national culture in areas Year White Free People of Color Slave Total 1755 no data no data 17 170,000 1774 56 18 26 171,620 1792 49 20 31 272,301 1804 46 18 36 504,000 1810 46 18 36 600,000 1817 43 21 36 553,033 Table source: Childs (2006: 50) Table 1. Composition of Cuban Population Â– Free vs. Slave, Percentage Distribution, 1755-1817 Table 2. Racial Composition of Cuban Population, Percentage Distribution, 1841-1899Table source: de la Fuente (1995: 135)
40 such as music, dance, and religious practices reflecting the process of Â“transculturationÂ” that Ortiz had identified in 1906 (Bronf man 2004; Daniel 1998; Moore 1997). Ethnic differences among African slaves were also maintained throu gh the existence of cabildos de nacin which organized slaves along ethnic or national lines, such as Mandinga, Carabal, Yoruba, etc., and whose existence was supported by the colonial authorities. According to Moore (1997:16), these cabildos served two purposes: to help support the entry of new African slaves (or bozales as they were called in Cuba) and to minimize the threat of insurrection by emphasizing ethnic difference and minimizing solidarity among the slaves. Bronfman (2004:21) cautions against conflating the cabildos de nacin with the sociedades de color or voluntary mutual aid societies that primarily served free Blacks and Mulattos. While cabildos provided a space for members to practice religious and cultural practices brought from various African cultures, the sociedades were more concerned with increasing the education and civic attainment of its members, many of whom were members of CubaÂ’s Liberal Party an d expected to reap the benefits of their engagement in Cuban nation-building and part icipation in the three wars leading to independence from Spain (See de la Fuente, 1999:66-68). Sociedad members, many of them intellectuals and war heroes, actively di stanced themselves from the more Â“AfricanÂ” cabildos in order to emphasize thei r support of national unity a nd their positions as full citizens of the emerging Cuban nation at the dawn of the twentieth century (Bronfman 2004:21; de la Fuente 1995:66. As noted earlie r, the national racial democracy ideology coupled with the occupation of U.S. forces near the end of the independence effort produced an environment where numerous cont radictions touched the lives of CubaÂ’s
41 population and limited thei r ability for benefiting fully fr om the national ideal for which many, especially Blacks and Mu lattos, had fought so hard.13 Constructing Identity in the United States: Black or Latino? According to Greenbaum (2002:58-64), Cuban migration to Florida began in earnest following the Ten YearsÂ’ War (1868-1878), the first of three liberation wars which culminated in CubaÂ’s independence in 1898. The ongoing conflict in Cuba provided a strong impetus for tobacco manufacturers to seek stability in order to maintain profits. In addition wh ile U.S. tariff laws heavily taxed the importation of coveted Cuban cigars, they we re not prohibitive with regard to the importation of tobacco (Greenbaum 2002:58), and Tampa became one of several Florida cities that experienced the esta blishment of Cuban cigar factories (Poyo 1989). The cigar worker settlement in Ta mpa was led by Vicente Martinez Ybor, a Spaniard who established the first cigar factory in the neighborhood that would eventually become his namesake. Alt hough Martinez Ybor had been a supporter of Cuban independence from Spain, he di d not support the radi cal labor leanings that many in the cigar worker commun ity harbored or espoused and which eventually led to numerous stri kes (Greenbaum 2002:62, 111-118, Prez 1995:27). In an effort to curtail such activity, Martinez Ybor Â“acquired all the characteristics of a benevolent patrn Â” and established a self-sufficient community for his workers, which include d affordable housing, available medical care, providing loans to his workers and ev en, serving as the godfather to many of 13 See Prez (1983) for a discussion of the omission of the Cuban contribution to the independence struggle against Spain and the contempt and negative portrayals of Cuban independence forces espoused by Teddy Roosevelt and numerous U.S. military officers.
42 the local children (Prez 1995:28). The deve lopment of Ybor City into a rather insular enclave where Spanish and Ita lian were spoken freely by workers also allowed Black Cubans to live in fairly in tegrated fashion with their co-workers, contrary to the laws and customs of the time in Tampa.14 Prior to the end of the war with Spai n, many of the Cuban cigar workers in Tampa arrived as exiles, which were waiti ng for an opportunity to return to an independent Cuba (Perez 1995:25-34). U pon the warÂ’s conclusion, a number of Cubans (especially Black Cubans) tr ied to return but found decreased opportunities for work (Greenbaum 2002:96-97). As a result, the community established in Ybor City began to fo cus on more long-term settlement here, although many continued to travel back a nd forth to the island and maintained strong ties and communication with families and friends. It is within this context that the ethnic mutual aid societies of Y bor City, including the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo, were establis hed and provided the opportuni ty for cigar workers to fraternize with their fellow countrymen and partake of the benefits of mutual aid (See p. 9-11 of Chapter One.) As noted ea rlier, the Mart-Maceo Society provided TampaÂ’s Black Cubans with a space that allowed them to enjoy numerous cultural, educational and social benefits th at shielded them to a degree from the harshest aspects of segregation and the smaller personal indignities they experienced from their fellow immigrants. It also provided them with a social space that did not require social mixing with African Americans Â–indeed their original by-laws made Span ish the official language for the organizationÂ—thereby 14 For an extensive discussion on the development of Ybor City and the quotidian experience of its AfroCuban inhabitants, see Greenbaum (2002).
43 differentiating them as more respectable and different in the eyes of the white power structure (See Greenbaum 2002:176-77, 229). Just three decades later, a number of significant events helped spur a growing closeness and social mixing between the descendants of TampaÂ’s original Afro-Cuban immigrants and local African Americans: the outmigration of large numbers of Afro-Cubans to the Northeast after the onset of the Depression, intermarriage between Afro -Cubans and African Americans, and shared struggle in the Civil Rights Move ment. The out-migration of just over 50 percent of TampaÂ’s Afro-Cuban populati on following the decline of the cigar industry in the 1930s and the onset of the Depression fostered great change in the Mart-Maceo Society, as well as the other ethnic societies in Tampa. The mutual aid society was nearly forced into closing due to a drastic decrease in membership. In response, members worked together with help from the other immigrant mutual aid societies, local businesses and laborer s to build a patio adjoining the club property th at served as a venue to be rented for dances and parties featuring an increasing numbe r of popular Black American acts (Greenbaum 2002:257-258). The increased interaction between Afro-Cubans and African-Americans witnessed during Mart-Maceo dances of the era was replicated in local schools, as well as the stateÂ’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, in the growing number of intimate relationships and ma rriages between the younger generations, and in joint efforts to fight racial in justice. The immigrant enclave created an environment where [generally, Afro-Cubans] Â“were not forced into the
44 dehumanizing postures imposed on African Americans and only rarely confronted situations where dignity had to be sacr ificed for safetyÂ” (Greenbaum, 2002:229). However, Â“[w]hen it was no longer possible to maintain self-sufficient isolation, Afro-Cubans were still bl ackÂ” (Greenbaum 2002:231). Ironically, the additional resources and social capital in Ybor City available to TampaÂ’s Black Cubans, (e.g. a social hall which originally helped the first generation of immigrants to distance themselves from Black Americans but that eventually hosted some of the biggest Black musicians and acts of the day), also facilita ted their childrenÂ’s intermixing with African Americans. Perh aps the most concrete example of AfroCuban and African American shared status in Tampa was the destruction of the Mart-Maceo social hall in 1965 as a c onsequence of the Urban Renewal program. Mart-Maceo was the only one of TampaÂ’s immigrant societies to have lost its building as a consequence of this progra m, which combined with the construction of Interstate 275, was also responsible for the complete destruction of the African American business district (See Greenbaum and Rodriguez 1998). Omi and Winant (1994) focus their analysis of the racial formation process on the persistence of race as a fundamental mechan ism for ordering American social identity. They dismiss Â“the ethnicity paradigmÂ” appro ach to race Â— which posits that race is Â“one of a number of determinants of ethnic group identity,Â” and which focuses on issues of assimilation and group contact Â— especially with regard to the experience of Africandescent populations in the Un ited States: Â“Â…the majority of Americans cannot tell the difference between members of various [B lack ethnic] groupsÂ” (Omi and Winant 1994:22-23; see also Sanjek 1994:1-17). As the history of TampaÂ’s Afro-Cubans
45 demonstrates, the larger societ y Â– at the state policy level, as well as the individual level of daily interactionÂ—lumps diverse groups of people with different nationalities, religious backgrounds, primary languages, etc. Â—into one large racial category (See Bashi and McDaniel 1997; Eriksen 1993:82). In the American South this was especially the case, as TampaÂ’s Afro-Cubans were fully aware. A number of authors also c ontend that social scientis ts who focus on the African American experience in the United States also suffer from such bias (Bashi and McDaniel 1997:675-676; Harrison 1998; Lewis 1995; Pierre 2004). Traditionally, researchers have Â“spent considerably more energy delineating processes of racial construction than they have the complexi ties of identity formationÂ” (Lewis 1995:782783). As a result, less attention has been paid to an examination of how Â“racial identity informs individual identityÂ” and Â“processes of community-buildingÂ” (Lewis 1995:783). Berlin (1980:45) suggests that historians have also failed to ignore the ways in which larger historical processes fostered the crea tion of Â“striking divers ity in Afro-American lifeÂ” from its beginning. Throughout North Am erica, the processes by which diverse ethnic groups taken from the African contin ent recognized themselves as African and eventually, African American vary greatly due to time a nd place (Lewis 1995:774; Berlin 1980:47-58). The cultural differen ces among African Americans have rarely been fully appreciated by historians and other researcher s, and the introduction of Black immigrants further complicates this area of study (Lew is 1995:786). Pierre ( 2004) further contends that immigration and ethnicity researcher s emphasize particular traits among Black immigrants (e.g. entrepreneurial spirit, hard -working, etc.) thereby perpetuating a culture
46 of poverty thesis which objectifies African American as a persistent underclass born largely of its membersÂ’ shortc omings (See also Waters, 1990). Despite the increased interaction between their communities, the interpersonal relationships between African-Americans a nd Afro-Cubans sometimes reflected the differences between them, at times produc ing some tension (G reenbaum 2002:246-249; Grillo 2000:44). Unable to rely on their cl ose-knit Cuban communityÂ— as their parents had Â—for social interaction following the migration of half of the population, AfroCuban youths struggled to fit in at their segregated schools an d other shared social spaces by negating the use of Spanish, the Spanish pr onunciations of their names, and/or their parentsÂ’ increasingly old-fashioned directiv es (Greenbaum 2002:247-248). For their part, African-Americans both admired and objected to their Afro-Cuban contemporariesÂ’ bilingualism and seeming worldliness (Gr eenbaum 2002:248). Theoretical discussion of Â“Black immigrant groups in the United Stat es have traditionally emphasized their resistance to assimilating into the Afri can-American communityÂ” (Greenbaum 2002:227; See Osborne 2000; Waters 1994). However, the realities of life in post-WWII era Tampa facilitated a growing closene ss between these local populations also calling into question theories on Â“segmented assimilation,Â” which promotes the notion that Black immigrant assimilation takes place and is oppositional in character (Portes 1995; Portes and Zhou 1993). Segmented assimilation very generally hol ds that immigrants choose two main paths by which to assimilate to the Â“host society.Â” Immigrants who, because of their appearance, prior class status, and outlook, a ffiliate and model themselves more closely with the larger Â“WhiteÂ” soci ety, are thought to increase th eir chances for successful
47 assimilation and overall in tegration (Portes 1995).15 Immigrants of color, on the other hand, are more likely to encounter discri mination and isolation, which some scholars suggest results in their deve loping an oppositional stance in relation to the host society. Further, the children of these immigrants are thought to be more likely to identify with their African American contem poraries, who in turn reinforce their opposition to the larger society (Ogbu 1990; Suarez-Orozco 1989) A number of authors have suggested that the general logic of segmented assimilati on theory is too simplistic in its formulation (e.g. Pierre 2004; Waters, 1994; Kasinitz 1992; Rosaldo 1985), de spite the persistence of race as a critical social factor that work s to constrain the upward mobility of Black immigrants in particular (Freeman 2001; Harrison 1995:57-60; Sanjek 1994). Responses to these constraints may result in Black im migrant populations differentiating themselves from African Americans (Bailey 2000; Benson 2006; Greenbaum 2002; Waters 1990). Ong critiques the work of Portes and Rumbaut (1990:96), who characterize Â“ethnic resilienceÂ” within immigrant populati ons as a Â“uniquely American product,Â” which seldom reflects the Â“linear continuity with the immigrantsÂ’ culture, but rather has emerged in reaction to the situation, views, and discrimination they faced on arrival.Â” Ong (1996:737) finds fault with this line of reasoning because, she contends, it fails to examine Â“the contradiction between demo cratic citizenship and capitalismÂ—the opposition between abstract, universalistic rights and the inequalities engendered by market competition, race and immigration.Â” Mo reover, she contends that such theorizing 15 PortesÂ’ early work examining the Â“ethnic enclaveÂ” in Miami (Portes and Bach 1985) focused on the importance of the ethnic tie among Miami Cubans in facilitating the development of an enclave economy that was self-sufficient and allowed for successful integration and assimilation while allowing them to maintain their ethnic distinctiveness. His more recent research notes that his initial hypothesis focused primarily on White, middleor upper-class Cubans (Portes and Shafer 2006), much as those described by Perez-Firmat (1994).
48 ignores Â“the everyday processe s whereby people, especially immigrants, are made into subjects of a particular nation-stateÂ” (Ong 1996:737). Literature on contemporary Afro-Latino groups suggests that their presence and experiences in this country confound theori zing in the area of immigrant adaptation and identity formation. Mrquez (2000/2001:20) credits the presence of Afro-Latinos in the United States with fostering an increased awareness of the intricacies of racial identity, while Â“unmasking the more covert and cour tly class and racial protocols of Latin American convention.Â” Ferdman and Gallegos (2001:39) go further suggesting that the general presence and growing number of Latinos in this country chal lenges social science theorizing of racial identity development gi ven that Â“[t]he continuous systems of color classification used by Latinos do not fit well with the dichotomous system predominant in the United StatesÂ” (See Duany 1998; Rodrguez and Cordero-Guzman 1992). Rodrguez argues that Latinos perceive racial identity not only as an issue of Â“biological or genetic ancestry or colorÂ” but through the lens of Â“culture, national origin and socializationÂ” (Rodrguez 2000). Â“The bipolar system of racial categorization that predominates in the United States has a grea t impact on Latinos, however,Â” at both the collective and individual level (Ferdman and Gallegos 2001:39; Denton and Massey 1989; Haney Lpez 1998). For instance, Dent on and Massey (1989) found that Latinos who identified as Black in the 1980 Census we re highly segregated from Â“non-Hispanic whitesÂ” and often resided in or ne ar African American neighborhoods.16 Interestingly, although Ferdman and Gallegos (2001:49-57) propose a Â“model for Latino identity 16 CrowderÂ’s (1999) research on residential patterns for Black West Indian immigrants suggests similar findings but also that West Indians tend to cr eate residential enclaves within these areas.
49 development,Â” their framework ignores Latinos who identify as Black and Latino. (This model does, however, include an orie ntation labeled Â“White-identified.Â”) Various scholars have questioned the uncri tical examination of the U.S. racial system as a binary one, which leaves no r oom for negotiation between the dichotomous poles of Black and White, and/or negates the r acialization process(es) that immigrants to this country experience and engage with (Alleyne 2002:137; Bashi and McDaniel 1997; Jaimes 1994). Bashi and McDaniel (1997:671-673 ) argue that immigrants have played Â“an important role in the development of the U.S. racial systemÂ” and have been central to Â“the construction of the raci al hierarchy in this countr y.Â” The racial system of classification in this country has also ha d to accommodate the existence of non-white peoples such as Native Americans (Baca 1988; Jaimes 1994), as well as sections of the country where freed people of color of Â“mixed racialÂ” parentage (Dominguez 1993). However, Sanjek (1994) and others have calle d for renewed attention to racism as an ideology that has served to order social classification in the Western Hemisphere, especially, following the advent of EuropeÂ’s Â“Age of Discovery in the 1400s (See also Bashi and McDaniel 1997; Bonilla-Silv a 1997; Gilroy 1991; Omi and Winant 1994). Although the operationaliza tion and understanding of racial identity may change based on a number of factors Â—historical, situati onal, etc.Â— and may serve to contest the dominant racial ideology, the racial classi fication system has consistently defined its poles using White at one end and Black (or Native, as the case may be) at the bottom. Moreover for individuals of African descent, the Â“global racial orderÂ” has served to constrain opportunities for full social incl usion and upward mob ility (Sanjek 1994:10;
50 See also Benson 2006; Greenbaum 2002:337338; Harrison 1995; Hutchinson 1997; Pierre 2004). Rodrguez (2000:19) contends that wh ile Â“HispanicsÂ” are an ethnic group comprised of a racial plurality, the category is racialized by conti nued juxtaposition of Hispanics versus Â“non-Hispanic whites.Â” Sh e continues, Â“Within this perspective, Hispanics are often referred to as Â‘light skinned,Â’ not as whiteÂ… [this identification] clearly restricts their Â‘wh itenessÂ’ and thus makes them nonwhiteÂ” or Â“tanÂ” thereby expanding the rigid boundaries of the U.S. r acial order (Rodriguez 2000:19). In a critique of this basic thesis, Skerry (2001:1815) argues that Rodrguez overlooks the Â“basic question of whether Latinos are fundamenta lly challenging the United States' bipolar racial paradigm, as she seems to suggest or whether they are gradually becoming absorbed into a new version of the old para digm that in law a nd public policy treats African-Americans, Latinos, and others as sim ilarly situated racial minorities.Â” Flores (2002:49) argues that the dominant contem porary popular represen tation of Latinos Â“tends to be decidedly from th e lighter end of the spectrumÂ” and that this representation has much to do with disassociating Latinos from blackness. While the Latino concept does generally indicate otherness, Â“people of colorÂ” and non-white, the history of social categorization has selectively equivocated on this issue, and many me dia representations allow for, or foster, a sense of compatibility wi th whitenessÂ…The unspoken agenda of the new Latino visibility, and of the imminent surpassing of AfricanAmericans as the largest minority, is the ascendancy of a non-Black
51 minority. To mollify the fears of an invasion from south of the border is the consolation that at least their presence does not involve dealing with more souls of more Black folk (Flores 2002:48). According to Sales and Bush (2000:19), th is phenomenon manifests itself at the individual level among Â“Puerto Ricans and Do minicans, who cannot physically Â‘passÂ’ for white,Â” by attempts to Â“hold onto their ethnic identity for longer than was the case with previous generations of European immigrants .Â” DuanyÂ’s research (1998) conducted with Dominican migrants in Puerto Rico and the United States in the 1990s indicates that such attitudes have as much to do with repudiating the dominant racial ideology in this country as with a Â“nativeÂ” anti-Black discourse that has existed in the Hispanic Caribbean since the colonial era. Landale and OropesaÂ’s ( 2002) research findings suggest that although Puerto Ricans are more likely to emphasi ze their national and et hnic origins overall, Puerto Rican women living on the island are mo re likely to use accepted racial categories on the island (Â“negra,Â” Â“blanca,Â” or Â“trigueaÂ”) to identify themselves. They contrast this with mainland Puerto Ricans who are more lik ely to identify themselves as Hispanic, Hispanic American or Latina/o and are more likely to resist U.S. racial categories altogether. But what of TampaÂ’s Afro-Cubans? The literature related to this population is scarce. Contemporary studies of Afro-Latinos tend to focus primarily on Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in the Northeastern stat es, especially New York, where these populations have been consistently bolstered by transnational migration for nearly half a century (See Bailey 2000; Benson 2006; Rodr guez 1992; Grasmuck and Pessar 1991).
52 Moreover although segregation, discrimination, and racism were a reality of life up North, Afro-Latinos and African Americans were not as rigidly constrained by the brutality of the SouthÂ’s segregation laws. Greenbaum (2002:238) suggests that conditions in New York were much more conduc ive to the nurturing of Afro-Latino identity/identities. Finally, mo st contemporary scholars of Af ro-Latinos in this country tend to focus on more recent immigrants. With roots established in this country over a century ago, the historical e xperience of TampaÂ’s Afro-Cubans differs markedly from the Afro-Latino groups being c onsidered in most contemporary studies. Newby and DowlingÂ’s (2007) more recent wo rk with Afro-Cuban immigran ts in the U.S. Southwest highlights the challenges faced by these Black Spanish-speakers as they attempt to navigate a cultural terrain where their physic al appearance is deemed incongruous by the local populationÂ’s understanding and use of the categories, Â“BlackÂ” and Â“HispanicÂ”. Nostalgia and Memory in Afro-Cuban Historic Preservation In her history of Afro-Cubans in Tamp a, Greenbaum places this population within the context of a larger African diaspora (2002:10). Afro-Cubans and African Americans in Tampa shared more than a distant common origin in West AfricaÂ…Genera tions unfolding from the point of their [respective] arrival[ s]Â…were cast into parallel histories Â–scenarios in which captive Africans deployed strate gies of resistance and survival against local circumstances that varied considerably in the details of the political existence (Greenbaum 2002:11).
53 Lewis (1995:786) sets forth th e concept of Â“overlapping diasporasÂ” as a means by which to examine the differences Â“within Black communitiesÂ” in this country throughout its history, and urges historians to Â“examine the interaction between memory, race, and community formationÂ” when conducting such analyses (Lewis 1995:782). He presents Arthur Schomberg as a useful example of th e essential question future researchers must consider in this regard. Upon his arrival in the United States in 1891, Schomburg lived and worked in New YorkÂ’s Puerto Rican a nd Cuban communities. However, his growing interest in Black fraternal or ganizations and the history of the African Diaspora coupled with his eventual move to an African -American neighborhood prompted speculation among his fellow Puerto Ricans that Â“he was tr ying to deny his distant homelandÂ” (Lewis 1995:787; Vega 1984:195). According to Lewis (1995:787), Â“[t]he history of how Arturo became Arthur and yet remained Arturo is the challenge for the next generation of scholars.Â” The history of TampaÂ’s Afro -Cubans provides a collective example for examination of this intriguing question. Efforts by members of Mart-Maceo to r eclaim a space within th e historic Â“LatinÂ” community of Ybor City began in the early 1980s, following the first revival of the club after former members who had moved up No rth returned to Ta mpa and Mart-Maceo. The first part of this effort involved the ch ronicling of the clubÂ’s history and contribution to the history of the area. This process of Mart-MaceoÂ’s Â“ethnic rediscoveryÂ” was tied to a larger urban revitalization effo rt occurring in TampaÂ’s Ybor City district. As part of this process, public officials and lo cal business leaders and elites worked together to secure Ybor City historic status designation in 1986 (Greenbaum 2002:315). They also held
54 three folk festivals in the district between 1986 and 1989. The heritage that preservation representatives brought to the fore for the be nefit of anticipated vi sitors and tourists is a sanitized version of a Latin Quarter. The ideal ized Â“LatinÂ” cultural pa st sought to present an idyll in the American South where racism and ethnic rivalries we re virtually absent among the immigrant cigarworkers of the last century (Gree nbaum 2002:101-103; See Howard and Howard 1994; Pacheco 1994; Pi zzo 1985). However, the role of AfroCubans in that idealized repres entation was effectively ignored in official histories of the area and the Mart-Maceo Societ yÂ’s social hall was initially drawn out of the proposed historic district maps. Moreover, local preser vation officials were ha rdly interested in Â“embracingÂ” Afro-Cuban heritage in Ybor C ity, given their disdain for the increased presence of African Americans living there and in surrounding areas, which had purportedly caused investment to drop si nce the 1970s in the area (Greenbaum 2002:306). With GreenbaumÂ’s help, the Mart-Maceo society attempted to reclaim its place among the celebrated Latin groups of Ybor City (e.g. Spaniards, Italians, and Cubans). Through their efforts to participate in ongoi ng heritage preserva tion activities, MartMaceo members inserted themselves into th is newly emerging notion of general Latin ethnicity in Ybor City, thereby challe nging the accepted history of the neighborhood (Greenbaum 2002:6; see Verrey and Henley 1991). Ethnicity, therefore, was emphasized over race with regard to repr esentation of the membersÂ’ collective identity (See Erikson 1994). An unexpected consequence of this effort was the reaction of White immigrants to GreenbaumÂ’s work. Cubans, Italians and Span iards who talked with Greenbaum used her research as an opportunity to make dis tinctions between the Â“hard-working and
55 industriousÂ” Black immigrants and the Â“lazy, crime-proneÂ” African Americans (Greenbaum 2002:309). Such perceptions served to further bolster the myth of racial democracy in Ybor CityÂ’s Latin community, where all members were said to have lived as equals. Interestingly enough, the myth of racial democracy in Ybor C ity situated MartMaceo and its members within a racial disc ourse similar to the one in which earlier generations had found themselves in the last decade of the 19th Century. This circumstance brings us back to LewisÂ’ (1995:786) notion of Â“ove rlapping diasporas.Â” Throughout their history in Tampa, Afro-Cubans had been members of various diasporic communities: they constituted an important pa rt of the historical Cuban diaspora, are members of the larger African diaspora, a nd members of an intr a-state community of transnational migrants. The notion of a home land is often tied to diasporas (Mendoza 2002; Bender and Winer 2001; Ledgerwood 1998), a nd discussion of homelands in turn, often entertains the concept of nostalgia (S krbiÂš 2001:41). According to SkrbiÂš (2001:41), Â“in its original use, [nostalgia] refers to a painful condition related to the homeland (Gr. nostos means Â‘to return homeÂ’ and algia Â‘a painful condition.Â’)Â” The Â“painÂ” to which SkrbiÂš refers in the passage above is most of ten related to the condition or sense of being removed from the homeland. Davis (1979:1011) elaborates the concept further, Â“Whatever in our present situation evokes it, nostalgia uses th e pastÂ…in specially reconstructed ways, but it is not the product thereof .Â” In e ssence, the past is recreated through the use of narrative, which serves to tie memory, collective a nd individual, to the past (Ricoeur 1984). This process, however, occurs in the present.
56 The narrative being construc ted around the redevelopment of Ybor City was one that sought to exclude blacks, in genera l. Afro-Cubans in Tampa were relying on collective memory and nostalgia to outline a central role for their community within the larger history of Ybor CityÂ—their home as much as any of the other immigrant groupsÂ— to contest other nostalgic versions of the past that excluded them or simply avoided mention of Black Cubans except to point out that Ybor City ha d been a race neutral neighborhood. According to Halbwachs ( 1980 ), Â“How groups remember and contend in the marketplaces of power and culture for hegemony is perhaps the central problem in the study of historical memoryÂ” (B light 2001:52). As the historic preservation process in Ybor made clear, Â“memorie s are not merely reproduced; they are constructed in all the various cultural formsÂ…Hence, we create and recreate narr atives in response to ever-changing political and social circ umstancesÂ” (Blight 2001:52). For Alonso (1994:389), it is important for researchers to cl osely examine Â“the rh etorical strategies used in the construction of authoritative memoriesÂ” and how Â“nationalist Â“representations of the pastÂ…appropriate and tr ansform local and regional histories and the memoriesÂ…Pasts that cannot be incorporated are privatized, particul arized, consigned to the margins of the national and denied a fully public voice.Â” The history of Afro-Cubans in Tampa provi des an interesting arena within which to examine such processes. As noted earli er, the immigrant enclave that had developed around the cigar industry allowed Afro-Cubans to escape some of the harshest aspects of Jim Crow and to enjoy social, economic and other benefits not afforded to African Americans. However, such memories of the past are tempered not only by the larger system of official racial injustice. They exist alongside memories of families and
57 friendships broken along color linesÂ—the s ubtle racism practi ced by the immigrants themselves, at the level of daily interaction. Despite such memories members of the Mart-Maceo society have continued to work toward keeping the organization ope n and expanding its membership base and mission. As Greenbaum notes (2002:333): [The] networks of mainly kin ties refl ect the structure of the [Afro-Cuban] community, the underlying connections that continue to exist among descendants of the Afro-Cubans ciga rmakers. The shape and consistency of these networks have been transf ormed greatly, incorporating diverse elements and interacting under ve ry different circumstances, yet maintaining a collective sense of Afro-Cuban/Tampeo identity. The continued existence of these ties and thei r ability to shape this Â“collective senseÂ” of Afro-Cuban identity based on a shared hist ory appears to confir m HalbwachsÂ’ (1925) contention that Â“individuals depend on ot her members of their own groups for independent confirmation of the content of their memories.Â” (Blight 2001:52). Â“Collective memory is [therefore] held together by the confidence derived from associationÂ” (Blight 2001:52). Research conducted with the Mart-Maceo Society highlights the ways in which identity construction and herita ge preservation occur within a larger political process, which seeks to regulate and legitimate identiti es within the hierarc hy of the nation-state (See Alonso 1994; Bahktin 1981; Williams 1991). As in this case, subordinate cultural
58 groups often contest official versions of memory and nostalgia to evoke alternate tradition(s) and versions of the past. Despite numerous attempts to write them out of the history of Ybor City Â—except to highli ght the lack of discrimination among Latin immigrantsÂ— the members of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo have proven rather insistent in opposing such efforts and in so doing, underscore the contested nature of historical representation. For Mart-Maceo me mbers the importance of identity in this regard serves to question and overturn Â“certain suppressions in the historical record current in our day,Â” much as Du Bois (1990 ) endeavored over half a century ago. The insistence on legitimization on the part of a particular cultural groupÂ— should be viewed as Â“a process of personal and gr oup identity formation taking place in the intersection of territorial and cultural nationalismÂ” (Williams 1991:267). Williams (1991:267-268) further posits that when the cultural group in questi on is identified as a racial group versus an ethnic one, Â“the refere nce serves to create additional ideological barriers restricting the role this political dimension of group identity can have in producingÂ” diverse histories, traditions, or pr actices that will be acceptable to those who control the creation and dissemi nation of Â“legitimateÂ” notions of the past, as well as identities. As this chapter has attempted to show, a careful examin ation of Black Cuban identity over time illustrates that while pr evailing hegemonic discourses may allow for subordinate groups to contes t their alterity, th eir efforts are Â“limited by hegemonic processes of inscription and by the relations of the forces in societyÂ” (Alonso 1994:392).
59 CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY This chapter outlines the research methods used during fieldwork with the MartMaceo Society and its members, conducted si nce August 1999. This research project was conceived as an exploratory ethnographi c study, and early on I conducted extensive participant observation as a way of id entifying key informants and establishing relationships with them, as well as documen ting key groups or facti ons within the MartMaceo membership (See Schensul et al., 1999:91). My ongoing ethnographic work with the organization has allowed me to develop fa irly close ties with many current and former members, and over the years, they have reli ed on me for such administrative club duties as the keeping of meeting minutes, updating of club by-la ws, and assisting in the preparation of important applic ations, such as the procurement of a state liquor license and federal and state nonprofit status. As a result of these activities, members have generally shown a willingness to discuss their thoughts with me frankly and to entertain any questions that I might have with regard to conceptions of race and their identity, as well as their continued associ ation (or lack thereof, fo r some) to the Mart-Maceo Society. I began my association with the social cl ub when I became a research assistant for Susan Greenbaum, who served at the time as co-director of a project entitled, Cubans in Tampa: Common Histories, Common Paths The project focused on bringing together the
60 members of TampaÂ’s two historic Cuban soci al clubs Â– organizati ons that shared a common origin but which had been separated by racial divisions for nearly 100 years Â– to work together in celebrating their shared heritage and exam ining divisions between them. As part of my work, I assisted in preparati on and execution of events prepared as part of the project, including assisting with publicit y, editing of press releases, and documenting the efforts on the part of Mart-Maceo me mbers who were eager to commemorate the centennial of their organization. My work in th is regard allowed me to draw insight into the complexities of Afro-Cuban identity in Tampa. Aside from extensive participant obs ervation, I also conducted interviews and surveys with Black Cubans who are active Mart-Maceo members, relatives of these members who do not actively participate in Mart-Maceo activities (most of these respondents are children of current member s), and former members who are no longer formally associated with the organiza tion. Respondents were identified through purposeful snowball sampling (Bernard, 1995: 97-98). Established pa rticipants, i.e., individuals who agreed to complete a survey or a series of in-depth interviews were asked to identify five individuals (family members, friends, or acquaintances) who also might be interested in completing an interview. Analysis of Qualitative Data Throughout my work with the Mart-Maceo Society, I was able to take extensive notes rather freely since members knew that I was working on a research project related to their centennial celebration. As I became more of a regular fixture at meetings and was asked to assume formal responsibilities such as recording general meeting minutes, my
61 notetaking simply increased. All of my fieldnot es were typed as MS Word documents for electronic storage and re view and were analyzed using A tlas.ti version 5.2, qualitative data analysis software (Scientific Softwa re Development 2006). Fieldnotes were then reviewed and coded to examine issues of raci al and ethnic identity, including terms used by respondents to discuss these, whether th eir conceptualizations could be tied to a discernable notion of collective identity, and their perceptions regarding the larger forces that control heritage preservation in Tampa, as well as the allocation of resources to the remaining ethnic mutual aid societies in Ybor City. The themes that emerged from this coding and analysis inform the discussi on that follows in this dissertation. In-depth Interviews A series of semi-structured and unstructu red interviews were conducted with four key respondents to gather more detailed qualitative data on the membersÂ’ long-term association with the organizati on and to serve as a comparison for findings from surveys. Although the interview protocols used were relatively short, interviews often ranged from two to three hours, as ques tions asked generated detail ed responses and ensuing conversations, and were completed over the course of three of five sessions. Key respondents were selected based on my pers onal relationships with them which had developed over the course of my involvement with the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo and its members. They were chosen for thei r insight into the organization, given their extensive participation as members of the di rectiva or in the pl anning and execution of activities between 1999 and 2009. My key informan ts, whose parents and/or grandparents had been members, all have multiple historical ties to the Mart-Maceo Society.
62 Key respondents were generally bilin gual (English and Spanish), although one respondent was more fluent in Spanish than English. Interviews were conducted in the language of their preference, and although interview responses often incorporated both languages, respondents generally kept their re sponses within the id entified language of preference. All semi-structured interviews were tape recorded; however, unstructured interviews and detailed convers ations with key informants we re not. In these cases, I took detailed notes when possible and otherwis e followed such conversations by orally recording my observations to a digital recorder and later writing up fieldnotes from these. All interview recordings were transcribed a nd typed into Word documents for electronic storage and review. Interview notes and fieldnotes from conversations with key respondents were reviewed for common themes and descriptive information about the Mart-Maceo Society and Black Cuban identity using Atlas.ti version 5.2, qualitative data analysis software (Scientific Software Development 2006). I used an oral history approach during these interviews to examine racial and ethnic identity formation processes in both C uba (when relevant) and the United States. The interviews often began by soliciting ba sic demographic information including age, place of birth, household information, curre nt and previous occupation, etc. The interviews then focused on discussion of in formantsÂ’ early lives, specific recollections related to racial identity fo rmation and perceptions on race relations in Tampa or Cuba, and reflections on migration from Cuba or within the United States at various points in their lives. Key informants were also asked extensively about their experiences as MartMaceo members, as well as early recollecti ons about their parentsÂ’ and other family membersÂ’ involvement. The responses collected during these more ex tensive interviews
63 are used to elucidate certain points relate d to the preservation of the Mart-Maceo Society, changing relations betw een various ethnic groups and Ybor City stakeholders, as well as detailed recollections of significant events during th e past 10 years since I began work with the organization. According to Gmelch (1992:311), oral hist ory is a useful method through which to gain an insiderÂ’s perspective Â“beneath th e abstractions of migration theory.Â” The migration experience, for many individuals, is filled with a number of significant or lifealtering events, which can often serve to he ighten informantsÂ’ recall and memory of events. While the majority of respondents who participated in this study are not recent migrants, the oral history method is expected to provide insight into the contemporary history of Afro-Cubans in Tampa (S ee Yow 1994:143-166). As Hareven notes (1996:242), oral history provides a means by which to link indi vidual lives with a broader historical context or Â“generational memoryÂ” th at serves to collect and record individual family histories, Â“as well as more general collective memories about the past.Â” Within this project, the oral history method wa s used to provide a means through which informants can connect family and comm unity history with contemporary social networks and associations. The oral history method has a long and di stinguished history in anthropological methodology, including the works of Ruth La ndes (1969) and Nancy Lurie (1961), which focus on the lives of Native American women.17 A number of works in the field published over the past two decades embraced the oral history method and documented the effects and pitfalls of using reflexivity in the ethnogr aphic process (Behar 1993; Fox 17 According to the North American Oral History Associ ation, Allen Nevins established oral history Â“as a technique for modern historical documentationÂ” in 1948 (Thomson 1998: 581).
64 1991). The fallibility of memory has been criticized as a main impediment to the reliability of the method as a means for securing valid and reliable data. However as Yow notes (1994:6; See also Lu mmis 1987), most historical documentation relies on subjective and/or selective recording and me mory, including census information, surveys, and birth, marriage or death registries. Furthe r, and perhaps more important to remember, is HaverenÂ’s assertion that oral history is a record of perceptions, rather than a re-creation of historical eventsÂ… [a]s long as one understands this, rather than assumes, as some do, that oral history is the closest to Â‘unadultera ted human memoryÂ’ we can approach, it can be valued for what it is a nd utilized creatively (1996:248). Surveys The questionnaire administered to cont emporary respondents was created in 1989 and administered by Greenbaum with 45 ac tive members of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo between 1989 and 1990. The protoc ol was comprised primarily of items designed to elicit demographic information, items designed to capture perceptions of individual identity, as well as items that could be combined to create variables related to Afro-Cuban identity. Most of the respondents surveyed in 1989 have died, moved away from Tampa, or are no longer affiliated w ith Mart-Maceo members socially, although 10 of these original respondents were memb ers when I began work ing the Mart-Maceo
65 Society and I was acquainted with them.18 The surveys also include open-ended questions that allow respondents to reflect on perceive d changes in inter-racial relations among Cubans, relations between African Ameri cans and Afro-Cubans, and differences in gender relations over time. All of the contemporary respondents se lf-identify as Black Cuban and/or acknowledge a Cuban heritage whereby at leas t one family member (most often a parent or grandparent) iden tified as Cuban and was an active member of the Mart-Maceo Society prior to 1965. Because of these inclusio n criteria and the ongoing state of decline in which the Mart-Maceo Society has opera ted since the late 1960s, only 17 respondents completed surveys with me. In order to augment data collected with this small sample of respondents, I compared contemporary respons es to those of the 1989 surveys. Findings from both sets of surveys were reviewed a nd assessed for changes in perceptions with regard to self-categorization of identity, so cial network affiliations, and relations between various social groups in Tampa (e.g. between Afro-Cubans and White Cubans, African Americans, etc.). Survey responses were coded and entere d into IBM SPSS Statistics Base 17.0 for Windows to generate descriptive statistics of each sample. A statistical profile for each set of respondents and general comparisons be tween these are presented in Chapter Six of this dissertation. Because the surveys were conducted with convenience samples, these comparisons were not tested for statistical significance and the conclusions presented related to these are not gene ralizable beyond the respondents who completed surveys. 18 I was able to surmise the identity of several responden ts to the 1989 survey, based on responses given at the time to a social network grid that was created. I was not able to do this for all of these respondents, however.
66 IRB Approval of Study At the outset of my work with the orga nization as a research assistant, I was introduced formally to the membership and they were told that I would be taking notes as part of a graduate-level research project. Prio r to initiating targeted data collection, (e.g. completion of interviews and surveys) I secured approval of the dissertation study proposal University of South Florida In stitutional Review Board (IRB). All study participants gave their written informed c onsent after the purpos e of the dissertation research was explained and confidentia lity was assured by the researcher. Study participants signed an informed consent form and agreed to allow their interviews to be recorded with a digital recorder. Although a number of the Mart-Maceo members have passed away in the intervening years since I was introduced to the membership, I have tried to remain cognizant of the importance of c onfidentiality with regard to the members that gave so much of their time to me, and shared their words and experiences with me. Because of the unique history of TampaÂ’s mutual aid societies and the ethnic communities that grew up around them, it seemed disingenuous to try to obscure the geographic location. However, I have tried to respect my in formantsÂ’ privacy by using pseudonyms and changing identifying characteri stics without deliberately misrepresenting events or observations that could be corroborated by ot hers. Before obtaining informed consent and initiating data collection, I e xplicitly explained the steps I would take to maintain each participantÂ’s privacy. Throughout my work with the members of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo, I was open about the fact that my constant not e-taking and observations would be used as
67 part of my dissertation research. I also an swered questions from members whenever they asked about my progress or th e issues in which I was mo st interested. Most often, however, my informants were gracious and s upportive. Rather than ask details, theyÂ’d ask Â“When are you going to finish your studies?Â” As a result, I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, while working to maintain the in tegrity of the data that I collected during fieldwork.
68 CHAPTER FOUR THE EVERYDAY BUSINESS OF BLACK CUBAN HERITAGE REPRESENTATION Cubans in Tampa: Common Hi story, Different Trajectories In the fall of 1999, I began working w ith Susan Greenbaum as her research assistant on the project entitled, Cubans in Tampa: Common Histories, Common Paths. Â“Cubans in TampaÂ” was co-directed by Greenbaum and Paul Dosal, then associate professor of History, and was funded by the Florida Humanities Council. According to the grant description, the proj ect was designed to Â“investig ate the community and civic culture of black and white C uban AmericansÂ…explor e the generational, ethnic and racial issues that have too often divided them and identify the common interests on which they will build more constructive relations between black and white Cuban Americans in the futureÂ” (Original grant proposal, 1998). A tota l of five events, to be held during the course of a year, was planned to celebr ate the Â“common origins in the early Cuban community of TampaÂ” and to examine and bett er understand Â“the divisions that have existed between black and white CubansÂ” sinc e 1900, resulting in the eventual formation of the Crculo Cubano and the So ciedad La Unin Mart-Maceo. The centennial celebrations of the Crc ulo Cubano and the Sociedad la Unin Mart-Maceo were scheduled in October 1999 and October 2000, respectively, to serve as book-ends enclosing three additional even ts focused on presenting the historic
69 contributions of Cubans in Tampa and oste nsibly, on forging new relationships between these organizations. The other events held as part of the series included a panel discussion of local Cuban and Spanish academics, activists, and community historians titled, Â“The Social Vision of Jos Mart and Anotnio Maceo: A L ecture and Dialogue;Â” a living history presentation by members of th e Crculo Cubano titled, Â“Cuba Libre: The Road to Cuban Independence;Â” and a second pa nel discussion that included Black and White Cubans, along with Dosal and Greenba um, Â“Racial Reconcil iation within the Cuban Community and Beyond.Â” In 1999, Dosal served as president of th e Crculo Cubano and was working with its membership to plan and organize events related to the centenni al and assisting with the compilation of the Crculo CubanoÂ’s arch ival records. Greenbaum, on the other hand, had been working with the members of the Mart-Maceo Society for nearly a decade, helping them to reconstruct a written hist ory of their organiza tion (See Greenbaum, 2002), as well as to compile family photogra phs to document the long history of AfroCubans in Ybor CityÂ’s cigar enclave. As Gr eenbaumÂ’s assistant, most of my early work focused on becoming acquainted with the members of the Mart-Maceo Society and assisting with their efforts to compile archives and photographs from family papers, which allowed me to record fieldnotes rath er unobtrusively. Duri ng this time Crculo Cubano maintained a historian on its gove rning board, who was responsible for organizing their existing archives and hi storical photographs and compiling these for donation to the Ybor City and West Tampa Collections Archive held by the Florida Studies Center at the University of South Fl orida library. By contrast, the members of the Mart-Maceo Society relied on Greenbaum and students like me to compile archives for
70 donation to the library and for use during the ce ntennial project. This basic difference in the lack of organizational capacity among Tamp aÂ’s existing social cl ubs was one of many examples that became evident during my wo rk on this project. As with the stark differences between the organizationÂ’s curr ent social halls, the Crculo CubanoÂ’s organizational infrastructure appeared to be more formalized and better-functioning. Despite the projectÂ’s premise that Cubans in Tampa shared a common history that had placed them on common paths as they settled their familie s in this country, the contemporary realities suggested otherwise. As noted elsewhere in this dissertation, the loss of the original Mart-Maceo Society to the Urban Renewal program in 1965, was significant event in the organizationÂ’s history. For many of Mart-Ma ceoÂ’s members, this transgression on the part of the city illustrated a complete disregard for their contributions to the enclaveÂ’s development, and the decision to demolish their social hall was often suspected by members of being racially motivated. The Ma rt-Maceo Social Hall was one of the only venues in segregated Tampa that allowed Black audiences to attend events and concerts by nationally-recognized Black ar tists of the day. A number of members consider this tie to the local Black community an unspoken reason (on the part of the city) for the loss of the original social hall. 19 Moreover, their current buildi ng (which they were able to acquire in the late 1960s) could not compare to the grand, albeit aging three-story social hall of the Crculo Cubano.20 19 The property on which the original social hall stoo d was eventually developed into privately-owned lowincome apartments with a majority of Black residents. 20 Although the original Ma rt-Maceo social hall was a much larger and more attractive building than the organizationÂ’s current hall, it was still much smaller and less grand than the structures built by the other mutual aid societies in the area.
71 The Crculo Cubano is located about four blocks from the Mart-Maceo social hall and sits on the National Register of Historic Places. At the time that I began my work on the project in 1999, a number of members commente d that the joint events to be held at the Crculo Cubano would be the first time for many of them would set foot in the other Cuban club. As Elena, noted during a conversat ion as we prepared for the first event: I remember when we walked by, my mother told me not to even look at that place. Â“DonÂ’t even look at it. Ju st keep walking.Â” I guess thatÂ’s how angry they were at the time. Although the anger that Elena refers to may ha ve had to do with the original expulsion from the original Club Nacional Cubano Â— her grandmother would have been alive at the time of the split and the subsequent foundi ng of the all-Black mutual aid society and would have shared this knowle dge with her childrenÂ— it may have had more to do with the fact that some members of the Crculo C ubano were close relatives from whom they were separated because of their respective and acknowledged racial identities. (Elena would later, in fact, learn that this was indeed the case in her family.) Moreover, a number of Mart-Maceo member s felt that, by and large, White immigrants in Ybor City disrespected them and their organization. Fo r instance in early generations, although the Crculo Cubano often invited Mart-Maceo member s to some of their events, particularly those that celebrated Cuban national holidays, they were not allowed to bring their wives and were required to leave once festiviti es (e.g. drinking and dancing) had begun. However, this Â“customÂ” was not reciprocat ed, as White Cubans attended Mart-Maceo
72 dances in groups with no women and sought to dance with the wives of members (Greenbaum 2002:191). Each of my informants, when discussing th eir life histories, ma de note of specific instances when their racial identity (or that of a family member) caused an extra hardship or difficulty in their lives. In some cases, the restrictions placed on Blacks in Tampa Â— even within Ybor CityÂ— required travel to Cuba, as Lourdes recounts in discussing her auntÂ’s health. My cousin, Rafaela, was in C uba. She went, like, when she was about 13 because her mother had a brain tumor, and you know, at that time with segregation Blacks c ouldnÂ’t go into the hospitals. So they had this hospital here called Clara Frye, or so mething like that. So the brothers here, the family, decided to send her to Cuba, and she had the surgery. But I donÂ’t remember how l ong she lived after. The Clara Frye Negro Hospital, which L ourdes mentions, was the only hospital for Blacks in Tampa. It was established in 1915, and did not have the capacity to serve someone who needed surgery for a brain tu mor (Barry 2010). Black Cubans were not accepted in the hospitals established by the Ce ntro Asturiano and the Centro Espaol and so, were forced to travel for Cuba when hospitalization was necessary (Greenbaum 2002:156). Two of my informants (aged 83 and 90 resp ectively) also noted that a number of immigrant-owned Ybor City restaurants and business practiced activ e segregation despite
73 present-day claims to the contrary. Below, Ernest and Humberto talk about the same establishment, where they used to buy Cuban sandwiches. Ernest: Yeah, isnÂ’t it funny? HeÂ’s ou r friend now, but you know, back then in order to buy a Cuban sandwich you had to go to this window that they had. I remember it well. It had this little hole and they had it covered up with a piece of wood that they woul d push out of the way to take your order. So you would have to stand there and wait on them to push that wood thingÂ…[Laughs.] And you had to order through that little hole and then, theyÂ’d push the sandwiches through. ThatÂ’s the way it was. Humberto: Si en Ybor, alli pÂ’a tu compra r un sandwiche o cualquier cosa, tenias que ir por un lugar, una ventan ita que ponian alli en el lado pÂ’a venderte las cosas. (Yes, in Ybor City, if you wanted to buy a sandwich or anything like that, you had to go around to this window that they had to sell you things.) For Bill, discussing events when he had been discriminated against was particularly difficult, and he became emoti onal during our conversation. Bill had served in the Army during Korea and had been wounde d shortly after deployment there. After a months-long convalescence in Japan and later, Ha waii, he returned to Florida. Dressed in his uniform, he took a bus into Ybor City:
74 So, I got on the bus coming back. When we got onto 7th Avenue and 19th StreetÂ…the bus stopped, the bus driver turns ar ound and he say [sic]Â…Now, IÂ’m in my uniform. IÂ’m s till in the service. IÂ’m just home on a 30-day convalescence leave. I got my crutches. The only way the doctor let me come home was if I walked from here to that table [about 10 feet] and he wrote up the order for the nurse to let me come home for 30 days. It hurt so bad, but I did it. Because I wanted to come home so bad. [Pauses.] This bus driverÂ…this bus driv er, a lot of White folks was getting on the bus. He turns around and he says, Â“All you Black folks get up and let these White folks sit down. SoÂ…I got up, because I didnÂ’t want no problems. Because if I were to rebel, you know, I knew the police was gonna [sic] come and they were gonna have to call MacDill, and I didnÂ’t need that. Ok? So, when I get up, he re comes an able-bodied White man and he takes my seat. ThatÂ’s why I sa y I will take that to my grave with me. I will never forget that. And that wa s in Â’51, in Â’51 that that incident happened. And to this day, I always think about it. In BillÂ’s case, his recollection of racial discrimination is very much tied to larger experiences of segregation that Blacks faced in other parts of th e country: segregated buses and Black military personnel or veterans being treated as second-class citizens. The indignities of racial discri mination were ever-present in Ybor City for Black Cubans. Despite my knowledge of some of these di fficult experiences at the time, it was exciting for me to begin work on a project that would bring these two communities
75 together, which had been separated for such a long time. Far more interesting was the fact that the public events as planned did not appear to allow for much discussion and examination of the perceptions and opinions of individuals who expe rienced this divide for most of their lives. The fi rst event, the centennial cele bration for the Crculo Cubano, provided the opportunity for many of Mart-Mace oÂ’s members to make that initial visit after nearly a lifetime of being unable to en ter the hall. Although there were one or two members who had already attended other even ts at the Crculo Cubano; however, it was to be the first time that most members woul d be able to enjoy the historic hallÂ’s amenities. The centennial included a number of speakers, who discussed the role of the Crculo Cubano in their family and commun ity lives, and included music and light refreshments. Most members said they we re impressed by the sheer size of the neoclassical building that they had only glimpsed from the street as they were hurried along by parents and grandparents and noted th at they felt comfortable and welcomed. The events that followed were held alternatel y at the Mart-Maceo SocietyÂ’s social hall and the Crculo Cubano between October 1999 and November 2000. Overall, the centennial events were wellreceived by audiences of about 50 to 60, that had come to hear about the history of Cubans in Tampa and their contributions to Ybor City. The one exception proved to be a panel discussion that was held to discuss racial reconciliation among cont emporary Cubans in Tampa, the penultimate event in the series. The panel included Greenbaum and Do sal, along with a senior member of the Crculo Cubano, a community activist who ha d recently published a memoir of growing up in Ybor City, and a descendent of a family with over three generations of service on
76 the Mart-Maceo directiva and a federal official.21 What began as a panel discussion with the author using his memoir as an illustrati on of the divisions that existed between Black and White Cubans despite their co-existence within Ybor City, quickly became a venue for angry discussion on the part of some audi ence members. The audience for this panel was smaller than the previous events on the centennial calendar and included perhaps 25 people sitting in the outdoor patio of the Ybor Ci ty State Museum on a sunny midafternoon. Shortly after each of the panelists conc luded their opening remarks, an audience member, who appeared to be in his late 40s or early 50s, raised his hand to ask a question of the panelists and stood up to provide his comments. He began by noting that his parents had been members of the Mart-Maceo Society and that he had spent much of his youth at the social hall. He then went on to address the two Â“WhiteÂ” panelists and said that he did not believe they had any intention to address the pain that Black Cubans felt at being discriminated against by their fellow immigrants. He demanded to know what the point of the event had been. He asked them if they ever thought to place themselves in his shoes. How would they react to racial disc rimination? Members of the audience and the panel began speaking at once, and the discussion quickly beca me difficult to follow. One of the panelists, the elderly Crculo Cubano memb er said that he was, of course, sorry for the way things had occurred fifty years ago, but White Cubans had been unwilling to challenge the Jim Crow laws in place at the time for fear of repercussions. The audience member laughed at this response and said he wa s Â“no foolÂ” and that th is was just a cover for racism on the part of White Cubans. At this point, a member of Crculo Cubano in 21 The names of all members and cent ennial event participants have b een changed to protect research participant privacy and confidentiality. The exception to this general rule is to use the actual names of the directors of the study, both of them USF professors.
77 attendance countered, Â“As far as IÂ’m concerned I wasnÂ’t ther e. Why should I have to pay for what people in the past did?Â” Once agai n the audience discussion became contentious, with nearly everyone speak ing at once, it seemed. Members of the panel worked to addre ss the original speakerÂ’s questions and comments, as well as the point that pres ent-day members had nothing to do with the events of the past. They said that alth ough it was painful to addr ess these issues, the event had been intended to examine the experi ences of individuals affiliated with both of TampaÂ’s Cuban clubs and to attempt to co me to some sort of understanding and reconciliation for the future. The original speaker then replied, Â“There can be no reconciliation if these people are not willing to acknowledge wh at they did to us, to me, to my family in the past.Â” The audience di scussion became animated once again with one individual calling out, Â“You see this is why we can never get past what happened. They can never get past what happened.Â” Following some back and forth between audience members and the panelists, the original speakerÂ’s wife identified herself as an African American and stood up to a ddress the discussants. I realize that I am not part of this community, but I want to tell those of you who want my husband to Â“just get over itÂ”Â…my husband was very hurt by a lot of the things that happened in his life, by discrimination. Can you imagine family members pretending they donÂ’t know you? Or not being able to go somewhere because of the color of your skin? For those of you that havenÂ’t experienced this in your life, IÂ’m asking you to try and understand this manÂ’s pain. ThatÂ’s what this is about, pain.
78 Although a few members of the audience cl apped when the woman concluded and sat down, the audience fell quiet to a large extent, and the panelists were able to conclude with short statements about th e hope for reconciliat ion between presentday White and Black Cubans. Shortly th ereafter, the crowd dispersed and the event ended two hours after it had begun. This episode was instructive in a numbe r of ways, especially in that it gave voice to the resentment that many of th e Mart-Maceo members and other Black Cubans felt at being excluded from the larger Cuban community in Ybor City. Although White Cuban members of the pane l noted that they had also been discriminated against by Ta mpaÂ’s White power elite,22 the assertion did not appear to mollify the pain and outrage expressed by the audience members who experienced racial discrimination within Y bor City at the hands of fellow Cubans who were their neighbors and professed to harbor no racial animosity toward their Black compatriots, as well as relative s or long-standing family friends who no longer acknowledged their presence. The argument was largely dismissed by some of the Black audience members w ho challenged the sincerity of White CubansÂ’ efforts at reconciliation. Howe ver, the event also illustrated the discomfort that whites can feel when Â“talking about racism/white supremacyÂ” especially in a situation that required them to Â“confront their role as oppressors, or at least as beneficiaries of the racial oppression of othersÂ” (Grillo and Wildman, 22 While Long (1971:342) affirms that Â“[t]he various shades of skin color among the Cubans caused the natives [i.e. whites] to lump most of them with the Negro and to adopt a similar pattern of discrimination against them,Â” he also notes that subtle Â“voluntary segregationÂ” among middle and upper class Cubans often inured them from outright discrimination from the White power structure and even facilitated intermarriage with elite White families.
79 1991:408). The quiet that settl ed on the crowd Â—panelist s and audience alikeÂ— as White Cubans attempted to defend themselves from charges of racism, highlighted the discomfort of having to c onfront individual and/ or collective roles in the denigration of fellow Cubans Â—de spite the fact that a number of White Cubans in the audience explicitly stated that they did not feel any responsibility for having to do so. This incident has re mained a singular one in my fieldwork experience because it was the only time that such grievances were openly directed at White Cubans in public and outside th e confines of the Mart-Maceo social hall. Despite the distress e xperienced by audience members, Black and White, the event was in the end a success because it moved beyond the academic discussion of historical personages or literary and artistic works and addressed the lived experience of community members. The final event in the series that year was the MartMaceo Centennial Celebration, which was structured as a banquet that included a seated dinner, music, dancing, a short program with a local newscaster as the eveningÂ’s emcee, and recognition of previous Mart-Maceo presidents and families with ties to the organization that spanned three and in some cases four, generations. University of South Florida students in th e applied anthropology progr am worked with me to secure food donations as well as local and corporate sponsors, and helped with the hallÂ’s preparation, food a nd drink service, and clean up after the event. The banquet, held in November 2000, was a succ ess, with about 95 attendees who ate, drank and danced for four hours. The ma jority of those who attended were members of the Mart-Maceo Society a nd their family members, although some
80 members of the Crculo Cubano attended, as well. The social hall had been dressed up with additional lighting, banque t tables and chairs, and linens, and many of the members who attended comment ed that they had not seen the club look so festive in years. For many memb ers, the banquet was a festive conclusion to a series of events that forced them to examine the retelling of history with regard to the racial divisions among Cubans. Privately, individual members ridiculed claims that FloridaÂ’s Jim Cr ow laws Â—and the penchant of TampaÂ’s White elite for upholding theseÂ— were th e sole reason for the expulsion of Black Cubans from the Club Nacional Cubano a nd their subsequent relegation to the bottom rung in the racial and ethnic hier archy of Ybor City cigar workers. However, the centennial events, which mo st often celebrated Cuban culture and TampaÂ’s cigar workersÂ’ involvement in th e struggle for independence from Spain, provided a public space that allowed for a brief but forceful challenge of this rhetoric on the part of Black Cubans. Initial Impressions: Â“The Mart-Maceo Society Is a Private OrganizationÂ” Shortly after I started work on the centennial project, I began to attend general membership meetings held at the Mart-Maceo social hall as a guest. At the time, I was one of a number of USF anthropology graduate students who were involved with the organization in a variet y of capacities. At the time, Greenbaum enlisted students from her courses to conduc t class research projects and assist the organization in various capacities. Upon a ttending my first mee ting, I noticed that the majority of official business during the meeting was conducted almost entirely
81 in SpanishÂ— a practice I later learned was stipulated in the organizationÂ’s by-laws in place at the time. A typical meeting included 20 to 25 members sitting in long rows of picnic tables that were arranged next to each other and pointing toward a small, dark stage at end of the box-shap ed room. The current Mart-Maceo social hall had previously been a storefront a nd a warehouse. By 1999, its interior had been covered in dark wood paneling and dim fluorescent lighting with red lamps along the walls, which gave the hall the l ook of an old ElksÂ’ lodge. The square structure also included a small bar located at the front of the building, just to the left of the large double front doors. During those early days, USF students we re not considered to be eligible for full membership. Because we were assi sting the organizati on in a variety of capacities, however, we were given an Â“honoraryÂ” membership status which allowed us to attend meetings and help ga ther information or publicize events but did not give us voting rights or the right to speak during meetings. Fortunately, I speak fluent Spanish and was able to follo w the meetings and take notes. Most of the other student assistants often sat through meetings quietly or did not stay for meetings because they did not understand Spanish. There were also a few members at the time that were not fluent Spanish-speakers in the same predicament. The directiva president at th e time, Juan, had arrived from Cuba in the 1980s and spoke little English. Meeti ngs were led by Juan in Spanish and periodically, Valeria, the Board Secretar y, stepped in to translate for Englishspeakers. After sitting through meetings r un in this way, my overall impression of the Mart-Maceo Society was of a clos ed organization Â—very much like the
82 fraternal organization that it physical ly resembledÂ— which required newcomers to learn its ways and accommodate to its long-standing traditions. As if to underscore this impression, the membersh ip maintained a wooden placard built on wheels at the social hallÂ’s entrance that read in large block letters, Â“The MartMaceo Society Is a Private Organization.Â” Th e sign is still kept near the front door and is one of the first things guest s might see upon entering the building. The actual content of these early meetings focused on the planning of events related to the centennial project, the need to raise funds for operating costs and continual repairs, and increasing con cern that projected development in their vicinity might result in displacement from their current location in Ybor City. In 1999, the Ybor City Historic Distri ct was experiencing an upswing in development featuring the construction of several large-scale construction projects that would hold multiple department stores, restaurants, and a movie theater. Unlike the grander social halls of the other mutual aid societies in Ybor City, Mart-MaceoÂ’s social hall was not considered by the Barrio Latino Commission, which serves as the architectur al review board for the district and works to ensure adherence to architectura l design guidelines, to conform to the design guidelines for the historic distri ct. Therefore due to this lack of Â“architectural integrity,Â” as identified by the co mmission, the building was considered to be ineligible for hist oric designation review. The commissionÂ’s stance caused a considerable amount of concern among members because although the city was uninterested in r ecognizing their buildin g as an important
83 part of the historic district and a landmark in and of its elf, the Mart-Maceo social hall was now located on the main avenue running through Ybor City and its property value had escalated sharply as a result of development projections. Members worried that the eventual deve lopment boom being anticipated for the neighborhood would result in forced remova l. At the time, the threat seemed entirely plausible given that the building was aging and in need of considerable repair. Despite the growing excitement among Mart-Maceo members related to the centennial project, members began activ ely discussing the po ssibility of facing displacement once again during general me mbership meetings with increasing frequency. As a result of these concerns, th e organization Â– with financial support from a few key members Â– began to repair and remodel the buildingÂ’s interior to avoid possible code violations which mi ght encourage the city to close the organization or seize the building. Elena, a member in her 40s at the time and considered to of the Â“younger generation,Â” provided key support and resources in this regard. Her family had long-standing ties to the organization as a number of her ancestors had served on the Mart-Maceo Directiva or governing board, one of whom served as a well-respected Pres ident for many years. A city employee, Elena used her connections and increa sing enthusiasm fo r the Mart-Maceo Society to leverage resources and dona tions to help with remodeling and the preparation of the centennial gala. Other members stepped in to help with the actual work and also donated funds.
84 In the process, the dark wood paneli ng came down, revealing the need for extensive electrical rewiring, and although the revelation forced additional work and cost, the membership drew a collectiv e sigh of relief because it meant that they could avoid a major code violation should an inspection occur in the near future. Once the electrical rewiring was completed, the interior walls were rebuilt and a light gray paneling was installed. The fluorescent lighting was replaced, and more modern looking lamps were installe d along the interior perimeter of the building. Charting a Course for the Future The flurry of activity which character ized the preparation and planning for the centennial project events from 1999 to 2000 seemed to spur a small increase in new and returning members, includ ing individuals like Elena who were younger than most long-time members a nd had numerous connections and resources to share with the struggling organization. Members were visibly proud of the remodeling results which made the in terior of their social hall seem bigger and Â“more presentableÂ” as many of them ch aracterized it. This sense of pride also arose from the growing realization that despite a challenging hi story of enforced segregation and the sense that their community and organization was largely excluded from the current efforts to rev italize and celebrate Â“LatinÂ” heritage in Ybor City, the Mart-Maceo Society had remained in continuous operation for 100 years. As the centennial events continued, additional members began to attend regular meetings and expressed a desire Â“to become more involved.Â”
85 However, while increased involvement by younger members and others who had been away for some years resulted in incr eased activity at the organization, it also gave rise to questions related to th e way the organization was being run and whether the current board was equipped to lead the organization at a time that seemed to require some knowledge and political savvy with regard to ongoing city development efforts. Further, members began to question the wisdom of conducting meetings in Spanish, which more and more often requi red translation for members who were primary English speakers. By mid-year in 2000, a number of members felt comfortable enough with my presence at meetings and regular club events to express their opinions freely about the future of the Mart-Maceo Society and its current course. A few members confided that they felt new leadership was needed and that Juan and Valeria, who were often the only members of the board presiding over meetings, were not equi pped to handle the growing threat of redevelopment in the area. A few of them began to discuss what they felt were Â“irregularitiesÂ” in the ad ministration of the organiza tionÂ’s business and questioned whether an increase in donations were be ing accurately reflec ted in the monthly treasury reports. However, these susp icions were only related in private conversations rather than openly expre ssed during meetings. There were even whispers that Juan was a palero an adherent of what is often popularly characterized among Cubans as an offshoot of Santeria that relies on Â“black magicÂ” or Â“dark forcesÂ” to effect desired results.23 23 Researchers often differen tiate Palo Monte or Palo Mayombe as it is also known, from Santeria, or more accurately, Regla Ocha, in basic ways concerning practices and language. Whereas the Regla Ocha is seen
86 Relating Juan to an Africa n-derived religion such as Palo Mayombe or Santeria served to mark him as a suspicious Other, who did not conform to the typical make-up of Mart-Maceo members: respectable Black Cubans who were descended from individuals who helped esta blish the Ybor City cigar industry and founded the organization they held so dear. The majority of my respondents through the years have been reluctant to discuss their own familiesÂ’ experiences with either of these religions (when th is was the case), either because they dismissed them as mere superstition or because as one informant noted, Â“It makes them ashamed [to talk about it].Â” This passage reflects an ongoing theme in the discourse used by Mart-Maceo members to discuss race, Blackness, and Africa. When discussing Africa, for instance, a number of my informants will make an effort to distance themselves and/or the organization from the continent, its peoples or its cultural attr ibutes. This differentiation was prevalent in colonial Cuba among free Blacks and Mulattos. Th e parents and grandparents of my elderly informants, especially, who most often reflect such views and who have consistently avoided discussion of Santeria in particular, were members of this sector of CubaÂ’s population of color. 24 A committee of members had been assigned by Juan to work with Greenbaum on all efforts related to the cen tennial project, wh ich included Elena and another relatively young member, whose mother had long-standing family as a syncretic religion that fused primarily West African Yoruba religious practices with Catholicism, Palo MonteÂ’s African origins have been traced back to Bantu peoples of the Congo in Central Africa. (See Wetering and van Velzen, 2006; Cabrera, 1986). See Palmi (2002) for an indepth discussion of these belief systems and the way in which they developed conjointly in Cuba and which gives credence to popular notions of Santeria and Palo Monte. 24 For an excellent treatment on official efforts to forcibly discourage the practice of African-derived religions in the early Cuban republic see Bronfman (2004).
87 ties to Mart-Maceo, Steven Acosta. Stev en had served briefly as an interim president of the directiva prior to JuanÂ’s term and worked at a local information technology firm. He was considered by many of the members to be a potential long-term leader in the or ganization. The elder members felt that he and Elena were more equipped to help the MartMaceo Society navigate the literally changing landscape of Ybor City and the pol itics of local redevelopment. As the chair of the centennial committee, Steven represented the Mart-Maceo directiva and was often involved in planning discus sions with the board members of the Crculo Cubano. His competence in this ro le led some of the older members to begin pushing informally for Steven to challenge JuanÂ’s position as directiva president. At the same time, a number of concerns involving the governing board had emerged with a potential for some sca ndal, helping to spur calls for change. The ongoing work related to the cent ennial project helped to increase interest and participation in other official Mart-Maceo events and activities which led to increased revenues from sales of alcohol and entry fees. The social hall itself seemed to gain new life from th e makeover and the increased attention, mirroring increasing activity in the surrounding Ybor City district. One evening in September, Steven and another member headed to the club on a weekend evening in order to prepare the hall for an upcomi ng event. According to Steven, when he arrived at the club the city-owned vacant lo t to the west of the Mart-Maceo social hall (which was often used by members a nd guests with permission from the city) was full. At the time, he said he noted that this seemed odd to him because there
88 was not a function being held at the club. 25 He said he then proceeded to the small parking area adjacent to the east side of the social hall and was stopped by a woman who, he said, asked him to pay five dollars to park his car. Upon hearing this, Steven said that he asked the woman for her name and told her that she was asking him to pay to park in a private parking lot (MartMaceoÂ’s land extends approximately 30 feet to the east of the building and allows for a small amount of parking) and that as a member of the Mart-Maceo Society working on behalf of the directiva, he ha d every right to park there for free. Steven said that the woman responded that she also worked for the Mart-Maceo Society, and that no one had told her that there would be an event at the hall requiring parking. At this point, he asked the woman to identify the individual member who had hired her and told her that he had no knowledge of such an arrangement. Steven said that she stoppe d answering his questions and told him to talk with the board. Steven discussed the parking incide nt at the next centennial committee meeting a week later. When relating th e story to the committee, he asked for advice on how best to address the issue at the general membership meeting to be held the following week. The committ ee members expressed a number of concerns about the incident chief of which was the appearance that the directiva was engaging in financial improprieties which could be draining the treasury and worse, enabling one or more board memb ers to generate unauthorized income 25 In 1999, despite the growing activ ity in Ybor City overall, Mart-M aceoÂ’s location at the front end of Seventh Avenue placed it at some distance from the bu lk of the nightlife which actually begins nearly 3 blocks away. The long dark walk from this parkin g location coupled with YborÂ’s reputation for crime served to discourage parking near the social hall Â– although this is no longer the case. The city now authorizes private parking companies to rent the lot for paid parking duri ng large-scale events.
89 from their position(s). All positions on the Mart-Maceo Directiva were volunteer positions and tradition (as well as by-laws, I later learned) stipulated that no board members could draw a salary from his or her position. For members of the committee, even more unsettling was the fact that none of them had any idea about the parking arrangement with Marsha Harris, the name the unknown parking attendant had given to Steven, a nd that such an arrangement had never been brought up in a general meeting. Overall, committee members expressed concern over the perception that such activities, should they become known, would have on new and returning members who had been drawn to the organization as a result of the centennial events. The centennial committee was comprised of eight members, including two who had become members in the late 1980s, four with ongoing and active ties to the organization from young adulthood, a nd Steven and Elena. Although small in number, they represented a core group w ith considerable influence. The decision to address the parking issue formally dur ing the general membership meeting was sure to raise eyebrows among the rest of the membership and could potentially cause a fracas, something IÂ’d begun to note was generally avoided. Typically, problems or concerns on the part of individual members were not addressed during general membership meetings. Be ginning with the wh ispers that the directiva was no longer effec tive and the informal calls for Steven to assume the presidency, I began to note that members most often raised grievances privately by calling their friends and family memb ers who were also members and airing their unease about a given matter. Eventu ally, these concerns would reach the
90 directiva, but only because a member woul d have placed a private call to discuss what he or she had heard. In his work with Jewish family clubs in New York, Mitchell (1978:155196) notes the cultural nature of conflic t within such close-knit organizations. Conflict can often provide an organiza tionÂ’s members with some excitement, although if left unchecked the resulting divisiveness may destabilize the entire organization. Although Cubans are often co lloquially characterized as being very demonstrative when speaking and even excitable in their manner of verbal expression generally, members appeared to be reluctant to formally introduce controversial or problematic issues during general assembly meetings. For the most part, they appeared to go out of their way to behave cordially and avoid overt and potentially disruptive conflict. Even in instances where members might begin arguing loudly, others would try to diffuse the situation and calm everyone down. It was no surprise then, that Steven had asked the centennial committee members for their advice in handling the parking matter during the general assembly meeting. By bringing up the topi c, he could be seen as accusing the directiva of stealing, at wors t, and at best, pointing out that they were not adhering to the rules and regulations that governed the organi zationÂ’s operation. With the support of the committee membersÂ—most of whom were in their 70sÂ—he could avoid creating the impression that he wa s trying to undermine the board and take control of the organization. As a result, the committee decided that matter should be brought up as a Â“misunderstandingÂ” and that the directiva needed to contact Marsha Harris immediately to stop he r Â“unauthorizedÂ” income-generating
91 activities. In preparation, they drafte d a cease-and-desist letter on organization letterhead that would be permitted during the meeting as the best way to handle the matter. Despite these precautions, the genera l membership meeting was somewhat contentious. Valeria felt that the directiv a was being unfairly accused of stealing, and the explanation for the matter was that while Marsha Harris had been given permission to oversee parking for the Ma rt-Maceo Society during large events (ostensibly to ensure additional revenue for the organization) she had taken it upon herself to conduct a side busine ss without anyoneÂ’s knowledge. The membership voted to send the letter immedi ately and to have the board follow up with Marsha to stress that the organiza tion was prepared to take legal action should the parking business on Mart-Maceo and city property continue. Although the immediate conflict appear ed to be over, the parking incident marked the beginning of the end for Juan and ValeriaÂ’ s leadership. While members said that they accepted the explana tion that the parking bu siness was being conducted without board authorization, many continue d to mention the fact that no one was ever told about selling parking spaces in the first place. There were no official treasury reports that showed that a Ma rt-Maceo event had ever generated any income through parking. In all fairness, the boardÂ’s explanation might have been accurate and was entirely plausible despite what members at the time believed. Part of the difficulty in determining the veracity of the multiple justifications circulated, was the fact that only two individuals were runni ng an organization whose building had
92 recently undergone fairly extensive remodeling and which was experiencing an upswing in membership attendance and a gr owing number of activities to oversee. Furthermore, they were keeping all reco rds on paper in handwritten form, using their own filing systems (such as they we re), with little to no assistance from other members or technology. Such a s ituation could easily lend itself to the feeling that the amount of work required deserved some compensation for directiva members (approved or otherwise) and/or corruption. However, it could just as easily create an environment rife with errors and inaccuracies in recordkeeping and reporting of official business which could allow a rogue Â“friendÂ” of the organization to profit without the boardÂ’s knowledge. In response to the growing need for more stringent review and formalization of the SocietyÂ’s processes, the membership voted to revi se the existing by-laws and asked me to help them with the process. Ultimately, enough of the membersh ip felt (related through private conversations) that they no longer truste d Juan and Valeria, and they were convinced that Steven would be a better leader overall. Moreover, when Marsha Harris received the letter advising her to stop her parking business or face legal action, she left a voicemail saying that sh e had proof of making an arrangement with Valeria and that she had even give n the board a percenta ge of her profits. This exacerbated membersÂ’ concerns considerably and many now said that they no longer felt they could trust Valeria. However, no one was willing to step forward at the next membership meeting to call for a special election of a new directiva because of the perceived impropr iety. To make matters worse, Valeria
93 had recently been involved in another incident with a local county official who had rented the Mart-Maceo Social Hall to celebrate his victory in the primary election. According to members in attendan ce, just as the poli tician was about to address his victory with the press which had assembled inside the social hall, Valeria stepped in and said that he was prohibited from discussing the primary in any way while inside the building, as s tipulated in the current by-laws. Although he was clearly embarrassed, the presump tive county commissioner agreed to hold the interview outside. Isabel, a Mart-Maceo member who worked on the commissionerÂ’s campaign called me --abs olutely furious-two days later and asked whether I had a copy of the orga nizationÂ’s by-laws. By this time in September 2000, I had become a fixture at the Mart-Maceo Society and was known for taking copious notes and assisti ng with some general office duties from time to time. I did not yet have a copy of the by-laws, and told her that I would send one to her but that it might be best to ask for a copy during the next general assembly meeting. I also suggested that members should have ready access to these in order to ensure that all organi zational rules and regu lations were being followed accordingly. Once the rest of the membership found out about the second incident, there was a lot of discussion about the potential negative ramifications for the organization because of its very public nature and the involvement of the local press. Members expressed concerns that a local news outle t would circulate a story about the incident. Still other me mbers expressed concern that such an incident could take place during a private event. Many said that they recalled the
94 clause which limited discussions of politic al or religious subjects to avoid overt conflict and outbursts but that this rule only applied during general membership meetings. Other members felt that as l ong as individuals who were renting the social hall were observing general health and safety requirements, their speech should not be regulated. The following week I was able to secure a copy of the by-laws, which appeared to exist only in Spanish and were dated 1965. By the following monthÂ’s general memb ership meeting, calls for Juan and Valeria to step down had grown louderÂ— although no one would agree to bring the matter up at the general membership meeting. As I arrived at the October meeting (just over a month away from the scheduled banquet), I wondered how this matter would be resolved, if at all, and whether the resu lting fallout would hamper a successful conclusion to the cente nnial project. To make matters worse, I was running late that Sunday, causing my apprehension to grow. However, when I walked into the social hall, Juan was giving the membership his verbal resignation, which he said would be fo llowed by a formal written letter. He addressed the members in English, in whic h his speech had a rather stilted quality, and said he needed to step down for h ealth reasons and his inability to attend meetings in the future. Perhaps it was b ecause I was flustered about being late, but it took me a while to assimilate the sc ene. The assembled members looked much as they had at any number of meetings IÂ’d attended in the past year. When Juan talked about his health issues, a few of them said that they hope d heÂ’d feel better soon so that he could continue being an active part of the organization. A few others expressed regret over his resignation.
95 As soon as Juan finished, though, a few members quickly noted that the directiva was now without a leader and before anyone el se could take the floor, a motion was made to have Steven take Ju anÂ’s place. Although Steven abstained from voting, the motion was passed unanimously and he immediately assumed the role of president. The members clapped a nd welcomed Steven as their new leader and urged him to sit at the directivaÂ’s tabl e facing the members. At this point, the meeting took on an almost mundane qua lity and Valeria began reading the previous monthÂ’s minutes and a treasury report. Neither of the reports seemed complete, and because they had been ha ndwritten it was difficult for Valeria to read them clearly. Once the reading of the treasury report was completed, Isabel, asked that the membership address the incident i nvolving the politician who was forbidden from addressing the press about his victor y in the primary. Apparently, the county commissioner told Isabel that although he supported the organization in principle and wanted to help its members, he might refrain from working with them in the future as a result of what had transpired th at evening. Isabel said that she was still embarrassed about the situation and wonde red aloud if the membership realized that the support of loca l politicians could help, should Ybor redevelopment threaten their current location. By this time, Juan had already ta ken his leave. Valeria responded to IsabelÂ’s question by saying that Juan had made the determination to silence the commissioner and that since he was no longer there it seem ed a moot point to her. Isabel responded by saying that she he rself had seen Valeria approach the
96 commissioner and the assembled camera operators, which touched off an argument between the two women. Steven asserted his authority using a gavel that was now available to him, and asked whether a letter had been mailed to the commissioner expressing the organiza tionÂ’s regret over the Â“misunderstanding.Â” Valeria responded that she had no idea. A member then made a motion to draft a letter and have all of the members sign it in a show of solidarity. Once the tension related to this matter dissipated, the t one of the meeting changed and discussion turned to preparations for the final cen tennial event. Elena announced that sheÂ’d received enough donated paint to cover bot h the interior and exterior of the building. Members raised their hands to volunteer although a number of them noted that such work might be difficult fo r elderly members. After some back and forth, the meeting ended on a more jovial note than it had begun. An Offer to Merge and Make Histo ry from Havana to New York Five months before the centennial banquet, which would celebrate the centennial of Mart-MaceoÂ’ s founding, Elena made a st artling discovery: she and Paul Dosal, the co-director of the cente nnial project, shared the same greatgrandfather. The second cousins were thrill ed at the news, especially since it came during a year which had been set aside specifically to examine the intertwining trajectories of Cubans in Tampa, Black and White. While their excitement was largely personal and engendered new ties in their respective families, they also hoped their discovery would play a concrete role in their resp ective organizations. In July of 2001, the new president of El Crculo Cubano, Carlos, approached
97 Steven with a request for making a pres entation to the members of the MartMaceo Society about an interesting offer that, he said, would be of ultimate benefit to both organizations and to th e entire Cuban community in Tampa. He also did not give Steven much inform ation beyond saying that he would like for the organizations to consider the possibility of coming together in light of the successful year theyÂ’d shared together. When Steven called the emergency mee ting to allow Carlos to give his presentation, members seemed somewhat anxious but curious, as well. As noted earlier, the centennial events had genera ted renewed interest in the Mart-Maceo Society among previous members and younge r individuals, and the events had helped to increase revenues. However, th e membership was still concerned with city plans to begin revitalizing the wester n end of the Ybor C ity district (where the social hall is located), and many were interested in hearing the proposal and how it might alleviate these concerns, if at all. On the night of the presentation, Carlos was accompanied by the Crculo Cubano governing board and brought with him a number of handouts. The one that was of most interest to members at the time was a worksheet which outlined a plan for selling the Mart-Maceo Social Hall at an estimated cost of between $700,000 and $1 million, placing those funds in an endowment or investment account to make compound interest, and us ing part of those funds to make monthly payments to the Crculo Cuba no that would eventually total $500,000 ($50,000 to be paid over 10 years). These pa yments were described as a donation that would show the Mart-Maceo SocietyÂ’ s good faith in joining with the Crculo
98 Cubano. In return, the members of the Ma rt-Maceo would be recognized as full members of the organization, and they woul d be privy to all of the benefits and amenities that full membership had to offer. The immediate response from the Mart-Maceo members present at the meeting was understated and contrasted with the excitement of the Crculo Cubano members making the proposal. They looked at the worksheet and other handouts quietly and said nothing for a few moments. At the close of the presentation, Steven thanked them for their time and told them that they had given the Mart-Maceo members a lot to think about and asked whether any of the assembled members had questions. Ernest an active member, who had served on the centennial committee, raised his hand and asked what the deadline for a response was. He echoed StevenÂ’s comments that there was a lot of information for his fellow members to digest and th at they would need some time for discussion. Carlos responded by saying, Â“Of course, we donÂ’t want to push you for a response. But we feel that this is a wonderful oppor tunity for both of us and with all of the work that weÂ’ve done togeth er this year, that th is would be a great time to make such a move.Â” He did not give an ultimate deadline but said that they looked forward to talking with Steven and the rest of the board soon, in order to come to an accord. Richard, who had also served on the centennial committee, asked if it would be possible to set up a meeting in the near future to begin a series of discussions in anticipation of the ques tions that Mart-Maceo members would have. He reminded Carlos that the genera l membership ultimately made decisions
99 about their organizationÂ’s welfare and that it might take a bit of time to address any concerns, should they arise. Carlos said that he understood and said that Steven should just call him to set up th e first meeting. The official meeting was then adjourned and after a short time of so cializing between both sets of members, the Crculo Cubano officers departed. Afte r a few seconds of silence, members stared at each other and then quickly began discussing their impressions of the meeting. Someone asked aloud, Â“So what di d you think about that?Â” Conversation then started in earnest, as impressions were shared, although the comment most often overheard seemed to be, Â“I donÂ’t know. IÂ’m not sure I get it.Â” Elena had been at the meeting and said that sh e thought the members should consider the offer seriously because Â“it could be good for both us. IÂ’m just saying we should keep an open mind.Â” Luis responded, Â“But how can it be good for us to sell the building that we own and pay them to become members? Maybe I just donÂ’t understand.Â” This was the point that most of th e members that night struggled with understanding. Although the Mart-Maceo Soci al Hall could not compare with the three-story Crculo Cubano building, it ow ned its land, free and clear. The fact that it sat at the entrance to Ybor City, wh ere the city had expressed an interest in constructing a number of new buildings, ma de them rethink the value of the land on which their organization sat. Although they were concerned that the city could forcibly move them from their current lo cation, as in 1965, they began to realize that they could demand compensation using the fair market value of the land. The proposal also made some of them realize, for the first time, just how much
100 property values had skyrocketed in Y bor City by mid-2001. Moreover, a number of news articles had been published within the past two months, outlining the dire financial straits in which the Crculo Cubano found itself. The building was not owned by the members but by a group of investors who had incorporated as a federal non-profit organization and had a ssumed control of the building. More importantly, it appeared that the Board of Directors was having trouble raising funds for the over $800,000 mortgage on the building and that they were being threatened with foreclosure. The Â“dona tionÂ” on the part of the Mart-Maceo Society could come in quite handy during this financially precarious time for the organization. The matter was discussed further at the next general assembly meeting a week later, but many of the members ha d already taken to their phones to begin talking to each other, asking questions, and making conjecture. I received a few phone calls prior to the meeting, from members asking me what I thought, and I was careful to give my opinion because my first impression of the proposal had been to question just how such an arrange ment could be beneficial to the MartMaceo members. However, I didnÂ’t want my opinion to sway the members, who I felt had a greater stake in the ultimate outcome, and who would have to weigh numerous factors in order to come to so me accord internally, much less with the members of the Crculo Cubano. However, I did say, when asked, that I felt it important to take some time in st udying all of the possible options and ramifications of the proposal and to be gin outlining concrete questions to ask Carlos and the rest of the Crculo govern ing board, so that an y concerns could be
101 raised and discussed openly. The members who called me were generally of the opinion that there was something Â“not ri ghtÂ” with the proposal, and that they couldnÂ’t see paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to become members of another organization. As one caller put it, Â“IÂ’m better off filling out a membership application, right? I mean, r eally, donÂ’t you think so?Â” At the meeting, Steven asked three members to serve on a building committee with him that would be responsib le for gathering as much information as possible regarding the potential merger attend all meetings with the Crculo Cubano governing board, and relay all info rmation gathered to the membership with recommendations, where appropriate. Steven asked me to be one of the committee members, and given my reticen ce in answering some of the earlier calls I received, I was somewhat reluctant to accept. However, I felt that I could be of help in the gather ing information, assembling not es and learning anything I could about possible Â“behind the scenes Â” maneuvering that members had been wondering about. Joining Steven and me on the committee were Ernest and Richard. Originally, Steven had asked Elena to serve on the committee, as well. However, she said that she felt it wasnÂ’t appropriate given her recent discovery of the relationship with Paul and her overall enthusiasm for the plan. She did say that she would be as involved as she could be and wouldnÂ’t hesitate to share her opinions and feelings regarding the matte r with us. After the general assembly meeting ended, the committee assembled for a few minutes to plan a meeting where we could discuss specific questions we might have prior to meeting with the Crculo Cubano governing board. I was asked to serve as the chair of the
102 committee, and take the lead in gather ing information from as many different avenues as possible, work with Steven to set appointments for meetings, and to make sure that we were ready with we ll-informed questions. Once again, I agreed. We scheduled a meeting two weeks later on a Thursday night, at the Crculo Cubano, to begin discussing a num ber of questions that the members had generated. The first and most often voiced was what the $500,000 payment was for. Did the payment guarantee part-own ership of the building, and its regular use? Other questions include d learning more about how the figure was arrived at, the actual benefit to Mart-Maceo memb ers of such an arrangement, and any future liability that the Mart-Maceo So ciety might incur with regard to the Crculo CubanoÂ’s financial difficulties, which had been ongoing for over a year. Ernest and Richard had worked together to list as ma ny questions as they could from the membership and I prepared them for Steven, with additional information on recent articles regarding the Crc ulo CubanoÂ’s financial difficulties. The meeting was held in a small enclosed office on the second story of the Crculo Cubano building, which just accomm odated the eight of us that attended. It was opened by Carlos, who said he was glad that process seemed to be going ahead smoothly and that he was looking forw ard to working together so that we all might benefit from a merger in the near future. Steven thanked him and the rest of their board and said that he also appreciated how smoothl y things were going and that he was looking forward to ma intaining cordiali ty throughout their subsequent discussions. He then went on to say that he and the members had had some time to review the proposal and th e financial worksheet and that there had
103 indeed been a number of questions that he hoped they would be able to answer. He started by asking how they had arrive d at the figures used in the worksheet related to the estimated cost of Mart-Ma ceoÂ’s property, and Carlos answered that it was simply an estimate based on its location and the impending development plans. Steven then asked how the rela tionship between the organizations would change. Would they remain two separate institutions in one building, or would they merge together as one organizat ion? Carlos thought for a minute and responded that this sort of detail woul d have to be worked out by both clubs. However, they would both inhabit the build ing and have the same rights of use. Â“What are the rights of use?Â” asked Steven. Carlos explained that the members of the Crculo Cubano did not own the building or the property on which it st ood, as did the members of the MartMaceo Society. However, the building was pa rt of the membersÂ’ heritage and as such, was made available to them for al l of its functions, including preparation and planning for these. He went on to say that the building is rented out by a management company that also hosts nu merous community events throughout the year, including concerts, politic al rallies, and other large-scale activities, and that these took precedence on the event calendar because they generated a significant portion of the revenue needed for paymen t of the buildingÂ’s mortgage and its considerable upkeep. Steven then asked whether Mart-Maceo members would be able to hold some of the annual events that they orga nize, especially those having to do with Cuban national holidays or obs ervation of Cuban cu ltural events. To
104 which Carlos replied, Â“Of course. As long as it doesnÂ’t conflict with the other events on the calendar that we just discussed.Â” Steven left for last the questi on regarding the $5 00,000 payment from Mart-Maceo. Â“I gotta [sic] tell you, Carl os. This is the one thing members are still trying to figure out. What exactly would this payment cover?Â” Carlos responded that the Crculo Cubano corpora tion (which was considered to be the owner of the property) considered it to be a donation that would demonstrate Â“buy-inÂ” on the part of the Mart-Maceo members. The ongoing payments were not to be considered as rent for us e of the property but rather an ongoing demonstration of the commitment on the part of the members to join in fraternity with the members of the Crculo Cubano. Steven nodded and asked whether any of us had additional questions. We each smiled and said that we did not and Richard noted that we were apprecia tive for the governing membersÂ’ time and willingness to be forthcoming and that we were looking forward to discussing our newly gathered information with the gene ral membership. Ernest and I nodded in agreement and thanked for their time. We then said our good-byes and left together. We didnÂ’t say much on our way out of the building, until we walked back to our cars, which weÂ’d parked in the lo t adjacent to the Mart-Maceo social hall. Before getting into his car, Steven sai d, Â“I donÂ’t know. IÂ’m not sure I get why we need to pay all of that money so that we can have no rights to ownership, no real control over the calendar or when we can have our affairs. I mean, I know they assume weÂ’re going to be making interest o ff of that money if we were to sell.
105 But, what if things donÂ’t work out that way?Â” Ernest, Richard, and I nodded in agreement. Â“Well, weÂ’ll see what the memb ers have to say,Â” he continued shaking his head. Â“But, I donÂ’t know.Â” He laughed and got into his car. Within a week of that meeting, I r eceived a call from Elena asking me whether I would be willing to speak with Carlos personally as the chair of the building committee. She said he had a few questions he wanted to ask me about the process and that the conversation would probably not last very long. I said that I would be willing to talk w ith him but that I thought it might be best for him to talk with Steven. She replied, Â“Oh, you know, you donÂ’t have to make any decisions or anything like th at. I think he just wants to ask you some general questions. ThatÂ’s all.Â” I assented and waite d for Carlos to call. Carlos was very friendly when he finally did call and said that he was happy I had been selected to be the committee chair then asked if I w ould be willing to answer a few questions regarding the ongoing discussions. I told hi m that I was indeed willing and that I would try to answer his questions to th e best of my ability. Carlos then asked when the committee might be moving toward making a decision with regard to a merger. I told him that the committee ha d not been developed as a decisionmaking body and that its sole purpose was to inform the general membership of all the information that we had gathered to date so that they could discuss it and vote on a final outcome. He said that he Â’d not been aware about the decisionmaking process and wanted to know if ther e was anything else he might share that would help either the committee or the me mbership in reaching a final decision. I told him that it would take at least another week for the scheduled general
106 assembly meeting, during which discussion of the merger would be the first order of business. I also asked if there a de adline had been set by him or the Crculo Cubano Board that we should know about. He said there was not, and that he wanted to stay in touch in order to answ er any questions or help in any way that he could. I thanked him and told him th at I would call him in the event his assistance was needed. When I hung up, I coul d not help but feel that the friendly call had been meant to extract a decision from me, rather than wait for the full vote from the general membership. The following week, the general assembly was asked to meet again ahead of the general membership meeting to gi ve the members of the Crculo Cubano an opportunity to clarify Â“additional questions Â” that the membership might have had. During this meeting, the members were more willing to question the Crculo Cubano governing board members in attend ance about the terms of the proposed payments, which they characterized as a Â“lease agreement,Â” its perceived advantages and disadvantages. They also asked more specific questions about how the merger would affect their identity as Mart-Maceo members. Would they be expected to give up the collective decision-making process that they had maintained for a century? Would they give up being Mart-Maceo members? After a few of the Mart-Maceo members took turns speaking, the president of the Crculo Cubano rose to speak. He thanked them for the questions and said that he could see that there still did not seem to be consensus among the members as to how they would decide. He then said, Â“I would just like to remind you all that Crculo Cubano does not really need Mart-Maceo or its members. We
107 were just trying to help you and to keep our communities from being separated any longer.Â” At this point, one of the members said, Â“Well, thatÂ’s what weÂ’re trying to find out from you. How does this help us?Â” As the members began talking amongst each other attempting to dige st what Carlos had just said, another member of the Crculo Cubano board rose and said, Â“Y ou know, itÂ’s really disappointing to hear you question us a bout this, in this manner. This is a historically significant o pportunity for you, for us, and it seems like you all are not really interested in being a part of that.Â” At this point, Steven stood and said, Â“Well folks, as you can see, we still have a lot to discuss and think about.Â” Shortly thereafter, the Crculo Cubano members rose to leave and said they looked forward to hearing the membershipÂ’s final response. The discussion at the following general assembly meeting was lively, and members returned to the question of th e proposed payment plan to the Crculo Cubano, as well as the real benefit to the Mart-Maceo Society, if they would have no real say over events or the calenda r. Once again, they wondered about how much they would be expected to give up with regard to the collective decisionmaking practices that they had practiced for so long. A number of them also brought up the fact that if the Crculo Cubano Board thought that their property was worth so much money, what was to k eep them from selling it outright to the highest bidder and find a new locatio n with larger building that would accommodate more members and would allow for building a full bar and ballroom? Could they negotiate a fair pr ice with the city and avoid paying the Crculo Cubano what they increasingly char acterized as Â“rental feesÂ”? The end of
108 the meeting saw no resolution to the questi on of the merger, itself, but ended with plans to scout potential locations that w ould be affordable, given the estimated price range, as well as a request to set another meeting with the Crculo Cubano governing board. Three days later, I returned home from one of my courses and received a call from a reporter with one of the local newspapers. Sh e told me that my name had been given to her as the chair of the Mart-Maceo building committee and that she wanted to ask me a few questions about the discussed merger between the two historic Cuban organizations. Once I agree d, the first question that she asked was what I thought of the upcomi ng merger. I told her that we Â’d just started reviewing the proposal and that we were all examin ing the information we had received to make a more informed decision. She then asked whether I had made a decision as to the proposed merger, and I explained th at I was not in charge of making the decision. The question of whether the merg er would take place rested with the Mart-Maceo membership. She then aske d how many members there were. I told her that there were 85 dues paying me mbers and according to our by-laws, in matters concerning potentia l dissolution of the organi zation or its communal property, which was held in common by the active membership, it would be required to get as many of these indivi duals involved in the voting process as possible. The reporter finished by asking, Â“Well can I ask you what you think about the proposed merger?Â” I replied that we we re taking the view that it was an offer, a first offer, and that as such, we needed to review it carefully rather than to just
109 agree to it. I said that although the membership knew that the possibility of a move was impending, given the ongoing de velopment plans in the area, the organization itself was financially solven t and had no need to sell quickly and move. She thanked me for my time and gave me her email in case I wanted to contact her with any additional informa tion. I asked when the article would be published and she said she thought it should appear in about 2 days. The article, made much of the pers onal relationship reestablished between Elena and Paul and tied the possibility of a merger to their h opes that all Cubans will eventually set aside their differences. Once again, I could not help but feel that the decision to publish an article on a proposal that had not yet been fully discussed was meant to place pressure on us to make a decision in favor of joining the two organizations. It made me uncomf ortable because I kept being asked to make decisions or give pronouncements that I did not feel were for me to do, and they also made me worry that the members might rush to judgment and take a course of action that could jeopardize th e future of the organization entirely. Following the articleÂ’s publication, I s poke with Elena and she mentioned that she was concerned about having to cont act 84 members for a final vote. I told her that while I understood how difficult th e process might be, that we had to honor our by-laws and make decisions accordingly. Â“But donÂ’t you think that you should be making the decision with the dire ctiva? I mean, youÂ’re the chair of the committee.Â” I told her that I really did not want to be in such a position and that I did not feel it was in any way my decision to make.
110 In the end, the merger did not go through. At the next general assembly meeting, when the question of the merger was once again rais ed Elena said, Â“We might as well forget it. You all have taken so long to make a decision that they are going to rescind the offer.Â” Ernest counter ed, Â“But they said they didnÂ’t have a firm deadline. They should have told us whether we had to respond by a certain date.Â” To which Elena responded, Â“Ernest, itÂ’s been nearly two months since they made that proposal. Why does it have to take so long?Â” Humberto responded in a mixture of Spanish and English, Â“Pero, if we still have to try to sell the building and all that, why the rush? Por que? They say they donÂ’t need the money, so what is the rush?Â” Elena let the matte r drop. Within a few days, Carlos had formally contacted Steven to tell him that the Crculo Cubano governing board had decided to rescind the offer but that he hoped that the organizations would maintain the friendly relationship that th ey had established as a consequence of the centennial project. Steven shared th e conversation with general membership through a series of phone calls, and the ma tter was considered to be closed. The attention turned to preparations for the final event of the series, the banquet to celebrate the Mart-Maceo SocietyÂ’s 100th anniversary. Where Do We Go From Here? V aleria was still serving on the directiv a during this time and did not always appear to be helping Steven in reviewing organizational records or preparing for the upcoming celebration. Steven complained that was now faced with a number of responsibilities that ha d not been addressed during JuanÂ’s tenure. In preparation for the
111 final centennial event, a permit to sell alcohol still needed to be secured from the city and financial records needed to be reviewed in order to ensure that all of the purchases required for hosting a successful event could be made. Steven also was in charge of overseeing revision of the Mart-Maceo by-laws which I was asked to lead shortly after IsabelÂ’s call. Using various examples of more recent by-laws and a copy loaned to us from one of the other mutual aid societie s, I updated the document in English and Spanish in preparation for distribution to the membership. An emergency meeting was held two weeks later to ratify the new by-la ws, and during this time, the centennial committee continued to meet on a weekly ba sis to finalize details for the centennial banquet. Throughout this time, Steven noted a number of small confrontations that he had experienced as he tried to work with Vale ria. On one Saturday in particular, the centennial committee was scheduled to meet at the social hall. When we arrived, Valeria had already opened up the buildi ng and was listening to music. However, she stopped the group and told Steven that no one had informed her that an Â“officialÂ” meeting was taking place. Although her demeanor was quite agr eeable, Valeria did not stand aside for the committee to enter. As a result, Steven deci ded that we should meet elsewhere, and the committee made its way to a local restaurant tw o blocks from the social hall. Once again, the dynamics of interaction between members were interesting to watch because on the surface, it was difficult to discern tension be tween the actors invol ved. The conversation between Steven and Valeria when we arri ved seemed friendly, and there was even laughter shared between them. However, the committee members did not enter the
112 building that day. No one asked Valeria w hy she had opened the building that day and what she was doing there, much less why she refused to let the committee members enter. These sorts of encounters continued thr oughout ValeriaÂ’s service on the directiva, which ended shortly after the centennial project did. In keeping with the new by-laws, the membership elected a new board in December of that year that included Elena as the vice-president and Marion, a long-standing member as the treasurer. As noted earlier, the success of the celebratory events and the re cent remodeling had increased the amount of local attention paid to the So ciety, resulting in increased rentals and events planned by members. The strain on the directiva also in creased, and six months into the new year Steven was having trouble keeping up with his responsibilities. In our conversations during this period, he noted that his wife was not supportive of his work for the organization because it took so much of his fa mily time, and as the year progressed, he began to miss meetings. Six months into the following year, Stev en had not attended two meetings in a row. Although a specific provision had not been se t with regard to requ ired attendance of directiva members, members no longer felt conf ident that Steven should continue in his role as president. As vice-president, El ena had been presiding over meetings and attending to ongoing concerns related to the increase in rental activity. As a city employee, Elena had a number of contacts in various departments and offices and was often privy to information that could prove useful to the organization. Within the two month period in which Steven had not at tended, a letter received by the directiva indicated that the organization would no longe r be authorized to secure special city permits under Wet Zoning provisions allowing them to serve alcohol at public functions.
113 According to what Elena was able to pi ece together through her contacts, the MartMaceo Society was eligible to register for thr ee special permits per year to allow them to host events open to the public wh ere alcohol could be sold. Th e number of events that the organization hosted during 2000-2001 appeared to exceed the limit and therefore placed the organization at risk of being non-compliant with city regulations. Further, ElenaÂ’s contact noted that if the orga nization was going to continue to operate as it had in the previous year, it would need to secure a liquor license from the state in order to continue to serve alcohol to its patrons. The procurement of the liquor license at this point in time became a preoccupation for the directiva and the member ship and was important for a few reasons. The ability to sell alcoholic drinks was seen as a way to increase revenues, especially during dances and local festivals such as the Gasparilla Pirate Festival parade26, the Guavaween parade, and other events where th ey could see beverages to the public. In addition, having a liquor license meant that the organization could retain bar proceeds that were generated during rentals. As it st ood, individuals renting the social hall could serve alcohol that they themselves provided, but they could not sell it to their guests, nor use the Mart-MaceoÂ’s inventory. The enthus iasm spurred by the successful centennial events, particularly the final banquet, increase d the desire on the part of the members to throw more events Â–especially those open to the public. The Gasparilla and St. PatrickÂ’s Day events held to coincide with the parades down 7th Avenue, where the Mart-Maceo Social Hall is located, served over 300 pa trons and generated over $1000 in bar revenue 26 The Gasparilla Carnival is a yearly festival and parade that celebrates the legend of pirate Jos Gaspar and which has been held nearly continuously since 1904 (See http://www.gaspa rillafest.com.) Guavaween is billed as Â“Latin-syleÂ” Halloween celebration held in Ybor City (See http://www. cc-events.org.) Both of these events have been fashioned after the Mardi Gras carnival held yearly in New Orleans, including floats designed by local krewes and the throwing of beads to assembled revelers.
114 each time. In addition, the hosting of social events to generate needed revenue had become a primary function of the former mu tual aid societyÂ— as with all of the remaining ethnic societies in Ybor City (See Chapter One, page 7). Perhaps more significantly, the planning and execution of numerous and elaborate social events, dances, and other festivities had a long tr adition in the Mart-Maceo Society, and was mainly the province of a Â“Ladies CommitteeÂ” (Greenbaum 2002:197). Procurement of the liquor license was th e first in a number of watershed events that required the organization to formalize its operations. At the following general membership meeting, the members voted to have Elena assume the presidency since Steven still had not returned and attainment of the liquor license became the next big project for the organization. I agreed to meet with a count y official, along with two members, as part of a liquor license comm ittee designated by Elena to learn more about the application process. Once we received all of the materials and information that would be needed, we realized that it would take a great deal of work and funds, which the treasury did not have at the time. It would also require the orga nization to go through a series of health, plumbing, and fire inspecti ons to determine whether the premises could serve beverages and food (which they already served) in a clean and safe environment. Each inspection required a separate fee and the amount of work that needed to be done would necessitate additional funds Â– a tota l of over $4,000. Under ElenaÂ’s leadership, the membership once again pulled together to tr y to cover costs through donated services and funds from the Ybor City Round Table.27 The liquor license was secured after about eight months of concerted effort on the part of a number of members. 27 The Ybor City Round Table is a recognized nonprofit organization in the state of Florida that was founded in 1986 as an organizing body for Ybor CityÂ’s mutual aid societies and other organizations with a
115 This episode aptly captures the way in which the members of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo have weathered numerous challenges over the past decade. Although the organization had in this case been able to secure the funds needed to cover all of the costs associated with the liquor licens e application, procurement of the license would require establishing formal processes to ensure that rules and regula tions associated with selling alcohol to the public w ould be followed. Some of the activities required in this regard include establishing a system for maintaining an accurate product inventory, improved record-keeping for tax purposes, and introducing computers, cash registers, and other office machines to avoid relying on handw ritten notes and singul ar copies of files that could easily be lost (and often have b een). Ideally, a staff of members with outlined jobs or duties that could undertak e such work would have been identified at this point and introduced to the membership. In this case, they were not. While members did voluntarily assume responsibilitiesÂ—often it seemed based on gender (two men took on the responsibility for ordering alc ohol and maintaining liquor inve ntories) and/or custom (a female member who had served as bartender previously on most occasions continued in this position). The remaining jobs have been assumed by elderly members in their 70s or older. The fact that these jobs were in formally assumed does not suggest that the individuals undertaking the n ecessary duties were incompetent. However, by simply accepting the status quo and failing to formali ze duties and set parameters for needed positions and supervisory protocols, the direct iva placed itself in a position where it could be difficult to make changes to perso nnel in the future if it needed to. long-standing presence in the neighborhood. Although the Round Table has provided funding to the MartMaceo Society since its foun ding, it does not officially recognize th e organization as one of the Â“officialÂ” historic mutual aid societies in the district because it has yet to be recognized at the National Register of Historic Places.
116 As this episode also demonstrates, the members of the Mart-Maceo Society came together and accessed resources available to them just when it seemed that the organizationÂ’s capacity to move forward ha d been reached, thus helping to ensure continued organizational ope ration. However although the or ganization often overcomes temporary crises, this situation underscores the lack of reflection on the part of the directiva and the failure to establish formal positions with in the organization, as well as improved accounting and reporting procedures. Ov erall, this manner of operating has had the effect of reinforcing the sense that th e organization operates on an ad-hoc basis and has made it more difficult for the members to successfully develop beyond an informal pooling of resources into a successful co mmunity organization, a goal they have consistently identified duri ng individual conversations, as well as in collective discussions during general membership meetings. Between 1999 through 2002, the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo experienced a growth in its membership, resulting from its successful participation in the joint centennial events with the Crculo Cubano. The organizationÂ’s participation in these events also allowed members to reflect on the divisions between TampaÂ’s Black and White Cubans and how these divisions affect ed them as individuals and as a larger community. Although the growth in membersh ip was positive, it also highlighted a number of shortcomings that the Mart-Maceo Society must a ddress organizationally, if it can continue to grow, as members hope it wi ll. While members (most of them elderly) continue to volunteer for positions on the gove rning board or to work in a variety of capacities in the day-to -day running of the organization, this volunteer workforce can
117 barely meet the current needs of the socied ad, much less expand its presence within the community.
118 CHAPTER FIVE WHILE WE REMEMBER OUR PAST, LET US NOT FORGET THE FUTURE It is Vital that We Update Our Image, Goals, and Expectations After an eventful four years (1999-2002) which included facing renewed fears of dislocation, as well as the successful conc lusion of the centennial celebrations, the membership appeared to have a renewed sense of purpose as to the future of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo. Although Elena had e xpressed disappointment with the failed merger between the two historic Cuban socie ties in Ybor, she remained as the directiva president and assumed leadership following Stev enÂ’s abrupt departure. There were, to be sure, some whispers from members who said that she might still be interested in Â“givingÂ” Mart-Maceo to the Crculo Cubano, but ove rall, the members trusted her. She was related to a number of them through multiple family ties, and a number of her relatives had served on the directiva throughout the organizationÂ’s history. As a result, most seemed to feel that she could be trusted and that her long family ti es to the organization would keep her from betraying the organi zation. By all indications, she proved them correct and went on to serve as di rectiva President for two years. In order to comply with the by-laws, which had been recently revised, the organization held a formal election to fill all of the positions within the directiva, which had only been operating with a president, vi ce president, and treasurer until Steven assumed leadership. The full slate presente d to the membership for consideration
119 included Elena as president, positions for vice-president, secretary, treasurer, vice treasurer, and vice secretary, a parliamentaria n, to minimize discord during meetings, and a Â“director,Â” who was responsible for oversee ing rental of the social hall. The vice treasurer and secretary positions had been included in the original by-laws and were designed to assist with treas ury and secretarial duties. I was nominated to the vicesecretary position, and agreed to hold th e post as long as ther e were no important decision-making duties, in order to avoid the sort of dilemma IÂ’d faced during discussions on the proposed merger with the Crculo Cubano.28 The position itself required assisting the secretary in any capacity that might be needed, especially with regard to the reviewing and reading of offi cial correspondence during meetings. I was also asked most times, because of my ongoing note-taking, to enhance the meeting minutes each month. One of my other duties was to design a newsletter for dissemination to all duespaying members and eventually, for distribut ion via email. Using a basic template, I began developing a layout that the directiva presented to the membership with a request for feedback on all aspects of its developm ent. Although the template was completed and a few short articles were generated, the newsle tter was not formally distributed until early 2003 due to a lack of article submissions. (Thi s remained the only i ssue distributed until 2006, when three full issues were disseminate d.) However, one of El enaÂ’s first official acts was to prepare a Â“Goals and Projections StatementÂ” for inclusion in the newsletter, which was directed to the general membersh ip, a portion of which is excerpted here: 28 Following successful completion of the centennial project, it was decided by a nearly unanimous vote on the part of members to allow me to become a Â“fullÂ” dues-paying member, with voting privileges after a year of being recognized as an honorary member.
120 Mart-Maceo has long been a vital part of the Ybor City community. In the past, the goal of Marti-Maceo was to aid members in health and social issues, and to provide a social outle t for members and their families. TodayÂ…it is vital that we update our image, goals and expectations. Our primary goal is to meet the needs of our members and community. One of our needs is to provide a place of so cialization and to outreach with the community by assisti ng the underprivilegedÂ… Our Heritage [sic] and contributi ons to Ybor City and the Tampa community will be recognized by our co mmunity and civic involvement. With continued dedication and loyalty of our members we will achieve our goals for 2002. While We Remember the Past, Let Us Not Forget the Future. Clearly, ElenaÂ’s statement emphasized her inte nt to focus the organizationÂ’s efforts on current and future goals a nd activities, rather than on past achievements and/or grievances. The first major event that the organization hosted woul d challenge ElenaÂ’s plans, however. In mid 2002, the Mart-Maceo governing board entered into a partnership with a local artist and an elementary school arts pr ogram for the creation and painting of a mural on one of the club's external walls. Di scussions regarding the mural and an accompanying community event that had the pot ential for attracting a large-scale local community presence began with Steven, but wi th his departure, Elena was left with the task of overseeing these activities. The mu ral, designed and painted by a professional
121 muralist, incorporates scenes identified by th e artist as exhibiting important aspects of Afro-Cuban heritage. Portraits of Jose Mart and Antonio Maceo ar e juxtaposed with iconic scenes of cigar workers in a factory, a lector images of Ybor City in the early 1900s, the Cuban landscape and young black children, among others. The mural's development and completion served as a morale booster for members following the failed merger talks with the Crculo Cubano and un certainty over the viability of developing the organization beyond current efforts to simply keep it afloat. Discussions about the mural at general membership meetings elicited a great deal of enthusiasm on the part of members. Despite this excitement, the mural al so engendered a great deal of controversy. The muralist (a White American) had decide d to incorporate cowrie shells within the piece, as well as an image of shackled Black hands breaking fr ee of their manacles. When Elena saw the mural, she argued forcefully that the shells should not have been incorporated into the piece because they re present Africa and not Cubans. In a discussion with the muralist, she said, "Those shells ar e African. We are Cubans. We have nothing to do with Africa. There will be members w ho will be offended by those shells." In response, the artist argued that the cowrie shell29 has a long history of significance in Cuban history and culture, which he said wa s based on his study of the nationÂ’s history and periodic travel to the island. While members did not gene rally express offense to me or discuss the matter officially during regular meeti ngs, there were a number of personal conversations that I was able to participate in which questione d the organization's ultimate relationship to Africa or lack thereof. Frustrated, Elena noted in conversations with some members about the mural that, Â“There is always has to be an emphasis on Blackness. Everything has to 29 Cowrie shells are used in various ritual practices within the Santeria religion.
122 be about being Black. ThatÂ’s not the only thi ng this organization is about.Â” Interestingly, these conversations never really addressed the issue that the artist did not first share his Â“visionÂ” with the directiva or the membership and then, incorporate their suggestions into his final product. Although the mural was cr eated free of charge and the muralist was a rather well-known local artist, the directiva could have asse rted more control over the content of the piece, which is rather prominen tly displayed on the social hallÂ’s western wall, at the entrance of Ybor City on Seve nth Avenue. However, Elena did not bring the matter up until it was too late to do anything but paint it over, and members were divided as to what the best course of action would be. Should they make the artist paint over the offending shells? Some members felt that this would be impolite, given that he had almost completed the piece, which had been pa inted free of charge, and as they put it, Â“for the clubÂ’s benefit.Â” The question as to who, in particular it might offend was left unanswered ultimately, and the mural still stands. Aside from saying that she did not want the muralÂ’s imagery Â“to offend anyone,Â” Elena did not disc uss the issue further with me. Her reaction may have been a response to her personal di sappointment in the failed merger with the Crculo Cubano, and she may have been cons ciously trying to guide the Mart-Maceo Society toward highlighting a more overtly Cuban or Â“LatinÂ” heri tage in a bid to counteract the ongoing concerns that the orga nization could still face removal in the event of renewed city construc tion in the area. In any case, while it was true that the Mart-Maceo had never had any overt or discer nable relationship with Africa or Africans throughout its history, the public use of symbols alluding to slavery, Santeria, and
123 ultimately, the African continent had become a matter of concern for Elena and a few other members. However, she let the matter drop. Following completion of the mural, the Mart-Maceo Society hosted a community event which invited current and former members, their family and friends to participate in painting tiles that would be used to frame the mural. The event was co-sponsored by a local art gallery that had facilitated the conn ection with the muralist and which helped to organize the participation of local schoolchil dren, some of whom performed on steel pan drums and sang songs for the audience assembled. The event included about 100 participants, many of whom participated in painting tiles with images and words paying homage to their families and their longstanding ties to the Mart-Maceo Society. The sale of refreshments helped to raise much-needed f unds, and the event, itself, lasted for nearly seven hours. To date, it remains one of the most successful community events that the organization has had because it included a la rge number of local community members, as well as enthusiastic current and former memb ers who spent most of the day participating in the festivities. ElenaÂ’s next major initiativ e was the reestablishment of a Â“youth groupÂ” that she said had been active in the 1970s called, Â“the Coqus.Â” The coqu is a toad that is native to Puerto Rico and is often evoked as a sym bol of unique aspects of Puerto Rican culture because it is said to thrive only on the island.30 It was interesting to make note of the overt celebration of a unique Puerto Ri can cultural symbol through the proposed development of this group, although no one comm ented or seemed to think it was Â“out of placeÂ” or foreign to the larger Mart-Maceo identity. As noted earlier, a number of 30 Coqui frogs have also proliferated in Hawaii and have been considered to be an invasive species that threatens a variety of native invertebrate specie s native to Hawaii (See Beard and Pitt 2005).
124 members (including Elena) were also of Puerto Rican de scent and still others had intermarried with Puerto Rican s. Aside from a note to myself in my fieldnotes of the time, no one ever made a comment about the Coqus in this regard. According to Elena, the Coqus were a group for younger men Â– older adolescents and adults in their 20s Â– who performed a vari ety of service projects for the organization, such as clearing trash near the social hallÂ’s perimeter, painting, and other jobs as needed. They were also said to plan and hold their own events, which were designed to attract younger members and patrons, and featured music, food, themes of their choice. A number of the older members said that they remembered the original Coqus and felt that it was a good idea and were willing to s upport it. One of ElenaÂ’s younger cousins was willing to serve as the leader of the Coqus and said that he had a group of about five friends who were willing to help him get it started. The membership agreed and the first activity planned for the Coqus was to lead a clean up of garbage that had accumulated behind the social hall. A number of members participated in the clean-up, with elderly men and women hauling trash alongside the youn g Coqus. Despite the initial enthusiasm that greeted the formation of the Coqus, th e group did not last more than about six months. They held one dance that was fairly successful two months after the first activity but their momentum slowed and eventually they stopped meeting. The young men, all in their mid-20s said that it was difficult to attract younger members because the organization lacked activities and the kinds of amenities that the young people wanted. They gave as examples the small size of the so cial hall with little room for a dance floor, the aged furniture, and the lack of a sound system or funds to hire a DJ.
125 After the Coqus group faded away, the direc tiva turned to a new idea that they felt would strengthen them as an organizati on. They asked me to help research the process of applying for federal nonprofit status and to help them begin the application process. The membership felt that securing ta x-exempt status would provide them with more legitimacy in the eyes of city and lo cal developers with whom they expected to negotiate on proposed plans for rede velopment along Seventh Avenue. Although redevelopment of Ybor City had been slowing down and city plans for the west entrance of Seventh Avenue, where the social hall is located, kept changing, the membership was still mindful of a potential th reat to their building. I began researching the filing process in August of 2003 and gave regular updates to th e general membership, as I worked to fill out the application. One of the earliest challenge s was to decide whether to incorporate as a foundation, a charitable organization, or a community service organization. Although use of the term Â“foundationÂ” is fairly broad among the nonprofits, the directiva wanted to make sure to successfully outline a roster of activities that would justify the organizational type identified in the applic ation. In the end, the organization was defined as a community service organization that hos ted a number of events, including periodic health fairs and Cuban cultural events. The application process forced the member ship to generate responses to a number of additional questions about the organiza tion. Specifically, they voted to update the organizationÂ’s mission statement and outline strategic goals for the organization that could be included in the application. The Mart-Maceo Mission Statement that was crafted at that time reads as follows:
126 The Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo was formed in 1904 in Ybor City, Florida. It was established by C uban cigarmakers who emigrated to Tampa during the war for Cuban independence. Contemporary goals of the organization include preserving the history a nd heritage of TampaÂ’s Cuban community, joining with other gr oups to help preserve the cultural resources of Ybor City, and providing service to the larger community that will foster opportunities and prom ote human rights. Although we honor our Cuban heritage, members of all nationalities are welcome, and we offer assistance to Spanish-speaki ng individuals seeking help and opportunities to socialize in their own language. (Fieldnotes, April 14, 2002). The most immediately striking feature of th is mission statement is that there is no mention of race or Blackness; all references to history, heritage and identity focus only on TampaÂ’s Cuban community. The final part of the statement emphasizes support for human rights, multiethnic diversity, and promoting support to Spanish-speaking immigrants. This statement, which was repr oduced on a number of flyers and circulated in a limited fashion at the time, emphasizes a generalized Cuban heritage, a commitment to human rights, and a pledge to help lim ited-English speaking populations (presumably immigrants, which by 2000 had begun to make up a significant portion of the cityÂ’s Latino population). The emphasis on human ri ghts suggests an effort to honor the progressive history of the orga nization and its original member ship, in a move similar to
127 the one Forester (2004:396) recounts in her work where Blackness is tied to progressivism. Although this mission statement was de vised to help advance the nonprofit application, it is not one that is widely known or recognized by the members, and beyond the flyers that were originally created, it has not been distribute d widely within the community or among the wider membership, wh ich has changed considerably over time. Despite a core group of about ten members, wh o may have participated in the crafting of the mission, the lack of operationalization has kept members from fully assimilating the mission as a guiding statement for their organi zation. Like many activities and efforts in the past decade, it was created, voted on and then, set aside without much thought. As a result, this mission statement has not provi ded the impetus for the development of activities or programs designed to assist r ecently arrived Spanish-speaking immigrants. Similarly, the organization has not allied itself with entities that pr omote human rights to help develop activities or even ts that support this cause. With regard to Cuban heritage, beyond d ecorating the organization with portraits of the Cuban Independence heroes that serv e as its namesakes, the organization hosts very few activities that are specifically fo cused on Cuban national id entity or celebration of this heritage. Of the yearly calendar of regular events th at are held, only one celebrates a day of Cuban national significanceÂ— the co mmemoration of the death in battle of Antonio Maceo. The other yearly event that could be counted as upholding TampaÂ’s Cuban heritage would be the annual banquet th at is held to rec ognize the founding of the Mart-Maceo Society, which became a regular ly scheduled event after the centennial celebration in 2000. Intermittent efforts have been made since 2002 to host events
128 specifically aimed at celebrating Black Cuba n heritage, including lectures on Black Cuban baseball players in the Negro leagues an d the legacy of Antonio Maceo outside of Cuba, a screening by Black Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando, and th e installation of a portrait of Antonio Maceo donated to the sociedad. Yet, these events have not been held regularly. Although I was not able to help the dire ctiva complete the nonprofit application, they did completed and submitted it with the help of a local businessman. It was approved in 2004. Procurement of federal nonpro fit status and the liquor license were expected to serve as a boon to the Mart-Maceo treasury by increasing the opportunities for income, tax-deductible donations, and gr ants to further the development of the organization. However, these formal designati ons have also increas ed the operating costs of the club in a number of ways:yearly fees associated with the li quor license, including yearly health inspections and requirement s for purchasing alcoholic beverages from wholesale vendors. They have also continued to highlight the need for formalization of jobs and organizational proce dures noted in the previous chapter. Since 2004, volunteers have been relied upon for a number of jobs, in cluding opening and closing of the social hall for rental engagements, bartending duri ng community events and private functions, bookkeeping, and other office duties. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the social hallÂ’s interior is most often done by those vol unteers opening or closi ng the hall. Jobs that require more effort and/or expertise, such as janitorial work, formal bookkeeping and accounting, or legal services, have been procured when allowed for by the treasury. During times when the treasury has not allowed for payment of outstanding bills or
129 maintenance costs, members have regularly covered them through personal donations collected during general membership meetings. The resulting bureaucracy that is ofte n engendered through formalization of operational processes in an organization can a dd an additional strain to its well-being if structures are not implemented to address growing organizational needs (See Prahalad and Home 1998). Although the active membership has remained rather steady at about 25 individuals since 2004, only a core group of about 8 have remained since then. The remaining 12 to 13 members have changed in the latter half of the decade. This has made it more challenging to establish a sense of continuity and organizational memory where established processes are passed on to succes sive board members and even members of the general membership who assist with sp ecific functions (see Spender 1996). As the membership has worked to overcome ongoing challenges and to establish a stronger presence within the local community, which they hope will be view ed as benefiting the larger Ybor City historic di strict, pressure is placed on the aging Mart-Maceo members, since the overall membership has failed to co nsistently grow. This pressure often makes it difficult for the organization to launch the number of community events on a large enough scale per year to increase revenue s beyond the additional costs they began incurring following procurement of the license and nonprofit status. Participating in Ybor City Cultural Events:Local Festivals and Parades Between 2003 and 2004, the membership focused on hosting large-scale events that coincided with parades and festivals in Y bor City. During such occasions, as with the Gasparilla day festivities, they often generated revenues of nearly $2000, which was
130 more than what they generated through rental s. As a result, these events became part of the regular Mart-Maceo cale ndar in 2003. The Gasparilla Festival takes place in the spring and includes a parade composed of local krewes that evoke hi storic personages or pirates, in keeping with the larger theme of the parade. The Crculo Cubano participates in the parade through its Kr ewe of Mamb, in which me mbers dress as the Cuban independence era fighters. During discussions regarding the merger, the possibility of having Mart-Maceo members join the Mamb Krewe was often presented as one of the benefits to joining with the Crculo Cubano. At the time of the merg er discussions, a few Mart-Maceo members noted that it was ironi c that the Crculo C ubanoÂ— the historically White Cuban organizationÂ— had taken up the ma ntle of the Mambs, who were made up largely of Black and Mulatto Cubans31 and using it to entice them to give up their Black organization. For the 2004 festivities, Elena invited the Mambs to attend the party at Mart-Maceo, which begins at noon with the sale of roast pork sandwiches and beverages. They did attend and among their me mbers that year were some of the Coqus who had helped with clean-up the previous year. Although Margarita quipped when she saw them, Â“Â¡Mira donde andan los Coqus a hora!Â” (Look at where the Coqus are now!), most of the members made no mention of it. During the parade that year, the Mambs stopped in front of the Mart-Maceo Social Ha ll and saluted the Mart-Maceo Social Hall. In addition to hosting parties during th ese large-scale community events, the Mart-Maceo Society holds a yearly event to commemorate the death of Antonio Maceo, known popularly as the Â“Titan of Bronze,Â” in December. During this event, Milagros, who is herself descended from an important Independence War hero, undertakes most of the planning for the commemoration and asks the some of the elderly women to help with 31 See Ferrer (1999).
131 organization and execution. For this event, Milagros relies on her contacts within a different population of Tampa Cubans, who gene rally live in the western section of the county, with a diverse population of more r ecent Hispanic migrants. MilagrosÂ’ contacts more closely resemble the Miami-based Cuban exile population in their political persuasions and demographic make-up. During th is yearly event, th e Mart-Maceo Social Hall is usually filled to capacity and af ter a program with speakers outlining the numerous contributions of Antonio Maceo to the Cuban nation, there are usually speeches given that draw a direct line from MaceoÂ’s martyrdom in the fight against Spanish tyranny and the present-day tyranny of Fidel CastroÂ’s regime. During this event, which no doubt would have raised the ire of ea rlier members (like Valeria) for its overtly political nature, Mart-Maceo members generall y keep to the periphery or help to make sure that the event is carried out successf ully, without mingling too much with guests.32 Despite the relative lack of active participat ion on the part of Ma rt-Maceo members in this yearly event (aside from the opening re marks welcoming guests and helping with set up, serving, and cleaning), the membership has always supported its continuation. In the spring of 2004, Elena suggested th at the organization participate in the Puerto Rican Cultural Parade and Festival. This event would mark the first time that Mart-Maceo members would ente r a float in a local parade. The large-scale parades such as Gasparilla and Guavaween require formal elaborately decorated floats and a hefty participation fee. In this case, the members were able to join th e parade by riding on a rather large trailer hitched to a large pickup truck. The dire ctiva printed t-shirts with 32 Within the original Ybor City exile community such displays would have been frowned upon as well, given the radical leanings of many in the cigar worker community. In fact, Fidel Castro visited Tampa in 1955 in support of his revolutionary efforts to overthrow the Batista regime and made a visit and speech at the Crculo Cubano. Mart-Maceo members were mo re divided over Castro with some supporting Fulgencio Batista, who knew a number of Afro-Cbubans (See Greenbaum 270-279).
132 CubaÂ’s national coat of arms and the organizationÂ’s name for the 20 members who participated and rode in the tr ailer, tossing beaded necklaces (that are a mainstay of Ybor City parades) to the crowds that lined Seventh Avenue. A Change in Leadership Elena decided to step down from the dire ctiva in late 2004 because she felt that there was a lack of support in efforts to con tinue to make significant improvements to the organization. Her departure, much like St evenÂ’s, was gradual and consisted of her missing a number of meetings to ward the end. The Vice Presid ent at the time, who ended up assuming leadership of the directiva, was Doug Strong, an executive with a local company, a member of the Crculo Cuba no, and a White American, who spoke no Spanish. When I first met Doug during a vi sit to the Crculo Cubano shortly after beginning work on the centennial project in 1999, IÂ’d introduced my self as graduate student at the University of South Florida working on a proj ect with both of the Cuban organizations in Ybor City. At the time, he said, Â“What do you mean Â‘bothÂ’? IÂ’ve never heard of another Cuban club in Ybor City.Â” I took him out to the patio and should him where the Mart-Maceo Social Hall was locat ed. He just shook his head. When we came inside, he asked a fellow Crculo Cubano me mber, Â“Hey, did you know there was another Cuban club here in Ybor?Â” To which his fr iend responded simply by shaking his head. To be fair, Doug had moved to Tampa just a few years earlier from Texas, and he may not have had any idea about the existence of the Mart-Maceo Society Â– a lthough at the time I noted that given the start of the project, it seemed as though the Crculo Cubano had not advised its members about the joint projec t that they were about to embark upon.
133 Nevertheless by 2003, Doug was dues-paying memb er of the Mart-Maceo Society and in November 2004, he assumed its leadership. Mart-Maceo members were not quite sure what to make of DougÂ’s ascension to the presidency. The questions about whether the organiza tion would somehow be asked to merge with the Crculo Cubano circulated again, although they we re never verbalized during the general assembly meetings. A number of members did tell me that they thought Doug was buena gente (good people) and they hoped that his connections and interest in historic preserva tion, which he shared with members when he thanked them for trusting him with leading the directiva, might help the organization pick up steam once again. Although Doug worked with the othe r directiva members to continue holding regular meetings and events as possible, th e membership slowly started to shrink until mid-2005 when the number of members attend ing meetings had dwindled to between eight and ten members. The number of events and the hall rentals had also decreased considerably. By this time, the fears of di slocation as a consequence of redevelopment had largely dissipated. The economy and funds for continued expansion in Ybor City were no longer available, it seemed, and as a result, the organization was safe. However, the membership appeared to be giving up on the organization. During that time, I spoke with Margarita, who told me, Â“I donÂ’t know what it is. It just feels different. ItÂ’s not anything that heÂ’s doing or not doing really. But we donÂ’t have that drive anymore. I donÂ’t see things picki ng up. I really donÂ’t.Â” In August of that year, Doug announced that he was leavi ng Tampa and moving back to his home state and would be unable to continue his duties as directiva president. The membership was once again left with a di rectiva that would not finish out its term.
134 After an emergency election, it was deci ded that Richard, who had joined the organization in the 1980s, would replace D oug. A new slate of gove rning officers was also voted in to serve with him. Richard had previously served as the Parliamentarian for succeeding directivas, following the revision of the by-laws in 2001. The position, which had not previously been actively filled, wa s revived because of a tendency for general membership meetings to go on for over two hours, on many occasions, and to avoid small squabbles that erupted at times when memb ers disagreed with each other or spoke over one another. Richard would be the first Afri can American president of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo, and like Doug, spoke no Sp anish. At the time of the election, most members said that they were happy to vote Rich ard in as president and felt that his calm, quiet presence would be a boon to the organization. When Richard addressed the membership after being elected president, he thanked the membership for the honor and said that he felt it was his now his duty to work with them to help get the organization Â“back on track.Â” He asked them to help him get the word out to family members and friends who had not been to the social hall in a long time, and ask them to join. He also sa id that he was very much interested in investigating the procurement of historic st atus for the building so that Â“Mart-Maceo would get the respect that it deserves in Y bor City and from the city.Â” The members clapped and appeared to be genuinely happy about the election and the possibilities for the future. Richard and the new directiva set about planning a calendar of activities and events for the year. In addition to reestablis hing the events to coincide with large-scale local festivals that had been so successful in previous years, Richard encouraged the
135 members to think about smaller events that they might hold, such as Happy Hours or dinners and luncheons that would promote social gather ing among members and their families, as well as generate revenue. One of the first things that the directiva began investigating was the submission of an application for local hi storic status from the City of Tampa. Richard and the direc tiva vice president, Ernest, met with officials in the cityÂ’s Historic Preservation Commissi on to discuss the possibility for securing local landmark status as a way to stave off future efforts to the move the organization from its current property. The ultimate goal was to eventual ly use the Mart-Maceo SocietyÂ’s 501c (3) status and any gains made related to securing historic landmark status to find grants and other public funding that might help the orga nization significantly renovate its building. The directiva also asked me to help them revi ve the newsletter to help publicize all of the activities that were being undertaken. The renewed energy of the directiva seemed to generate excitement among members who were supportive of the activitie s being planned. Richard and Ernest both had experience in working with organizations Richard and Ernest were both in their churches, a local African Met hodist Episcopalian Church, a nd an historic Episcopalian church, respectively. Ernest had previously worked with a committee to put together a historical review of the church and its comm unity, complete with a high quality pictorial booklet. In addition, they had numerous contac ts within the community; both were active in the local Democratic Party and in a number of organizations, including Black fraternities, and other co mmunity organizations. The rest of the year was a busy one, a nd the membership started to grow once more. A number of individuals joined who sa id they wanted to help the organization
136 grow and had ideas for events, and Richard we lcomed them and asked the membership to welcome them. A local couple of Spanish de scent, who were friends of Richard and Ernest, Agustn and Rosaura, began attend ing meetings regularly. They were very involved in the community and had been me mbers of the Centro Asturiano, and had numerous contacts, as well. As members of the Board of the Hillsborough Community College in Ybor City, they helped the organi zation secure a sponsorsh ip slot in the Ybor Festival of the Moving Image and the MartMaceo Society was recognized as one of the hosts of the festivalÂ’s finale with over 100 guests, featuring Spanis h tapas and sangria. As part of the event, Agustn and Rosaura asse mbled a gallery of photographs taken in Spain for sale to patrons of the event, with a ll proceeds going to the Ma rt-Maceo Society. The event was a success and the members who attend ed said that they were impressed by the event, overall. Many said they were happy to see their organizati on involved in a local cultural event that was so well-attended. However, the increase in membership was not always positive. There were quite a few incidents involving new members who had proposed activi ties or ventur es that were presented as opportunities to help raise f unds for the society. However, these proposals often turned out to be schemes intended to ra ise funds for the initia tor of the idea with very little revenues generated for Mart-Mace o treasury. One event, in particular, proved costly for the organization and left the me mbership upset with the outcome. Another couple that joined the organization, Karon a nd Randy, were introduced as local musicians and when Karon introduced herself to the me mbership, she said she had longstanding ties to the Ybor City community as her grandmot her had been a midwife for Black families. Karon and Randy also said that they had num erous contacts that could help the Mart-
137 Maceo Society grow by helping to promote events and provide live music and DJ for events as part of this effort. Karon did play and sing slow jazz music at a few events that year including the annual centennial luncheon in 2007. One of the first events they set about planning was a pageant that had been held before in the 1950s, the Miss MartMaceo Pageant. One of the current member s, Carmen, had been crowned Miss MartMaceo as a teenager and had won a small s tipend and a trip to Cuba. The members, especially the women, became excited about th e idea and readily volunteered to help but Karon assumed the lead in organizing and planning. The pageant involved identifying a roster of adolescent girls, aged 13 to 17, who would perform a dance, song, or otherwise conduct a presentation in front of the members and discuss her ambitions for high school and why she should be selected as Miss Mart-Maceo. Each contestant was to be supported by a group of members who would be responsible for raising the funds to support the young wo manÂ’s entry into the pageant and would eventually be used to supply a $1000 scholarship to the winner and cover some of the costs of th e event. The rest of the funds would go to the Mart-Maceo Treasury. The winner would be selected by a vote of all pa geant attendees. The pageant took nearly six months to plan. Although members, including Carmen, had offered to help by explaining how the process was conducted when she was a contestant, Karon told them not worry and continued to plan and organize largely by herself. In the meantime, the members busie d themselves with finding contestants and helping them to develop their entries, presentations, etc. During the pageant, voting was conducted by a secret ballot, which Karon counted. The winner that Karon selected turned out to be the girlfriend of one of KaronÂ’s sons, but according to members,
138 Margarita, who had offered to help the count the votes, was sure that the winner had been one of the other contestants. In addition to this apparent irregularity, the scholarship award that was announced at the pageant exce eded the original amount. The winner, in fact, received nearly $3000. The event was a suc cess in that it attrac ted a large number of attendees (about 125), many of them family members and children that did not usually attend Mart-Maceo functions. However, at the end of it all, the tr easurer received only $86.00, and the members present said that they did not feel right about asking for the additional $2000 that was given to the winner. In the weeks that followed the pageant, a number of members became angry about the way things had turned out and called Richard and Ernest demanding that they investigate what had happened. At the followi ng general assembly meeting, which Karon did not attend, Ernest reported what he ha d learned. According to the bank where MartMaceo kept its corporate accounts, a second acco unt had been opened in KaronÂ’s name as the lead signer but with a note that it wa s part of the Mart-Maceo corporate accounts. Apparently when Ernest inquired further, he wa s told that Karon had brought in a copy of the 501c (3) certification and a letter giving her permission to open the account. The final account balance before it was closed was nearly $4000 but it had been closed in the week following the pageant. Ernest informed the bank that the Mart-Maceo Society had not actually authorized the transa ctions but with the paperw ork that Karon had provided (with backup copies provided by the bank), he chose to let the matter rest. The membership was understandably angry and aske d me to investigate whether they could press charges for theft, etc. The main problem was the fact that Ka ron had been given a copy of the nonprofit status cer tificate to secure donations from vendors who supplied
139 food and drink. No one admitted writing the letter for her, and they assumed that she had forged it. A number of the older members said that they were so angry with the whole affair that they were thin king about quitting the organiza tion unless something was done. In light of the fact that Karon had provided the bank with all of the requisite paperwork, there was very little chance that she woul d be prosecuted for theft. The organization could choose to sue her personally for the nearly $3000 that they felt was wrongfully appropriated, but that would require expendi ng more energy or funds than the treasury would allow. As a result, Ernest decided to call Karon and ask her a bout the situation and allow her to explain her side of the story. When he reported back to the membership, he said that Karon told him firmly that there had been no wrong doing on her part and th at she simply gave the extra money to the winning contestant because she deserved it and because the funds had been raised to cover those costs. Moreover, sh e said that the rest of the funding had gone to cover the costs of the event itself, wh ich she said had been consid erable. The members were not happy with this explanation, but felt unable to do anything about it. No one quit but they said they didnÂ’t want to s ee Karon at another meeting. She and her family obliged did not return to another meeting or event. Aside fr om the question of unsubstantiated theft, the other main concern that this incident raised was the apparent laxity with which important transactions were handled, es pecially those that involved representation of the MartMaceo Society. It seemed relatively easy for a member to attain a copy of the SocietyÂ’s incorporation certificate and us e it against the organization. A quick web search of Karon and her husband also made it easy to find a number of websites us ing the Mart-Maceo name but showcasing Karon and her familyÂ’s musical services. Up until that time, the
140 Mart-Maceo Society had not developed its own website de spite the proliferation of various independent sites that mention the organization, it s history, or its activities.33 It became apparent that the organization needed to assert more control over its identity, as well as its business affairs. However, the Mart-Maceo SocietyÂ’s limited infrastructure and technology has made it difficult for the directiva to keep tr ack of all of the transactions that go into the pla nning and execution of its events. Despite some of the difficulties associat ed with the growing membership, Richard and Ernest met with Dennis Fernandez, ad ministrator for the Historic Preservation Commission of Tampa, to discuss securing hi storic landmark status for the Mart-Maceo building. They explained the history of their organization, the demolition of their original social hall, and the conundrum in which this placed the Mart-Maceo Society with regard to the ongoing redevelopment of Ybor City. Given that the Ybor City Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) guidelines had be en extended in 2003 for at least another decade, the membership continued to worry ab out the possibility that future development on the western entrance of Ybor City woul d threaten their location. Fernandez was sympathetic to the position in which the organization found itself considering that construction had already begun on Mart-Maceo Â’s block, which had reduced the on-site parking for the club. He agreed to help pr epare and submit the application for local landmark designation on behalf of the organiza tion and asked Richard and Ernest to help him collect information on the organizat ionÂ’s local histor y and significance. On January 8, 2008, Fernandez recommended that the Mart-Maceo building be recognized as a local landmark at a public hearing of the commission. A small group of 33 The only website the organization had authorized until then was one created by USF students in 1989, as part of a class project, which also included the development of a calendar with historic pictures and an informational tri-fold. In early 2010, the organization developed an official website, h ttp://martimaceo.org/.
141 members, Susan Greenbaum and I, were there to witness this momentous occasion in the organizationÂ’s decades-long experience with he ritage preservation and redevelopment in Ybor City. The commission unanimously agre ed to submit the recommendation to the City Council later that year. In June, the Ta mpa City Council voted to recognize official designation of the Sociedad La Unin Mart -Maceo as a local landmark. Once again, the Mart-Maceo Society seemed to have overc ome a significant hurdl e that might have threatened its existence in Ybor City. The local designation helped ease immediate fears that the Mart-Maceo property could be seized by the city at some point in the future. In the months that followed, new members joined and formerly inactive members returned. As the membership grew, incor porating younger generations of Black Cubans and a diverse group of new faces, tensions bega n to arise over the organizationÂ’s identity, as in years past. Although the membership wa s quite excited at th e start of RichardÂ’s tenure as directiva president, a number of me mbers began to question his resolve that the organization should embrace its history of collect ive struggle and the unique quality of its members historically, in order to support their efforts to ma ke a case for inclusion of the sociedad on the National Register. A number of members began to question whether Richard wanted to truly honor the Cuban herita ge of the organizati on or whether he was trying to turn it into a Â“Black club.Â” However, this was not the only point of contention regarding the ongoing struggles over the MartMaceo SocietyÂ’s collective identity and the representation of its heritage in the larger Ybor City community. In mid 2009, a struggle arose over the con tinued display of vari ous portraits that hang inside the social hall. The portraits in question have hung in the building for at least ten years and include black and white reprodu ctions of Jos Mart, Antonio Maceo, the
142 Cuban coat of arms, and the original founde rs of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo. During preparations for one of these rentals, Jessica suggested that the portraits should come down while the building was being rented out for private occasions. She said that the old pictures might not seem Â“attractiveÂ” to some renters and she wanted to avoid any conflicts that could cost the organizations to lo se much-needed revenue. The older members who were helping to pr epare the hall for the upcoming rental were not keen on the idea. Ernest asked how she could even think to take down those pictures, which represent Â“our organization.Â” He said he would not support any effort to remove the portraits and that such a sugges tion disrespected its history and the memory of all of the people who worked so hard to establish it. Jessica sa id that she thought the pictures made the hall look Â“oldÂ” and c ould not understand why they couldnÂ’t be removed for each rental and then, returned to their place. This brief encounter threatened to become a large-scale conflict within the membership. The issue was discussed at length at th e following general assembly meeting, and ultimately the membership decided against removing the portraits to please renters. Elderly members said that the photographs had been in the social hall for as long as they could remember and would not support their removal for any reason. (The portraits had in fact been hung and arranged during prepara tions for the centennial event in 2000 and had replaced rather large, fairly gaudy painti ngs that depicted tropical beach themes.) For Ernest and his supporters on this matter, the portraits represen ted a key source of legitimacy and a longstanding tie to the ideals of the organizationÂ’s founders. Removing them would mean that they were failing to honor their collective heritage, ultimately negating the organizationÂ’s significance. Th e portraits did not come down; but the
143 discussion did not lead to more extensive di alogue on the significance of these cultural symbols vis--vis the organizationÂ’s collectiv e identity and how this representation would be used within the Ybor City historic district to challenge previous hegemonic characterizations of the Black Cuban community in Tampa. Unfortunately, although the threat of disl ocation from Ybor City became less of an issue of the Sociedad La Unin MartMaceo and its members for most of the 2000 decade, the organization has been able to re focus its mission and goals to strengthen its infrastructure and internal processes, and es tablish a collective vision for the future. Key to this vision must be the development of a shared identity that can be used to create a more visible presence within Ybor City a nd as one of the distri ctÂ’s original ethnic societies. The lack of knowledge and disreg ard for Mart-MaceoÂ’s continued physical and discursive presence within the narrative frame of TampaÂ’s immigrant heritage, which continues into the present day, requires a collective effort. However, internal conflict over competing visions may prevent the orga nization from achievi ng the very goal its members continue to espouse.
144 CHAPTER SIX BLACK CUBAN IDENTITY IN TAMPA We Are Cubans First, Black or White During fieldwork with the members of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo, I collected numerous examples of the ways in which individuals discu ssed issues of racial and ethnic identity. Within the small group of active Black Cuban members, there are clear divisions as to how members see themse lves and what Â“kindÂ” of organization they feel that the Mart-Ma ceo Society is. As examples in th e previous chapter show, symbolic representation(s) of the organi zation (including the contents of the mural or the portraits that hang prominently in the social hall) have caused conflict am ong groups of members who disagree about the degree of promin ence such symbols should have and more importantly, what they convey about the or ganizationÂ’s identity, overall. Even when discussing their ties to the Mart-Maceo So ciety and why they continue to belong, members invariably invoke the topic of race in very different ways. Marina and Milagros represent two very different examples. When asked why she continues to be long to Mart-Maceo, Marina cites her experiences with racism as a very important factor in her continued membership. My White Cuban friends, to me, theyÂ’re in denial about my Blackness. Â“YouÂ’re not Black to me.Â” They say that to me! [She laughs.] Can you
145 believe that? Even thoughÂ…I grew up in a very racist environment. Ybor City was a racist environmentÂ…When I was a little girl in elementary school, okay; I drew a picture of myself. The nun asked us to draw ourselves; so I did, and I made the girl light. Like a very tan color. Well, when I showed it to the nun, she told me that I hadnÂ’t done it correctly and she colored over my picture with a brown crayon. I was shocked, even at that age. Why did she do that? Anyw ay, IÂ’ve had some discriminatory experiences in my life. Like this one I just told you about. ThatÂ’s what draws me to the club Â—that history of struggle against racism and being separate. I feel that we s till need to honor that hi story and not just pretend like these things neve r happened to us. MilagrosÂ’ response to this question also hi ghlighted the issue of race but in a much different way: Mira, yo se que yo soy negra. Yo puedo mirarme en el espejo y yo veo lo negra que yo soy. S. Pero que tien e que ver eso con frica? Yo soy Cubana, no Africana. Nosotros somo s Cubanos, siendo blancos o negros pero Cubanos y por eso yo soy miembro de esta sociedad. El nombre de Mart-Maceo se conoca en Cuba desde que yo era muy joven. Mis padres me contaron de esta sociedad histri ca que fue fundada para celebrar la historia de la comunidad Cubana en Tampa. Por eso yo mantengo mi membresa en esta organizacin. (Look, I know IÂ’m Black. I can look in
146 the mirror and see just how Black I am. But what does that have to do with Africa? I am Cuban, not African. We ar e Cubans first, whether White or Black, and thatÂ’s why IÂ’m a member of this society. The name Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo was well-know n in Cuba, even when I was a young woman. My parents told me about this historic society that was founded to celebrate the history of Cubans in Tampa. ThatÂ’s why I continue my membership in this organization. As their responses suggest, these women have very different outlooks on their individual identities, as well as what the Mart-Maceo Society stands for and its purpose. Beyond their responses, these indivi duals are different in a numbe r of other ways. Marina, 67 years of age, was born in Tampa and lived in New York for much of her adult life before returning to Tampa in the late 1970s. She is bilingual and speaks, reads, and writes English and Spanish equally well. Marina can be described as having a light complexion and might be considered triguea (Â“wheat-coloredÂ” or golden brown) in Cuba. Milagros was born in Santiago, Cuba in 1923, making her 87 years old. She arrived in the United States in 1968, settling in the Midwest fo r 14 years before moving to Tampa in 1984. Despite the many years lived in this countr y, Milagros speaks Spanish primarily. As she notes in the passage above, she is dark-skinned and would be identified by most people in this country as Black. Beyond th eir individual differences, the excerpted portion of their respective narratives highlights two poles that represent co mpeting notions for shaping the collective identity of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo. One is a racial identity,
147 which emphasizes the Blackness of the soci etyÂ’s members and their shared struggle against discrimination versus a Cuba n national identity or Â“Cubanidad.Â” MilagrosÂ’ statement certainly evokes th e Cuban ideology of racial democracy and as the descendent of an important war hero of color, it is almost expected that she would espouse the perspective that Cuba n national identity s upersedes race. In Cuba, this family lineage and the fact that Milagros received a MasterÂ’s degree before leaving the island might also serve to Â“whitenÂ” her somewhat thereby allowing her to assume a more elevated status in Cuban society than Â“the av erageÂ” Black individual. Milagros is also an immigrant, as opposed to the majority of Mart-Maceo members today, who like Marina may be second, third or even fourth genera tion Black Cubans born in the United States. As such, she also espouses views about Afri can Americans that are similar to those examined by scholars who work with Black immigrant groups. For instance, when asked what she though the differences between Black Cubans and African Americans were, Milagros responded: Yo creo que el negro Americano es un poquito celoso del negro Hispano. LC:Por que piensa usted eso? Milagros:Bueno, porque nosotros no tene mos esa manera de mirarnos a si mismo y echarnos de menos. T sabe s, yo fui maestr a y trabaj en las escuelas por mucho tiempo. Trabaje en una Â“high schoolÂ” como maestra de espaol. Y yo era bien estricta con mis estudiantes. Yo esperaba solo lo mejor de ellos, y yo no aceptaba que se comportaran de mala manera en mi saln. Yo era muy amable, pero seria con ellos. Y bueno tu sabes, un
148 da una de las maestras que era am igable con migo me dijo que los estudiantes decan que yo me manejaba como si yo senta ser mejor que todas las dems [maestras]. Â—PeroÂ— me dijo, Â—ellos te escuchan y te hacen caso. Cul es tu secreto?Â— Y yo le dije, Â—bueno, lo que pasa es que yo espero que ellos me respeten, cada uno de ellos. Yo soy la maestra y van a hacer lo que yo les digo. Y si no, pueden dejar esa clase. Â— Pero t sabes, lo que yo le estaba explicando es que yo me doy a respetar. Sin tener que pedir ese respeto. De una manera callada, pero firme. Yo no voy a dejar nunca que me digan que yo soy menos porque yo soy negra o lo que sea. Y yo creo que la mayora de los negros Hispanos se sienten de esa manera. (I think that the Black American is a little bit envious of the Hispanic Black. LC:Why do you think that this is the case? Milagros:Well, because we donÂ’t have that way of looking at ourselves, as being less than. You know, I was a teach er and I worked in the schools for a very long time. I worked in a high school as a Spanish teacher. And I was very strict with my students. I ex pected only the best from them and I really didnÂ’t take any nonsense from them. I was nice to them, but I was firm. And you know, one day a teacher th at I was friendly with said to me, Â“The students think that you are different, that you think you are better than everyone else.Â” But they re spond to you and they do what you say. What is your secret? Â“Well, Â” I told her, Â“I expect to be respected by them,
149 by all of them. IÂ’m the teacher and they will do as I say, or else they can fail the class.Â” But you know, what I was telling her was that I command respectÂ— quietly but firmly. IÂ’m not going to let anyone tell me that I am less than because I am Black or whatever. And I think that most Black Hispanics are like that as well.) When Marina was asked to identif y what she thought the differences between Black Cubans and African Americans were, she responded: When I lived in New York City, most of my friends were Black Americans and Puerto Ricans. We never had any problems and there was no issue. When I moved back here, the Blacks shied away from us. They wouldnÂ’t come to events [at Mart-Maceo]. Tenian complejo que no los iban a tratar bien. (They had a complex; they felt that they were nÂ’t going to be treated well, so they wouldnÂ’t go.) I th ink itÂ’s changed and that there is more of a mix at the club now. But that was the way it used to be. When asked about whether she maintained friendships with African Americans, Marina indicated that she did and estimated that a bout a quarter of her friends were African American. Milagros, on the ot her hand, indicated th at she had very few African American friends, aside from Mart-Maceo members.
150 In recounting the story a bout African American st udents, Milagros evokes research with Black immigrants that identifie s a belief that African Americans bear some individual responsibility for Â“f eelingÂ” or being treated as though they are of inferior status (See Waters 1999; Roge rs 2006). When I asked Milagros whether she felt that conditions in the United States might aff ect how people see themselves, she responded, Â“ Bueno, si es verdad que han tenido que pasar mu chas cosas en este pas. Pero tambin hay que tratar de levantarse uno mismo. Â” (Well, yes, they have had to go through a lot of things in this country. But one also has to try to lift oneself up.Â” ) According to Harrison (1995:58), Black immigrantsÂ’ identities, part icularly those from the Caribbean, Â“have often been shaped based in part on positive evaluations of Blackness (See also Foner 1987; Kasinitz 1992; Rogers 2006; Sutton a nd Makiesky-Barrow 1987; Waters 1999). However as examination of the Cuban ideol ogy of racial democracy has shown, racial identity in Cuba and its articulation among the members of its diaspora has often had a contradictory and antagonistic relationship with Blackness. MarinaÂ’s response also sugge sts that she believes th at African Americans in Tampa might be the ones with an inferiority Â“complex.Â” As a result of this Â“feeling,Â” they did not feel welcome or comfortable atte nding events at the Mart-Maceo Society. However, when I asked Marina whether she t hought that this was the case for all African Americans she said that she had not noticed this in New York. Rather, this may have been the case in Tampa for a number of reasons, including differences between Northern African Americans, who felt more comfortable socializing with different cultural groups, versus individuals in the South. Despite this perception, Marina did feel that this situation had changed quite a bit, and she pointed to the fact that a number of Mart-Maceo
151 members were African American (including th e president at the time of our interview). She also indicated that in recent years, even ts and activities at the Mart-Maceo Society often attracted a number of Af rican American participants and/or audience members. In each of their narratives, Milagros a nd Marina evoke research with Black immigrants that indicates a belief that African Americans bear some individual responsibility for Â“feelingÂ” or being treated as though they ar e of inferior status although MarinaÂ’s is tempered somewhat (See Waters 1999; Rogers 2006). Wh en I asked Milagros whether she felt that conditions in the Un ited States might affect how people see themselves, she responded, Â“ Bueno, si es verdad que han tenido que pasar muchas cosas en este pas. Pero tambin hay que tratar de levantarse uno mismo. Â” (Well, yes, they have had to go through a lot of things in th is country. But one also has to try to lift oneself up.Â”) According to Harri son (1995:58), Black immigrants Â’ identities, particularly those from the Caribbean, Â“have often been sh aped based in part on positive evaluations of Blackness (See also Foner 1987; Kasinitz 1992; Rogers 2006; Sutton and MakieskyBarrow 1987; Waters 1999). However as examin ation of the Cuban ideology of racial democracy has shown, racial identity in C uba and its articulation among the members of its diaspora has often had a c ontradictory and antagonistic relationship with Blackness. In a study that examines whether country of origin or skin color play a greater role in shaping the racial identities of diverse Black immigrants, Benson (2006) concludes that for most of the study particip ants, skin color appear s to play a stronger role in the development of a shared group racial consciousness th at includes African Americans. According to Benson (2006:243), th e effects of discrimination over time can cause Black migrants from Haiti, the Domini can Republic, and various countries in the
152 West Indies, Africa, and Centra l America to view their skin color as a critical factor in shaping how they are treated in this countryÂ— despite any in itial hostility or prejudice they may express against African Americans (See also Waters 1999.) The only group for whom this was not th e case was Puerto Rican immigrants. Benson (2006) theorizes that becau se the Puerto Ricans in her sample were Â“lighterÂ” than most of the other immigrants surveyed, this lead them to perceive multiple opportunities for using different modes of identifying themse lvesÂ— i.e., as Hispanic or by maintaining an ethnic identity for a longer period of tim e. She goes on to say that specific life domains in which discrimina tion may be experienced a ppear to differ by immigrant group (i.e. Africans may encounter less discri mination in housing as opposed to Haitians, who report experiencing more) s ubsequently leads to a complex incorporation into U.S. society based on segmented assimilation model that is mediated by these experiences. In addition, the effect of skin color on racial identity among these migrants appears to be tempered by the skills and ideology that mi grants bring from their home countries. Although studies on the racial identification of Black Cubans are rather limited, it is interesting to examine MilagrosÂ’ and MarinaÂ’s cases in light of these and other findings related to Puerto Ricans.34 With regard to skin color, Milagros is actually darker than many of the current Black Cuban members of the Mart-Maceo Society, who could be described as being trigueo rather than dark brown. However as noted earlier, a number of demographic factors suggest that Milagros conforms to th e Puerto Ricans in BensonÂ’s 34 Although there are significant differe nces between the histories of Puerto Rico and Cuba, especially with regard to the intensity and duration of slavery and the way in which racial consciousness and identity may have developed in these islands as a consequence (S ee Mintz 1989), they share th e fact that they held among the longest ties to their colonial master, Spain, which ended at roughly the same time and led to the development of strong post-colonial ties to the United States.
153 study, despite the question of her darker skin tone.35 Marina, on the other hand, is much lighter than Milagros and is among the third ge neration in her family to have been born in the United States. She noted that most of her friends as a young adult were African American and Puerto Rican, and she is flue nt in English and Spanish. Although she does not suggest that identifying oneself as Black (and/or one who has str uggled against racial discrimination), as MilagrosÂ’ suggests, MarinaÂ’s narrative su ggests that African Americans (in Tampa) often assume that they wi ll be treated as inferiors despite what she perceives as a lack of evidence in this regard. Comparing the responses give n by Marina and Milagros to the categories they use to identify themselves may shed some li ght on their perceptions regarding African Americans. Both Marina and Milagros comple ted surveys that were administered to all contemporary Black Cuban members of the Ma rt-Maceo Society and were designed to elicit information about diverse aspects of respondentsÂ’ lives, including factors that might be used to generate markers related to raci al and ethnic identity. Despite the differences between Marina and Milagros with regard to demographics and specific life experiences, their responses related to the categories th at they preferred to use when describing themselves and their identities, respectively, were similar in that neither selected a racialized category to describe herself. Marina identified herself as a Hispanic first, and then, as an American. Milagros, on the other hand, identified herself as Cuban, first, and if forced to make another choi ce, as Cuban-American, to reflect the fact that she has lived in this country for over 40 years. Despite MarinaÂ’s view that the Mart-Maceo Society represents a shared history of struggle against discriminati on, neither of the categories 35 See BaileyÂ’s (2000) study with second generation Dominican youth, which suggests that Spanish language maintenance is used to resi st Â“hegemonic social characterization.Â”
154 that she selected reflect a ra cialized or a Cuban identity. While the way in which these women identify as individuals is interesting to consider, for the purposes of this research it is important to try to ascertain how such perceptions about indivi dual identity link to their (and other membersÂ’) ideas about the coll ective identity of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo and the community it purports to represent in present-day Tampa. In order to try to answer this question, I examined responses to surveys with current Black Cuban members to explore othe rsÂ’ individual concep tualizations about identity. How do these compare with the ex amples provided above using MarinaÂ’s and MilagrosÂ’ cases? I also compared the contem porary survey responses with a data set collected with members in 1989 to determin e how self-reports on identity may have changed in the past two decades, whether a general trend might be observed in this regard, and more importantly, how this relates to ongoing nego tiation of a larger collective identity among members of the Mart-Maceo Society. Survey findings are outlined and summarized in the section that follows. Individual Perceptions of Racial a nd Ethnic Identity:Survey Results The graphs that follow provide a demogr aphic overview of two samples of MartMaceo members that completed surveys in 1989 and in 2008-2009. Figure 8 shows the language in which the survey was completed and the gender distribut ion of respondents. Although the majority of respondents in both data sets elected to complete their interviews in English, the contemporary sample included more individuals who elected to conduct the survey in Spanish.
155 As Figure 9 shows, the majority of responde nts in both survey samples were born in Tampa and Cuba. As expected, survey respondents in the contemporary sample were generally younger than those members interviewed in 1989. See Figure 10. Figure 9. RespondentsÂ’ Place of Birth0 5 10 15 20 25 Tampa Cuba Key West Puerto Rico New York Other Florida city Other Northeast city 1989 2008-2009 Figure 8. Distribution of Survey Respondents0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% English Spanish Female Male 1989 2008-2009
156 Overall, the majority of respondents in both survey samples reported that at least one parent had been born in Cuba. See Figure X .4. As might be expected, the contemporary sample of respondents reported more often that at least one of their parents was born in Tampa (or another city/sta te in this country). Figure 10. Respondents' Year of Birth0 5 10 15 20 25 1900 to 1910 1911 to 1920 1921 to 1930 1931 to 1940 1941 to 1950 1951 to 1960 1961 to 1970 1971 to 1980 No response 1989 2008-2009 Tampa Cuba Key West Puerto Rico New Yo r k Other Florida city Other state Other Caribbean Other Latin America Spain No response Figure 11. Parents' Place of Birth0 5 10 15 20 25 30 1989 2008-2009 1989 2008-2009 Mothe r Fathe r
157 In general, the contemporary sample reported higher rates of educati onal attainment than did the 1989 sample of respondents. (Figure X.4) This corresponds with higher rates of adolescents and young adults entering the ci gar industry in the ear ly part of the 20th Century as noted in GreenbaumÂ’s history (2002) of the Black Cuban community in Tampa. Comparison of Responses Related to Identity A number of items in the survey were designed to elicit mark ers of Afro-Cuban identity, including questions that asked res pondents to indicate how they identified themselves ethnically, the primary language spoken in their homes, consumption of certain foods, media outlets favored, etc. Firs t, respondents were asked to report how they identify using one of the following categor ies provided:Cuban; Cuban American; Black Cuban; Afro-Cuban; Afro-Cuban American; American; and African-American. Table 12 shows the category selected as the primary id entifier used by respondents. The original Figure 12. Respondents' Highest Grade Completed 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Elementary school only Some high school (9 to 12) Some college (less than AA) 4 years college (BA) No response Middle school (grades 6 to 8) High school graduate 2 years college (AA) Post-graduate degree 1989 2008-09
158 1989 2008-09 Sample Sample Ethnic Identity Cuban 82 Cuban-American 8 5 Afro-Cuban 3 2 Afro-Cuban American 3 3 Black Cuban (Â“OtherÂ” in 1989) 1 1 American 10 1 Afro-American/African American 3 1 Other Â– Spanish 1 Other Â– Mixed 1 Other Â– Black -1 Other Â– Hispanic -1 Other Â– Puerto Rican 3 Other Â– Native 1 No preference 4 Total 45 17 categories provided in the 1989 interviews and were the same ones used in the contemporary survey aside from Â“Afro-Ame rican,Â” which was changed to AfricanAmerican. The more recent interview also included Â“Black Cuban,Â” which my ethnographic research has indicated is pref erred by some members over the term Â“AfroCuban.Â” The terms included in the questionn aire were developed following GreenbaumÂ’s ethnographic work with members of MartMaceo during the 1980s and reflect terms Table 3. Ethnic Identity, Self-Report
159 used colloquially at the time (i.e. Â“Afro-Am ericanÂ”). Respondents were also given the opportunity to select the categor y Â“Other,Â” and if they select ed this response, were asked to provide their own descriptive category. They were also given the opportunity to select as many categories as they wanted and wh ich they considered to be accurate representations of thei r identity. After making these select ions, they were asked to rank these by order of preference. Despite the degree of difference in sample sizes between generations of respondents, patterns of similar ity and divergence were noted in responses. A fairly high proportion of respondents in both samples id entified Â“CubanÂ” or Â“Cuban-AmericanÂ” as the category that best represents their ethn ic identity. In 1989, the combination of these two categories accounted for 35% of responses whereas in the contemporary sample, it accounted for about 41% of responses. Res pondents in 1989 respondents were more apt to identify Â“AmericanÂ” as the category that a ccurately identified their ethnic identity whereas only one contemporary respondent se lected this category. Very few of the respondents in 1989 selected th e Â“Afro-CubanÂ” or Â“Afro-Cuban AmericanÂ” categories as indicative of their ethnic identity. Although the actual number of respondents who selected these categories in the contempor ary sample was nearly identical, these respondents accounted for a larger proportion of contemporary respondents. Very few respondents in either sample identified Â“Afr o-AmericanÂ” or Â“African AmericanÂ” as their primary identity. Interestingly, three respondent s in 1989 identified themselves as Puerto Rican. Table 13 outlines responses related to the ethnic identity of a respondentÂ’s (current or most recent) spouse. The questi on related to spouseÂ’s ethnic identity was
160 structured as an open-ended item and categor ies were created following a review of the total responses. The categorie s used in the previous que stion were used whenever possible. 1989 2008-09 Sample Sample SpouseÂ’s Ethnic Identity Cuban 10 2 Afro-Cuban 9 Afro-Cuban American 1 American 4 1 Afro-American/African American/Black 13 8 Black Cuban 2 Puerto Rican 2 2 Hispanic 1 1 White Cuban 1 White American 1 Not applicable 1 3 Total 45 17 About half of the contemporary sample of respondents identified their current or most recent spouse (e.g. deceased or divorced) as African American or Black. Not one of the respondents surveyed in 2008-2009 used the following categories to identify their spouse:Â“Afro-Cuban,Â” Â“Afro-Cuban American,Â” or Â“Black Cuban,Â” suggesting that the Table 4. Ethnic Identity of Current/Most Recent Spouse
161 contemporary sample of respondents was not very likely to look within its own community for marriage partners. The remaini ng responses for this sample were fairly evenly distributed and identified as Â“Puert o Rican,Â” Â“Hispanic,Â” and Â“American.Â” Three of these respondents did not identify a spouse. Responses taken in 1989 and shown in Ta ble 13 were more evenly distributed among a longer list of categories. Thirteen respondents identified their spouses as Â“AfroAmerican or Black American,Â” while anothe r 12 respondents used the categories, Â“AfroCuban American,Â” Â“Afro-Cuban,Â” or Â“Black Cuban.Â” This is part icularly interesting, given that very few of these respondents us ed a racialized Cuban category to identify themselves (See Table 12). Ten respondents id entified their spouses as Â“Cuban,Â” without specifying race Â– although most often it appear s, given other responses, that the spouse was a member of the Mart-Maceo Society a nd a descendent of one of the original founding members. (This claim, however, canno t be definitively made because these surveys did not include names or identif ying characteristics of respondents.) Two respondents did, however, specifically identify their spouse as Â“WhiteÂ” when providing their response (e.g. Â“White CubanÂ” or Â“White AmericanÂ”). Table 14 presents information on the use of Spanish by respondents, as well as whether Spanish has been passed on to childr en and grandchildren. When asked directly whether they spoke Spanish, there were diffe rences in the pattern of response between samples. In 1989, the majority of respondents indicated that they spoke Spanish and did so most of the time in their homes.36 Another 11 respondents repor ted that they spoke 36 The original survey asked individu als whether they spoke Spanish and to indicate how often they did so. The contemporary version of the survey asked respondents to identify the primary language spoken in their homes. The response categories listed were developed to allow for comparison between samples.
162 1989 2008-09 Sample Sample (n=45) (n=17) Primary Language Spoken (Self) English 109 Spanish 243 Both 115 Children Speak Spanish Yes 97 No 317 Not applicable 53 Grandchildren Speak Spanish Yes 82 No 329 Not applicable 56 Spanish and English about equally and onl y 10 listed English as their primary language or one that they spoke more than half of the time. In 2008-2009, the majority of respondents identified English as the language they spoke primarily within their homes. Another five respondents reported speaking E nglish and Spanish equally within their homes, while only three indivi duals identified Spanish as their primary language. There Table 5. Use of Spanish Language and Transmission within Family
163 were also differences between samples rela ted to whether respondentsÂ’ children spoke Spanish. In 1989, the majority of respondents in dicated that their children did indeed speak Spanish. Among contemporary respondents, an equal number indicated that their children spoke Spanish and English. (In both samples, respondents often qualified their responses by stating that their children spoke Â“a little,Â” spoke Â“a few words,Â” or Â“understood but didnÂ’t speakÂ” Spanish. Thes e responses were categorized as Â“NoÂ” responses.) The majority of respondents for w hom this question was relevant in both of the survey periods indicated that thei r grandchildren did not speak Spanish. Respondents were asked how often they at e Cuban food as anothe r indicator of an attachment to Cuban culture. In 1989, the majo rity of respondents repo rted that they ate Cuban food on a daily basis. In 2008-2009, just over half of the respondents indicated that they ate Cuban food a few times a wee k, followed by respondents who said they ate Cuban food daily. (Table 15) 1989 2008-09 Sample Sample Eat Cuban Food: Daily 277 A few times a week 149 A few times a month 30 Hardly ever 11 Never 00 Table 6. How Often Eat Cuban Food
164 Table 16 highlights responses from a va riety of questions designed to elicit information about preferred media outlets, s eeking information especially about Spanishlanguage media and those targeting the lo cal African-American population. When asked whether they watched Spanish language televi sion channels, the majority of respondents in 1989 indicated that they watched them on a da ily basis. By contrast the largest number of respondents in the contemporary sample was divided between those who reported 1989 2008-09 Sample Sample (n=45) (n=17) Spanish Language TV Daily 175 A few times a week 104 A few times a month 01 Hardly ever 105 Never 82 Radio Stations Spanish Radio 356 WTMP (Traditional Urban Station) 194 Newspapers La Gaceta/Other Spanish Newspaper 165 Florida Sentinel Bulletin 216 Table 7. Preferred Media Outlets
165 watching Spanish-language television on a daily basis and those who said they Â“hardly everÂ” watched programming on these channels. Respondents were also asked to identify th e radio stations that they listened to regularly. The original survey asked responde nts specifically whethe r they listened to Spanish-language radio and/or 1150 AM WTMP, traditionally the only Black and locally-owned station targeting TampaÂ’s Af rican-American community with an Â“Urban ContemporaryÂ” music format and community-f ocused talk shows. Contemporary surveys asked respondents to identify all of the radio stations that they listened to on a regular basis, although Table 16 only pr esents figures for the orig inal responses provided. In 1989, the majority of respondents indicated that they listened to Spanish radio, compared with 35 percent of the contemporary sample w ho said that they did. Almost half of the respondents in 1989 said that they listened to AM 1150 WTMP, as compared to nearly a quarter of contemporary respondents. The majo rity of contemporary respondents reported listening to a wide variety of stations with diverse programming formats and music genre, including classical/jazz music, A dult Contemporary, and sports radio. Similar differences were noted related to the newspapers that members said they read on a regular basis. As w ith previous questions, the orig inal survey asked respondents whether they read the following newspapers: La Gaceta founded in Ybor City in 1922 and the only tri-lingual newspaper in the nation which publishes stories in English, Spanish, and Italian, and the Florida Sentinel Bulletin founded in 1959 to provide news to TampaÂ’s African-American community. The contemporary sample of respondents were asked to identify all of the newspapers that they read on a regular basis and were probed for whether they read one of thr ee Spanish-language ne wspapers, including La
166 Gaceta In 1989, less than half of res pondents indicated that they read La Gaceta while almost half reported that they read the Florida Sentinel Bulletin. In 2008-2009, about 65 percent of respondents indicat ed that they read the Sentinel Bulletin or a Spanishlanguage newspaper regularly. When comparing responses from both samp les, a number of differences were identified. Specific differences noted in contemporary respondents include being less likely to use Spanish as a primary language eating Cuban food slightly less often, and relying on Spanish media (television, radio, and newspapers) less than did respondents 20 years ago. Interestingly, higher proportions of respondents in 1989 reported relying on WTMP and the Florida Sentinel Bulletin as primary media outlets. One of the most striking differences between the survey samp les relates to self-reported ethnic identity and the ethnic identity of s pouses. In 1989, just over 20 perc ent of members identified the category Â“AmericanÂ” as the pref erred representation of their ethnic identity. In contrast, only one respondent in the contemporary samp le selected this ca tegory (See Table 12, page 50). Because of the nature of the survey and my inability to identify the respondents to the earlier data set, it was impossible to ga ther additional qualitative data related to the preference for this category. A ccording to the sole contem porary respondent, Fernando, who selected this category, this pref erence was reflected in this manner: I am an American. I am a U.S. citizen, IÂ’ve served in the Armed Forces and I am a mix of all of these different things. Yes, I have Cuban roots and yes, IÂ’m Black, but I am an American.
167 Fernando, an elderly man, was a long-standing member of the Mart-Maceo Directiva and is considered by many to have been an effec tive leader. He no longer participates actively as a Mart-Maceo member, but he pays his due s faithfully. He also speaks fluent Spanish, although he was born in Tampa. In reflec ting on FernandoÂ’s extended response to the identity question in the surve y, I got the sense that he was trying to claim a space within a wider Â“AmericanÂ” identity, much in the same way that Afro-Cubans in the late colonial era did. The questions about et hnic difference and preference appeared to have struck a nerve. Although this gentleman had attended se gregated schools, he had attained a postgraduate degree at a historically Black colleg e, and had a successful career with a good degree of local recognition. His comment re sonated with me because it raised the following questions:what is the na ture of North American identity (i.e. U.S. identity), who gets to claim a space w ithin that space, and what ar e the implications for the descendants of an immigrant community that wa s forced to negotiate identity in an era and geographic space where th e dominant ideology was ofte n violently intolerant of difference. In casual conversations with elderly members, I have also noted that the term Â“AmericanÂ” was most often used when re ferring to Blacks or African-Americans.37 The context surrounding these discussions centers on the shared space between TampaÂ’s Black Cubans and Americans and as such, gene rally omits the racial identifiers. This may explain why so many of GreenbaumÂ’s survey respondents chose this category to identify themselves. However, this is simply an assumption, and as the highlighted response suggests Â“AmericanÂ” can also connote a creoli zed and arguably, idealized identity that 37 It is interesting to note that this colloquial usage among this population of Cubans in Tampa contrasts with its use by Cubans in Miami, by which the speakers usually mean White Americans.
168 allows for a mixing of diverse identities and does not marginalize the individual as a consequence of her or his ethni c and racial identity. This logic conforms to the Cuban discourse on national identity which minimi zes race and emphasizes the tie between the individual and the nation. Just about 40 percent of respondents in both samples selected the categories Â“CubanÂ” and Â“Cuban-AmericanÂ” as the primar y category used to identify themselves, suggesting that a strong tie to a Cuban identity still remains. However, a larger proportion of contemporary respondents were more like ly to identify primarily as Â“Afro-Cuban,Â” Â“Afro-Cuban AmericanÂ” or Â“Black Cuban,Â” s uggesting perhaps that a racialized Cuban identity is more acceptable today than it had been in the past. When these responses were compared to examine whether year of birt h made a difference in selection of these categories, it did not. When identifying their spous esÂ’ identities, the categories elicited were somewhat different than those that were used in the previous item partly because this question was structured as an open-ended one. However, the question related to spouseÂ’s identity directly follows the one which asks respondent s to self-report usi ng specific categories resulting in interesting differe nces between respondent group s. For instance, despite the juxtaposition of these questi ons, not one respondent in 1989 id entified his or her spouse as being simply, Â“American.Â” Further, just ov er 20 percent of res pondents indicated that their spouse was Â“CubanÂ” but did not specify race or whether they were American-born (See Table 13, page 51). Very few contemporar y respondents identified their spouses as Â“Cuban.Â” Perhaps more interesting is the f act that although responde nts in 1989 were not very likely to identify themselves as Â“A fro-Cuban,Â” Â“Afro-Cuban AmericanÂ” or Â“Black
169 Cuban,Â” a higher proportion of them identi fied their spouses using one of these categories. None of the contemporary respondent s used these categories to identify their spouses. In both of the samples, the larges t proportion of responde nts identified their spouses as Â“Afro-AmericanÂ” (used only in the 1989 survey), Â“African American,Â” or Â“Black American.Â” Overall, a number of similarities exist between respondents surveyed in different decades and during different circumstances. Ho wever, the demographic findings suggest that todayÂ’s members and their relatives are mo re likely to be (or have been) married to an African American, less likely to speak Sp anish and as a result, rely less on Spanish language media for their news or entertainmen t. (However, they also reported being less likely to rely on media target ing African Americans.) Furthe r, the contemporary sample of respondents appears to be more comfortable attaching a racial categ ory to their ethnic identity (e.g. using Â“Afro-Â” or Â“BlackÂ” with Cuban) as evid enced by nearly half of the sample selecting categories using such descri ptors Yet, just about an equal number of contemporary respondents did not use a racial marker when identifying themselves as Â“CubanÂ” or Â“Cuban-American.Â” Although the c onclusions arrived at with this limited data set can not be genera lized to the wider Black C uban population in Tampa, the findings suggest that although the use of Spanish has decreased among contemporary members of the Mart-Maceo Society, there is still a desire to identify as Â“CubanÂ” among members and their relatives, which may be rela ted to their continued association to the organization. (Although four respondents are not currently active members, they have each attended events and in some cases, gene ral assembly meetings at the Mart-Maceo social hall during the past decade.)
170 It is impossible to draw a causal infe rence related to membership in the organization and perceived identity based on th e available data (i.e. membership in the Mart-Maceo Society reinforces a Â“CubanÂ” iden tity or a strong Cuban identity increases the likelihood of joining). However, it seems that for the current members, continued participation in the organization is very much tied to honoring their personal and communal traditions and heritage. As one of the youngest members noted, I joined because this was something that was important to my family. I grew up hearing about it and was there from the time I was very young. My aunt asked me to join to help them and IÂ’m going to do everything that I can because itÂ’s important to us. ItÂ’s our heritage. The current findings suggest that th ese members of TampaÂ’s Black Cuban community continue to recogni ze a sense of Â“Cuban-nessÂ” or Cubanidad despite increased intermarriage with African Amer icans (or having one parent identified as African American in a number of cases), which they view as making them somehow different from African Americans. This appear s to be the case for individuals who can be identified as being third generation. In th eir research on the social mobility of immigrants, Palmer and WaldingerÂ’s (1996) s uggest that the high ra tes of intermarriage among third generation populations can pr oduce multi-faceted iden tities among third generation populations that may ultimately play a role in their social mobility or that of their children. While the socioeconomic integra tion of Black Cubans is not a focus of this dissertation, it is curious to note that among contemporary study participants th ere is still
171 an attachment to identifying as Cuban, despit e acknowledgement of a racialized or Black identity. Research by Waters (1999) and by Bens on (2006) with diverse Black immigrants identifies complex processes whereby recent immigrants may reject a U.S.-based model of Blackness because of personal stereotypes or negative beliefs they may have about African Americans. However, over time im migrants (Benson 2006) or their children (Waters 1999) may reject these initial impr essions because of discrimination they encounter in their day-to-day lives, wh ich lead them to develop a shared race consciousness with African Americans. WatersÂ’ work with immigrant or second generation children further suggests that this process may involve re jecting the immigrant parentsÂ’ values and ideas about how best to succeed in this new country (1999:307). This was especially the case with adolescents th at Waters identified as being Â“AmericanidentifiedÂ” and who were seen as having generally developed an oppositional stance toward the wider (White) values and mores of this country (See also Fordham and Ogbu 1986). She contrasts this phenomenon with th at of Â“ethnic identifiedÂ” adolescents who are more likely to reject Â“ underclass black identityÂ” and of ten use their ethnicity to distance themselves from Black Americans especially when interacting with Whites (Waters 1999:323; See also Anderson, 1990). Despite MilagrosÂ’ narrative, which conforms to research on Black immigrants, the majority of Mart-Maceo members actually exhibit a number of key differences when compared to the subjects of such research. Th e first difference is that the majority of current Black Cuban members of the Mart-Ma ceo Society are second, third, and in some cases, fourth generation. More importantly, they are adults, who came of age in a very
172 different context than did th e subjects of WatersÂ’ (1990) or BensonÂ’s (2006) research. While the first wave of Black Cuban immigrants did seek to differentiate their families and their children from the local Blac k population, subsequent generations found themselves becoming more familiar with their African American peers as a consequence of segregation and changing socioeconomic conditions within the cigar industry, which resulted in the out-migration of Black Cuba ns from Tampa to northeastern states in search of employment. However, increasing interaction between Bl ack Cubans and Black Americans did not generally result in the de velopment of an oppos itional identity among Black Cubans. In fact, the majority of these individuals went on to achieve higher rates of educational attainment than did their parents. Overall, contemporary Black Cubans report a general decrease in the use of the customs and practices of their parents and gr andparents. However, this has not generally resulted in a rejection of a Cuban identity among contemporary members. In other words, despite a general declin e in the use of cultural practices (including Spanish-language use) which could serve to differentiate them from African Americans and increased intermarriage with African Americans, th e findings suggest a growing ability to accommodate Blackness with a continuing desire to highlight a Cuban identity. Perhaps with regard to this population Â—at least for those in the second and third generation who are middle-aged and/or elderlyÂ— the desire to maintain an ethnic tie has more to do with the context in which they came of age in this country38. The children and grandchildren of Black immigrants who arrived at the turn of the last century and who were able to pool 38Contemporary researchers of immigration to this countr y generally tend to focus on the Â“new immigrantsÂ” or Â“new second generation,Â” whose arrival in this country is part of a later wave beginning in the 1960s and whose experiences are contrasted with those of earlie r immigrant waves, particul arly those that occurred from the late 1800s into the early 1900s (See Lamphere 1992; Massey 1995; Portes and Zhou 1993; Waters 1999; Zhou 1997).
173 their resources and create a close-knit community, despite numerous challenges confronted within the immigr ant enclave and in the wide r Tampa community. Many of them were able to maintain ties with their families in Cuba and to travel back and forth until the 1960s when political relations betw een the countries became strained. Moreover as the recollections of informants has s hown, despite the fact that Ybor City was integrated and allowed for Black Cubans to live and work alongside their White immigrant counterparts, discrimination did inde ed exist. It may not have been expressed violently within the enclave, but it was ugl y and painful nonetheless. Finally, the Tampa Bay area has experienced a dramatic increase in the arrival of large numbers of migrants from various Latin American countries sin ce the 1980s, including Cuban refugees. While these individuals have not generally become affiliated to the Mart-Maceo Society as Elena had hoped, they have changed the char acter of several nei ghborhoods within the local county where billboards and storefronts advertise in Spanish, and where Spanish can be heard as frequently as English. This recent migration str eam may also provide a new cultural or ethnic frame of reference for contemporary Black Cubans seeking to explore this aspect of their heritage. In her research on generational differences in identity and cultural orientation of Japanese Americans, Yanagisako (1985) argue s that the examination of changes over time in kinship ties and the re lationships must be viewed in light of the meanings that individuals and kinship groups at tach to their interactions within the family, how they position themselves within those relations hips, and how the define others as a consequence of these. Further, she argues that the practices used to refine those relationships over time Â—i.e. the ways in wh ich individuals negotiate these relationships
174 in their quotidian livesÂ— are constantly be ing shaped and redefined in response to conditions in the present, which may be star kly different for members of each generation. While her work focuses more on the meanings attached to symbols and concepts, like Â“familyÂ” among Japanese immigrant families, her work is here instructive because it reminds us that making sense of the past, even at the level of family involves reinterpreting the past in light of the present and our perceived position and choices within it. The persistence of kinship ties within the Mart-Maceo Society, which reflects the remnants of an insular community of Black Cubans with close-knit families, may also play a role in the maintenance of a con tinuing Cuban identity among my informants despite individual accommodations or acceptan ce of Blackness. The organization can be seen as providing a physical space in whic h these intersecting relationships can be formally expressed and reinforced thr ough ongoing meetings and events. Absent the Mart-Maceo Society, these indi viduals might not generally have occasion to socialize with each other aside from the occasional milestone event, such as a wedding or a funeral. Therefore, the ongoing desire highli ght a Cuban identity at the individual level on the part of contemporary members appears to be related to continuing participation in the Mart-Maceo Society. However, it is not clear whether pa rticipation in the organization encourages c ontinued reinforcement of Cubanidad among members or if individuals who are feel this connection to a Cuban heritage are attracted to the organization.
175 Forging a Collective Identity As noted in Chapters Four and Five, en croaching Ybor City redevelopment was considered by Mart-Maceo members as a se rious threat to the organizationÂ’s very existence. During those years, the membership became concerned about being able to set a fair market price for their property that could help them negotiate a favorable outcome with the city should relocation become a nece ssity. The offer to merge with the Crculo Cubano in 2001 heightened membersÂ’ awareness as to their propertyÂ’s true value, and following this episode, the directiva expressed a desire to use this knowledge and the resources available to the or ganization to negotiate any ad ditional offers from a position of strength. It was within this context that Mart-Maceo 's members began to formally and informally re-evaluate external represen tations of a collective identity for the organization as a whole. During these years, a number of members periodically took the floor at general assembly meetings and reminded the group that theirs was the only mutual aid society to have lost its buildi ng during Urban Renewal, and that TampaÂ’s White establishment did not distinguish ethnic differences among TampaÂ’s Black communities. As one member put it during a m eeting in 2002, Â“We canÂ’t let this happen to us again. If we do, then everything that our parents and grandparents worked for will have been for nothing.Â” Such rhetoric then, se rved to tie the organizationÂ’s heritage to a shared history of struggle and isolation brought about by the realities of living within the strict racial order of this country. The discourse around collec tive struggle against racial discrimination as a key component in Black Cuban identity is also expressed when members discuss their individual identities, as noted earlier in this chapter.
176 By 2003, discussions concer ning redevelopment efforts and their threats to the organizationÂ’s continued existence were shaped by an explicit desire on the part of executive board members to avoid discussing "w hat the city had done to us in the past," which they viewed as being characterized by a sense of victimization Â– as opposed to active struggle. As Elena noted at a meeting in February 2003 addressing the city's most recent announcements about Ybor City redevelopment plans, "We need to stop worrying about what they did to us in the past. And stop saying that they're doing this to us again and look at how we're going to deal with this." Such examples underscore the complex issue of shaping a collective or institutional identity within an organization that exists in a hi storical period different from the one in which it was originally developed and thrived. Although legal segregation no longer forces members of TampaÂ’s Afro-Cuban community to isolate themselves geographically within a small section of the city, the current condition and location of their building can be construed as a conseque nce of their racial identity. Many of MartMaceoÂ’s members and their families have become incorporated into TampaÂ’s Black middle class, while others rebuilt ties to the White Cuban community or forged relationships with communities formed by more recently arrived Latino migrants of various racial backgrounds. Di fferent socio-historical c onditions may therefore have created an opportunity for new forms of identification among Black Cubans, who were previously relegated to a rather discrete social category char acterized by racial identification and ethnic isolation. Today, Afro-Cubans can legally assume multiple social classifications, as we have seen, including Â“Hispa nic or Latino,Â” Â“Black,Â” and even, Â“African AmericanÂ” to a lesser degree While individuals are able to negotiate
177 simultaneous identities within their daily liv es, the establishment of a collective identity has proven more difficult w ithin this environment. As is often the case when talking about identity with individual members of any cultural group, respondents in both samples indicated a personal willingness and propensity for incorporation of multiple unde rstandings related to race, ethnicity, and culture. Identity has been recognized as flui d and is often negotiated and renegotiated depending on context, circumstance, and se tting (Chan 1998; Kibria 2000; Nagel 1994). This has also been reflected in discussions about the organizational or collective identity of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo. In periodic and ongoing discussions about the future of the organization, members argue abou t the heritage and the larger identity the society ultimately represents. During these moments, some members will call for more explicit celebration of the co mmunityÂ’s Cuban heritage, insi sting that this historic national tie surpasses all other racial and class-based consider ations and is the basis upon which the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo was founded. Others call for members to recognize the club as an Â“AmericanÂ” institut ion that actively seeks to increase its membership regardless of the racial or ethnic makeup of its constituency. Still, others call for more explicit recognition of the communityÂ’s unique hist ory within the Ybor City immigrant enclave. Polletta and Jasper (2001) define collective identity as an Â“individualÂ’s cognitive, moral and emotional connection with a br oader community, cate gory, practice or institution. It is a perception of shared soci al statusÂ… and it is distinct from personal identities, although it may form a part of pers onal identity.Â” Further, according to Taylor and Whittier (1992) collective identity and by extension, Â“solidarityÂ” is developed
178 through the creation of Â“boundary-s etting rituals and institutions that separate challengers from those in powerÂ” and as part of an ongoing process of negotiation and construction (See also Cohen, 1985; Friedman and McAdam, 1992; Melucci 1989). One could argue that a collective Black Cuban identity was forged when the Mart-Maceo Society was founded Â—at the turn of the 20th Century under the strictures of enforced segregation. The period during the 1980s and 1990s when Bl ack Cubans determined to document their community history and contest efforts to exclude them from the historic narrative being created for the Ybor City district presen ted another opportunity for such identity negotiation to take place. However, examina tion of the organization and its operations from 1999 to 2009 suggests that the membership and its leaders are having some trouble coming to accord as to how best to co mmunicate the Â“boundary-setting rituals and institutionsÂ” that Taylor and Whittier characterize as the building blocks of collective identity beyond its internal membership. A number of episodes within this time frame (documented in Chapters Four and Five) highlig ht the conflicts associated with attempts to make such determinations and build upon them. Controversy among members over the use of cowrie shells in the mural that was painted on the exterior of the social hall and the periodic use of th e term Â“Afro-CubanÂ” on organizational documents such as letterhead and newsletters, reflect a concern with external representations of the organization and the reception that such symbols may receive Â—not simply by members who may be offended, as Elena suggests on page 121Â— on the part of other groups within the larger Ybor City co mmunity. One of the main concerns about the use of symbols that serve to emphasize the organizationÂ’s overt or suggested celebration of Bl ackness or Africa, not often me ntioned publicly, is that it
179 reinforces the organizationÂ’s difference among th e other ethnic societies in the historic district. Under ideal circumstances, emphasis of the unique qualities of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo would serve to bolster Ybor CityÂ’s distinctiveness in Tampa history. However, this would also require acknowledge ment of racial discrimination on the part of White Cubans and other immigrants, which complicates the narrative and ultimately, Ybor City heritage as a commod ity for consumption by tourists. According to Gamson (1996:235) collective identities are Â“Â… continually filtered and reproduced through organizational bodiesÂ… within which identity boundaries are shaped by and shift through organizational activity which itself respond s to features of the institutional environmentÂ”. Therefore, orga nizations are central to the examination of collective identities b ecause they provide a space in which the ongoing construction and negotiation of collective meani ngs is shaped by larger in stitutional and environmental challenges that provide the context for those identities are shaped in the first place (Powell and Friedkin 1987; Swidler 1995). Ho wever, according to Scott and Mayer (1991:123) it is important to note that or ganizations respond to the Â“institutional environmentsÂ” in which they operate and as such, develop protocols for acting in accordance with the Â“rules and requirementsÂ” of these environments, and to which they must adjust in order to recei ve Â“support and legitimacy.Â” The lack of consensus regarding a shared collective identity on the part of Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo members is th erefore not a consequence of the internal conflicts that continue to take place over time, regarding competing notions of racial, ethnic, cultural, and/or national identity (o r any combination of these). Such internal conflicts often provide the source for cont inual reevaluation a nd renegotiation of
180 organizational identity (Gamson 1996). Howeve r, the current institutional environment only privileges certain tropes re garding the history of Black Cubans in Tampa. This environment does not appear to support the cel ebration of a shared history of struggle and triumph over racial discrimination. We live in a nation that has yet to come to terms with the history and legacy of state-sanctioned ra cial segregation and th e dark and disturbing means by which this social order was maintain ed. The sale of histor y and heritage as a consumer experience is most often packaged to reflect present-day real ities as local elites would have us see them, which rarely allo ws for the experiences of marginalized populations to be shared (Ca ssia 1999). At both the national and the local levels, the dominant ideology is one that celebrates diversity or heteroge neity Â– the United State is a nation of immigrants and Ybor City was a microcosm of that Â“reality.Â” A narrative that includes the realities of r acial discrimination within Ybor City threat ens to disrupt the hegemonic order, supported by the accepted hi stories of TampaÂ’s Latin Quarter, which emphasize harmony among its various immigr ant groups. Therefore in the existing landscape of heritage preservation in Tampa, such a discourse would be less likely to garner the support of local preservation o fficials and key stak eholders and would probably continue to limit the resources made available to the organization (e.g. public funds for upkeep of the social hall, support fo r recognition as a historic landmark at the state level, etc.) It might, in this context, make sense for the organization and its members to emphasize the societyÂ’s Cuban heritage ex clusively. However, this frame is not necessarily without some cont roversy. After all if member s were to focus solely on celebrating the contributions of their ancestors to the Ybor City enclave, how would this
181 differ from the Crculo CubanoÂ’s efforts to celebrate the Cuban communityÂ’s heritage? Further, elites could argue Â—as the Crc ulo Cubano governing board did when they proposed that Mart-Maceo merge with th emÂ— that two Cuban organizations are no longer necessary in the presen t day. Because this narrative fra me minimizes the role of race and racial discrimination in Ybor City, it suggests that Jim Crow laws were the only reason for the division of TampaÂ’s Cuban comm unity and the subsequent development of separate mutual aid societie s. Since this hostile clim ate no longer exists, it would logically follow under this vers ion of Ybor history that tw o Cuban organizations are no longer necessaryÂ— the very argument that C rculo Cubano leaders used when suggesting that Mart-Maceo sell its prope rty and agree to be subsum ed by the locally recognized, albeit financially st ruggling organization. Within both of these scenarios, the Ma rt-Maceo membership is faced with opposition to their continued existence as an in dependent entity creating a scenario that Lyon-Callo and Hyatt (2003:177) de scribe as Â“the material and ideological effects of neoliberalism, not as abstrac tions but as a very real set of interventions into local settingsÂ…limiting the spectrum of possibilitie sÂ” available to communities. Lyon-Callo and Hyatt (2003:176) would further argue that th e current discursive conditions faced by Mart-Maceo have resulted from globalization and neolib eralism:social and economic conditions that Â“have fundamentally altered the social and political la ndscape of cities in the United States and around the world.Â” Th ese large-scale pro cesses, although most often viewed as operating at the macro le vel, Â“have produced si gnificant changes in localities, as well,Â” (Lyon-Callo and Hyatt 2003:176) such as the demolition of
182 significant portions of Ybor City structures including the original Mart-Maceo social hall. Despite an expressed desire on the part of some members that the sociedad forego efforts to emphasize race and collective struggle as an important factor that shapes the organizationÂ’s (and by extension, the communityÂ’s ) collective identity, the forces that led to the organizationÂ’s displacement have helped to shape the current reality significantly, making such an outcome more likely given the larger sociopolitical environment of heritage preservation in Ybor City. The sm all size of the existing membership and the lack of a solid organizational infrastructure have made it difficult for the organization to navigate this landscape in the decades following Urban Renewal, and in the present-day have contributed to the continued struggle to define a collective identity for the organization that can be used effectively to contest its marginalized status within Ybor City heritage preservation efforts. Unless th e members of the Sociedad La Unin MartMaceo agree (however loosely) on a shared id entity for their organization, it will more than likely become a casualty of the hegem onic processes that continue to shape local heritage preservation efforts.
183 CHAPTER SEVEN RECLAIMING AN AFRO-CUBAN HERITAGE IN Â“AMERICAÂ’S NEXT GREATEST CITYÂ” Â“Tampa:AmericaÂ’s Next Greatest CityÂ” Starbucks City Mug, Tampa International Airport 2008 In the early 1980s with TampaÂ’s first Super Bowl on the horizon, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce coined the phrase Â“AmericaÂ’s Next Great CityÂ” to refer to a city whose time, they were sure, had co me. The Super Bowl, they calculated, would spur renewed development in their small sout hern city whose heyday had peaked nearly a century earlier. To be sure, efforts to attract large-scale sporting events have not abated. Since Super Bowl XVIII, Tampa has hoste d three additional Super Bowls (1991, 2001, and 2009), although it lost a bid to host the 2012 Olympic Summer Games. Nearly 30 years after the local chamber of commerce da red to dream, the hopeful moniker still fits. Greatness, it seems, is just around the corner, expected to arrive at any moment. While a number of urban redevelopment projects have been completed since 1984, Tampa has yet to develop into the world-class tourist destin ation its elites have so long planned for. Development efforts hatched in the spotlight cast in the wake of large-scale sporting events often focused on the revitali zation of Ybor City, the hub of cigar-making at the turn of the 20th Century that had been left to ruin at centuryÂ’s end. By the 1950s, Ybor City had been largely abandoned by th e ethnic immigrant cigar makers and factory
184 owners, who had moved out of the ar ea looking for prosperity following the mechanization of the industry and the closing of most factories. As noted earlier, Urban Renewal resulted in the demolition of about 50 percent of the properties in the once thriving neighborhood. The Ybor City that was left in the early 1990s was a neighborhood in decline with a population that was largely African American and poor (Greenbaum, 1990). Revitalization efforts in the area centered ar ound highlighting the areaÂ’s Â“LatinÂ” immigrant roots Â—a term that encompasses the Spanish, Cuban, and Italian ancestry of the cigar rollers who bu ilt TampaÂ’s first great industryÂ— creating a historic quarter that would pay homage to its previous identity as Cigar City, U.S.A. and more importantly, would cater to tourists. However, the ethnic history that was to be celebrated ignored critical aspects of the areaÂ’s history:the radical leanings of many in the cigar worker community, widespread labor unrest within the cigar factories, and the presence of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo and its members, who contri buted to TampaÂ’s rise as an early cigar mecca. A more nuanced reading of Ybor C ity history overturns the prevailing local histories that present a harmonious ethni c enclave (Mormino and Pozzetta 1987) and uncovers the subtle (and often, not so subtle) attempts to exclude Black people from the frame of Tampa history that wa s being established. Heritage pr eservation efforts in Ybor City also reflected efforts to exclude African Americans from the narrative frame of the local history being established. As Greenbaum (1990:59) notes in an article reflecting on historic preservation efforts th at were just beginning in Y bor City, the African Americans who lived in and around the neighborhood were associated with poverty and crime Â– elements that developers felt would inhib it tourists from visiting. Documented and
185 personal histories of Ybor City often elide the complex internal race relations between the Spanish and Italian immigrants, White Cuba ns and Black Cubans as noted earlier in this dissertation. The Politics of Historic Preservation in Tampa The ongoing situation in which the Mart -Maceo Society has found itself since the initial plans of historic pr eservation were outlined for Y bor City has highlighted a number of interesting theore tical concerns with regard to the representation and commodification of TampaÂ’s past for cons umer consumption. Examination of the relationship between the past, memory and hi story, and how groups identify and define themselves in the present day has long been an interest in anthropology (See Appadurai, 1981). Since publication of Hobsbawm a nd RangersÂ’ (1983) groundbreaking work, a number of anthropologists have highlighted the constructed nature of tradition, history, and heritage as constructions rooted in the present, often for presentation and display to others (Khalaf, 2000; Olwig, 1999; Adams, 1997; Gable & Handler, 1996; Friedman, 1992). Olwig (1999:370) contends that the past in its va rious reconstructions is negotiated Â“within specific historical contex ts characterized by pa rticular systems of power and authority that deem only certain form s of heritage credible.Â” Further, heritage is often constructed and marketed by dominant groups that seek to shape the past to legitimize their current positionality thereby excluding and/or marginalizing other groups, a process which has been theorized as a nati onalist endeavor (Ca ssia, 1999; Gupta and Ferguson, 1992; Williams, 1991).
186 The rise of the Â“heritage industryÂ” has engendered a need for Â“custodianshipÂ” or management of historic sites or other heri tage constructs (Cassia, 1999; KirshenblattGimblett, 1998). As Kirshenblat t-Gimblett (1995:370) notes, [T]he heritage industry is a new mode of cultural production and it produces something new. There is no turning back. If heritage as we know it from the industry were sustainable, it would not require protection. The process of protection, of Â‘adding valu e,Â’ speaks in and to the present, even if it does so in terms of the past. The impetus to Â“protectÂ” the past from ob livion and perhaps, contemporary realities underlies the process of historic preservation and provides the rationale for legislation to do so. Historic preservation plans in Ybor City, initially concei ved as an effort to reclaim a heralded position for Tampa on the national landscape, as well as to omit the Â“unsavoryÂ” issues of race and class so clear in the present, illustrate how the process of Â“adding valueÂ” to the past is often mana ged by local elites (See Cassia, 1999). The Ybor City Development Corpora tion (YCDC) was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1988 and is a di vision of TampaÂ’s Economic and Urban Development Department. As such, it is charged with overseeing the Â“development, redevelopment, economic revita lization, and general improvement Â” of the historic district in Ybor City. An additional Community Redevelopment Area identified in 2003 was delineated to further extend the boundaries of the original historic district, and Â“the surrounding communityÂ” (City of Tampa, 1996-2008). The YCDC relies on another
187 entity, the Barrio Latino Commission, to serve as the architectural review board for the district, its identified purpose being Â“the review and approval of exterior alterations to existing buildings and also the same authority with respect to new constructionÂ” (City of Tampa, 1996-2008). The early members of thes e organizations were (and still are) composed of local planners and officials, so me of whom were members of or represented the immigrant communities of Ybor City. However, neither of these organizations included Afro-Cuban representati ves or supporters of this communityÂ’s contribution to the history of the neighborhood. GreenbaumÂ’s discussion of her work on behalf of the Mart-Maceo Society membership during the early drafting of plan s to designate Ybor City as a National Historic District (ca. 1984), underscores the degree to which Ybor CityÂ’s Afro-Cubans were excluded from the nomination process: Â“[t]hey were missing from the inventory of Ybor CityÂ’s cultural reso urcesÂ” (2002:306). Most point edly, the organization was excluded from the map prepared for the hi storic designation application, despite its location at the western entrance of Ybor CityÂ’s main ave nue and its con tinued operation nearly 100 years after its founding (See Greenbaum, 2002:315). Members at the time wondered whether their obvious exclusion in all of the documents being amassed to establish the neighborhoodÂ’s hist oric character was deliberate and further, whether the cityÂ’s ultimate goal was to remove the orga nization and its building from Ybor City altogether (Greenbaum, 2002:306). Their fear s at the time were well-founded, given that the Ybor City Redevelopment Plan that wa s eventually adopted in 1988 made provisions for elimination of Â“existing conditions of bli ght and to create a condition for continued private reinvestmentÂ” in the area (Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, 2006). In the
188 eyes of local planners and city representatives, their social hall was located in a building not considered to be a Â“contributing structur eÂ” to the historic di strict, and one that although not Â“historicÂ” was aged and in need of considerable upkeep. Figure X.X. shows the Ybor City Historic District map, which outlines the boundaries of the local and nationa l historic districts and is one of the sources used by the city to determine whether a structure is co ntributing or non-contribu ting to the historic district (City of Tampa 19962010). Location of the current Ma rt-Maceo social hall is highlighted to show its exclusion from tw o areas: 1) the Â“National Historic Landmark Boundaries,Â” identified in 1974, which was not drawn in a contiguous fashion and allowed for incorporation of structures outsi de of central Ybor C ity; and 2) Â“National Register District,Â” i.e. the ar ea of the district th at contains the structures eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. Reclamation of the past, however is not exclusive to elites. Subaltern groups have also used historic preservation as a means to re claim their presence in historical times and spaces as a means of counteracting efforts to further marginalize them (Greenbaum, 2002; Olwig, 1999; Adams, 1997; Bruner, 1996). The work on the part of Mart-Maceo members to interject their presence in the Â“offi cialÂ” history of Ybor City forced attention to the situation and attracted unexpected alli es. For instance, the Park Service historian who reviewed the historic district ap plication was quite concerned about the organizationÂ’s exclusion from the origin al district map. Af ter receiving candid admissions from the local historic district ap plicants regarding thei r concerns about the adjacent Black neighborhoods and their efforts to distance the future district from these areas, the historian recommended that the dist rict guidelines be re vised to include the
189 Mart-Maceo Society as a Â“supporting structureÂ” (See Gr eenbaum, 2002:316-317). Inclusion in the district, how ever, did not dampen the memb ershipÂ’s worries about the potential for dislocation, as the social ha ll had yet to be reco gnized as a supporting structure within the district thereby limiting the possibility of future demolition. As a recognized part of the Ybor City historic district, the building and land on which it was located became subject to the district guideline s. The aging social ha ll could still be cited for a code violation, if the members we re not stringent about its upkeep. More importantly, if planners deemed the parcel on which the hall sat necessary for building of a new structure, there would be little to prev ent the city from seizing the structure and its land. The fact that it stood just inside the main entrance to Ybor City served only to fuel the worries of its members and spur efforts to resist this potential reality. See Figure X.X. to view the Ybor City Historic Distri ct Map, which is used by the city in making determinations as to the contributory nature of structures in the di strict. The map includes the colors assigned to the four ethnic mutual aid societies in Figure X.X. (Chapter 1) to highlight their location with in the district boundaries. Th e Sociedad La Mart-Maceo, although identified, is not highl ighted to show that it has been defined as a noncontributing structure. The symbol that identifies the building is white, while contributing structures were rendered gray on the map. Notwithstanding the rec ognition afforded by the redrawn boundaries, the precarious position in which th e Mart-Maceo Society found it self at the dawn of the 1990s was very much related to the demolition of its original social hall. Moreover, local planners and official s did not seem further interest ed in addressing this unfair disadvantage. Like many other Black businesse s and organizations in this country, the
190 Figure 13. A full rendition of the Ybor City Historic District Map. Mart Maceo Social Hall
191 Mart-Maceo Society had been subjected to Â“a gradual but seemingly inevitable deterioration of [its] most formidable soci al symbolsÂ” as a result of silence in the historical record regarding the communityÂ’s achievements, as well as unequal treatment that was not visited on the ot her immigrant communities in Ybor City (See Rodriguez 1998:6). One important and immediate disadvantag e to having been displaced from their original social hall is Mart-MaceoÂ’s inab ility to apply for up to $50,000 in historic preservation grants from the st ate of Florida that are availabl e to help offset the costs of repairing and remodeling historic structures However despite these threats, the MartMaceo Society was able to attract the at tention of Jim Hargrett, a local state representative at the time, who introduced a bill in the Florida legislature to grant the organization and its building a special status that would prevent its destruction (See Greenbaum, 2002:318). Although the bill (HB 899) was passed in April 1989, whether this legislation will benefit the organization is still in question. The regulation of historic preservation occu rs at multiple levels:federal, state, and local. Ybor City is one of four sites in the st ate of Florida to be recognized as a National Historic Landmark District, ma rking it as a significant site within the state (National Parks Service, 2008). At the state level, the Bureau of Historic Pr eservation within the Florida Division of Historical Resources pr ovides a number of services to communities within the state, including architectural techni cal assistance, review of applications to the national historic register, compliance review of designated structures and communities, a number of grant programs, and a state folkli fe program. Ideally, these services and the state laws which govern histor ic preservation give reside nts a measure of power over development in their communities. Historic preservation uses the language of community
192 heritage as an impetus for salvaging or rec onstruction of physical st ructures with an aim toward protecting Â“a portion of this countryÂ’s history for future generations, to provide continuity between past, present, and future, and to preserve a signi ficant part of the cultural past or future scie ntific researchÂ” (Verrey a nd Henley 1991:76). Indeed, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), which established federal preservation policy and was amended in 2000, provides for owner participation in the nomination process and in the event of future development (National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended through 2000 [With annotations]). Overall, the NHPA provides for the identification and review processes for struct ures and districts, and the protection of identified structures. Ho wever, it is at the local level where the relationships of power are most often negotiated. As this case shows, the issue of historic representation can become a source for conflic t as meanings and identities are questioned and contested (Olwig, 1999; Brune r, 1996; Verrey and Henley, 1991). Ultimately, communities may reject historic preservation efforts because of costs involved in required upkeep or a lack of clear benefits to individual property owners compared to the loss of autonomy over pe rsonal property (Verrey and Henley 1991:9196). Howell (1994:150) cautions re searchers about the ethics and Â“intellectual dangersÂ” associated with the development of preservati on projects as a basis for heritage tourism. In such cases, community residents may resist preservation efforts as attempts to co-opt or commodify history to attract visitors. In addition, there is the que stion of who receives the benefits, monetary or otherwise, with regard to such projects. Although the MartMaceo membership was not against preservati on efforts in the 1990s, they were indeed actively challenging the representa tion of Ybor City that ignored their presence and could
193 have displaced their organization from the ar ea for a second time in their history. Relying on numerous contacts and the relationship that they developed with Greenbaum, they were able to mobilize some support for their in clusion in the emerging historic district. The attempts to ignore the Afro-Cuban presence in Ybor C ity, historic and contemporary, can be seen as part of a larger effort in the historic preservation movement in the United States. Accordi ng to Page and Mason (2004:15), Â…preservationists need to confront unde sirable aspects of the movementÂ’s own history Â– in perpetuating limited notions of American identity, in keeping the history of immigrants a nd African Americans off the National Register for so many years, in using history to perpetuate white racial supremacy. To this day, you can go long and far throughout the South, into cities and plantations, and learn very little about slavery, segregation, or racial violence. Preservationists have played their part in the cover-up... It is important to add that there is also a d earth of information with regard to the positive aspects of the Black experien ce in this country, including thriving business districts, important schools, and other signi ficant institutions that have not been noted within the National Register of Historical Landmarks. In this case, the silencing of the Black experience in Ybor City was part of a la rger effort to highlight the important contributions of an immigrant community to th e city, the state, and indeed, the nation, as a whole. Part of the rationale given for prom oting the Ybor City district for inclusion on the national register is the c ontribution of immigrants to th is country, as well as to the
194 development of the successful cigar indus try of the 1890s (Nati onal Parks Service, 2008a). However, the narrative of inclusiven ess and ethnic harmony was constructed in a way that systematically excluded the presen ce of Black Cubans who lived and worked within the current boundaries of the historic district a nd effectively silenced their contribution to the development of the historic community. The exclusion of Black Cubans and African Americans from the historic preservation narrative being created for the Y bor City district is rooted in material changes to local communities resulting fr om state and market forces which have disproportionately marginalized and segreg ated poor and Black communities in this country, resulting in what has been called Â“American residentia l apartheidÂ” (Low 1996:389). Examples of practices that have helped to crea te these current conditions include discriminatory lending practices prom oting disinvestment in urban centers and Â“white flightÂ” to suburban neighborhoods (Lyon-Callo and Hyatt 2003:179-180), housing abandonment in Black neighborhoods (Gree nbaum 1993) and gentrification (Williams 1996). Ultimately, these and other practices have resulted in the displacement of entire communities and help to perpetuate popular no tions about crumbling inner cities and the lazy poor through decisions and policies undertaken by elites. Marketing Ybor City Heritage Despite initial concerns that early redevelopment plans would result in displacement from Ybor City in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this outcome did not materialize. However, threats to the organi zationÂ’s continued presence in Ybor City continued. Overcoming intern al challenges to their lead ership and a diminishing
195 membership roster, the organization was s till operating and holding monthly meetings, 10years after historic district designation was established. Shortly after the successful conclusion of the centennial project, plans for a new hotel and a trolley depot were announced for the block on which the Mart -Maceo building sta nds at the newly established archway to the hi storic district (Greenbaum, 2002:332). At a meeting with Mart-Maceo members and othe r local stakeholders in ea rly 2001, YCDC representatives announced that the social hall was slated for demolition in 2003 to allow for the construction of complex of new storefronts, office buildings, and the hotel. However, YCDC representatives said that they were w illing to negotiate a new space for the MartMaceo Society in another location. At this poin t, the threat of dislocation seemed even more palpable than it had a few years ear lier. Although interest in the organization generated during the centennial project even ts had briefly resulted in an increased membership roster, the active number of me mbers attending meetings rarely exceeded 25. In addition, the social hall, old but not ol d enough to be consider ed historic, was run down and needed a lot of work, including ex tensive electrical rewiring and constant problems with plumbing and the air conditioning system. The threat of a code violation became a near-constant theme during general membership meetings and in private conversations. Once again, however, the concerns over the organizationÂ’s lo ng-term well-being did not bear out. Although the trolley depot and the hotel were constructed in 2003, as planned, they were located acr oss the street from the soci al hall, leaving the block on which the Mart-Maceo social hall continue s to stand untouched. Mart-Maceo members began to attend public meetings concerning redevelopment in the historic district
196 following the announcement projecting demolition of their social hall. Their presence, coupled with advocacy from Greenbaum with local officials more than likely showed heritage preservation officials that a sec ond displacement of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo would not be an easy to enforce given the membershipÂ’s active participation in local meetings. The plans that had once seemed so menacing to MartMaceoÂ’s future had failed to materialize entirely. In the decade since historic designation status was conferred on Ybor City, a number of redevelopment projects were im plemented in the district, including the rehabilitation of one of the old cigar f actories (Ybor Square) as a small shopping and business office complex, a number of high pri ced condominiums at the northeast end of the district, and the Centro Ybor, a mu lti-million dollar shopping mall with movie theaters, and restaurants that was built on th e site of the defunct Centro Espaol and which opened in 2000. Yet despite these large-scal e construction projects, Ybor City redevelopment did not result in a thriving tourist destination. Perhaps the most significant feature associated with redevelopment in the district was the establishment of relaxed wet zoning laws designed to attr act visitors and encourag e the opening of bars and restaurants. In their efforts to create an Â“entertainment district,Â” city officials effectively created a district of bars a nd nightclubs that attracted row dy crowds at night and kept most storefronts closed dur ing daylight hours (Civic Design Associates and PMG Associates, 2005). While Centro Y bor was built, in part, to at tract clientele to the area during regular business hours, reports of crime associated especially with drunken revelers did not bring the crow ds that developers had expect ed (Garcia, 2008; Cridlin, 2005). Ybor Square, which was located two blocks behind the Mart-Maceo building,
197 also failed to materialize great enthusiasm on the part of shoppers, and in 2004 was refurbished a second time to increase the office space in the building. Ironically, the Mart-Maceo SocietyÂ’s location on the far west end of the district, at least three blocks away from the action associated with the ni ghtclubs and bars on Seventh Avenue proved to be an advantage for the organizati on which was largely left alone following construction of the hotel and depot nearby. In their critical review of the history of the historic preservation movement in the United States, Page and Mason (2005) disc uss the contradictions inherent to the marketing of heritage. They note that preservation efforts often emerge in opposition to the market (whether moralistic or political) [and these have] been a mainstay of preservation th eory and action. Developers seek private gain; preservationists are in terested in the public good. On the other hand, preservationists have of ten entered into a marriage with developers, bending over backward not to be against development. In the process of garnering a bit of the marketÂ’s power, they often promote the very real policies and forces that de stroy the historic fabric of a place (Page and Mason, 2005:16). Indeed, despite initial concerns about th e effects that poor communities of color surrounding Ybor City would have on its succes s as a tourist destin ation, it appears that the very laws enacted to enhance the distri ctÂ’s appeal were keeping tourists away. Further, the lack of large-scale interest in the area was blamed for loss in revenue and a
198 concomitant accumulation of a million dollars in debt on the part of Centro Ybor owners, made further development in the area less at tractive to potential business owners (St. Petersburg Times Editorial, 2004). Despite the respite provided by the wane in Ybor City development, the members of the Mart-Maceo Society were not comp letely at ease. By 2005, the organizationÂ’s membership had further decrea sed. Although the organization wa s able to sustain itself by renting out its social hall and selling food and beverage s during local festivals and parades that attracted huge crowds to the area, the costs of maintaining the building including property insurance, taxes, a nd general upkeep expenses, prohibited the organization from saving enough capital to fully renovate the building and limited the amount of funds they could spend on community events. Although the failed development plans had saved their building a nd most likely, the organization itself, the fact that it was located so far from all of the Â“actionÂ” on Seventh Avenue meant that very few visitors to the district walked past the soci al hall to peek in or read the historic maker that had been erected by the stat e Division of Historic Resources. Even through the Mart-Maceo Society was recognized officially as a historic landmark by the city of Tampa in May 2008, it is still not clear whether the organization will ever be able to secure a place on th e National Register of Historic Landmarks (NRHL) because of the criteria used in the designation process. According to the NRHL website (2009), properties submitted for consideration must meet the following: The quality of significance in American history, architec ture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, si tes, buildings, structures,
199 and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and: A. That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patte rns of our history; or B. That are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or C. That embody the distinctive characte ristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the wo rk of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and dis tinguishable entity whose components may lack indi vidual distinction; or D. That have yielded or may be likel y to yield, information important in prehistory or history. Although an argument could be made that th e Mart-Maceo Society meets NRHL criteria A, B, and D, the organizationÂ’ s hall is not considered to possess architectural integrity (i.e. design, materials and workma nship associated with the st ructure) that would warrant its inclusion on the National Register. In a ddition, the NRHL specifically excludes from consideration structures that Â“have been move d from their original locationsÂ” unless they meet specific exceptions, most of which do not apply to the Mart -Maceo Society. The organization has twice attempted to submit an ap plication to the state Division of Historic Resources for consideration of inclusion on the National Register, both of which have been rejected.
200 Local landmark designation has not necessa rily allayed concerns regarding the potential for dislocation in the future shoul d the economy and redevelopment efforts pick up given the social hallÂ’s lack of architectural inte grity. In fact, continued efforts to apply for national designation may bring renewed scru tiny to the quality of the organizationÂ’s building, potentially highlighting violations of historic district gui delines. The current financial condition in which the organization finds itself prohibits any large-scale rehabilitation of the building without the assistance of a grant writer and sympathetic stakeholders in the community. Morgan, Morgan and Barrett (2006:706) contend that Â“the way preservation legislation is enacted in daily practice, of ten preferences properties whose contemporary stewards are relatively prosperous and well educated.Â” Although the current Mart-Maceo Society Directiva includes i ndividuals with knowledge of how heritage preservation works and who helped to craft a successful application for landmark recognition at the local level, it lacks key alli es or contacts that could advoc ate for their inclusion on the National Register at the state level. Further, while cultural resource legislation calls for local community involvement in the identificat ion of significant places, the actual process of identification and determination may u ltimately undermine stakeholder involvement (Morgan et al. 2006:710). The National Register, therefore, Â“is a very select list of properties that a very narrow segment of the U.S. public chose or had the wherewithal and interest to honorÂ” (Morgan et al. 2006:710). As a result, spaces like the Mart-Maceo social hall, which embody a unique history and cultural pe rspective, and which is considered to be a significant marker by its members are often excluded from the prestige and material benefits accorded to the propert ies deemed to be of social significance.
201 The redevelopment of Ybor City continue s, albeit slowly. Despite some legal wrangling between the city and developers, ta xpayer funds were used to bail the Centro Ybor out of its multi-million dollar debt, and the shopping mall has been slated for a makeover that will add more business offices in spaces that now sit empty (Zick, 2007). Residents have moved into the condominiums, despite a significant dr op in market prices announced for what were originally advertis ed as a Â“luxuryÂ” housing development. The Mart-Maceo Society has even been included to some degree in the ongoing march pressing for redevelopment. A snapshot of the iconic Cuban genera l, Antonio Maceo, taken from the mural on the west side of th e Mart-Maceo social hall adorns marketing posters and billboards designed to attract to urism to the area (YCDC, 2008). Yet, even the city acknowledges that Ybor City rede velopment has not materialized into the booming tourist destination and community th at would once again (as it had nearly a century ago) catapult Tampa to greatness. In 2005, the YCDC commissioned a group of design consultants to prepare a report on progress and challenges related to the redevelopment of Ybor City. Th e report culminated in a five year plan and recommended a number of physical changes, revision of the lax wet zoning ordinances, and more stringent administration of redevelopment in the area (Civic Design Associates and PMG Associates, 2005). Some of these changes, like construction of mu ch needed parking garages, have already been completed. Ho wever, the ongoing redevelopment of Ybor City will require substantial funds, many of wh ich will likely come from taxpayers (Zink 2004). It is not clear whether the Mart-Ma ceo Society will ultimately benefit from ongoing redevelopment in the Ybor City Historic District. Their efforts to secure historic
202 landmark designation at the state and federal levels have been dismissed out of hand because of the loss of their social hall. As not ed earlier, the socioeconomic forces that led to the demolition of the original Mart-Maceo bu ilding were part of the larger process of neoliberalism and globalization, which have phy sically altered local communities in ways that have often further marginalized subordi nate groups, especially populations of color and poor communities (Lyon-Callo and Hyatt 2003; Rodriguez 1998). While the threats of displacement have currently abated, so me members continue to press for landmark designation at the federal level. For Ernest, inclusion of the organizati on on the National Register would be a culmination of all previous e fforts to formalize the organization. In response to why he continues to support this effort, he responded: WeÂ’ve accomplished since the short time that IÂ’ve been with the organization. We got a 501(c) 3 status that, you know, weÂ’d been working on for years. We got our liquor license that we got in trouble with before. We got the city historic status [from the city], you know? So, I think we, we wouldnÂ’t want to lose all of that because all that weÂ’ve worked for would be all in vain. So, I thinkÂ…and the objective now and I feel strongly feel about this, we need to get the st ate and national desi gnation. Historical designation. [sic] That would give us some credibil ity, at least. At least with the Round TableÂ…and thatÂ’s what we shoul d have. ThatÂ’s what bothers me
203 that they donÂ’t consider us historical [sic] on a si mple technicality of the building. It doesnÂ’t make any sense. We Â’re just as old as the other clubs. Historic designation at the national level w ould, in ErnestÂ’s opinion, provide the MartMaceo Society with credibility or legitimacy in the eyes of heritage officials and the other ethnic societies, which he feels the organiza tion lacks and which currently restricts access to funds could help them renovate and mainta in the Mart-Maceo social hall. For Ernest, this would place the Sociedad La Unin Mart -Maceo on par with the other societies in Ybor City Â—thereby overturning the hegemo nic order that has marginalized TampaÂ’s Black Cuban community in various ways thr oughout the history of Ybor City. Given the organizationÂ’s current reality, however this goal may remain unfulfilled.
204 CHAPTER EIGHT WITH AN EYE TOWARD THE NEXT 100 YEARS Â“We Need To Do SomethingÂ”:Recommendations from Members Although the Mart-Maceo Directiva has played an important role in the organizationÂ’s continued existence, the general membership actively guides overall decision-making. Tradition holds that all im portant decisions must be voted on by the general membershipÂ— a practice that is al so outlined in the Mart-Maceo by-laws. Although this practice has been lamented by di rectiva members occasionally due to the time often given to discussions preceding vot es, it continues. Robust discussion and shared decision-making formed the corner stone upon which the mutual aid society depended to encourage active participation on the part of members who stood to gain from the communal benefits such an organization afforded. In recent years, however, continuous and at times, conten tious discussion of how best to proceed in establishing a stronger presence in the Ybor City historic district and establishing more formal operational procedures, has often led to inaction or open conflict among sub-groups within the membership. Often, these facti ons are divided along family lines and disagreements are rarely resolved as part of an overall problem-so lving and strategizing plan related to the organizationÂ’s future. Despite such friction, the Black Cuban me mbers who continue to attend meetings and events at the Mart-Maceo Society generally feel that it is important to continue to
205 support the organization and to work toward ma king it a strong and viable one that will thrive in the coming decades. When asked, ma ny of the members with ties to the society spanning nearly a century say they feel itÂ’s important for the organization to endure. Ernest, who has served on the directiva various times in the past decade, articulates this shared sentiment well: ItÂ’s important because itÂ’s our histor y. The work that all of our ancestors did, our parents and grandparents. They worked hard so that we could have a place that we could be proud of We canÂ’t let [the organization] go. That would be a tremendous loss if we were to letÂ…if Mart-Maceo were to fall. I see it as my legacy to keep it going. ErnestÂ’s sentiments were echoed by Jessica, w ho is considered to be one of the Â“younger membersÂ” since she is in her mid-50s. She cited the importance of long-term family involvement over generations and herita ge in her continued participation. We [her siblings] grew up going there. We went to so many events there, even if it was just people play ing dominoes, you know? There were always people there we knew Â– we knew everybody. And it was really nice because the whole family was there and you knew all of them. And you knew they had been going there fore ver. It was like one big family, and all those people had a history thereÂ… I think itÂ’s important to keep that alive, thatÂ’s why I keep coming back.
206 For Jessica and some of the other younge r members, whose ages range from the early 30s to their mid 50s, the memories a ssociated with Â“Mart-MaceoÂ” as it is most often referred to by members, have very little to do with the cigar industry and the mutual aid strategies that enabled their ancestors to achieve a measure of upward mobility in segregated Tampa. Rather, her comments and those of a number of other members in this age range also evince the notion that the Mart-Maceo Society is an important institution in their lives and one whose presence could be counted on from childhood through adulthood. While not the Â“cradle to graveÂ” assistance that the mutual aid society traditionally offered, this sense of belonging to a larger community was often recalled as Â“importantÂ” and was often followed by an e xpressed desire to r ecreate those moments and to entice former members to return. However, a number of members felt that in general the younger generation Â“just wasnÂ’t interestedÂ” in the organization anym ore for a number of reasons. For Humberto, those reasons had more to do with a lack of activities for individua ls under 50 years of age. No hay ambiente. Yo se que lo han arreglado y que han cambiado muchas cosas. El saln est muy bonito. Pero no hay nada que hacer all para los jvenes. Cuando llegan mis sobrinas, mi nieto, se sientan all aburridos. Nosotros ya estamos en la esquina paÂ’ doblar. As. Tu sabes. [Se rie.] (The environment is no good for younge r people. I know that theyÂ’ve made a lot of changes and theyÂ’ve fixed it up very nicely, but there is
207 nothing to do there for these young pe ople. When my nieces, my grandson go there, theyÂ’re bored. We [older members] are already on our way out. You know what I mean. [Laughs.]) Admittedly, of the 17 active Black Cuban members that agreed to respond to surveys only five were aged 30 to 60. In my 10 years of fieldwork, the organization has had a difficult time attracting individuals in their 20s and 30s to their events and meetings. Although some of the members inte rviewed expressed comments that were similar to HumbertoÂ’s, they also felt that an organization like Mart -Maceo just doesnÂ’t appeal to younger generations of Black Cubans. Fo r Bill, this lack of interest had much to do with the end of segregation. The younger kids today, they can go anywhere. You know? TheyÂ’re not limited like we were. They donÂ’t have to worry about what color they are or what part of town theyÂ’re going to. So there are all these places that are open to them now. How are we going to compete with that? The other three members who shared BillÂ’s se ntiments were generally much older (mid70s to mid-80s) men who had lived through segr egation and/or partic ipated in activities supporting the Civil Rights Movement. Inte restingly enough, many of these respondents also reported feeling that todayÂ’s youth were less concerned about co lor or race and that as a result, didnÂ’t feel that they had to socialize within a closed (Black) community. However, these individuals also generally report ed that they felt it important to make sure
208 the younger generation knows and understands the history of shared struggle for civil rights and that perhaps, conti nued participation in the orga nization could help in this regard. Three respondents, including one form er member and two active members, reported feeling discouraged a bout the organizationÂ’s future and said they felt that the organization was Â“dyingÂ” or that it would ev entually Â“fade away.Â” They felt that although considerable effort was once again being pl aced into a more recent renovation of the social hallÂ’s interior (complet ed in 2009 and which had result ed in increased rentals), the organization was not able to maintain a steady roster of active members. Lourdes:I tell you honestly. IÂ’m not su re whatÂ’s going to happen. I donÂ’t like to say it, you know. But it just seems like no matter what we do, we canÂ’t get people to come in and stay for the good of the club. To help us grow it more. I mean, itÂ’s sad when you think about it. We spent a lot of time and money there but we just canÂ’t seem to get it together. And I really donÂ’t know whatÂ’s going to happen. Despite such gloomy pronouncements, all of the respondents provided recommendations or suggestions for how to help the Mart-Maceo Society become a viable and self-sustaining organization. Many of them were concerned with attracting a younger crowd for events and eventually, as members. Suggestions included hosting happy hour events targeted at younger age gr oups with popular music and working with the Crculo Cubano to include members of th e Mart-Maceo Society as part of their
209 Krewe of Mamb, which participates in th e yearly Gasparilla Night Parade. A few members noted that their children or other relatives had chosen to join the Crculo Cubano instead of the Mart-Maceo Society to participate in th is and other activities that tend to attract a younger crowd. A number of members talked about havi ng to make personal donations for more than a decade to help the st ruggling organization make paymen ts on utilities or to ensure that events were held as planned. Those th at gave most often (as noted in general membership meeting minutes) were member s who were retired and lived on fixed incomes. A few of them shared privately th at donating on a regular basis was a hardship for them but that they did so out of a sense of obligation and duty. As a result, a majority of respondents noted that it was important to begin establishing steady revenue streams and were quick to point out that the recent ups wing in hall rentals were helping to some extent. However, a number of members also not ed that activities such as regular domino nights or other social functions aimed at members, as well as the larger community might also help. A few members noted that the organizat ionÂ’s federal nonprof it status was not being used to secure grants or donations from corporate entities. Th is would also require developing activities and events to benef it the wider community and demonstrate a charitable purpose. As Ernest noted: We need to investigate funding that is available to us as a nonprofit organization. We should do things that are charitable that attract people and organizations that want to work together to help the community. No
210 one is going to donate to us if we donÂ’t show that we are working toward something. We should have scholarships and give money to children in high school and provide me ntorship. We need to start activities for the elderly members to help improve their quality of life. We just canÂ’t be satisfied with where we are beca use weÂ’re not doing that much. One former member also suggested that the organization resear ch ways to seek compensation from the city or the state for the demolition of its original social hall. Still other members noted that it was important to publicize events with advance notice in wider media outlets rather than relying on word of mouth, whic h has not often resulted in high attendance rates at events. These very practical r ecommendations offered by me mbers touch upon the need for increased structure and form alization within the organizat ion, if such suggestions are to be successfully implemented. Within industrial psychology and management literature, organizational structure has been defined as the formal distribution of operational functions (especially when referring to particular work positions) that work together to ensure attainment of an organizationÂ’s goa ls (Porras and Robertson 1992). Formalization refers to Â“clear role definition, written guide lines regarding duties a nd responsibilities of board members, and written proceduresÂ” (B ar-Mor & Iecovich 2006:10). Implementation of these larger organizational functions is often thought to provide order and ultimately, predictability and control of events within a given organizat ion to achieve stated goals and objectives, and most often such concepts are applied in research that investigates work or corporate environments (See Sutton and Kahn 1987). Although this study does
211 not aim to assess the organiza tional effectiveness (See Rojas 2000) of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo, the use of such concep ts may be helpful in outlining additional recommendations to help this ethnic society strengthen its current viability and expand beyond what often operates as an informal and rather small grouping of like-minded individuals. Much of the basi c infrastructure is already in place:general membership meetings have been held at the same time on a recurring monthly basis for over 10 years, and despite occasional crises within the dir ectiva in the last five years, a functioning governing board continues to preside over the organization. Literature on organizational effectiven ess and the role of nonprofits and the degree to which they are formalized may also provide some insight into the ways that the Mart-Maceo Society can work to strengthen its infrastructure in order to expand its membership and yearly calenda r of activities (See Kushner a nd Poole 1996; Meyer, Tsui, and Hinings 1993; Bradshaw, Murray & Wolpin 1992). Much of this literature is focused on larger organizations with a formal Board of Directors, which oversees and supports the work of a paid manager (e.g. Executive Director or Chief Executive Officer) and additional staff. In contrast, the Mart-Maceo governing board is made up of a small group of volunteer members who are responsible for overseeing the successful completion of necessary operational tasks. Kushner and PooleÂ’s (1996) research on the relationship between structure and effectiveness in nonprofit organizationsÂ— some of which rely on substantial numbers of volunteers and are identified as being Â“grassrootsÂ” in characterÂ— indicates that an organizationÂ’s structural configuration (related to the division of labor and the degree to which organizational members participate in decision-making39) does not predict higher measures of effectiveness. Rather, they found that a Â“failure to adopt a configurationÂ” 39 Kushner and Poole (1996:126) define the various configurations related to strategic decision-making within an organization as Â“diffusion of influence.Â”
212(emphasis mine) which formally outlines and actively implements specific labor and decision-making roles resulted in poor effectiveness ratings and increased difficulty for such organizations to maintain operational viability (Kushner and Poole 1996:132). Literature on grassroots social movements also suggests that formalization can be beneficial to organizations despite critiques contending that formalization and expansion of grassroots social movements tend to stifle protest (See Piven and Cloward 1977). The research literature on small volunt ary associations/nonpr ofit organizations much like the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo is fairly limited. Smith and Shen (2006) argue that assumptions in the literature about nonprof it effectiveness have been developed largely on research with larger or ganizations that depend on paid managerial staff. Most studies a bout nonprofit effectiveness, they ar gue, canÂ’t adequately assess how well smaller volunteer nonprofits might ope rate. Although Smith and Shen (2006:286) actually measure Â“reputational e ffectivenessÂ” or perceptions of effectiveness reported by leaders of other voluntary nonpr ofits within a given communit y, they generate a list of recommendations for smaller organizations : increase formalization and operational existence, serve a public benefit, and st andardize governing officers, committees, and boards of directors, when possible. While thei r study may not highlight causal factors that can enhance organizational effectiveness, the perception of effectiv eness on the part of other nonprofit leaders and stakeh olders within a given community may be relevant to the Mart-Maceo Society given the contex t in which it finds itself today. For an organization that is interested in establishing a larger presence within a historic district and eventually securing nati onal historic landmark status, the ability to project itself as an Â“effective organizationÂ” with a stable membership working toward an identified mission may prove beneficial when seeking support from community
213 stakeholders and local historic preservation officials. Of more immediate importance for the Mart-Maceo Society, which includes a number of members who feel strongly about increasing its current viabilit y, efforts to increase structure and formalization can help facilitate its day-to-day op erations. Leaving aside the question of whether they can successfully attain recognition as a historic landmark at the national level, improvement of their current operational pr ocedures could help the organization work in a more efficient manner and establish a foundation upon which to build a larger and more stable membership roster. Moreover as noted in Ch apter 4, the organization has the rudimentary elements of infrastructure in place. The earliest set of by-laws (or Reglamento which was developed and circulated in Spanish only) that I was able to review as I worked to help them revise a new set were dated to the 1920s. These by-laws had been revised in the 1960s (and were circulated in English and Spanish) and were in place until the organization updated them again in 2001. The Mart-Maceo Society has also maintained throughout its history a stab le body of governing officers, which at minimum has included a president, secretary and treasurer According to organizational documents and membersÂ’ recollections, a vice-president has al so been an active part of the directiva for the better part of the 20th Century. Given these characteri stics, the Mart-Maceo Society provides example of an organi zation that uses grassroots de cision-making within Kushner and PooleÂ’s (1996) organizati onal configuration framework, While the basic elements suggested by the management literature appear to be in place, what appears to be lacking is the eff ective implementation of the operational tools afforded by the existence of such functions For instance although formal by-laws have been continuously updated and in place for at least 80 years, the average member could
214 not produce a copy of one of the previous sets when they were revised in 2001. Procedures for revision of the by-laws were followed according to the by-laws in effect at the time, and culminated in the distribution of completed copies to the entire membership. However, by 2008 when a new effo rt to revise the by-laws was agreed upon, only a very small number members w ho had been active during the 2001-2002 period still had copies of the by-laws for revi ew. Finally, as illustrat ed in Chapters Four and Five, the degree of work and responsibilit y that falls on the di rectiva president can often present a challenge, resul ting in an abrupt change befo re a term ends or lack of continuity from one governing board to the next. Collective Identity and Organizational Memory Perhaps the most important feature l acking when examining the organizational aspects of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo is an articulated identity, which is also reflected in mission and vision statements and which members have accepted and can relate to others. Although the formal devel opment of an organizat ional identity with concomitant mission and vision statements are re levant to discussions of formalization, the articulation of a collective identity or lack thereof appears to reflect the racial dynamics and contested discourse on identity at work within the par ticular organization. ForesterÂ’s work (2004) with a majority Bl ack and immigrant labor union investigates organizational practices such as promotion of a distinct collective identity which relies on a narrative frame that emphasizes a progressi ve history and the collective struggle for civil rights.
215 This narrative is shaped by recollections of a strike led by progressive union members (mainly Jewish and Bl ack social service workers) in the 1960s who eventually secured an historic collective bargaining agre ement with the city. This defining episode in the history of the union has been establis hed as an Â“organizational memoryÂ” that is used by union leadership to mobilize its const ituents, as well as to promote cohesion and a sense of belonging to the organization (Forester 2004:391-392). In terestingly, this organizational memory has also helped lead ers to redefine Blackness related to the unionÂ’s constituency. Whereas previously the union identified primarily as a Black organization (i.e. Black or African American, following an increase in these members and a general decrease in the number of Jewish members), an influx of immigrants from various parts of the world, particularly fr om Africa and the Caribbean, required the development of a new discourse that allowed for an expansion of Blackness to one that is more pan-African and that is inclusive of other communities of color. Moreover while this new category includes diverse Black immi grants, is inclusive of other ethnic groups of color who have experienced discrimi nation or marginalization (Forester 2004:393394). Organizational memory, then, forms a part of a cultural repertoire (along with ritual celebrations and formal recruitment practices), which the union leadership uses to communicate its identity. Use of this cultural re pertoire (Clemens and Minkoff 2004) promotes inclusiveness and helps to shape the discourse on the organizationÂ’s history, mission and its legacy in a consistent manner that most, if not all, of its members can relate to. This process is not without its challenges or conflict as Forest er notes in relating her fieldwork experiences; union members from different ethnic gr oups regularly express
216 distrust or experien ce conflict over cultural misundersta ndings or negative conceptions about other ethnic groups. However, this pa rticular study shows the powerful use of an accepted shared memory in helping to shape a co llective identity that facilitates the work of an organization comprised of diverse members. Although the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Ma ceo in its current configuration is vastly different from an established labor union, there are many parallels to be drawn between it and the union examined as part of ForesterÂ’s work. In its early days, the MartMaceo Society provided a regular and safe meeting space for progressive and radical laborers, many of whom participated in im portant cigar strikes (Greenbaum 2002). Thus, some of its current and former members can recall family discussion of involvement in industry strife and one could argue that this history c onstitutes a legacy for the organization. More importantly perhaps, from its inception it acquired a racialized identity as a result of intern al divisions within the Cuban population of Ybor City and the racially discriminatory laws of the era. In addition, a number of the elderly members have reported some personal involvement in th e Civil Rights Movement, and acknowledge a shared history of collective struggle agains t marginalization and exclusion within Ybor City, historically, and in the historic distri ctÂ’s contemporary efforts to outline its history. In recent years, the organization has w itnessed an increasing diversity among its members which now includes African Americans who attend meetings fairly regularly, as well as Spaniards, Italians, and White Amer icans. Aside from this change in the membershipÂ’s composition, there are compe ting visions among the members over just what Black Cuban identity means to them personally, and how it should be reflected or projected by the organization as a whole.
217 As they work to build the Mart-Mace o Society and expand its membership, the leadership might consider examining th e ways in which they communicate the organizationÂ’s identity and how this defines it s rituals, activities and events (See Forester 2004; Taylor and Whittier 1992; Poletta and Jasper 2001). Throughout most of the past decade, it appeared that the organizationÂ’s id entity was closely tied to efforts aimed at staking a claim within the larg er history being written and circulated about the diverse Ybor City ethnic enclave which often ignored the existence and e xperiences of Black Cubans and segregated mutual aid societies within the community. Over time however, it is not clear that this conceptu alization has been consistently communicated to or that it remains acceptable to the general membership. Co mpeting visions as to the identity of the Mart-Maceo Society, some of which were id entified in Chapter Six have not been examined or incorporated into a larger, more cohesive notion of co llective identity. Some of the members who call for r ecognition of a Cuban national id entity before all others advocate for active support of a very conser vative political agenda with a strong antiCastro and anti-revolutionary sentiment. Ot hers, who propose that the organization adopt an identity that is more Â“AmericanÂ” in character, focus on either emphasizing the multiple ties to TampaÂ’s African American community or conversely, to diminish emphasis on race (e.g. Blackness) and to resurrect the organization as a diverse, multiethnic, multi-racial organization that seeks to celebrate Black Cuban heritage. But the larger question of what the organization st ands for and to what end its members are working remains unclear. In discussions during general membership meetings within the past year, there has been growing contention over how much em phasis should be given to Black or Afro-
218 Cuban identity when describing the organiza tion to the public at large or through media outlets and in flyers when advertising ev ents. During such discussions, Richard, the current president, has continuously asserted that the membershipÂ’s shared history of collective struggle agains t discrimination and exclusion is pr ecisely related to the fact that the organization and its members were iden tified throughout their hi story as Black, and that this identification is precisely what makes the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo unique within the Ybor City historic district. While some members agree wholeheartedly with this position, those that disagree stress the importance of building new relationsips with other communities, particularly those represented by the other mutual aid societies still in existence: (White) Cubans, Italians, and Spaniards. They further argue that too much of an emphasis on race and what might be perceived (by other stakeholders) as resentment over the treatment that Black C ubans received in the past could reduce opportunities for dialogue and even, diminish their chances to increase organizationÂ’s visibility in the community. More importan tly, these members argue that a continued emphasis on Blackness might diminish support fo r any future bids to secure national historic landmark status. Inte restingly, the members who most often make this argument are younger (in their late 40s through mid-50s), have at least one African American parent, and either are or have been married to an African American. Coming from this small faction, itÂ’s difficult to argue that th eir motivation is simply about denigrating Black identity at an individual level. Rather, they say, it is important to be strategic in negotiating relationships with a long history of contention and mistrust and that are only recently being established.
219 These contemporary discussions have not yielded consensus related to the collective identity of the Soci edad La Unin Mart-Maceo and its membership or the way in which the organization is promoted w ithin the community. Information about the organization that is distribut ed to the public through a variety of means may differ depending on who is called upon to disseminate the information.40 For instance, discrepancies in the founding date of the or ganization were circulat ed in a variety of documents, including letterhead and newsletter s (which proclaim the organization Â“An Ybor City institution since 1900Â”) and other documents, such as the mission statement, that establish the founding da te of the sociedad as 1904.41 More recently, flyers that advertise Happy Hour at the Â“Mart-Maceo Af ro-Cuban clubÂ” have been circulated, as have others that identify the organization as Â“the Cuban Club Patio,Â” the colloquial term by which African Americans and English-sp eaking Black Cubans referred to the organization in the past (ca. late-1940s to the early 1960s). Discussion at a general membership meeting within the past six months resulted in a call to cease referring to the organization as an Â“Afro-CubanÂ” one and for continued use of the term, Â“Cuban Club Patio.Â” The rationale given was that while Â“Afro-CubanÂ” had ne ver been used to describe the Mart-Maceo Society previously, the second term was one that had actually been used in advertisements circulated in past years and used widely enough that TampaÂ’s established Black community would be familiar with it. However, reinforcing use of the 40 The majority of such materials are printed flyers because the organization did not have its own website until 2008. 41 This discrepancy arises from recognition of different dates that may be equally valid related to the founding of the Sociedad La Uni n Mart-Maceo. A Black Cuban mutual aid society formed by members ejected from the original Club Nacional Cubano was founded in 1900 under a different name. These individuals later merged with a smaller Black Cuban organization in 1904 to officially form the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo. Organizati on founders and current members ancestorsÂ’ would have been represented by members of both of these early Black Cuban organizations.
220 second term also removed any overt association with an African-derived identifier for the organization and its activities. Ultimately, such discussions and the decisi ons that emerge from them with regard to organizational practice will have to focus on consistency of message rather than perceived accuracy to a given version of Black Cuban history or legacy. As Blight (2001) notes, nostalgia and memory are constructed an d reconstructed as a way of reinterpreting the past in order to make sense of curren t-day circumstances. Alonso (1994:389) further posits that nationalist re-presentations of the past produced by those in the control of the state system, appropriate and tran sform local and regional histories and the memories of subordinated gr oups through the st rategies of naturalization, idealizati on, and de-particularization. Pasts that cannot be incorporated are privatized and partic ularized, consigned to the margins of the national and denied a fully public voice. The construction and (reconstruction) of memo ry is most often conducted as part of a nationalist process which seeks to marginaliz e the history of subordinated groups through evocations of nostalgia for a past that excl udes these groups. AlonsoÂ’ s characterization of how the state manipulates memory and nosta lgia to its own ends provides an apt description of the conditions in which the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo finds itself within the political landscape of Ybor City heritage preser vation. The nostalgic version of history created by historic pres ervation elites is one that characterized the Ybor City
221 immigrant enclave as an ideal community in which industrious workers overcame ethnic divisions and propelled Tampa to greatness. Th is version of Ybor City history, which has been widely circulated neglects or minimi zes the presence of Black Cubans, African Americans, and cigar workers with radica l leanings. However, as Williams (1991:31) notes, when the nation-state appropriates the cultural products and practices of subordinate groups, it allows for the discursi ve spaces through which subordinate groups may challenge their positionality. If this dissertation has made a contribution in this area of inquiry, it has been to outline the degree to which Black Cubans in Tampa Â—throughout their immigrant trajectoryÂ— have been active agents in challe nging the structural c onditions they have confronted over time. More importantly, th ese efforts have not been limited to the development of a thriving organization in th e face of exclusion and mistreatment in a distant past. Black Cubans in Tampa have consistently challenge d dominant ideologies used to define what constitutes a Cuban, a Black person, and perhaps more importantly, membership within particular communities, understood as changing over time. They have done so using evolving strategies that can often be found within the dominant discourses on race, ethnicity, and the stratification of so ciety (or rather, soci eties) that dictate hierarchies based on identity at various histor ical moments. As Williams notes (1991:29), Â“hegemonic ideas about belonging and not belong ing in racial and cultural terms often converge in state and nonstate institutional pr actices through which subjects are shaped in ways that are at once specific and diffuse d.Â” The recent history of the Mart-Maceo Society and its members suggests that such st ruggles continue desp ite ongoing challenges to continued existence of the organization.
222 While competing visions of Black Cuban identity articulated by Mart-Maceo members have validity and are based on the subj ective experiences of key factions within the organization, it will be up to the societyÂ’s current l eaders to decide upon which narrative frame to build an organizational identity and mission that will allow the organization to grow and eventually, prosper wi thin the historic district as a recognized stakeholder. To date, this has not occurred. Conclusions In research conducted with Black Cuba n members of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo, I chose to examine how notions of individual a nd collective identity inform efforts to reestablish the organization into a viable community organization in the Ybor City historic district. As high lighted in various portions of this disserta tion, membersÂ’ notions of ethnic and racial identity emerge consistently in discussions that center on the future of the Mart-Maceo Society. While thes e discussions very ofte n reflect perceptions related to individual understandings of ethni c or racial identity (such as MilagrosÂ’ contention that she is Â“Cuban first, whether Wh ite or Black), they can be more accurately understood as providing a framework upon wh ich competing notions of Black Cuban collective identity is built. One of the main research questions posed at the outset of this research study had to do with understanding how the examination of the Black Cuban identity in Tampa can inform us related to theories on immigran t adaptation and racial identity formation. Researchers like Rodrguez ( 2000) and Ferdman and Gallegos (2001) contend that the increasing presence of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants challenges the biracial
223 system of identification that characterizes this country, due in part to different conceptions of race among these immigrants who tend to recognize a wider range of racial categories and the potential for mob ility between these. However, this may not necessarily be the case for Black Hispanics gi ven the persistence of race as a means for stratifying populations in this country (Benson 2006; Harrison 1995; Waters 1999; Williams 1991). It also doesnÂ’t appear to have been the case for the Black Cuban community in Tampa. While maintaining certain ethnic prac tices allowed them to enjoy freedom of movement and association with non-Blacks within the Ybor City enclav e, such privileges were not afforded them in wider Tampa social circles and did not come without difficulties and discrimination within the enclave. As much as segregation and discriminatory laws may have played a role in the need for establishing a separate Black Cuban organization, discrimination by White Cubans and other White immigrants who sought to differentiate themselves from Blacks in the eyes of the la rger power structure appears to have played an e qually important role. As a resu lt, this population experienced segregation and social exclusion within Ybor City despite their ethnic difference from African Americans. This research therefore can be more accurately construed as contributing to literature that focuses increased attention on the growing diversity of Black populations in this country. Most recently, this research has focused on increases in immigration from sub-Saharan Africa and the Latin America/th e Caribbean with large Black populations (Insert citations). My research with the me mbers of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo suggests persistence in acknowledging a Cuban ethnicity well into th e fourth generation
224 within this population, although this may only be the case with those individuals who continue to associate themselves with this Cuban heritage organiza tion. More research is needed with a representative sample of individuals who identify as being Black and of Cuban descent, many of whom are no longer affi liated with this ethn ic society, to learn whether variables such as socioeconomic stat us and parentsÂ’ countri es of origin/stated identity play a role in su ch preferences (See Waters 1999) Moreover, although current members may have expressed less willingness to support a racialized collective identity for the organization as a whole, they were mo re likely to use a raci alized Cuban identity when identifying themselves as individuals. Th is differs from the way in which members 20 years ago most often chose to identify th emselves when responding to the same item: as Cuban or Cuban-American. Although th ese surveys were conducted with small convenience samples that prohibit generaliza tion to the wider Black Cuban population, these findings do suggest that among member s there has been a growing acceptance of Black identity at the individua l level, coupled with a con tinued desire to identify as Cuban, as well. These findings contrast w ith research conducted with other Black immigrant populations (See Benson 2006; Waters 1999). Another key research question guided this study had to do with the continued existence of a Black Cuban community in Tampa. Because this research did not incorporate a representative sample of Black Cubans in Tampa, it offers no definitive response as to whether a Black Cuban community continues to exist in Tampa outside of the members of the Mart-Maceo Society. Duri ng his tenure as directiva president, Richard has often noted that when he goes to funerals he sees former members and their extended families gathered suggesting that the descendants of this community continue to
225 live in Tampa and socialize w ith each other (at least duri ng key life events), but they choose not affiliate with the organization. De spite repeated invitations on the part of members who encounter these i ndividuals at family functions and other gatherings, the organization has not been successful in attr acting them. As a result, the Mart-Maceo Society appears to represent an important hist orical institution for a community that is largely absent from its day-to-day affairs. It is likely that the Sociedad La Uni n Mart-Maceo serves as a key source of community for its small roster of members. Most of the remaining Black Cuban members of the sociedad share multiple kinship ties that have persisted in some cases for more than a generation. As a mutual aid society, the organization afforded TampaÂ’s Black Cubans access to economic resources and cultural cap ital or knowledge and values that are developed distinctly within particular cl asses or social groups (See Bourdieu and Passeron 1977). It also allowed for the transmission of this cultural knowledge to subsequent generations, thereby culturally and socially reproducing the Black Cuban community, as characterized by BourdieuÂ’s (1990) concept of habitus. Although the contemporary membership has dwindled to very low numbers and despite the contention among current members regarding th e organizations collective identity and mission, this process of social reproduction may account for the persistence of a Cuban identity among present-day members. The preceding discussion on the degree to which a Black Cuban community exists within Tampa begs the following question: What purpose does the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo serve? Judging from membersÂ’ responses at various junctures during the past decade, the main purpose is to prevent the organization from closing in honor of the
226 work and struggle their ancestors encountered in the hostile Jim Crow environment of the Deep South. My informants clearly feel th at if the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo closes its doors, knowledge of the contributions and the history of the Black Cuban community will disappear. A number of activ ities to date including, the work of Greenbaum in documenting and publishing the or ganizationÂ’s history, the acquisition of a historic marker in front of the current social hall, and the designation of the property as a local landmark can be seen as concrete st eps taken that will continue to honor the community and organizationÂ’s historical legacy. For instance, researchers are currently able to access a number of organizational records, archives, and photos through the University of South Florida special collecti ons archives to learn more about the MartMaceo Society. Although each of the of Ybor CityÂ’s historic mutual ai d societies have been in decline for decades, only the Mart-Maceo Society was displaced and as a result, no longer has equal access to resources available to the other ethnic societies in the district. This outcome is more than simply happenstance, and for present-day members, the loss of their organization and their property would mean that the forces that sought to erase them and their contributions to the deve lopment of the district will have won. However, although the organization has take n steps to formalize, it has largely failed to build upon such efforts to increase its membership and to reach out to their extended family members and friends who may share a distant familial tie to the MartMaceo Society. One of the biggest challenges noted when observing efforts to strengthen the organization is that the leadership has yet to articulate a collective identity that resonates with the existing membership and that can be used to mobilize efforts to attract
227 new members. This effort will more than li kely prove to challenge existing resources of the directiva or governing board and may requi re them to seek technical assistance to solidify the jobs and duties of the governing offi cers, as well as to develop strategies for operationalizing the formal mechanisms which may already be in place (i.e. mission/vision statements, articulation of goals, etc.) and to communicate these effectively to the membership and eventually, to the public. While the original mutual aid society established by Black Cuban cigarworkers served as an adaptive mechanism for a segregated population of immigrants (See Woodard, 1987; Sassen-Koob, 1979; Kerri 1976), the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo, as it now stands, doesnÂ’t appear to. But then again, this is probably true for all of the historic ethnic societies in Ybor City. None of them work with new immigrants to help them adjust to this city and country. For Sp anish and Italian member s of these existing societies, the presentday conditions and immigrant flows are radically different from the ones that brought their grandparents. With rega rd to Cubans, more recent arrivals are not settling in Ybor City and have found other Hi spanic neighborhoods in which to settle. All of the former mutual aid societies now serve to celebrate the previ ous generations from which they are descended. As noted, earlier, however, the Socied ad La Unin Mart-Maceo has provided Black Cubans with a physical space which sits on property that is held in collective ownership by the members themselves. Within this space, members have continued to socialize with each other, extended family members, friends, and at times, community members invited to a particular event. Mo re importantly, this space has allowed MartMaceo members to work together and share resources in the face of adversity. Despite
228 differences between members concerning the organizationÂ’s identity and its future direction, the members of the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo have been successful in working together to construct alternate discour ses that challenge their sub-altern position within Ybor City. However, in the end, this may not be enough. In order for the organization to reach th e goal of stabilizatio n and expansion, the organization has its work cut out for it. Throughout the past decade the Mart-Maceo SocietyÂ’s leadership has taken steps to formalize the organization, including nonprofit incorporation, developing a calen dar of regular activities, a nd attempting to reach out to wider contacts within the community. Yet desp ite these efforts, they have not given as much thought to the work that goes into mainta ining the organizational infrastructure that has been established, nor the human capital to ensure that established processes are followed and/or modified when needed. Wit hout addressing these i ssues, the organization will not be able to grow much more beyond its current scopeÂ— an outcome that runs counter to the expressed wishes of the majo rity of members who would like to see the organization thrive once more. The Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo ma y be able to keep its doors open for another decade by relying on the incorporation of younger Black Cuban members, like Jessica. However, the organization will have to make a concerted effort to attract large numbers of younger members given that the majo rity of members today are in their late 70s and early 80s. Moreover, new generations will bring a different perspective on the organizationÂ’s identity and how it represents their community. They may also develop new ways to counter the marginalized positio n that the Mart-Maceo Society occupies within the Ybor City historic district. However, the impetus for facilitating the emergence
229 of this or other scenarios requires a great amount of work on the part of the current membership. It remains to be seen whether th ey can overcome internal conflicts and work in a concerted fashion to address the organi zational issues hampering their growth and continue to stake a claim within lo cal heritage preservation efforts. This research contributes to a wide r body of literature focused on identity formation within immigrant populations with long-term settlement in this country. In particular, it demonstrates how understandings of racial and ethnic id entity are contingent upon larger market forces that change over time and place. Research with the Black Cuban community in Tampa challenges finding s which suggest that Black immigrants uniformly experience a raciali zation process that leads to a shared group identity with African Americans and minimizes ethnic diffe rences by the second and third generation of settlement in this country (See Benson 2006; Waters 1999). As my work suggests, affiliation to the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Ma ceo appears to provide a relatively insular social space where descendents of Black C uban immigrants have been able to share cultural knowledge that most likely has re sulted in continued affirmation of Cuban identity into the fourth generation of settlement. This research also highlights the degree to which racism functi ons as part of a hegemonic process practiced within nation-st ates by groups that control the means of production and which seek to homogenize heterogeneous groups and delegitimizes cultural forms that fall outside the proscribed mainstream (Williams 1991). The insular nature of the sociedad was shaped by state-sanctioned ra cism in the post-colonial South, as well as discrimination within Ybor C ity practiced by White Cubans (and other immigrants) with a more recent experience of slavery and the subordination of recently
230 imported Africans. Research with Black C uban members of the Mart-Maceo Society illustrates numerous instances over their hist ory where they have seized the opportunity to use the rhetoric and discourse employed by el ite classes to contest their marginality, as they did when they sought to challenge c ontemporary versions of Ybor City history by placing themselves squarely within narrativ es that sought to ex clude them. However while prevailing ideologies related to identity may allow for subaltern groups to contest their marginalization, these efforts are la rgely Â“limited by hegemonic processes of inscription and by the relations of the forces in societyÂ” (Alonso 1994: 392). Examination of micro-leve l processes within the Soci edad La Unin Mart-Maceo illustrates the organizational challenges faced by a shrinking membership of mostly elderly members. The organization could be nefit from formalization of operational processes upon which members could further build and expand the sociedad Although new members have joined from time to time, factions have emerged that hamper such efforts. Divisions among members center on contested notions of collective identity rooted in individual understandings of Black Cuban identity. The ongoing friction over these divisions has constrained opportunities for building upon incremental gains made by the organization as a whole (e.g. incorpora tion and increased reve nues from rentals, etc.), and has made it vulnerable to indi viduals who have taken advantage of lax procedures for their own gain. Although pr evious experiences with theft have not heretofore resulted in serious ramifications for the organization, the current environment is ripe for individuals to take advantage of administrative di sarray and deal a serious blow to the Mart-Maceo treasury. Such a blow w ould be nearly impossible for a small and struggling membership to overcome and coul d result in dissolution of an organization
231 that has weathered numerous challenges in the past century. For now, the Sociedad La Unin Mart-Maceo remains a singular exampl e of collective ownership and mobilization of shared resources in Yb or City that once served an adaptive function among a marginalized Black immigrant population. Given current realities, it is not clear whether this unique organization will continue to operate into the next decade.
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