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Caribbean Negritos: Ramón Rivero, Blackface, and ‘Black’ Voice in Puerto Rico

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Abstract:

This paper focuses on Ramón Rivero (Diplo), the most famous blackface and ‘black’ voice actor in Puerto Rico. From the 1930s until his death in 1956 Rivero’s characters embodied ‘Caribbean’ mediated ‘blackness’ and became ambivalent symbols of the oppressed sectors of the population. The author argues that Rivero’s popularity as a blackface and ‘black’ voice performer operated within three intertwined discursive spaces: the translation of Cuba’s Bufo theatre negrito catedrático type as a symbol of anti-colonialism and political satire, the actor’s left-wing nationalist persona and social activism, the re-articulation of la gran familia puertorriqueña as a hegemonic discourse. The author suggests that after Rivero’s death in 1956 subsequent televisual representations of Caribbean negritos during the 1950s and 1960s became racialized figures which reaffirmed the hegemonic ‘whiteness’ not only of the Puerto Rican nation, but also of the emerging post 1959 Cuban migrant community in Puerto Rico.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

puerto (121), rivero (97), n (76), negrito (72), rico (67), black (64), el (61), polit (58), rican (53), charact (50), cuban (48), la (48), bufo (40), blackfac (37), cultur (35), calder (35), theatr (33), social (31), cuba (31), white (30), pp (28),

Author's Keywords:

blackface, black voice, media, Puerto Rico, Cuba
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Association:
Name: International Communication Association
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http://www.icahdq.org


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URL: http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p112260_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Rivero, Yeidy. "Caribbean Negritos: Ramón Rivero, Blackface, and ‘Black’ Voice in Puerto Rico" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott Hotel, San Diego, CA, May 27, 2003 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p112260_index.html>

APA Citation:

Rivero, Y. M. , 2003-05-27 "Caribbean Negritos: Ramón Rivero, Blackface, and ‘Black’ Voice in Puerto Rico" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott Hotel, San Diego, CA Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p112260_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper focuses on Ramón Rivero (Diplo), the most famous blackface and ‘black’ voice actor in Puerto Rico. From the 1930s until his death in 1956 Rivero’s characters embodied ‘Caribbean’ mediated ‘blackness’ and became ambivalent symbols of the oppressed sectors of the population. The author argues that Rivero’s popularity as a blackface and ‘black’ voice performer operated within three intertwined discursive spaces: the translation of Cuba’s Bufo theatre negrito catedrático type as a symbol of anti-colonialism and political satire, the actor’s left-wing nationalist persona and social activism, the re-articulation of la gran familia puertorriqueña as a hegemonic discourse. The author suggests that after Rivero’s death in 1956 subsequent televisual representations of Caribbean negritos during the 1950s and 1960s became racialized figures which reaffirmed the hegemonic ‘whiteness’ not only of the Puerto Rican nation, but also of the emerging post 1959 Cuban migrant community in Puerto Rico.

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Document Type: .PDF
Page count: 25
Word count: 8236
Text sample:
Caribbean Negritos: Ramón Rivero Blackface and ‘Black’ Voice in Puerto Rico From the late 1930s through the 1950s Puerto Rico’s media representations of ‘blackness’ were located in an ambiguous geographical space. While some blackface and ‘black’ voice characters addressed local political cultural and social issues negritos and negras were mostly described as caribeños/as [Caribbean] not as Puerto Ricans. This ‘black’ Caribbeanness had its origins in Puerto Rican and Cuban cultural social and business relations. The influence of Cuba’s Bufo
Verso. Rogin M. (1996). Blackface White Noice: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot. Los Angeles: University of California Press. Sánchez-Korrol V. (1994). From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City. Los Angeles: University of California Press. Salgado C. (1999). CubaRican: Efectos de la capilaridad colonial. Paper presented at the Second Cuban Researcy Institute Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies Florida. Silén J. A. (1980). Historia de la nación puertorriqueña. Río Piedras Puerto Rico:


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Produced in Cuba: Censorship, Political Culture, and the Cuban Film Industry, 1988-1998

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America's Colony: The Political and Cultural Conflict Between the United States and Puerto Rico

Measuring Race as a Cultural Component of Social Capital: Black Religiosity, Political Participation, and Civic Engagement


 
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