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Rhythms of RaceCuban Musicians and the Making of Latino New York City and Miami, 1940-1960$
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Christina D. Abreu

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469620848

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469620848.001.0001

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Real and Imagined Representations of (Afro-)Cubanness and Latinness

Real and Imagined Representations of (Afro-)Cubanness and Latinness

(p.141) 5 Real and Imagined Representations of (Afro-)Cubanness and Latinness
Rhythms of Race

Christina D. Abreu

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter considers how the lived realities of Cuban migrants and musicians intersected with symbolic, mass-mediated representations of Cubanness and Latinness, by examining the careers of Desi Arnaz, Machito, Miguelito Valdés, and Perucho Irigoyen. It specifically draws from the autobiography of Desi Arnaz, titled A Book: The Outspoken Memoirs of “Ricky Ricardo”—The Man Who Loved Lucy (1976). The juxtaposition of Arnaz's career and that of his most famous character Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy provides key similarities and vital differences in the migration and work experiences of these entertainers, both real and imagined, especially in terms of their early participation in the entertainment industry, their understanding of themselves as laborers and celebrities, the locations and settings of their musical performances, and their responses to self-representations and stereotypes that cast them variously as “Cuban,” “Afro-Cuban,” and “Latin.”

Keywords:   Cuban migrants, Cuban musicians, mass-mediated representations, Cubanness, Latinness, Desi Arnaz, Machito, Miguelito Valdés, Perucho Irigoyen, stereotypes

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