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The Role of Music During and After Puerto Rican Migration to the United States

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The Role of Music During and After Puerto Rican Migration to the United States

For Puerto Ricans, music served infinite purposes. It allowed for the formation and reformation of cultural views and opinions, through the lyrics in the songs. These views were constantly changing, which in turn fed into the ever evolving identity of the Puerto Rican people. As a vehicle of expression it stimulated thought and provided a method of communication for the community. In The Puerto Rican community of New York City the increasing popularity of music indicated a desire for Puerto Rican based and oriented entertainment but more importantly for national unity. For the musicians themselves music served as an outlet for creativity
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“Puerto Rican society was not devoid of color consciousness or prejudice, but racial categories were different that in the United States” (53). Once on the mainland the musicians encountered an entirely different system for the categorization of people. A more simplistic system that relied on the hue of the skin as opposed to “facial features, hair texture, ...wealth or occupation”(53). Namely those who had white skin were placed into one category and those that did not into another. The racist tendencies of the Americans led to the negation of all that was black by the Puerto Rican community. “Puerto Ricans were much more prone to settle in pockets with their lighter compatriotas than to except external definitions of themselves and move into the black American sections of Harlem”(73). The focus on race does not imply that money did not play an important role in American society either, however, it did not play a major role in the book.

Glasser employs racially descriptive terms, throughout the book, that are confusing and unintelligible. These terms are found frequently, although they are not previously explained. Often the term itself describes two different groups. One such term is “white” which at one point means North American and yet on other occasions it means a Light-skinned Puerto Rican. Within the span of two pages Glasser speaks of “latin ‘relief’ bands” that “ were made up of whites only” (76). The clear implication here is that the Latin
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