José Martí, the United States, and Race

By Anne Fountain | Go to book overview

7
Immigrant Communities

José Martí celebrated along with throngs of New Yorkers the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1886. His essay on the event began with a tribute to liberty as a concept, moved to three short paragraphs about the dedication itself, and then recounted the birth of U.S. independence and the nation’s ties to France (11: 99). Although he did not live to see the famous lines by Emma Lazarus inscribed at the statue’s base in 1903, he did witness the arrival of “huddled masses” and “homeless, tempest-tossed” immigrants from Europe and directly experienced their impact on city life. His narratives chronicled the growing ethnic diversity of the United States and the influence of Irish, German, Italian, Scandinavian, Jewish, and Chinese arrivals. As America in her Gilded Age absorbed the tired and the poor from northern and southern Europe and from Asia, class, racial, and religious lines clashed.

Ivan Schulman’s analysis of how immigrants were portrayed in Martí’s pages, as described in chapter 2, makes important points. While Native Americans and African Americans were punished with exclusion and separation from society—a kind of internal exile—the newcomers from Europe and Asia fared relatively better, even as they faced Anglo disdain and endured living conditions that were grim. Schulman notes that Martí called the European immigrant groups alternately races or peoples and wrote about Chinese customs in cultural chronicles that were often imbued with poetic imagination.

In the immense social theater of New York in the 1880s, the Cuban patriot saw firsthand how arrivals fleeing poverty and Old World discrimination found both opportunity and misery in North America. Most of these Europeans coming to the United States entered as hopeful yet culturally disadvantaged arrivals—not all spoke English, and many had

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José Martí, the United States, and Race
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Content vii
  • Figures ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Cuba’s Most Universal Man 1
  • 2 - Martí and Race, an Overview 12
  • 3 - Black Cubans in the United States 34
  • 4 - African Americans and the Post–Civil War United States 48
  • 5 - Chronicles of the Crusaders 59
  • 6 - Native Americans and "Nuestra AMérica" 77
  • 7 - Immigrant Communities 96
  • 8- Challenging the Colossus - Responses to U.S. Racism 105
  • 9 - Conclusions 119
  • Notes 133
  • Bibliography 145
  • Index 155
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