Jean E. Barker


Cape Verdean immigrants in the United States worked to establish their own unique ethnic identity in an effort not to be grouped with Afro-Americans. On the Cape Verde Islands they were Portuguese citizens and identified as Portuguese. In the United States they persisted in stressing their identification as Portuguese, claiming the right to self-designation rather than accepting one imposed by an exceedingly race-conscious society. As one immigrant stated: "We are not black, we are Portuguese. We know we have black in our blood, and white." In the turn-of-the-century United States any amount of African ancestry guaranteed an identification by society as "Negro," complete with its history of slavery and discrimination. Cape Verdean immigrants appreciated the compounded difficulties they would endure as immigrants if classified solely by race.


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