White puerto rican: Puerto Ricans: White or Non-White? | Ethnic Studies Review

Puerto Ricans: White or Non-White? | Ethnic Studies Review

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Research Article|
July 01 1986

Robert A. Martinez

Explorations in Ethnic Studies (1986) 9 (2): 37–48.


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Robert A. Martinez; Puerto Ricans: White or Non-White?. Explorations in Ethnic Studies 1 July 1986; 9 (2): 37–48. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ees.1986.9.2.37

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The question of race and racial identity among Puerto Ricans has been one of great confusion and misunderstanding. The confusion and misunderstanding exist both among Puerto Ricans and Anglo-Americans. This is a study of the paradox of race perceptions among mainland-bred and island-bred Puerto Ricans. This study was undertaken to look at several related issues: What are the racial perceptions and attitudes held by Puerto Ricans, both on the island and the continental mainland? Further, to what extent has Americanization of Puerto Ricans affected those perceptions and attitudes? Likewise, what role does class consciousness and class mobility play? How do Anglo-American racial perceptions and attitudes affect the Puerto Rican’s image of self? And finally, do individual variables such as one’s skin color, ethnic identity or pride, personal prejudices or family background further affect these perceptions and attitudes?


Puerto Ricans

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‘Racialization works differently here in Puerto Rico, do not bring your U.S.-centric ideas about race here!’

“FSA – T[enant] P[urchase] borrowers? by their house, Puerto Rico” – Jack Delano (Library of Congress)This title is a variation of a statement I have heard during the last two decades as a professional anthropologist. I was reminded of it again recently, when a Puerto Rico-based colleague mentioned that it is common in the archipelago to think about the race research produced by U.S.-based Puerto Rican researchers as being tainted by U.S.-centric ideas about race. At its base, this assertion has the effect, and maybe even the goal from the outset, of discrediting the race research produced by those of us living in the Diaspora. But I believe there is more going on than just marking our research as suspect.

Because at this point I have heard variations of this opinion dozens of times, and particularly so by a subset of the archipelago’s intelligentsia, it is time to explore the ideological work this claim does. This brief analysis is less a defense of the validity of research like mine, and instead exposes how as a cultural construction in itself, this hegemonic statement is an example of how cultural nationalism and anti-Black racism warps even the brightest minds. While it is true that anti-Black racism takes on specific and locally contextual qualities, it is also true that the anti-Black racism experienced by evidently Black individuals throughout the American hemisphere has strikingly similar consequences: poverty and marginalization; lack of access to quality education, health care, employment, and a clean environment; police profiling and brutality; spatial segregation and territorial dispossession; denial of entry into restaurants, night clubs, stores, and country clubs; social marginalization and political exclusion; and the attempt to silence the voices of those who dare speak out against on-going racial violence and terror.

In Puerto Rico, much like in the rest of Latin America, anti-Black racism is embedded in the very denial of its existence by the state and society. Additionally, the taken-for-granted notion that “we are all mixed,” works as a strategy to invisibilize Black people and their demands for justice all the while upholding lightness (off-white skin) and whiteness as an “unmarked,” “normal,” and universal social category. The party line goes something like this: “Puerto Ricans are all mixed (i.e. light skin), ‘real’ Blacks compose a tiny fraction of the population and they were never/ are never treated violently like in the U.S.” This line attempts to subsume within the rubric of “race mixture” anti-Black racism. The invisibility of Puerto Rico’s Black population in statistics and policies confirm the myth of racial equality. For instance, though the U.S. Census, with its stark Black-White racial categories offers Puerto Ricans less racial options than are commonly used on the archipelago, we must remember that these multiple categories work to “lighten people away” from Blackness. It is true that in Puerto Rico people perceive racial belonging on a spectrum, but that spectrum still works within a White-Black phenotypic binary (i. e. how white versus how Black you look?).

In a 2017 survey about “perceptions of racism in Puerto Rico,” we found that among respondents who defined themselves as evidently Black (i.e. they are labeled as Black by self and others), 71% reported to have experienced racism in Puerto Rico. The results of our various analyses with experiences of racism unanimously also showed that, the darker the self-reported skin color, the more likely respondents were to report experiencing racism. This pattern is consistent with what would be expected in a society where racial ethnicity is not determined via a rule of hypodescent, but where racism nevertheless affects those with darker or most evident Black phenotypes. In other words, defining racial/color categories along a continuum from Black to White does not preclude people from experiencing racism. To the best of our knowledge, ours was the first survey to ask about racism and place, asking participants “in your opinion, where does anti-Black racism occur most frequently?” The three top answers were in 1. employment; 2. media; and 3. school. These results are concerning because anti-Black discrimination in school and employment cause harm to the life chances, trajectory, and well-being of Black individuals. Similarly, the media which acts as an ideological arm of society is responsible for reproducing anti-Black racism.

I first learned about anti-Black racism as a child in Puerto Rico

I must have been 4-years old when racial descriptions such as negra, blanca, trigueña, and jaba’ entered my consciousness, as well as my visual field (how I saw myself and other people) and vocabulary (how I described myself and others). In part this is because I was born to a padre blanco (a white father) and a madre negra (Black mother). My parents’ “races,” as well as their 30+ age difference was a topic of discussion and discord. Growing up in Puerto Rico, I often heard my mother retell tales of the racism she suffered at the hands of la familia blanca de tu papá (your father’s white family). She said they were relentlessly racist towards her, taking advantage that she was just una muchacha negra ignorante (ignorant young Black woman). Because she was so young and inexperienced and not yet able to speak back, whenever they visited, she would cower when they treated her como una sirvienta (like a servant), ordering her around and examining the surfaces to see whether she kept the house clean.

Born with darker skin than my three older siblings, looking more like my mother than my father, his family doubted that I had any of their “sangre blanca” (white blood). It became my mother’s obsession to show them that I was indeed my father’s child. To prove it she would send them my elementary school photographs depicting my long, thick, straight hair. In fifth grade when I was allowed to go to a neighborhood hair salon by myself to get a haircut, I asked the hairstylist to cut all my hair off; I came home with a pixie cut much to my mother’s dismay.

It is true that in the Puerto Rican and Latinx U.S. racial universe I am often regarded as an India (i.e. brown skin straight hair) or alternately as non-Black. For me, claiming an Afro-descendant identity does not stem from my time spent in the U.S. where the “one drop rule” predominates; it stems from having been born and raised in a culturally Black family from Puerto Rico’s southeast, who later moved stateside. What we learned when we moved to the continental U.S. was the broadness of the Black Diaspora. In Hartford our Black neighbors were African American, Jamaican, Dominican, Cape Verdean, Panamanian, Colombian, and Brazilian. My cousin, who moved from Puerto Rico at the same time as I did and became a known basketball player in Hartford, was nicknamed Shaq, as much for his basketball skills as for his Afro looks. My older cousin, who had migrated from Puerto Rico in the early 1980s to join the army, married an African American woman with whom he had two-children and who, because both of their parents are Black, now choose to identity as African American. My uncle Juan was believed to be Haitian when he lived in Puerto Rico, and when he moved to the U.S. people often assumed, he was Senegalese. My mother and I are often asked whether we are Dominican or Panamanian. In short, in my family, the people who are unambiguously Black live Black lives, and experience anti-Black racism, whether in Puerto Rico or stateside. Evidently Black Puerto Ricans do not live the same life experiences as “harmoniously mixed” Puerto Ricans do.

My family was thoroughly racialized long before we moved out of Puerto Rico. I suppose when one grows up in a Black family designated as such by history, economics, society, and experiences of racism, along with the embodied trauma it produces, as much as by one’s cultural practices, one is likely, in the context of the archipelago, to also thoroughly understand that: 1. being evidently Black is a disadvantage; 2. that being mixed-race while publicly aspiring to be white is acceptable; and 3. being light-skin and/or white means privilege and access.

To race scholars, as well as to lay people, it is an open secret that Puerto Rico is a society obsessed with racial classification and the policing of race because it is invested in anti-Blackness. It is a society that acculturates its people to understand the advantages that come with denying one’s Blackness and instead to claim any trace whatsoever of whiteness to fit in, to be Puerto Rican. In my family, people who are white Latinx-presenting tend to lead white Latinx lives, both on the archipelago and stateside, reaping the benefits of the privileges afforded by their light or white-adjacent “epidermal schema.”

The time for post-national Black solidarity is now

The Puerto Rican Diaspora tends to use cultural nationalist signifiers to affirm their ethnic belonging and pride. But like American nationalism, Puerto Rican cultural nationalism is also used to exclude. It has historically excluded Black-Puerto Ricans, often assuming that Black individuals in Puerto Rico are Dominican or belong to another racialized nation-state.

The claim that U.S.-centric views of race do not apply in Puerto Rico, an archipelago which has been a U.S. colony for 120 years, during which migration routes between the island and continent have been well established, is a myopic view denying cultural transmission. Not only do migrants carry cultural practices and beliefs with them back and forth, but in recent years social media has also become a powerful source of cultural transmission. Puerto Rico’s white cultural nationalism praises white-American trends, celebrities, and star academics, but shuns and dismisses their African American equals. This is the same cultural nationalism that has long been an agent of prejudice against the Puerto Rican Diaspora, shunning its poorest, as well as its Black members above all others.

What I have learned from living stateside is that there is no such thing as a “less violent” form of anti-Black racism. And until we begin to understand anti-Black racism as a hemispheric social problem, we will continue to fall prey to nationalism’s divide and conquer tactics disallowing for the emergence of Black and anti-racist cross-national solidarity. Aside from experiencing racialization and racism, a commonality shared by the Black Diaspora in the Americas is being made to feel as perpetual outsiders, as foreigners in the nation-states of our birth. Perhaps it is time to coalesce around post-national Black solidarity on a hemispheric scale to demand racial justice.

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White pu-erh or bai hao pu-erh — white buds of the pu-erh tree

General information

White Pu-erh or as it is also called in Chinese “Bai Hao Pu-erh”, is a mixture of buds and leaves closest to them, collected exclusively from pu-erh trees growing in Yunnan province.

This type of pu-erh got its name due to the appearance and color of the infusion. The buds of the pu-erh tree are covered with white pile, and the color of the infusion is quite light and transparent.

Bai Hao Pu-erh is found both in loose and pressed form of cakes. The form of pressing varies from 100g to 3kg. and in appearance is divided into:

  • Bin Cha
  • To Cha
  • Fan Cha


White Pu-erh appeared on the market in early 2000, when Shu Pu-erh became famous all over the world, and demand began to exceed supply. Before that, white buds of pu-erh or in Chinese Yabao were sold only by weight and were not popular. Tea connoisseurs have used them to blend with sheng pu-erh, adding white pu-erh tips to create a unique and deep taste. Riding on the wave of popularity, Chinese farmers began to compress yabao into market-proven flatbreads and sell it under the name Bai Hao Pu-erh.


Raw materials for the production of white pu-erh are collected manually, since white pu-erh buds are a rather delicate product and require careful handling.

The production process takes place in 4 stages:

  • The raw material is dried in the sun until the loss of 75-90% moisture;
  • Then the buds and leaves are heated at a temperature of 40 degrees. It helps to keep all the vitamins;
  • After warming up, the raw materials are allowed to “rest” in a special ventilated room;
  • The finished product is launched into the market or pressed on manual or mechanical machines;


Infusion color : yellowish beige.

Aroma : woody with hints of fruit.

Taste : deep, pear-like.

Finish : persistent with an unobtrusive fruity-floral undertone.

White Pu-erh: effect and useful properties

It is difficult to overestimate white pu-erh and its useful properties. Thanks to manual production and light heat treatment, it contains a large amount of vitamins and minerals. With regular use, it perfectly strengthens the immune system and keeps the body in good shape.

Also bai hao pu-erh:

  • Antimicrobial
  • Removes heat and lowers blood pressure
  • Skin rejuvenation
  • Slows down the aging process
  • Strengthens the nervous system

How to brew white pu-erh

Brew white pu-erh tips as follows:

  • Pour pu-erh into a vessel for brewing;
  • Rinse with cold water;
  • Fill with water at a temperature of 80 to 90 degrees and leave for 20-30 seconds;
  • Drain into chahai and pour into bowls;
  • Increase the time of each subsequent brewing by 10-15 seconds;

White pu-erh does not exist.

What is it then?

tea and coffee trends





the beauty







2 min.

2 min.


Earlier we already wrote that there are only two pu-erhs — Shu and Shen. Nothing has changed since then. Then where did another species come from — Bai Hao or white pu-erh? And why is it increasingly searched for on the Internet and beyond? We decided to do a step-by-step breakdown for readers of our blog who want to know exactly what they are buying.

Source: rusteaco.ru

First, let’s remember what pu-erh is

Pu-erh is loose leaf tea collected from trees of the Assamica species (Camellia sinensis var. Assamica) in the Yunnan province of China and undergone a special type of processing by fermentation, oxidation and subsequent artificial drying. Later, this tea is pressed into solid ingots in the form of pancakes, bricks, bowls, etc. It is impossible to determine the quality of pu-erh by eye and by description, tea.ru experts advise buying in small portions and trying different positions to find your own.

And there is also white tea, which appeared long before green and pu-erh, has been known to professionals for a long time, but comes into fashion in 2020. White tea is tea harvested from the bushes of the Sinensis variety (Camellia sinensis var. Sinensis) , which includes the youngest and most tender shoots, as well as buds. White tea (a pantry of vitamins!) can be produced in any corner of our planet , its name is not tied to a specific region.

Source: sostavproduktov.ru

Then what is white pu-erh?

On the Russian-language Internet, we can find the following description:

“White pu-erh is the technical name for pressed buds collected from old pu-erh trees in Yunnan province, the leaves of which are used to make classic shu and sheng pu-erh. ” This characteristic is given on sites that sell tea, but Wikipedia is modestly silent on this subject — both Russian and English. It seems that while science knows nothing about white pu-erh… Why?

“The Chinese just took white tea, made cakes out of it and wrote “white pu-erh”. It is based on buds and the youngest shoots, often collected from Sinensis bushes, and not at all from Assamica, as it should be with real pu-erh. And further processing is completely different — natural drying. In general, what is mentioned on all Russian sites is Bai Hao Yin Zhen, an elite white tea,” explains our Chinese tea expert Sergey Safonov.

Thus, real pu-erh and white «pu-erh» have in common only the place of growth of raw materials and pressing into pancakes. But the first does not always coincide, and the second is not at all the main criterion for pu-erh, which can be loose.

All other characteristics of Bai Hao Puer make us come to the conclusion that this is not Puer, but white tea, which smart Chinese producers in the early 2000s came up with to sell in the form of «pancakes» and glue a fashionable label with the inscription «Puer» on top. Let’s fix the reasons why this type of tea does not exist:

  • Another method of fermentation (and this is the most important!)
  • Camellia sinensis var leaf is not always used. Assamica
  • Leaf from trees growing in Yunnan province not always used

In any case, its name does not affect the taste of “white pu-erh” – it still remains tasty, expensive and elite, because white tea is never bad. Want to learn more about its beneficial properties? Take on board any article about white tea (not about pu-erh). Or just buy white tea — there will be no difference. And do not forget that you need to brew it strictly not with boiling water!



  • #chinese tea
  • #pu-erh
  • #white tea

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