In this paper I examine three distinct approaches to racial identity actively pursued by diasporic Puerto Ricans in the period between 1950 and 1980: whiteness, blackness, and brownness. I focus on a variety of quotidian contexts, including the search for housing and employment, interactions with local police, and efforts to organize public expressions of Puerto Rican culture. Treating racial formation as a process that involves both popular agency and external structural forces, I argue that Puerto Ricans living in the mainland skillfully navigated a dynamic landscape, helping to reshape broader conceptions of racial identity in the United States.
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