Cuban New Yorker’s first blog has to be about the numbers: how many? My mentor in graduate school would be proud. One of the many things he taught me was that the first thing a sociologist should know about any place or population is simply: how many people?
So first things first: here are the essential demographic facts about Cuban New York, culled from the recently-released 2010 U.S. Census results. In New York City (the five boroughs), there are 40,840 persons who identified themselves as being of Cuban “origin or descent” (hereafter referred to as “Cubans”). That’s more than half (57% of all Cubans in the state of New York). Those Cubans are pretty evenly scattered throughout four of the boroughs (there are relatively few in State Island), with Manhattan having the largest number (11,623), followed closely by Queens (11,020). The Bronx and Brooklyn trail behind, with 8,785 and 7,581, respectively.
Is that it? Not at all. The demographic portrait of Cuban New York is not complete unless you jump across the Hudson. There are more Cubans in New Jersey than in New York. Of course, those Cubans are not scattered throughout the Garden State: 63% of Jersey Cubans live in the three counties along the Hudson right across from Manhattan: Hudson, Bergen, and Union. Hudson County has the heaviest concentration, with more than 15,000 Cubans living in the adjoining cities of West New York and Union City, within sight of Midtown Manhattan. In those cities, Cubans are the largest Latino group. Those may be the only places in Greater New York where Cubans are found in greater numbers in comparison with, say, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, or Mexicans.
In Cuban New Yorker, all Cubans within the Greater New York area will be treated as Cuban New Yorkers, even if they are in Jersey. From my office window at John Jay College I can see Hudson County. The river does not seem to me a formidable enough barrier to force us to think separately of New York Cubans versus New Jersey Cubans, to treat those Cuban communities in the Garden State as separate from Cuban New York. I wonder how my compatriots in Jersey feel about that.
And there are, of course, Cuban New Yorkers in other areas close to the city. How about Westchester County? 5,430 Cubans. And in Long Island beyond Brooklyn and Queens? Nearly 10,000. And so it goes. My definition of a Cuban New Yorker is meant to be as inclusive as New York itself, spanning rivers and state and county lines.
Are there more Cuban New Yorkers now than in the past? Are there evident areas of concentration of Cubans within New York City? Is Cuban New York composed primarily of the older generations of Cubans who arrived in the decades immediately following the Cuban Revolution or has it been replenished with younger arrivals from more recent waves, especially those arriving after the 1994-95 U.S.-Cuba migration accords? [Here’s something that may be a surprise to many of you: more Cubans arrived in the U.S. in the decade of the 2000’s than in any previous decade].
Cuban New Yorker will answer those questions in subsequent blogs, but not immediately. There are other things I want to write about first, and I don’t want readers to think this blog will be just about the (yawn) numbers.