Nicaraguan national Anthony Ingle is often too black for Hispanics and not black enough for African Americans.
"It is surprising to me that in the year 2007 in a city as diverse as Miami people are surprised when I tell them my family is from Nicaragua," Ingle wrote in an e-mail recently.
The Miami Gardens resi dent was among some 150 readers from across South Florida, the United States and Latin America, who shared tales of their own as well as praise and criticism for The Miami Herald's five-part series on the emerging con sciousness among Afro-Latin Americans. The series ended Sunday.
Raised in a household where "race wasn't an issue," Ingle did not really feel rac ism until his college years when he participated in a walkout at St. John's Univer sity in Queens to protest dis criminatory policies.
"Some of the other stu dents made racial remarks to us," said Ingle, 37, a career advisor for high school drop outs. Years later, he still deals with more subtle forms of dis crimination from Hispanics who often are "shocked to know there are black people'' in Nicaragua and from Afri can Americans "who think I get treated better because I'm Latino."
Now married to a Haitian-American, Ingle said he has learned to deal with the hos tilities by fully embracing his culture, and passing that on to his 10-year-old daughter.
"I'm proud of the Afro descent and I'm proud of the Latino side."
For Miami Beach resident Karla Lima of Miami Beach, the story from Brazil was "aggressive, exaggerated and offensive."
"I know that there are a lot of problems in my country with violence, poverty, lack of education and social inequality . . . but not preconception about skin color," Lima wrote in an e-mail.
Lima added that some in Brazil "are racist. But it's the minority."
Miami entrepreneur Raúl Cossio, who left Cuba in 1961, wrote: "I have a blue face from talking to my mother about racism in the Cuba that I left. . . . She and other older Cubans, not all, insist that in Cuba there was no racism."
"My childhood best friends were blacks; Raúl and Victor Una," wrote Cossio, 58. "We insisted that they accompany my brother and me to see ‘The Curse of Frankenstein' [in 1957] at the uppity and preten tious Rodi theater in Línea close to the Cathedral of El Vedado. They told us that they would not be allowed in the theatre but gave in to our persistence.
"They were right; the ticket teller told us that they cannot let los negros in."
Dominican reader Dania Soriano said she was offended by the series, which included a story on the issue of "Black Denial'' out of the Dominican Republic.
"I always like to compare United States vision of Latin Americans against our vision of ourselves," Soriano wrote.
"It's partly right in the sense the we, Dominicans, do not want to look like Africans or embrace African culture; but it's also true that we do not want to embrace Spanish culture either. . . . We just want to be Dominicans, not Hispanics, or blacks, or whites."
"What bothers me is that you can't just be yourself," said Soriano, 43, an associate instructor at Miami Dade Col lege who moved to Miami 14 years ago. "You have to be of a certain race first."
The Dominican story prompted heated intense discussion because of perceived deroga tory comments made by the director of the Dominican Studies Institute at The City College of New York. The director, Ramona Hernández, later said the "portrayal'' of the comments attributed to her were "utterly false and absolutely opposed'' to what she believed. Readers wrote to the school questioning her suitability for the job. She remains in her position.
Like Ingle, of Nicaragua, Hiram Rivera, of Puerto Rican descent, also has had to contend with the too-black, not-black-enough sentiments.
A self-described "Afro Boricua," Rivera wrote: "Rac ism in Latin America is more cultural than institutional," Rivera, 30, said in a telephone interview from Connecticut. ‘‘I couldn't change who I was or how I looked," he said. ‘‘Equality is what we want: it's a basic right that everyone deserves."