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The introduction begins with an anecdote about reggaetón performance by Los 12 Discípulos at the Sixth Annual Latin Grammys. It provides background on Puerto Rican race relations, including definitions of discourses of racial democracy, an overview of the history of slavery on the island, and a discussion of the twentieth-century debates about Puerto Rican national and racial identities. The chapter also includes an analysis of the relationship between place and race on the island to detail how multiple constructions of blackness, including “folkloric blackness” and “urban blackness” circulate in Puerto Rico. It provides a theoretical overview of the concept of “diaspora.” Overall, the introduction presents the main argument of the book—that is, that reggaetón expresses new understandings of Puerto Rican identities that center blackness and African diasporic belonging, and, in the process, discredits dominant discourses of racial democracy that privilege whiteness.

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